Disaffection and Patriotism


Many governments think that if a citizen dissents – meaning if he or she displays disagreement with some policies of the government – then, he or she is an anti-national, a person who is not to be regarded as a true patriot. He or she needs to be monitored for potential anti-government activities.

Nothing is further from the truth.

A government of the day does not have the right to designate an individual who disagrees with its policies as someone against the country itself. That is a totally ridiculous assertion of a non-fact. Every individual has an absolute right, at least in a democracy, to have his or her own opinion or views on a specific subject or government policy, and also to express the same. Governments do get agitated when the individual concerned is a thinker of repute, a politician of some standing, or an influential celebrity with a big following. And they get angry if such individuals use colourful adjectives or choice epithets to describe their opinions or views.

Nevertheless, governments who are mature enough to take in criticisms and digest the same, will realize that their own standing improves in the eyes of common citizens, who would develop serious concerns if the response of their government is not appropriate. Governments can always reserve the right to a suitable response, but cannot colour their response or action with a foregone judgement against public interest.There will always be a significant, and sometimes influential, section of the society which is going to disagree – that does not make them anti-national in any manner. This is normal human behaviour, especially in societies where there are established democratic institutions. Sometimes, I tend to wonder at the courage of such individuals who ignore potential retributions for their views.

The very common people, or the proletariat as we used to call them in the past, would not dare to risk their rice bowl by holding or expressing views antagonistic to government policies. They just want to have a smooth life, and worry about their own welfare, their childrens’ future, and their retirement. More than 99% of a society is like that, and there is nothing wrong with that kind of peaceful life. Why rock the boat?

Dissenters are usually people who do not personally worry about themselves in the first place. I am talking about peaceful dissenters, and not revolutionaries here. They have a view of their society, their country and the world, which is vastly different from their own government’s views. A great example is the current protests going on for the tenth week in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong protesters demonstrate their dissension in a particularly strong and vocal manner, which is surely not compatible with the rest of that money-making society or that of their own administrative government, which reports into the Mainland China government. It is anybody’s guess as to where or when those protests will end up, and sometimes it bothers me when I imagine military boots on Hong Kong roads.

Another emerging example is the citizen protests in Moscow against President Putin and his government’s aggressive policies against opposition politicians. Russia is not a true democracy, but it is well on its way towards one from a long period of Communist Dictatorship. Hence it will be interesting to see how that people protest is being handled by the Russian government. May not end well, in my opinion, especially if the Russian government discovers that foreign elements are aiding the protests.

The Indian government is characterizing dissenters as anti-nationalists. My hope is that laws to this effect will undergo rapid change, as the Indian society is inherently democratic, vocal and expressive. The government will soon see its folly in trying to control “views” of any kind from being expressed. I am not able to understand why a government which succeeded wildly at the ballot box in May 2019 would do things not compatible with democratic expression. I hope that the Indian government will change its policies for the better as it digests its victory, the overall popular acceptance of its governance, its image on the world stage, and its permanent tagline as the biggest democracy in the world.

There should be nothing wrong with anyone expressing his or her views, in spoken or written form, and communicating a different line of thinking. The world has made progress at every step because of dissension and disaffection. If everyone toes the line of the government, the country will not benefit. Every dissenting citizen is actually a committed patriot, and the government should see him or her as such. It is critical to tap opposing views which can help the country to progress further.

In a nutshell, I am happy to stay in the midst of dissenters and learn from their differing views.

Have a great week ahead folks,

Vijay Srinivasan

11th August 2019

Shortcuts in Life


In the quest for achieving something, or for just jumping the queue ahead of other clueless folks, people take shortcuts in their daily lives. They do this almost unconsciously, as they believe sincerely that they ought to be rightfully ahead of others. They do think that they deserve the unique place that they seek to usurp intheir pursuit of their goals in their lives, though these goals might be just steps on the way to accomplishing something bigger.

Think about it, how many times have you seen someone behind you in the queue for a movie or at an airline check-in counter, gets pulled to a spot ahead of you by somebody looking more official or authoritative – sometimes even helped by an actual airline official for instance. Whenever such a thing happens, I always wonder if such people using some sort of excuse to get ahead ever think of the time that others have been waiting in the queue, or the intrinsic value of the queuing system itself. They are so selfish and so full of themselves that they gleefully acknowledge the invitation by some unauthorized moron ahead of you and leverage the same to pull ahead of the waiting movie-goers or passengers.

More often than not such a thing happens in India, and it almost always does not happen anywhere else that I have been to – signifying the class mentality that is even today embedded in Indians’ minds. I have been to China a number of times and everything works systematically. People follow the rules and nobody solicits favours in common day to day life. The overt display of favourable treatment unfortunately embeds a wrong stereotype in the minds of young impressionable people, who assume that it is just normal and socially acceptable behaviour.

I get annoyed when I come across such instances, because my assumption today is that India and Indians would have moved far ahead in their behavioural culture. That refinement is yet to happen, as I witnessed twice within a span of 15 minutes at the Chennai International Airport last week. In all airports in India, passengers have to produce their airline tickets and a personal identification – in the case of international airports, it has always been your passport.

So here I was in the “airport entry queue” which surprisingly had only some four people ahead of me. I was ready with my passport and ticket, and like it always happens in India, the queue worked both ways. I saw some people who were talking to the police official starting to walk back in a queue which was not wide enough to accommodate two guys and some luggage! But then, in India one always needs to “adjust” – so I made way for these folks walking back. At that time, I saw the guy at my back in the queue who was well dressed and appeared to be respectable. He grew impatient with the delay in the queue not moving forward, and hit my leg with his baggage. I turned towards him and cautioned him to be careful, and then he apologized. I don’t understand this rush to get ahead in every queue in life. Nothing much is going to happen in a few minutes of waiting and letting the official process one by one. In India, the respect for processes is weak everywhere, and that tendency percolates down to inviolable areas such as airports.

Looks like a simple thing, but I do not agree that even apparently educated people get to violate process with impunity.

I got into the airport and proceeded to my airline’s check-in counter. There were just a couple of guys ahead of me in this queue as the counters hadn’t yet opened. And what did I see? Couple of guys, including a lady, could not wait to join the queue and follow it – with hardly any people in it! They lifted the barricade strap and got in ahead of me for the purpose of joining some “known” guy ahead of me, without so much as a simple excuse for breaking the queue discipline.

Again simple stuff, but the refinement of culture and respect for others are lacking – of course, there was never any discipline to start with anyway.

As I walked towards the lounge to start my long wait for the flight, I was ruminating on these mundane daily happenings in India. None of these take away from the greatness of the whole nation, but demonstrates that Indians in general, at the street level, are not willing to learn from the good behavioural practices and common culture prevalent in most other countries.

As I know only too well, Indians travelling abroad or living outside India, forcibly change their behaviour and approach to accommodate respective local practices and confirm or comply to those practices or cultural edicts to protect themselves and make progress. May be in India, the Prime Minister should introduce good cultural behaviour, discipline and respect for each other to the people of India – that should make some improvements in daily life.

Have a good week ahead folks,

Cheers

Vijay Srinivasan

14th July 2019

Old and Older Connections


In life, we keep meeting new folks in every day business and personal lives. We try to keep track of these people by entering contact details in MS Outlook for business contacts and in Apple Contacts for personal contacts (in my case). We do not have the time or focus to review these contacts and check to see when was the last time we interacted with a particular person.

The reason for inactivity when it comes to business contacts is not difficult to fathom – if we continue to do business with a business contact, then we keep meeting the person almost like every month at least. If we are not, then it only means that there is not much business activity between the two organisations. Slowly, the business contact who you had met quite some time ago, fades away from your radar and is rarely to be seen again. In my opinion, this requires a review as you should evaluate every business contact for his or her value, and reduce the importance to a lower level as the case may be – a business rolodex cannot be just ordered according to the alphabet (of either the name of the organization or the name of the business contact). It should have immediate importance and value for you to generate some fresh business lead or introduction to a prospect. So, it should be ordered accordingly.

In the case of personal contacts, the situation gets worse as most such acquaintances are driven by local connectivity rather than leverage a broader connectivity. What I mean here is that people in a specific location or area of a city oftentimes tend to get together for parties, and the proximity effect has big impact when the specific area has some big ticket condominiums with similar profiles of folks who would have got introduced at some business or social event. As people spread across a city or a country, it becomes more difficult to connect and network and build a relationship. If I look through the personal contacts (people that I have met mostly on social occasions and exchanged business cards with) list on my Apple, I encounter people that I have almost forgotten, or people who I met so long ago with no further interaction. It is strange, but that is the way it is, even in a small city like Singapore. You can then imagine the prospect of networking in a large country such as India or the U.S. Again, I eliminate folks who I have not interacted with in the past 3 years or so, and reduce the length of the contacts directory with more meaningful names.

In this process (both business and personal, more specifically personal), I identified a phenomenon which I knew intuitively but which has not coalesced up to my senses till now. It is simple – folks I had known from my old times and folks who are more mature, have always made attempts to keep in touch with me, and similarly I had the inclination to keep in touch with them almost continuously over the years in a proactive fashion. I am talking about a three decades-long experience, so there must be some truth in what I am discovering. The groups that I have been part of for a long time are still around and some of the members of these groups have been in touch with me directly. The “physical” groups that I have been part of are also active with an orientation towards its members and their well-being. In fact, we often seek out each other when we visit other cities or countries. My management school classmates are going to meet later this year at a port city in India for a long-awaited rendezvous. The success of such endeavours is based on interest level, good will, familiarity, and an utter lack of pecuniary considerations of any kind – there is just no motive other than to fondly interact and network.

I find this fascinating – I get calls from people who I know well but who have been away, and the connection is almost instantaneous with a desire to fill the gaps in each others’ lives. I have not seen business happening between personal contacts and I believe that it is probably the right thing. No point in introducing a motive for the connection or a specific interaction between two personal contacts, apart from the genuine desire to speak to each other on personal matters.

When I forward my blog posts to multiple groups, it signifies my desire to stay in touch with multiple folks at the same time. They may or may not read my posts, but they know I exist and I am quite active. I am just a phone call away. That keeps the vibe going in the group. Occasionally, I get a response from a group member, and it is an important event for me!

In a nutshell, I cannot emphasise the critical importance of “old” and “older” connections to the social well-being of oneself. We need to make all possible attempts to network and keep the association going forward. This will not only help us but also will help the person at the other end. I have always seen that folks who have been away for many many years are kind of emotional when they get back to their home city and meet their old class mates or friends – they had been missing the good old times all those bygone years!

I hope I am making sense – it is for you to “feel” what I am belabouring to explain.

Have a wonderful weekend folks,

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

29th June 2019

80 Minutes of Solitude


I look forward to my Sundays.

Not for the inherent laziness it entails. Not for the food that I can cheat on, at least for a day. Not for the multitude of TV shows, movies and cricket matches.

I love my Sunday morning walks, which are always longer ones compared to other days of the week. I typically do 50 minutes of walking on weekday mornings (sometimes 60 minutes), but on Sundays I tend to stay on my walk somewhat longer, typically reaching 80 minutes of continuous, non-stop walk.

It is not just for the sake of satisfying my Fitbit (of course, sheepishly I keep looking at it once in a while to check how I am doing!).

The idea is to have some focused aerobic exercise, for sure. It kind of make my lungs breathe some early morning fresh air, which is just pure goodness in these times of pollution percolating into our lives every moment. I feel good at the end of the walk though I am soaked in sweat.

However, the key benefit that I have to claim is the impervious solitude that I seem to be achieving during every such long walk in areas surrounded by thick shrubbery and water. While my mind keeps processing the inputs from the environment surrounding me during my walk, it also is replaying portions of my life. It also is forcing me to think about life choices. It is in a unique position of quietude when it can challenge me on difficult issues pertaining to my own life. How did I perform when faced with a difficult situation? How did I handle a tough matter? Did I do well when dealing with one of my family members? How would have my life changed had I selected a different option in a decision-tree?

I find the exercise fascinating. Since there is hardly any distraction (apart from bird sounds and ruffling of leaves), the mind is absolutely clear with an unparalleled ability to dissect issues threadbare and lay these down in front of your eyes. Yes, while walking I have been able to witness the power of the mind, which I would not have been able to under normal circumstances.

I have come to love my Sunday morning walks due to the impact that these “walk with me” kind of solitude they provide to me. I did 80 minutes of walk this morning as well, and sheepishly counted 8,000 steps when I walked back into my home on my Fitbit – more or less accurate, I should say. But what is more important to me personally is the “review” that my mind conducted of my doings, behaviour, performance, and life choices.

Where else can I get this kind of service, feedback and advice?

At the end of the day, everything is in our hands. There are many folks who say that everything is in God’s hands, but I disagree. Man and Woman are intelligent human beings created by a greater force, so they are in a position to evaluate things and make appropriate decisions for themselves. Help might come in many different ways, but the responsibility for their actions is always theirs. They cannot and should not blame God for any of their failures.

So, it is very critical to listen to your own self. You are the master of your thoughts, your behaviour, your being and your actions. And the best way to listen to yourself is to seek solitude. I would suggest that you do not go for a walk with your partner as that could become an extension of the household – you do not wish to be debating the same issues that you would be discussing with your better half at the park. Try to be all alone in absolute solitude. And stay that way as long as possible, giving enough space to your mind to debate with YOU.

This works for me. I can tell you that I have come up short during many instances in my life, and now I am staring at the learning that I can indeed achieve by listening to my own mind – it is indeed beautiful, and all of us have beautiful minds.

Think about it, and you might agree with my observation which comes from practice. By the way, I met my target of 98,000 steps for the week of 7 days finishing today (Sunday), so I am doing well on the Fitbit count. Keep walking but also keep thinking.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

23rd June 2019

The Frugal Mechanism


Most people growing up in the Sixties to Nineties in India had what I describe as the “scarcity mindset”. Things started to change from late Nineties, and now young Indians in India present a vastly different mindset.

The “scarcity mindset” refers to the actual scarcity of consumer goods, combined with low incomes which did not even allow consumption of the poor quality consumer items then available in India. I would say that low incomes in a low growth country with immense potential created a generation of folks who scrimped on everything from food to foot wear, and that includes yours truly, of course.

The socialist government of India, run by the Congress Party, was instrumental in ensuring the industrial development of India while not allowing the development of consumer-oriented, open market. Since the economy grew very slowly, and sometimes not at all, the real income generated in the hands of the people was not adequate to provide even the basic necessities of a rather tough life. I always used to wonder why we could not have the items imported from overseas, if we could not produce the same ourselves in India. Why should we bring even chocolates, biscuits, and nuts from abroad? I can understand the need for bringing liquor, but not the rest of the items.

The “scarcity mindset” got strongly embedded in our psyche back then, and unfortunately, it refused to leave our being even after we had moved on in our lives – away from India in many cases, like mine. I used to joke about the “data switch” in my brain, which multiplied the price of everything by the foreign exchange conversion rate, and constantly rattled me. Well, that data switch is now gone for good, but the need to maintain a “scarcity mindset” continues in its logic and approach. This has been the case, even after I could access all those “scarcity” items at ease, even in India now!

The positive outcome is that there is always a questioning approach in my mind, seeking to establish a real value of something that I wish to procure. It could be a TV, or a new refrigerator, or a new pair of shoes. Everything goes through the same tough filter, which has been revised over the past several decades to such an extent that it is very hard for something to easily slip through. This is despite the fact that in Singapore the price of an item could be lower than that of the same item in India (it is true and it is possible), and so could have been easily justifiable. The issue is the basic necessity of an item which is not very urgently required. The “casual” manner in which we spend our discretionary income is strongly discouraged in the “scarcity mindset” environment.

The youngsters of today do not, obviously, understand the rationale or the need for a “scarcity mindset” when there is actually no scarcity of any kind even in India. It is hard for me to educate my children on this aspect of my life, which is still alive in my brain. This feeling got accentuated when a business friend of mine from India mentioned it on his own unprompted, which told me that I am not unique – there are plenty others who have the same feeling and the same challenge of dealing with the youngsters in their families.

I would argue that the “scarcity mindset” is helpful in dealing with downturns in life. I have faced downturns in life, and I could easily pass up things that others would consider essential for their livelihood. I see the “African Voices” segment on CNN and could easily visualise the poverty and lack of food that are prevalent in the African continent. The other day I saw children chasing a truck which was handing out water bottles, not unlike the scenes witnessed in India couple of decades ago, and even now in some parts of the country. These real happenings demonstrate that scarcity does exist, poverty does exist, lack of food plagues children across the world even now, and if only the world could spend 10% of their total defence expenditure on poverty alleviation, the world would become a much better place with less hunger amongst poor children. The world spent approximately USD 1.8T (1,800B) on defence last year.

I am proud that I maintained a frugal mind but not a cheap mind (!). I just do not spend on my own needs, but spend on others in my family of course. Should I get a Mont Blanc wallet or belt? The answer is a strict “No”, as the brand does not distinguish me in any way. It should be the other way around, if at all. Most of my personal items are brandless, except for my fitness watch which is a Fitbit, but Fitbit is not considered the top end of the range for fitness watches – it is every man’s fitness watch, not an Apple or a Garmin watch. Such a mindset does not mean that I would go in for a low quality product. It is just not price, it is avoidance of luxury and rejection of luxury as a mindset.

This approach has helped me throughout my life, and I have no intention of abandoning it, despite prodding from some family members. I question the need for luxury, when its sole purpose is to show off to the rest of the world that you have indeed “arrived”. It is absolutely unnecessary. I consider the only Zegna suit that I bought as an excess of a frivolous mind, influenced by a high class mentor, and have subsequently trained it to focus on suits that can be bought readymade in specialty clothing outlets, for example JC Penney or Nordstrom, while travelling in the U.S., or at outlet malls which provide brand names at 35% of the retail prices downtown.

I would strongly advise the new generation to look at the actual need for an item before spending on it. Make an assessment of the need. Make an estimate of the price that you are willing to pay. Don’t go blindly after a brand in an expensive mall. Look at alternatives. Look at online shopping. In a nutshell, do whatever is necessary to curtail discretionary spending, while investing in planned spending for yourself such as online courses on Blockchain, AI, ML, etc.,

I hear you laughing.

Have a great week ahead,

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

12th May 2019

Enjoying Public Transport


I am still driving my socialist car as though it were a Porsche or at least like a BMW or Mercedes Benz. There is no harm in that because almost all cars on the road behave in the same way in a traffic-clogged city, irrespective of the specifications of the car – whether high-end sports car or mid-range socialist car, right?

In Singapore, most cars behave in a specific manner, due to very tough law enforcement mechanism and severe punishments meted out in a consistent way. So it does not matter what car you drive.

Of late, I have started using public transport systems which are of high quality in Singapore, as most of you know. Whenever there seems to be high parking charges imposed (especially in the CBD, or Central Business District area), I tend to reconsider my options, weighing convenience against cost effectiveness. Most times, convenience wins hands down, but there are days and occasions when using public transport makes eminent sense. For example, I use public bus to reach my gym on weekdays as the parking is expensive and bus costs less than one-third of the parking cost, whereas during weekends, driving is a better option as the parking cost is similar to the bus cost, and the car allows me to buy a few things and bring back to home. Driving into CBD during weekdays is definitely not a good idea as apart from the exorbitant parking rates, there is an ERP (Electronic Road Pricing) charge to enter the CBD which varies depending on the time of the day.

Recently, I used a combination of bus and MRT subway system, which facilitated reaching the heart of the CBD in less than 40 min at a low cost. Then I started wondering – why do people still want to stick to their cars instead of enjoying the air-conditioned travel comfort in public transport. Apart from the comfort and timeliness, the other thing is the lack of traffic congestion on the MRT except, of course, of the commuters themselves who clog the stations in big numbers right through the day, more so during the peak hours.

One thing that I really enjoyed is watching the commuters and their behaviour without being obtrusive. 90% of the folks were totally fixated on their smartphones, many watching TV serials or videos, others reading news, etc., There was hardly any conversations going on, except amongst school going children and teenagers who mostly giggled about something. I expected at least some love birds, but I hardly saw anyone. This experience told me that Singaporean public transport commuters do not use the “public” opportunity to seek out potential new partners or business associates. They appear to be living a solo life in their own respective glass bubble, with hardly any interaction with other strangers. In fact, I noticed some couples did not even engage in any talk, but once they settled in, almost immediately whipped out their respective smartphones and started doing their own thing.

I noticed that government education on public orderliness has percolated and embedded itself in the psyche of people so much, that they always form a neat queue on either side of the opening doors of the MRT coaches, and try not to get pushed in as happens in Hong Kong or Mumbai.

Well, what I can say is that you save enough money in a five day week to have more than couple of meals if you use public transport as compared to driving and parking your own car. Though I sometimes wish to give up my car for good, the convenience factor nags me – I have to walk only 5 minutes to the bus stop right outside my condo, but have to walk some 12 minutes to the nearest MRT station. I have to wait for the bus, or use the several bus apps to plan the departure from my home to sync with specific bus arrival. And so on, and so forth. I was thinking today that such precise timings and definitions would have hardly mattered in India, for example, but in a developed country, our sensitivity goes up! We become extremely time conscious and want to plan our journey to the very last minute!!

However, in a nutshell, I have started enjoying at least the little bit of public transport that I am using. I wish the bus driver when I board the bus, and mostly the drivers respond with a big smile, as it is very apparent that no commuter bothers about the driver. Drivers of public transport in Singapore are not used to greetings coming from passengers, it appears! Everytime I get into a taxi, I greet the driver with his name as the app shows his name, and almost everytime I get warmth back. For me it is not unusual way of operating, but for the driver it is an unusual experience, a pleasant one to be greeted from out of the blue. Many a time, a suitably warmed up driver is a better alternative as he or she engages in small talk afterward which is a good experience.

So, here I go – for my next ride using public transport, which for me involves a fair bit of sociology reading as well, apart from getting to my destination on time!

Cheers, and have a great week ahead folks,

Vijay Srinivasan

24th February 2019

The Ordinary vs. the Impactful


It is a beautiful morning in Singapore – bright, sunny but not yet hot. The Chinese New Year week is coming to an end – it is the “Year of the Pig”, and hopefully we can look forward to peace and prosperity, much more than wars, conflicts, and poverty. Well that is my wish at least, and I am sure most of the world’s citizens would want a year better than what has gone by.

I was thinking about the folks that we meet in our daily lives, and during networking or social occasions. I am not personally a shy person, I stretch out my hand and shake hands with any stranger that I meet in such situations. But whether you already know the person or he or she is a stranger, it strikes me odd that very few people even attempt to create an impact on you.

What I mean is not the attempt on either side to start a conversation or engage in a meaningful chat (even for a few minutes); it is the effort to positively impact the other person with your ideas or thoughts on how some global issue can be addressed. When I leave a conversation or a meeting, I would want to be “impacted” so that I do not forget the person’s profile/face, the topic, or the impact that person caused on me. Otherwise, I think it is a waste of time for both persons who are getting introduced.

I believe I get only one chance to influence another person. I have experienced the fact (as far as it concerns me) that if I fail in that endeavour, I do not get another chance even if I get to meet the same person again. I am sure you have come across such situations. This shows that people make up their minds about you in few seconds, rather too quick for comfort, but that is the way it is………you get only one opportunity to create a positive impression on the other person and you better not lose that opportunity.

Many a time I have met slackers who either do not have anything to say, or focus on someone else while chatting with you. Both actions are not going to go down well with me (I am sure it is the same with almost everyone else), as here I am trying to make a conversation and create an impact of my own on the “slacker”, irrespective of his pedigree or status, genuinely assuming that there is something that can be gained from each and every meeting, but the slacker couldn’t care less. Looking at what other folks are doing during an intimate conversation is stupid, to say the least. That is actually an insult, a lack of respect towards the other person (here it is me!) who is working hard to keep matters in focus and generate an influence. Gradually, I have learnt to identify slackers and either avoid conversations or just move on to someone else that I know with a greeting that would slice off my time with the slacker in an unobtrusive manner.

Then you encounter the silent spectators who are usually difficult to penetrate – these are the folks who observe everything, grasp most of what is going on, keep their thoughts to themselves, and open up only to others who know them very well. It could be a challenge to get introduced to them, so I use a mediator (a common friend) – I just ask this mediator who is this silent spectator, what does he do, can he make an introduction for me, et al. I am always surprised that these silent spectators turn out to be the most incisive, impactful people that I have met. Not the garrulous, back-slapping folks working their way through the crowd, trying to please everyone around.

I would divide the people that I meet into several buckets: the ordinary people (more than 60% fall into this category) who are mostly good guys or girls who carry on with their lives in the usual way, not feeling the urge to generate an influence or impact on other people that they meet: they just greet, talk some shop, and then move on. They do not make an attempt to find out more about the others that they meet. They probably do not want a job! Or, they are not interested to build new network of new friends. I cannot figure out their general disinterest even on matters which affect all of us. They don’t even want to talk about President Trump! They probably do not wish to take a stand on any matter.

The slackers are the folks that you do not wish to engage because of a variety of factors – basically they are not trustable, generally they are boasters, they do not have respect, their attention spans are very low. We gain nothing out of any interactions with slackers. Again, these folks show very little interest in you or on global matters that should be of concern to all of us. They are not well-read, they just tend to slack off and probably drink through the evening instead of seriously networking with anyone they come across. Slackers constitute probably 20% of the people that you would meet.

Then comes the silent spectators – you should pay attention to these people. They carry a lot of stuff in their heads and generally they have a much better grasp of worldly affairs and even your own network of friends. It takes time to break through to such folks however. May be couple of meetings with your strong pitch on your own credibility and then you are on your way to a long-lasting friendship. Mind you, they are difficult people with their own views on every matter under the sun, and sometimes they do not take kindly towards conflicting opinions. Silent spectators probably constitute less than 5 to 10% of the people sample that you would come across.

Then, finally there are people who wish to talk a lot and contribute to every topic that is being discussed. One can gain a lot by listening to such people – they come through not as garrulous interventionists but as engaging thought leaders who peddle their views in a non-aggressive manner to anyone they meet. They believe that every meeting, even a chance meeting, should be converted into a productive engagement – it does not matter who benefits; otherwise there is no purpose in any meeting. It might sound a bit harsh, but I know a number of folks who fall into this category – I would designate them as thought contributors, for the lack of a better terminology. They take a principled stand on every topic that they raise or respond to, and are not afraid of potential backlash demonstrating a sincerity which is unusual. I respect these contributors as it is a huge learning opportunity to talk to them. Of course, these people expect you to respond, so we need to have some material in our heads to engage and continue the conversation in a meaningful manner, otherwise they will lose interest and move on. They constitute probably less than 10% of the people sample that you would run into, but combined with silent spectators, they are the most impactful people that could seriously impact your world views. So, where would you choose to put your emphasis on? Most people you run into are ordinary people with no vision or even a mission statement that they wish to propagate in any people-to-people engagement. They do not have a plan. Obviously, I would not want to spend more than the time needed for greetings or courtesies, with these people. I would like to focus on the Silent Spectators and Thought Contributors, both of who could add value to me for my own improvement. Likewise, I would like to be a thought contributor in every engagement – I am not a silent spectator as almost everyone who knows me can attest to!

Well, I thought I would pen my ideas on this interesting topic this morning, and I am just completing this post – it has taken about 45 minutes or so. Some new thoughts finally!

Have a wonderful weekend folks, and contribute some new ideas!!

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

09 February 2019