All posts by Raj Vora

CA by qualification. Story Teller by Passion. Entrepreneur by choice. Co-founder of The Other Side. Author of Yaariyan. Editor at City Scroll. Loves reading and travel.

Book Review – SIX DEGREES: Game of Blogs by BlogAdda.com

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Hi Friends,
Imagine you are the creator of a small world having five people on it. They have pre-defined characteristics. How their story proceeds ahead is upto you. i.e their lives are in your hands! If you are getting the feeling of becoming George R R Martin and killing the characters one by one, then so be it! This is your world and your story!! Powerful right? Now imagine deciding the fate of five characters in this world along with a team of people. There are infinite possibilities as to how the story can go. A small twist here and a little digression there can lead to a totally different ending.
Think about the following characters:
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Shekhar Dutta – a stay at home dad who happens to be a freelance writer in Mumbai
Tara Dutta – is Shekhar’s wife who is a media professional
Roohi is their 9 years old daughter

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Jennifer Joseph is a photographer from Kochi and
Cyrus Daruwala – a law student staying in Delhi.
Now imagine an empty paper in front of you and begin writing your story. I bet you must have already made some assumptions about the characters.Well, that bias comes from our own personal experience and is bound to happen.
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Happy Family
If you like photography, you will be drawn to Jenny’s character and eventually end up liking her. If you believe in the concept of marriage and family, you’ll make the family the best family ever! If you like writing, you’ll portray Shekhar in good light! You might also detail the characters on the basis of their surnames and caste assumptions – Cyrus will be a sweet Parsi then!
Now imagine reading three different stories using the same five characters written by different teams, having a totally different set up and a different ending! Mind boggling right?!! How can the same pre-defined character be so different in each story. That’s the magic of perception. For everyone of us, what we believe in is our reality; however, as a matter of fact, it is only our perception. There is no reality!!
Confused? Let me tell you about the book I’m reviewing today – It’s called Six Degrees – Game of Blogs.
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Six Degrees by BlogAdda is not just a book, but a piece of publishing history. It is the product of the first collaborative blogging effort in India. It is the first time when around 300 different people working as 30 different teams have woven completely different stories with the same set of characters created by BlogAdda. It is a part of #CelebrateBlogging initiative of BlogAdda.
30 teams of 10 bloggers each began creating their story about these five characters. The stories were shared online on their blogs each day. The team members had to co-ordinate the order and structure of the story, and craft a masterpiece in a seamless manner while infusing it with their own style and way of writing. Challenging, right?
These 30 stories, in turn, were filtered by a panel of 6 Judges namely, Ashwin Sanghi, Kiran Manral, Meghna Pant, Natasha Badhwar, Raksha Bharadia and Ravi Subramanian. They selected 3 stories from them which culminated into what I’m holding in my hand – Six Degrees.
Of the three stories presented, I loved the third story, Missing – A journey within the most. It left me on an emotional note with a thought to ponder over.
Why the naame Six Degree, you’d wonder; well the answer lies in the book and I’d recommend each one of you to find out your own reality by reading it!!
Buy the book, pull an all-nighter, make coffee (hot chocolate is better), get comfy in the corner of a room within your blanket and begin reading!!

 

You can buy the book on Amazon, Flipkart and GoodReads, I’ve mentioned the links below in the description. Hope you have an awesome time reading this creative piece.

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Picture Courtesy: Freepik.com

Meet the Changemakers in Education Sector

In this series of articles, I’ll be sharing stories about people doing awesome work in field of education. They are making learning relevant for 21st century.

Ever wondered of a school of your dreams? Wherein learning is customised for you. Each child is seen as a bud and is given an environment where he/she can bloom to full potential. Meet Bandana Basu and Reena Dhila who run Shishyaa, a small pre-school in Vashi. Now, when I say a school, you must be thinking of a standard school with benches and blackboards, the students sit the entire day and learn lessons from books. But wait, this school is totally different!

Based on Waldorf Education System, Shishyaa believes actual learning happens outside the classroom – there are no books, there is a huge playground where kids can play and learn!

Waldorf education system revolves around creating love. Learning is based on age and psychology of the kid as follows:

Age 3-7: Activities to be done with hands. No reading or writing. Learning through stories (HANDS) Teacher is the textbook.

Age 7-14: Consciousness towards outside world sets in. Logic isn’t developed yet. Learning through making them fall in love with world (HEART)

Age 14-21: Logical thinking begins at this age. Now logic is taught to the kids. (HEAD)

This is how a normal day looks in Shishyaa for a grade 1 kid,

The day begins with praying to four elements of nature and singing and dancing on rhymes which are repeated for entire month. There is a huge field where kids are taught how to plant crops and play in the mud. They also are taught to cut their own fruits and share it with everyone. They wash their bowls once they finish eating. This is followed by story telling, drawing and music sessions. By teaching these things, child invariably learns basics of mathematics, science, nature along.

All types of festivals are celebrated in an eco friendly way and kids themselves make the preparations for the same.

Teaching is based on 3 R’s as advocated by Waldorf Education System – Rhythm, Repetition and Reverence.

As Ms Bandana puts it aptly, a teacher is like a farmer. One who simply works with the environment at the farm. He waits for the arrival of the season, checks for the readiness of the soil, sows the seed at an appropriate time, nurtures the soil, controls the light conditions, scaffolds the sapling until it is ready to be on its own, wards off the pests, enriches the soil with manure, while watering the farm regularly. All along allowing the plants to do what they will do anyway, ‘find roots and grow’. This he continues to do patiently, until its time to harvest.

And when the time is apt, he harvests the crop only to hand it over to the world to meet the needs of mankind. Selflessly, knowing that the fruits of his labour are not for him to enjoy. They are his gift to humanity.

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Ms Bandana (l) and Ms Reena (r) along with Grade 1 kids

PS: You can connect to Ms Bandana and Ms Reena on shishyaa.weebly.com

 

Key Takeaways from Day 3 at Social Media Week, Mumbai

About Social Media Week

Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas, innovations and insights into how social media and technology are changing business, society and culture around the world.

Social Media Week, Mumbai – Day 3 at Todi Mills Social

Day 3 focused on social media for start ups and entrepreneurs.

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INNOVATIONS IN DIGITAL MARKETING – BY RADHESH KANUMURY

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Image Credit: SMW Mumbai
  • IBM’s Global Entrepreneur Program provides technology, business mentoring and go to market support to various startups.
  • Cognitive computing as a tool – Chatbots and other programs work on a similar mechanism, which begins with understanding spoken language, generating hypothesis, suggesting a solution and ability to self learn
  • IBM’s Cognitive Machine – Watson – has 10-12 various functions it can perform ranging from language, speech, image to data insights
  • Using cognitive machine, one can understand the profile, mood, tone and motive of the consumers
  • This technology can also be used for recruitments to figure out personality of the person

 

DIGITAL MARKETING FOR STARTUPS – BY SAMIT ARORA

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Samit Arora, Co-founder – Sales Panda
  • Digital Marketing is one of the cheapest tools available for start-ups
  • Art of using digital marketing is like making a perfect cocktail – you need to try things out, burn some money, before you figure out what works best for your brand
  • By 2025 internet will become like electricity and 1080p HD videos will be consumed on smartphones – video content is need for the day
  • Work on your on page SEO (good content, testimonials) and off page SEO (recommendations, getting vouched by experts)
  • Some free tools which can be used – Google Analytics, Buffer, Hootsuite, Website grader, Adwords
  • Adopt a Keyword strategy – pick up some keywords – all your blogposts should connect with those keywords – they should be in sync
  • Check where the customer gets engaged – is the reaching the website (if not, check uptime), is he bouncing off from landing page (work on your engagement, create a better visual or story), is website responsive to mobiles?
  • Tools for running an email campaign – Upwork, MailChimp, Rapportive
  • Process for Digital Marketing:
  • Assess -> Strategize -> Plan -> Implement -> Optimise

PERSONAL BRANDING SIMPLIFIED – BY KAVI ARASU

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The WHY of Personal Branding: People buy from people. It is next that people buy something else you put forward

  • By speaking about yourself in 5 minutes interaction, you open a possibility to stay connected and be open to further discussions. At that time you can talk about your products/ service, not before that
  • Your presence comes first before the efficiency / performance of your product / service

The HOW of Personal Branding: Be purposeful, programmed, serious.

  • Your online recognition on various social media platforms should be in sync with each other
  • Social media platforms are for giving, not for selling. So be aware you need to give, a lot, before anything comes back to you
  • Markets are in conversations – if people speak, there’s a market. Similarly, if there’s a market, people will speak

The WHAT of Personal Branding: Follow 1:9:90 rule of online marketing. 90% consume content, 9% curate it, 1% creates it. Be a part of 1%.

  • Begin Working out loud – share your work even before its complete and invite feedbacks and collaborations to make it even better
  • Be authentic rather than transparent – share only if it’s relevant to your audience

The WHO of Personal Branding: Richer conversations happen only with fewer people. Find out the following people (follow order of subsets) and engage in conversation with them:

  • Domain Experts
    • People who you know
      • People who share
        • People who respond

The NOW of Personal Branding: There’s no better time to begin than NOW!

 

 

Key Takeaways from Day 1 at Social Media Week, Mumbai

About Social Media Week

Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas, innovations and insights into how social media and technology are changing business, society and culture around the world.

Social Media Week, Mumbai – Day 1 at Grand Hyatt Regency

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Power of Storytelling in the Landscape of New Media -Vivek Nayer, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.

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Image Credit: SMW Mumbai
  • Tell stories to customers to build a rapport
  • Short videos are an awesome way to share stories
  • While choosing social media tools check for relevance, context, co-creation abilities (dubsmash), innovation, topicality and interactivity
  • Be authentic and share what does your brand stand for

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Power of Communities – Rohit Varma, R Square Consulting

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Image Credit: SMW Mumbai
  • Communities already exist. Brands should be looking at how to support them in what they do
  • Plan for long term engagement
  • Encourage people in the communities
  • Personalised communication creates connection and engagement
  • Take opinions and feedbacks seriously

Data with Soul – Samir Pitwala, Culture Machine

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Image Credit: SMW Mumbai
  • Analytics is being used for content distribution to relevant audience; now it is increasingly playing an important role in content creation too
  • Bots to interact with consumers and change user experience – they will auto-detect, copy and deduce what consumers want without them telling it
  • Analytics Softwares for content creation – use real time trends, understand vibes and make automated videos for consumption (uses same principle – auto detect, copy, deduce).
  • Six types of Videos – 360 degree videos, live, web series, long form, short form, vertical videos
  • Vertical videos and short form videos are great way to engage consumers

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5 things to do after you watch Baar Baar Dekho

Some movies touch your heart and send you home with a thought to be pondered over; even though there might be many glitches in story, acting etc. Baar Baar Dekho is one such movie. It is a reflection of life of today’s youth, busy in so many mundane things, clicking infinite snaps but forgetting to live a moment! Nitya Mehra’s first directorial venture has shown her mettle and I look forward to seeing more movies directed by her.

The movie has amazing cinematography, awesome locations and most importantly it has a message!! Here are some takeaways from the movie, do these once you watch it.

1. Pause, close your eyes and listen to your heartbeats

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2. Appreciate your loved ones – more often!

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3. Be grateful

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4. Live in the Present

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5. Listen to Kho Gaye Hum Kaha by Jasleen Royal on loop

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What if?

Today
is going to be your day.
You’ve worked hard for it
and shall get rewarded for the same.
*
Time
passes slowly.
The wait begins messing
with your mind – What if it doesn’t happen?
*
Reassurances
that’s all you’ve got.
As you refresh the screen
and wait for your results to come in
*
Declared!
You type in your id
and click enter – praying.
You have never been so vulnerable to ‘loading’.
*
Heartbeats
scream with expectations.
You enter into a different zone
and the result flashes – you’ve failed.
*
Blur
your eyes wet unknowingly.
Before you even notice the haziness
Tears run down your cheeks as you try to focus.
*
Denial
how could this ever happen?
You refresh the screen – check for errors
As heartbeats slow down, the feeling sinks in.
*
Vibrations
are at an all time low.
And you attract similar ones
from the universe – you hit the ghetto.
*
Today
was going to be your day.
You had worked hard for it
Why have you landed here then?
*
Today
is still your day;
as any other day.
Own up your failure.
*
Failure
is a part of life.
Essential to build ourselves.
Make it a stepping stone to your success.
*
Sometimes
we fall down in life.
Not to get ridiculed – but
to pick something more valuable.
*
Consider
this as an opportunity.
Opportunity to rebuild;
to look at things from a different perspective.
*
Today
is your day.
You still are awesome
and no one but you can take that away.