Hamilton Institute http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com Smart Content for Smart People Fri, 13 Jun 2014 05:23:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.1 Modern Times – it is not just a Bob Dylan album http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/modern-times-it-is-not-just-a-bob-dylan-album/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/modern-times-it-is-not-just-a-bob-dylan-album/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 05:23:51 +0000 udey http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=25398 Modern Times – it is not just a Bob Dylan album
How online discussion forums have changed and How we spend time in internet communications now
by Ujjwal Dey

The trend with online content activity is universal. People want to talk about recent stuff. They are not interested in an archive or in studying what great minds discussed a few years or months ago in the forum.

I actually kept the Group in the new software at www.IQmind.org limited to one Group and only to be created by Admin. Because otherwise the clutter would be a bigger turn off than the usual habit of online users to look for recent talks and move on.

phpBB forums have its use. In IT industry it is indispensable so that people can discuss bugs, errors, seek help, advice, etc. So there will be very active BB forums on C++ or Java or Photoshop and the likes. But for entertainment – no one uses a forum it seems. For intellectual pursuits they prefer an interactive website or a new tests/ puzzles or in person meetings.

I originally believed that in the new software the big Chat Room with ability of users to make their own rooms as in the past IHIQS chat app would be all that would be needed to offer to members. They would login and chat with like minded people and not leave a legacy or history or articles or lengthy threads. Just talk, move on – like fast food.

Success and continued success of Facebook is a study in Psychology. Sitting idle is always boring. Doing productive work requires mental effort and or physical effort. But using Facebook and scrolling endlessly and connecting from one person to next offers humans the convenience of being “engaged” – of doing something – it stimulates the mind out of boredom but doesn’t burden it with responsibility or accountability or deadlines or hierarchy.

I hope to provide similar stop, chat, sip and move on kind of website with the new software. No lengthy diatribes or grudges or IQ envy etc. No activity but the activity of doing something without reason, purpose or cause – just because it is there – maybe because it is fun – and then get on with the daily life.

Best Wishes,
Ujjwal Dey
Director, Orison-B high IQ Society
www.IQmind.org
http://IQtest.IQmind.org
http://OrisonB.IQmind.org

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Death of American Culture http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/death-of-american-culture/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/death-of-american-culture/#comments Thu, 31 Oct 2013 10:34:31 +0000 udey http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=24032

 

Death of American Culture:
American Culture – how corporates sold America and forgot to be American.

Big Brother – Big Boss.

India and China are such big markets that biggest of brands have to adjust to local culture and taste to make a sale.

And everyone wants a piece of the action from two biggest unexploited retail markets in the world – China and India together represent half the human population of the planet.

MTV which prided upon never changing wherever it goes changed colours in India after just two years in Indian Television market. Today MTV India is unrecognisable to any American MTV fan. It airs only crappy Bollywood song-dance and cheap teenage reality shows where innovative public insults are their USP.

The Big Brother show of Endemol was adapted in India as BIG BOSS. It makes news every year as a new low in Indian Television’s display of crassness and crudeness aired on satellite television worldwide.

The reason Big Brother is called Big Boss is also interesting. In Indian culture Big Brother is a term associated with benevolent, generous, helpful and supportive elder brother/s.

So the show is called BIG BOSS in Indian TV screens. As a Boss is the most universally despised person in East and West. LOLz.

Woody Allen refused to release his latest movie in Indian cinema halls. Because the hypocrite Government of India which earns billions of US Dollars from taxes and excise from cigarette sales has a statutory mandatory declaration before each movie – which features horrible graphic videos of cancer patients and worse.

Bravo Woody Allen!

But all are not so idealistic. Most American Studios including Disney, Warner Bros, Universal, Fox Studios, etc are more than willing to bend over backwards to adapt their “content” for India, Indian Government and Indian sensibilities.

The American way is apparently a fallacy. The American culture is disguised and distorted beyond recognition in India and China.

No wonder there is so little goodwill for USA despite its booming sales all over the world. The corporates sold the product/service but forgot to sell the AMERICANA CULTURE to these worldwide moneybag audiences.

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So you want to be a Fiction Writer? http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/so-you-want-to-be-a-fiction-writer-2/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/so-you-want-to-be-a-fiction-writer-2/#comments Sat, 18 May 2013 15:49:57 +0000 udey http://hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=391 Don’t we all? In a world where Information Age has enabled flow of communications at the blink of an eye, everyone is an author in their own rights. All of us posting our thoughts, ideas and opinions either in some blog, forum, as comments on popular websites, or even making podcasts and graphics to convey the same. So by the elementary definition of “writer”, any active internet user has already transformed into an “author”.

Yet, we all seek the glory and honour of traditional printed word. To see our name on a magazine or book-length work – to be associated in the exclusive cadre of “published authors”. Here then, the word “published” refers to having our fiction works accepted by a publisher who has made its name in literature. So, I will spare you my open-source ranting and not tell you that technology has enabled you to earn more and get a wider audience by self-publishing through print-on-demand with the only investment being your brain, your imagination and maybe a word processing software on a computer.

Refer also to my Writing Primer posted at Hamilton Institute  long time back.

Here the “method” described is purely with the aim of getting your work published. Whether it meets your artistic integrity is something you have to find a way to fit it into the primary agenda of being “published”.

List of Topics:

  • Creativity and Language
  • Writing to be published
  • Exclusive or Saturated
  • The beginning
  • Proposals before Writing
  • Pragmatic way to get Practice
  • Conclusion

Creativity and Language

English is a fun language, ever growing and evolving. So if you are writing in English, already your fiction market is bigger than any other non-English fiction writer. But if you see an opportunity in creating works that will sell well locally in your local/ regional language – go ahead and get it done. This generation has proven that language doesn’t limit your market. My best and favourite example is Haruki Murakami, a Japanese author with global fame who was even holding a position as a writing fellow at Princeton University at the height of his fame, which still grows.

Creativity on the other hand ensures equality in scope and opportunity to all the talented aspiring authors. What you can think, what you can imagine, what you can put into words – the limit is only what you put upon yourself. In fiction anything is possible, even the English dictionary can’t limit you for authors have created their own language/ words in their fiction. No I am not speaking Klingon here. “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess is an example from 1962. It is more well-known as one of many great movies made by Stanley Kubrick. The author created a fictional slang language called “Nadsat”.

So you see, not just spaceships and alien attacks are possible, but dogs could talk to you or you could fit inside a rabbit hole. Maybe you see utopia in near future or dystopia in present. Maybe your characters are men of valour or they may have turned into zombies due to a strange government conspiracy.

Let your ideas flow. Note them down. Only notes for now.

Now we have to see feasibility, market expectation and publisher demands.

Writing to be published

One has to realize that businessmen don’t really need exceptional artwork to earn profits. But exceptional artwork definitely needs businessmen to make some decent money for their projects/ income.

So shun the hippie attire and know that without the marketing/ sales effort and acumen of these publishers/ agents – no one really knows your creation. And like with all creation, we think our baby is so special that it will stand and run all by itself. The truth is that we need the support of publishers/ agents to be able to make our work available to the audience who would otherwise never know what a delight it is to hold your creation.

How do you write to be published? Keep in mind that you are writing with the aim to be published in mainstream publications. At the same time, don’t insult them by hack-writing something you believe represents their catalogue. You need to pick a genre. See what is popular with the readers of that genre. Then see the list of titles your preferred publishers are trying to sell. Then you only need to adapt your ideas to meet such expectations from readers and specifications of the publishers/agents.

  1. Identify the market you want to be in
  2. Identify the exceptional and the popular works in that market
  3. Know your targeted readers, their expectations and preferences
  4. Document your target publisher/s’ titles in that market
  5. Is there a match, a common factor or point where your ideas meet the above?

You have to find some common ground. This without losing your artistic integrity. You need not sell your soul, but you need to understand the market before you sell any books/ stories.

So even before you produce or pen anything related to your great masterpiece – you need to first acknowledge, respect and understand the market, its key players and the scope for you in the same.

Exclusive or Saturated

We all complain how new authors never get a break. That it is some elite clique of snob-nosed phonies who congratulate each other and sneer at others.

If you however log-off Amazon.com and walk into a large bookstore, you will see that among the heavyweights, the prizefighters and welterweights are also some amateur people who have donned the gloves and stepped inside the ring. They too have promoters and backers who have made it possible for them to be there among the greats.

So clearly, there is enough flow of new authors every year from which some go on to publish second and even a third book. Best thing for you to do is to make a good first impression by putting your best foot forward. So if you have a range of writing and ideas – analyze it as per market as suggested to pick one and use it to pitch for your first novel length work. Your first novel should make the readers and publishers happy. This first impression will ensure if they wish to meet your future works.

So though the literary career may seem exclusive, it is actually saturated.

Saturated with a horde of people submitting novels and stories and a respectable publisher will get pitched a dozen book manuscripts by agents everyday for 365 days a year. So if you are one in those million people, you better make a strong case to prove your worth in their court.

The Beginning

Yes, you have to approach it like the interview for the most desired job. Or a legal case where you prove the merits of your book or have it tarnished in that agent/publisher’s records. So now you are a savvy charming lawyer drafting your case to plead in favour of your client i.e. the book. The book can’t do all this but if you do it, the book will generate the income and popularity for you. Not to mention the future career in writing. LOL.

The premise of the 2 analogies suggested above (interview/ court-case) is to get you to see the seriousness required in your approach.

Your approach – right at the beginning, before you even write the book.

  1. After having narrowed down to the ideal idea for the ideal market/publisher
  2. Note the points that makes your book appealing to your audience
  3. Note the points that makes your book the best pick for your publisher/agent
  4. Now create a Proposal for your fiction novel

 

Proposals before Writing

So this is your case to support your book before it’s written.

Why? No, not for anyone else!

This proposal is for you! This is so that you can see in black and white whether you have a good idea for a novel at all. If not, go back to previous steps and rediscover your idea, your marketed audience and your agent/publisher.

So when you have collected these pieces to form a Proposal, you will be able to see for yourself – the feasibility of that fiction novel to be a real worthwhile product.

Proposal Pitch contents:

  1. The Title
  2. The tag line or blurb text within 2 sentences. Yes, you should be able to grab a person by maximum 2 concise sentences to intrigue/ interest them to read the rest of the proposal
  3. Why are you proposing this novel?
  4. Purpose/ Subject Matter/ Genre
  5. Your contribution – what makes a novel so special when coming from you?
  6. Intended audience – maybe even the demography/ geography of the audience. Have you ever seen how Amazon.com suggests other relevant books when you view one book. You could also think about how your novel fits in a genre – which readers of particular books or fans of which authors it can be related to.
  7. The competition for your subject matter/ theme/ genre/ market
  8. Length – expected word count
  9. Chapter Outlines – each with their plot outlines
  10. Timetable – plan out how you will make this novel-writing happen
  11. Publishers – list of established publishers who deal with the theme/ topic of your novel.  Maybe even list agents who have done well in that genre.
  12. Background information – your relevant professional credits first. Then educational. And then very briefly your personal contact details. No need to list hobbies and memberships unless it can be leveraged to pitch your book to anyone. The best thing about a writing career is that even people who are in blue-collar professions can have wonderful tales to tell. So don’t downplay this “background information” section of the proposal.

So this is your first document even before writing a novel.

You need this only for yourself – not to share this with any agent/ publisher at his point of time.

Read what you have filled and then analyze:

  1. if this looks like a good investment of your time/ energy – a profitable venture for you.
  2. if this is enough to convince you to start writing the novel
  3. if your idea/art can be adapted/ modified to meet this document’s expectations

Then you start writing your novel!

So you have reversed the way you go to a publisher/agent. You have done the groundwork first and know how to meet the demands. So now – you have an “artistic product” (not an oxymoron). You will have a novel that is saleable to both the audience and the publisher/agent.

And of course you have a ready Proposal for them, which you defined and can reuse now to send along with the manuscript to agents/ publishers. Because your fiction novel is based on a sound feasible Proposal. No more pains of having written something great and then hunting for a way to make it useful for a reader/ agent/ publisher.

Pragmatic way to get Practice

Ghostwriting may seem poor choice for authoring a book. We all want to put our fabulous name to the books we write. But again, you are thinking in a conditioned way.

Practice! Practice they say makes you perfect. But who will give you practice in writing a novel that is published and distributed and read? How will that practice come? Do you want to risk ruining your author “brandname” when an amateurish, not so popular book of yours comes out, by not making a good first impression?

Ghostwriting is a good way to write for the market and also earn a decent income for your effort.

  1. Helps you understand the market better – since the publisher/ agent or person would give you the readymade description of what is to be done.
  2. When the book comes out, you don’t need to worry about the results – you need to analyze how the publisher/agent’s formula clicked with the market – how they made it happen – or maybe what was missing that limited its popularity
  3. You get crucial practice in writing as per reader-expectation,
  4. You get crucial practice in understanding how agents/ publishers are convinced of a book’s worth
  5. You are able to hone your creativity and get feedback on your writing and on your style from a professional editor from a publishing house

Actually this list could go on and on depending how much you are able to grab out of such an opportunity. The efforts you make to learn “the trade” – will make you a professional writer.

And of course, these ghostwritten books would be proof of your skills – so do it well and make a portfolio of novel-length published works – before even having written your own first novel.

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a ghostwriter who wrote music for wealthy patrons.
  • Robert Ludlum wrote only 3 novels dedicated to Jason Bourne character (Bourne Identity, Bourne Supremacy and Bourne Ultimatum). How many do you see in the bookstores using the Ludlum’s name long after his demise?

Another opportunity is trying out varying genres. As a newbie, it is always good to be open to writing in multiple genres and styles. I have written macho Motorcycle Adventures such as “Wayfarer series”  and then also been able to present the same publisher with a Western Cowboy Adventure in “The Railroad”. And as you can see Bikernet.com is a magazine primarily for bikers, yet I found a connection – because modern bikers are just an adaptation of the way old west had horse-riding men and posse, etc.

Conclusion

If you don’t know where you are sailing to, you are lost at sea. Know the market and navigate it to reach your audience.

Too many analogies here, but well, hope you get the gist of its concept after reading it.

**** THE END ****

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How Social Media Will Change the Way We Do Business http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/how-social-media-will-change-the-way-we-do-business/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/how-social-media-will-change-the-way-we-do-business/#comments Mon, 06 May 2013 06:53:05 +0000 udey http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=13635 How Social Media Will Change the Way We Do Business

by Ujjwal Dey

Just about everyone with access to a computer migrates to the world of internet. And for everyone who goes on the internet the first thing they desire is online contact with fellow netizens. This was fulfilled in the nascent days of the internet through emails and forums or groups. But with the advent of specialized social networking media, everyone wishes to gain instant feedback and mass circulation for their ideas, thoughts and content.

Facebook has revolutionized the way people interact online. Sharing words, images, hyperlinks, video and just about every online content available. It provides tools to show clear feedback of the audience and ability to spread the message which then goes “viral”. Other popular networking media such as LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, etc have kept up and caught on with this changing landscape of online interactions.

LinkedIn found a niche market with collaboration among office colleagues and similarly skilled professionals, bringing a new corporate angle to social networking. Twitter has made possible instant concise and precise news breaking. YouTube channels have allowed laymen and professionals alike a new medium to broadcast their viewpoints.

So Social Media has already changed the way we netizens live, work, interact and collaborate online. The big question is if it will change “business”. The answer lies simply in realizing how big an impact these networking mediums make on our daily lives. If people believe in these viral contents or even if they enjoy it as entertainment – then the impact is clear and serious. People find freedom in these mediums to expand their ideas, collaborate internationally, draw audiences from varying backgrounds and spread their products/ services through word of mouth. This powerful marketing tool called “word of mouth” existed earlier too, in the form of idle gossip offline. It took months and years for such gossip to make any significant impact. Today, any idea, news, information can spread like wild fire online and can impact businesses who are targeted in the campaign. This can be a positive or a negative impact. Imagine a content showcasing hazardous quality of a premium car brand. It would damage the car manufacturer’s reputation and impact their bottomline. At the same time if people see the loving effort that goes into making an exquisite piece of art, the artist would be a superstar overnight through this online gossip express.

So companies need to be aware of what is being said about them. Not just to keep up with public sentiments but also to realize that some competitor or disgruntled worker may be defaming them online. So of course, like any aspect of technology, there is use and misuse. The businesses that have a wide net cast to market their products and services, need to monitor their “net persona” – that is, their image online. A simple consumer forum online where a customer airs his/her woes against a company can do serious damage to businesses today.

At the same time, there is opportunity. There is an entire world waiting to hear about your excellence in delivery of your products or services. So businesses that are local can suddenly find themselves catering to a global market. Small businesses with no budget for branding or advertising can discover that they have beaten industry bigwigs by simply producing exquisite products or unique services. There is no need to fear this social networking revolution if your business is true to its consumers. If you are sincere to your business ethics and loyal to your customer’s needs, then social media will only spread the joy you bring.

Right To Information Act in a developing country such as India and success and support of WikiLeaks proves that the masses and especially the educated masses are seeking transparency and knowledge. They want the big corporates and archaic governments to open up their dealings and activities so that they can be scrutinized by the people whom it affects the most – the citizens. The masses want transparency in the way business, economy, administration and other aspects concerning their daily life are carried out. This is a clear indication of the power of the Information Age. Knowledge and Information travels fast and wide. People feel empowered and demand respect by claiming their rights to how their city or nation is being influenced by private or government players. They deserve the acknowledgement and recent demonstrations in Asian, Arab and African nations prove that social media can carry such people’s movements and expose it to international media and audience.

Lastly, I would say, change is constant. If a business doesn’t know how to adapt, they go the way of the dinosaurs. So evolve and lead your business into the brave new world of exposure and adventure.

About the Author: Ujjwal Dey is a Life Coach, Motivational Speaker and Corporate Trainer. Call +91 9322005050

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Trust in Freemasonry http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/trust-in-freemasonry/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/trust-in-freemasonry/#comments Mon, 06 May 2013 06:50:21 +0000 udey http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=13633 Trust in Freemasonry
By Ujjwal Dey

Trust is an essential element in each and every relationship. Whether it be a helpless dependent child trusting his parents or a student trusting his teacher or a wife trusting her husband or even a friend trusting his comrade. All relationships are built on trust. This is not limited to personal relationships but also professional ones. For the best businesses thrive on gaining trust of investors, stakeholders, employees and customers. That’s how a brand gets created, an implicit trust in an organisation’s name.

Now how effective is this subtle element of trust in Freemasonry. This is such an ancient and celebrated institution. It is now well-known in so many countries and cities across the world. But earlier when such an information-age didn’t exist, even then Freemasonry had spread far and wide.

I will not talk here about brethren of a Lodge or Constitution trusting each other or even trust between Lodges and Grand Lodges across nationalities. Let me show how glorious the tradition of trust is in Freemasonry.

A candidate is not a brother. He is an outsider looking in at the Lodge with fascination and interest. He has at most met a few or even all brethren of one Lodge where he has applied to join. He doesn’t know the extent of this powerful network of fraternal brothers. How much trust does this candidate put in Freemasonry and in Freemasons?

Let us analyze and scrutinize a candidate. He is an adult male believing in a God and wishes to join off his own freewill. What is his motive to trust strangers in a clearly “strange” institution? We Freemasons proudly say that we make good men better. Indeed this is proven with the very first step of candidate’s contact with a Masonic Lodge. If he is indeed a good man, then he can verify the good stature and generous nature of Masons he comes in contact with. He comes with an open mind. To learn and gain the trust of the new friends he meets for the very first time – when he is introduced to the brethren of the Lodge he wishes to join.

A candidate has but a limited contact with Freemasonry:
1. He has either met a Freemason who informed him about this ancient fellowship, or,
2. He saw a movie or read a book or came across an internet link which got him hunting for Freemasons in his neighbourhood.

So a candidate comes in touch with at least one brother. This brother may then propose him in an Open Lodge. But the candidate’s relationship with the entire Masonic fraternity is attached by the delicate single thread of this proposer. All his hopes and expectations from Freemasonry are tied to this brother. He may subsequently meet other brethren of the Lodge who wish to evaluate the candidate before balloting. But the only Mason the candidate meets more than once is probably the proposer. And then the candidate is given a date and time to come to the Masonic Lodge for his initiation.

What can a layman expect when joining an ancient institution? This candidate is told that he needs to remove his suit and tie and don an attire which looks so bizarre. A hole in the chest, slipshod arm and leg wear. He is told to remove all valuables such as wallet, wristwatch, rings, etc. and then is blindfolded before entering a room he has never seen before. A good man, the candidate, puts his trust in the Tyler. And this Tyler he might have met for the very first time on the day of initiation. He is then led around by the Junior Deacon, another man he doesn’t know nor can see since he is blindfolded. Then the words are spoken from the Eastern Chair by the Worshipful Master – distant and commanding voice, asking the candidate specific questions to which the Junior Deacon prompts answers. This entire setup demands so much blind faith and trust from a candidate on “members” of a Lodge. Then it doesn’t stop there. The rituals unfold. The blindfolded man is asked to kneel, he is then also led around the temple with specific way to square off to turn to walk in another direction. So much pressure and surprise at every minute of the initiation ceremony. Including a binding oath on a book he doesn’t see to verify.

Only a “good man” would have so much virtue to put his trust in a group of “strangers” at the recommendation of one or few Masons he has actually associated with freely.

Isn’t that a small miracle? We talk of faith and beliefs and how it changes people and the world at large. What could be a better example of miracles of faith, human trust and human nature?

So here I conclude this brief article, allowing you to ponder on this sacred initiation ritual with greater awe and reverence. Think about it. Discuss it. Every action of yours outside the Lodge is affecting another human being in this world. If you are a true and just and upright Freemason, you will take charge of your words and actions, so as to not only be virtuous citizen but to also attract the best men to the ancient society of Freemasons.

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Motorcycling America: A brief history of two-wheels and its heroes http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/motorcycling-america-a-brief-history-of-two-wheels-and-its-heroes/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/motorcycling-america-a-brief-history-of-two-wheels-and-its-heroes/#comments Mon, 06 May 2013 06:37:33 +0000 udey http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=13628 Motorcycling America
A brief history of two-wheels and its heroes
By Ujjwal Dey

We all love our rides. Whatever they may be. A cruiser, a sports model, a stock bike, a stripped down mud-all-terrain cycle, whatever. But what’s its history? How did a two-wheeler come to have such a passionate following across continents? An ancient rivalry between British and American motorcycles transformed the industry. Then came the Japanese rides challenging American pedigree. So what’s the story? We got it all here in a snapshot photo feature.

The Beginning: In the beginning, there was the word, and the word was “safety”. Yes, there is no known inventor of the motorcycle. Various people in Europe seemed to have had the same idea about the same time. The invention however culminated from the safety bicycle. This was a bicycle with front and rear tyres of the exact same size. That’s what was the seed to grow into a booming cycling industry in second half of the 19th century.

Pedaling along: So then these pioneers of a new industry thought of an automated bicycle. They already had pedals but what if the damn thing pedaled itself. So came a Steam Engine powered bicycle – the Michaux-Perreaux steam velocipede, can be traced to 1867, when French blacksmith Pierre’s son Ernest Michaux fitted a small steam engine to one of the ‘velocipedes’.

Pierre Lallement, a Michaux employee, filed for the first bicycle patent with the U.S. patent office in 1866. Then in 1868 an American, Sylvester H. Roper of Roxbury, Massachusetts developed a twin-cylinder steam velocipede, with a coal-fired boiler between the wheels. Roper died demonstrating one of his machines in Cambridge, Massachusetts on June 1, 1896.

Soon by 1881, Lucius Copeland of Phoenix, Arizona designed a much smaller steam boiler which could drive the large rear wheel of an American Star high-wheeler at 12 mph. In 1887 Copeland formed the Northrop Manufacturing Co. to produce the first successful ‘Moto-Cycle’ (actually a three-wheeler).

Germans: Yeah, they can never stay out of inventions. Heard the names Diamler-Maybach. Yes, the company that makes multi-million dollar sedans for the rich pigs of this economy. Back in 1885, Mr. Diamler and Mr. Maybach of Stuttgart invented the first petroleum-powered vehicle, running on a light gasoline. Named “Reitwagen”, it meant “riding car”. It was invented with Diamler’s ambition to prove that his grandfather clock would function just as well on a moving vehicle.

Sell it to the circus: So by 1880, every Tom, Dick and Frankenstein were inventing motorized bicycles. The trend spread from France, England and Germany to United States of America. There were new designs of something spectacular called “internal combustion engine”. The Hildebrand & Wolfmüller became the first motorcycle available to the public for purchase in 1894. Designs changed and more powerful engines were being made everyday. The very first known motorcycle in the USA is a machine brought to New York by a French circus performer, in 1895. It weighed about 200 lb (91 kg) and was capable of 40 mph (64 km/h) on a level surface. Same year, an inventor from the United States, E.J. Pennington, demonstrated a motorcycle of his own design in Milwaukee. Pennington claimed his machine was capable of a speed of 58 mph (93 km/h). Pennington is credited with inventing the term “motor cycle” to describe his brilliant machine.

So America can take heart at owning the word if not the invention.

War Horses: Eat crow all of you. I own a Royal Enfield Bullet. And Royal Enfield was the first brand name in motorcycle industry. They put up manufacturing at England and launched a commercial product in 1901, with a 239 cc engine mounted in the front and driving the rear wheel through a belt. Royal Enfield is now the oldest motorcycle brand in the world still in production with the Bullet model enjoying the longest motorcycle production run of all time.

In 1902, British bicycle maker Triumph also jumped in to make motorcycles. They had a Belgian-built engine. Also in 1901, the Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company, founded by two former bicycle racers, designed the “diamond framed” Indian Single. Its engine was built by the Aurora Firm in Illinois as per Indian’s specifications. Indian’s production was up to over 500 bikes by 1902, and would rise to 32,000, its best ever, in 1913.

In 1903, as Triumph’s motorcycle sales topped 500, an American company emerged – our very own Harley-Davidson started producing motorcycles.

A time of experiments and innovation emerged. Everyone wanting to outdo each other to improve their product. This resulted in the new sport of motorcycle racing. This resulted in faster, tougher, more powerful and more reliable motorcycles. Chief August Vollmer of the Berkeley, California Police Department is credited with organizing the first official police motorcycle patrol in the United States in 1911.

By 1914, only basic bicycle elements such as seating and suspension could be recognized in a motorcycle. The motorcycle was now its own separate identity.

Right up to 1931, Harley-Davidson and Indian were the only American companies making commercial motorcycles for sale to general public. This rivalry is remembered proudly on the race tracks. After World War I, the Indian lost its “largest motorcycle manufacturer” title to Harley-Davidson.

Back in Britain, it was crazy. There were 80 different brands of motorcycles in Britain by 1930s. The familiar names like Norton, Triumph and AJS to the obscure, with names like New Gerrard, NUT, SOS, Chell and Whitwood.

Meanwhile records were broken with the new American hobby of cutomisation. In 1937, Joe Petrali set a new land speed record of 136.183 mph (219.165 km/h) on a modified Harley-Davidson 61 cubic inch (1,000 cc) with an overhead valve-driven motorcycle. This same day, Petrali also broke the speed record for 45 cubic inch (737 cc) engine motorcycles.

The industry was booming. Everyone knew the product. Then War broke out. With the build up to World War II, the production in Europe multiplied. Both BSA and Royal Enfield ramped up manufacturing to supply motorcycle to the Army. Royal Enfield’s 125cc light-weight could be dropped (in a parachute-fitted tube cage) from an aircraft to any field location or war-zone.

Freedom: Americans and the allies won. The World War II was over. Troops returned home. But these men had lived a thrill of a lifetime. They sought more adventure, more brotherhood, more speed in life and the edge that comes with living dangerously. These men started Motorcycle Clubs. A new lifestyle. Biker clubs thrived. It created a new persona. Hollywood art imitated the town-truths. Marlon Brando immortalized it in “The Wild One” (1954).

BSA purchased Triumph to be the largest manufacturer, claiming “one in every four”. Royal Enfield even had an alternative diesel engine motorcycle since 1965.

Social motorcycling was aimed at raising money for charities. Others took to rebel attitude long-surviving in American biker culture. These outlaw motorcycle gangs indulged in violence, retribution, protection racket of extortion, smuggling, gun-running, and other criminal activities. The FBI calls the current Pagans, Hells Angels, Outlaws MC, and Bandidos clubs as the “Big Four” OMGs (Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs).

By the 1970s, Motorcycles had become a symbol of disillusioned America breaking away from the social structure and conformations. They believed in a different America. They had their own outlaw codes. They loved and fought the same human challenges the common man faced in a bold new way.

The British also labeled its motorcycle enthusiasts as leather-jacketed hooligans.

Biker culture was a brave new way to deal with life’s bitter truths. Vietnam War Veterans came back home to their citizens calling them murderers. These war-men were a different lot than the ones who returned as heroes after World War II. While a few became distressed and depressed, others took up arms to protect their American Constitutional Rights. These biker clubs have been the most violent in its need to get back and reclaim their America.

Tourism and Bottomline: The motorcycle manufacturing industry along with the government entities tried to save the business by promoting a cleaner image of its buyers. They wanted to sell bikes. They didn’t want bikes to represent hoodlums. So the motorcycle was advertised with friendly people smiling. It was a quick getaway for a picnic by the beach or a weekend in the woods.

In the late 20th century, a cleaner image appeared with HOG and AMA. They even lobbied for political support for safer motorcycle-friendly legislation.

It was now all about keeping companies afloat, beating competitors in product quality, utilizing the fascination of the boy wanting to be his own man.

Asian Sun rising: This trend of safety and conformity was very well supported by the new competitors in the market. It was in the late 60s and then the 70s when Honda made it big with its fuel-efficient and maintenance-free motorcycles.

Honda was officially founded in Japan on September 24, 1948. They introduced their SOHC inline four-cylinder CB750 in 1969, which was inexpensive and immediately successful. This was followed by other Japanese legends, Kawasaki four-cylinder engine KZ900, Suzuki and Yamaha.

The British dominion in the motorcycle market quietly sank into a sunset. The Japanese were manufacturing the way Ford mass-manufactured efficient, reliable, strong machines. Americans bought into this new friendlier motorcycle. It didn’t look mean and big and bad. It was true as the Honda slogan said, “you meet the nicest people on a Honda” – a major change in the selling strategy in the industry.

The Japanese dominated the industry. The motorcycle was now a new symbol – a symbol of affordable transport for the common man. The statistics reveal it all. The 58% of world’s motorcycles are in the developing countries of Asia – Southern and Eastern Asia, and the Asia Pacific countries (excluding Japan) – while 33% of the cars (195 million) are concentrated in the United States and Japan. By 2002, India was home to the largest number of motorised two wheelers in the world that stands at an estimated 37 million motorcycles/mopeds. China came a close second with 34 million motorcycles/mopeds. In 2006, China had 54 million motorcycles in use and an annual production of 22 million units. Motorcycle taxis are the developing world’s limousines.

It was the poor man’s ambition now. The first motorized vehicle bought by any average Indian citizen happens to be a two-wheeler, either a motorcycle or a scooter. It was a machine to get you from Point A to Point B at your convenience at an affordable budget. I don’t wear leather or patches while I ride my Enfield Bullet. It’s the only vehicle I own. It’s an extension of me, a part of me. For me the Biker Lifestyle doesn’t mean breaking social norms, but to ride because I prefer the motorcycle to anything else. It’s practical and I must admit, quite stylish. Girls still like bikers, its true, ask your blonde, redhead or brunette.

Then and Now: Today the Japanese manufacturers, namely, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha dominate the large motorcycle industry. Superbikes offering top speeds are the craze. Harley-Davidson still maintains a high degree of popularity, particularly in the United States. Indian motorcycle has been revived and shut down and revived again and again. It is as of 2012 available for purchase but I think its apparel sells more than its bikes ever will. Recent years have seen resurgence in the popularity of other motorcycle brands, including BMW, Triumph and Ducati, and the emergence of Victory as a second successful mass-builder of big-twin American cruisers.

Of course, if I could afford to buy a Harley-Davidson I would be owning one now. It’s still a rich man’s toy in India for now. It’s owners already having luxurious sedans from Audi, Mercedes and BMW in their fleet. Hey, maybe I will win the lottery. You never know!

Cheers to my favourites from the lot:

http://www.royalenfield.com/

http://www.harley-davidson.com/

http://www.indianmotorcycle.com/

http://www.hells-angels.com/

http://www.bandidosmc.com/

www.ujjwaldey.com

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So you want to be a Fiction Writer? http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/so-you-want-to-be-a-fiction-writer/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/so-you-want-to-be-a-fiction-writer/#comments Mon, 06 May 2013 06:30:10 +0000 udey http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=13624 So you want to be a Fiction Writer?

By Ujjwal Dey

 

Don’t we all? In a world where Information Age has enabled flow of communications at the blink of an eye, everyone is an author in their own rights. All of us posting our thoughts, ideas and opinions either in some blog, forum, as comments on popular websites, or even making podcasts and graphics to convey the same. So by the elementary definition of “writer”, any active internet user has already transformed into an “author”.

 

Yet, we all seek the glory and honour of traditional printed word. To see our name on a magazine or book-length work – to be associated in the exclusive cadre of “published authors”. Here then, the word “published” refers to having our fiction works accepted by a publisher who has made its name in literature. So, I will spare you my open-source ranting and not tell you that technology has enabled you to earn more and get a wider audience by self-publishing through print-on-demand with the only investment being your brain, your imagination and maybe a word processing software on a computer.

 

Refer also to my Writing Primer posted at Hamilton Institute long time back.

 

Here the “method” described is purely with the aim of getting your work published. Whether it meets your artistic integrity is something you have to find a way to fit it into the primary agenda of being “published”.

 

Creativity and Language

English is a fun language, ever growing and evolving. So if you are writing in English, already your fiction market is bigger than any other non-English fiction writer. But if you see an opportunity in creating works that will sell well locally in your local/ regional language – go ahead and get it done. This generation has proven that language doesn’t limit your market. My best and favourite example is Haruki Murakami, a Japanese author with global fame who was even holding a position as a writing fellow at PrincetonUniversity at the height of his fame, which still grows. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haruki_Murakami

 

Creativity on the other hand ensures equality in scope and opportunity to all the talented aspiring authors. What you can think, what you can imagine, what you can put into words – the limit is only what you put upon yourself. In fiction anything is possible, even the English dictionary can’t limit you for authors have created their own language/ words in their fiction. No I am not speaking Klingon here. “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess is an example from 1962. It is more well-known as one of many great movies made by Stanley Kubrick. The author created a fictional slang language called “Nadsat”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clockwork_orange   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadsat

So you see, not just spaceships and alien attacks are possible, but dogs could talk to you or you could fit inside a rabbit hole. Maybe you see utopia in near future or dystopia in present. Maybe your characters are men of valour or they may have turned into zombies due to a strange government conspiracy.

 

Let your ideas flow. Note them down. Only notes for now.

 

Now we have to see feasibility, market expectation and publisher demands.

 

Writing to be published

One has to realize that businessmen don’t really need exceptional artwork to earn profits. But exceptional artwork definitely needs businessmen to make some decent money for their projects/ income.

 

So shun the hippie attire and know that without the marketing/ sales effort and acumen of these publishers/ agents – no one really knows your creation. And like with all creation, we think our baby is so special that it will stand and run all by itself. The truth is that we need the support of publishers/ agents to be able to make our work available to the audience who would otherwise never know what a delight it is to hold your creation.

 

How do you write to be published? Keep in mind that you are writing with the aim to be published in mainstream publications. At the same time, don’t insult them by hack-writing something you believe represents their catalogue. You need to pick a genre. See what is popular with the readers of that genre. Then see the list of titles your preferred publishers are trying to sell. Then you only need to adapt your ideas to meet such expectations from readers and specifications of the publishers/agents.

 

  1. Identify the market you want to be in
  2. Identify the exceptional and the popular works in that market
  3. Know your targeted readers, their expectations and preferences
  4. Document your target publisher/s’ titles in that market
  5. Is there a match, a common factor or point where your ideas meet the above?

 

You have to find some common ground. This without losing your artistic integrity. You need not sell your soul, but you need to understand the market before you sell any books/ stories.

 

So even before you produce or pen anything related to your great masterpiece – you need to first acknowledge, respect and understand the market, its key players and the scope for you in the same.

 

Exclusive or Saturated

We all complain how new authors never get a break. That it is some elite clique of snob-nosed phonies who congratulate each other and sneer at others.

 

If you however log-off Amazon.com and walk into a large bookstore, you will see that among the heavyweights, the prizefighters and welterweights are also some amateur people who have donned the gloves and stepped inside the ring. They too have promoters and backers who have made it possible for them to be there among the greats.

 

So clearly, there is enough flow of new authors every year from which some go on to publish second and even a third book. Best thing for you to do is to make a good first impression by putting your best foot forward. So if you have a range of writing and ideas – analyze it as per market as suggested to pick one and use it to pitch for your first novel length work. Your first novel should make the readers and publishers happy. This first impression will ensure if they wish to meet your future works.

 

So though the literary career may seem exclusive, it is actually saturated.

 

Saturated with a horde of people submitting novels and stories and a respectable publisher will get pitched a dozen book manuscripts by agents everyday for 365 days a year. So if you are one in those million people, you better make a strong case to prove your worth in their court.

 

The beginning

Yes, you have to approach it like the interview for the most desired job. Or a legal case where you prove the merits of your book or have it tarnished in that agent/publisher’s records. So now you are a savvy charming lawyer drafting your case to plead in favour of your client i.e. the book. The book can’t do all this but if you do it, the book will generate the income and popularity for you. Not to mention the future career in writing. LOL.

 

The premise of the 2 analogies suggested above (interview/ court-case) is to get you to see the seriousness required in your approach.

 

Your approach – right at the beginning, before you even write the book.

 

  1. After having narrowed down to the ideal idea for the ideal market/publisher
  2. Note the points that makes your book appealing to your audience
  3. Note the points that makes your book the best pick for your publisher/agent
  4. Now create a Proposal for your fiction novel

 

Proposals before Writing

So this is your case to support your book before it’s written.

 

Why? No, not for anyone else!

 

This proposal is for you! This is so that you can see in black and white whether you have a good idea for a novel at all. If not, go back to previous steps and rediscover your idea, your marketed audience and your agent/publisher.

 

So when you have collected these pieces to form a Proposal, you will be able to see for yourself – the feasibility of that fiction novel to be a real worthwhile product.

 

Proposal Pitch contents:

  1. The Title
  2. The tag line or blurb text within 2 sentences. Yes, you should be able to grab a person by maximum 2 concise sentences to intrigue/ interest them to read the rest of the proposal
  3. Why are you proposing this novel?
  4. Purpose/ Subject Matter/ Genre
  5. Your contribution – what makes a novel so special when coming from you?
  6. Intended audience – maybe even the demography/ geography of the audience. Have you ever seen how Amazon.com suggests other relevant books when you view one book. You could also think about how your novel fits in a genre – which readers of particular books or fans of which authors it can be related to.
  7. The competition for your subject matter/ theme/ genre/ market
  8. Length – expected word count
  9. Chapter Outlines – each with their plot outlines
  10. Timetable – plan out how you will make this novel-writing happen
  11. Publishers – list of established publishers who deal with the theme/ topic of your novel.  Maybe even list agents who have done well in that genre.
  12. Background information – your relevant professional credits first. Then educational. And then very briefly your personal contact details. No need to list hobbies and memberships unless it can be leveraged to pitch your book to anyone. The best thing about a writing career is that even people who are in blue-collar professions can have wonderful tales to tell. So don’t downplay this “background information” section of the proposal.

 

So this is your first document even before writing a novel.

 

You need this only for yourself – not to share this with any agent/ publisher at his point of time.

 

Read what you have filled and then analyze:

  1. if this looks like a good investment of your time/ energy – a profitable venture for you.
  2. if this is enough to convince you to start writing the novel
  3. if your idea/art can be adapted/ modified to meet this document’s expectations

 

Then you start writing your novel!

 

So you have reversed the way you go to a publisher/agent. You have done the groundwork first and know how to meet the demands. So now – you have an “artistic product” (not an oxymoron). You will have a novel that is saleable to both the audience and the publisher/agent.

 

And of course you have a ready Proposal for them, which you defined and can reuse now to send along with the manuscript to agents/ publishers. Because your fiction novel is based on a sound feasible Proposal. No more pains of having written something great and then hunting for a way to make it useful for a reader/ agent/ publisher.

 

Pragmatic way to get Practice

Ghostwriting may seem poor choice for authoring a book. We all want to put our fabulous name to the books we write. But again, you are thinking in a conditioned way. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghostwriting

 

Practice! Practice they say makes you perfect. But who will give you practice in writing a novel that is published and distributed and read? How will that practice come? Do you want to risk ruining your author “brandname” when an amateurish, not so popular book of yours comes out, by not making a good first impression?

 

Ghostwriting is a good way to write for the market and also earn a decent income for your effort.

 

  1. Helps you understand the market better – since the publisher/ agent or person would give you the readymade description of what is to be done.
  2. When the book comes out, you don’t need to worry about the results – you need to analyze how the publisher/agent’s formula clicked with the market – how they made it happen – or maybe what was missing that limited its popularity
  3. You get crucial practice in writing as per reader-expectation,
  4. You get crucial practice in understanding how agents/ publishers are convinced of a book’s worth
  5. You are able to hone your creativity and get feedback on your writing and on your style from a professional editor from a publishing house

 

Actually this list could go on and on depending how much you are able to grab out of such an opportunity. The efforts you make to learn “the trade” – will make you a professional writer.

 

And of course, these ghostwritten books would be proof of your skills – so do it well and make a portfolio of novel-length published works – before even having written your own first novel.

 

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a ghostwriter who wrote music for wealthy patrons.
  • Robert Ludlum wrote only 3 novels dedicated to Jason Bourne character (Bourne Identity, Bourne Supremacy and Bourne Ultimatum). How many do you see in the bookstores using his name long after Ludlum’s demise? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Ludlum

 

Another opportunity is trying out varying genres. As a newbie, it is always good to be open to writing in multiple genres and styles. I have written macho Motorcycle Adventures such as “Wayfarer series” http://www.bikernet.com/fiction/PageViewer.asp?PageID=2329 and then also been able to present the same publisher with a Western Cowboy Adventure in “The Railroad” http://www.bikernet.com/fiction/PageViewer.asp?PageID=3100 . And as you can see Bikernet.com is a magazine primarily for bikers, yet I found a connection – because modern bikers are just an adaptation of the way old west had horse-riding men and posse, etc.

 

 

Conclusion

If you don’t know where you are sailing to, you are lost at sea. Know the market and navigate it to reach your audience.

 

Too many analogies here, but well, hope you get the gist of its concept after reading it.

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The Meditative Mind http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/the-meditative-mind/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/the-meditative-mind/#comments Mon, 06 May 2013 06:26:15 +0000 udey http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=13618 The Meditative Mind
By Ujjwal Dey (Yogacharya)

The first thing my Guru told me was “No one can teach you how to meditate”. And I had travelled and sought him after intense search to seek meditative techniques. There is a lot of truth to His words. For truly, no one can train your brain. That is a task to be accomplished by you alone. If you go to the best of Yoga teachers and seek the simple yet elusive methods to calm the mind, empty thoughts and gain eternal peace – the end result is usually shopping for yet another meditation course/s. For if one man could control another man’s mind, it would be a disruptive and corrupted world. We see this in propaganda and politics. We being seekers of the Ultimate Truth, need to realize first that we can’t control anyone else and others cannot control you. The only control you have is of the Self. So you need to make the effort to discipline your own mind. Your Guru can only guide you. He can’t generate peace, contentment, joy inside your head.

The monkey mind of man (or woman) is not a curse. It is required to be in such a state of flux for a reason. And the reason is survival. For survival is the very basal instinct of man and animal alike. Everything else comes afterwards. So the mind needs to be this mixing bowl of thoughts, ideas, dreams, ambitions, worries, emotions, et al to deal with the material world that surrounds us completely from birth to death. This material world has a term – “Maya”. To survive under the influence of Maya, we need our mind to be in its materialistic state. To transcend materialistic cravings and reach eternal contentment and divine joy, we need to train the mind to be free from Maya and its cues, influences, proddings and persistence.

Yoga has three distinct forms. The Asanas (physical exercises) train the body. A healthy body thus presents a healthy mind. The Dhyana (mental exercises of Yoga) train the mind. And a healthy, disciplined body and mind in turn prepare your spiritual self to excel in spiritual pursuits.

Non-Divisiveness and Separative-Consciousness
The physical body and the subtle body which is the mind is always entangled in sense pleasure. We are conditioned to respond to various sights, smells and sounds. Our physical body reacts to this stimulus. Then even the mental body reacts and obsesses over these stimuli. We not just remain conditioned but become addicted as well. We start craving certain sensations. We derive pleasure from all things material. This sense gratification is a universal human nature. It is intrinsic to our conscious being.

When an infant is born, he is suddenly in presence of the whole wide world. This is an intense stimuli. When the unborn child is in the mother’s womb, it is not self-conscious. It is one with itself. It is a miraculous state of well being and contentment. The unborn child is not concerned with the outside world, with the materialism, the politics, religion, culture, race prejudices. It senses nothing. It is in Samadhi – Divine Consciousness. It is at one with itself. Non-duality. There is no “I”. There is no “me”. The unborn child lacks the ego, the identity and hence is satisfied and free from all Maya (external worldly seductions). Birth is painful. The newborn child cries because he is suddenly cast into separative consciousness. He is now no longer in peace, in Samadhi. He is now thrust into the nature, the Prakriti, the surrounding world with its myriad stimuli and reactions begin. So he cries in agony at this separation from his natural state.

Yes, the Samadhi is the natural state. And when we become self-aware and aware of separation from our external environment, the I, the me, the ego is firmly entrenched in our psyche. Then whatever we do, we do for the ego. For we have identified the physical body and the mental body as the actual constitution of our consciousness. But this is lower form of consciousness. The highest form is the one where there is no divisiveness. No separative consciousness. This lack of non-duality causes great amount of upheavals in our life. Life – it is the sensation of being alive among Prakriti – the surrounding – and this aliveness comes from seeing a separation between the ego (the I) and the environment. We react and respond to the external stimuli. We try to control the external stimuli – whether it be a person or an object or a tree. We are a higher form of animal, a rare breed – a human being. And so when we experience this diverse external stimuli and sense ourselves as separate from everything else – the mind takes over the physical body. The mind objectifies everything. And we demand and desire. We try to feel happy and avoid sadness. We seek pleasure and profit. This divisiveness from the universe is the root of materialistic pursuits and Maya is its name.

Advaitya – non duality – is the single most profound discovery from ancient traditional research and analysis. When we realise this non-duality with the universe, one experiences Samadhi. He reaches a higher state of consciousness. This consciousness does not objectify anyone or anything. This consciousness does not make itself aware of the self, the I, the ego. There is no separation between you and me. The world is in one single self-awareness. This higher form of consciousness is what leads to words such as Moksha, Nirvana, Enlightenment, Salvation. These words are rubbish. Because it again gives us expectations and desires. We start craving and imagining special sensations. We visualise heaven or an abode of God or Kingdom of God. Such material tendencies bring back the separative consciousness. We become seduced by sensations and then there is longing. To rid this conditioned mind entity of such illusions, desperate measures are required. Just as Joy is an existence and Pleasure is an experience, the same way Enlightenment is an existence and (Religious) Rituals are an experience.

Intense meditational techniques have been used to realise Advaitya. The non-duality that makes us whole. One with the universe. In order to know, you have to rid yourself of knowledge. When there is an observer and an object of observation, there will always be duality. If you see without the seer, then there is no objectification. There is no observer and observed. Both are unanimous in existence. This is a state of non-duality. When there is only knowing. No knowledge. Knowing!

So arise and awake and know what you are. A cosmic force just as everything else.

Best Wishes Always,
“Yogacharya” Ujjwal Dey
Join me in the Quest for Truth
http://www.facebook.com/SatyaKiranYoga

About the Author: Ujjwal Dey is a Founder Member of Satya Kiran Yoga. He offers Tantrik solutions to whosoever desires a spiritual solution to a problem. All matters are kept confidential and private. There is no minimum or maximum fee for the services. You could give him one cent or one apple or one flower as fees for Tantrik services – but you have to “give” something. Call +91 9322005050

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Thought.Leadership @ KnowledgeManagement.com http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/thought-leadership-knowledgemanagement-com/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/thought-leadership-knowledgemanagement-com/#comments Mon, 06 May 2013 06:12:24 +0000 udey http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=13613 Thought.Leadership@KnowledgeManagement.com

Competitor Knows Best, Customer Is King, What About You?

 

Knowledge Management and Communicating it with clients/partners:

  • The competition –  knowledge that brings business by sharing experience
  • The business – to leverage experience by having a knowledge base
  • The experience – to deal with the competitors by establishing/pioneering business trends

 

There existed no invention till someone saw the market and invented the product or service. Whether it is Windows OS or iPod or Bluetooth – there is always a product that comes in to capture a waiting audience and change not just trends and business but how people use technology in their daily lives.

 

PSP, BluRay, MobiBLU are other examples of innovating by offering something that the existing products such as Playstation or DVD or MP3 players didn’t offer.  The market was there and they found something that could change the market all over again.

 

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

 

Example: People thought the DotCom boom had come and gone. The giants such as Amazon.com and Google.com and then the social networking trends had done all they could. Yet we see new services that target a niche audience and dotcoms continue to innovate. www.comgateway.com provides people outside USA to order from multiple websites, store it at their warehouse and ship it together to save shipping costs. www.vjbooks.com sells Signed First Editions of popular books to readers who want a piece of their favorite authors.  www.ted.com promotes and makes accessible “Ideas worth spreading” – a premier site showcasing “Thought Leadership”. While these niche audiences do well, even wide targets get nailed, for example: Twitter saw a staggering 1,382% growth in 2009, to take away the social network crown from the erstwhile fastest-growing Facebook. Apple’s iPhone has higher operating profit than market leader Nokia in Q3 of 2009 – making Apple the “most profitable cell-phone maker in the world”.

 

Basically, the global market offers such a wide and varied clientele, that it should be easy for any business to establish a customer-base and for that – you need to generate a product/service/ strategy that is not already in place by competitors.

 

Here is where utilizing a knowledge-base and doing the homework of analysis/ research/ documentation/ conversation/ etc. results in seeing what your competitor does not see. Opportunities are found not just when you know your market, but also when you know what your organization is capable of delivering to the market. What the big businesses do, can be replicated for the small players’ in IT market as well.

 

Create opportunities instead of seeking them.

 

Thought Leadership aims at leveraging knowledge and the foresight based on that knowledge to not only boldly go where competitors have not gone before, but to take an entourage of clients along to discover new markets, new opportunities and revived demand-supply curve. Growth, possibilities and success are as unlimited as human thought – let’s multiply that through collective capacity.

 

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Thought Leaders and their Management by Knowledge

 

“A leader is a dealer in hope.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

 

What you say and what you sell

To know what was the problem, what is the current situation and then how you can provide a better future – that ensures a leadership position. Everyone has problems, many suggest solutions, but the one who can know the “now” to present a lucrative future is the “thought leader”.

 

  1. A Knowledge Management team dedicated at securing the capture of your organization’s knowledge-base
  2. A Knowledge Management team to understand, analyze and document industry/ sector/ economical trends, news, reports and other information, to…
  3. …convert that into your organization’s knowledge-base
  4. Gain from experience of self and others in the organization for your business-knowledge-base
  5. “Forecast” the SWOT in your own team’s meetings
  6. Brainstorm with Knowledge Management participants to seek opportunities in existing markets
  7. Foresee the trail of the market trend to know where businesses are heading
  8. Be a Thought Leader by offering a solution for an expected near-future problem
  9. Be an industry leader by providing analysis on solutions required for long-term

 

Y2K is a simple example. People in the IT industry in the 1970s never expected to find computers in every office cubicle, forget about having them in every home. That’s not short-sightedness; it was simple need-based developments in IT at that time.

 

But to identify this well in advance of year 2000, know the technologies that need transition and then securing the client’s present & past data – that requires vision and more importantly a knowledge-base that can tell you “what’s missing”.

 

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“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs

 

Who are you?

Well, we don’t need to get all Shakespearean nor ponder Greek philosophies.  While the Greeks had the aphorism “Know thyself” inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Shakespeare’s Hamlet extended its scope to integrity with the words “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” In India we called it “Jñāna” – which in literal translation from Sanskrit to English can be used as a synonym for the word “knowledge”.

 

  1. Realize the full extent of possibilities in your:
    * job role,
    * scope in the team/ department/ organization,
    * client interaction,
    * existing skills,
  2. Realize full extent of possibilities of your:
    * team/ department/ organization’s skills,
    * their job roles,
    * their daily interactions in business,
  3. Account for, document  and audit:
    * your personal knowledge-base,
    * your team/ department/ organization’s knowledge-base,
    * your ability to capture your client or competitor’s knowledge-base,
  4. Knowledge Management for you is ensured by capturing learnings from projects, bids, meetings and the regular documentation, reports and news
  5. Knowing your group’s capacity, capabilities, experience and making it available in a structured manner for opportunities assures that you are ready for future solutions, for future business problems
  6. Innovation follows from knowing what’s there, to make available what isn’t there
  7. Leadership is established by those who know more than the market’s established players

 

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“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” – Bill Gates

 

Successful Knowledge

The Rotary Clubs setup back in 1905 in USA was a group of businessmen who “rotated” their meetings at each other’s offices.  They had an honorable motto of “Service above Self”. Their second motto is like a prophesized snapshot of 21st century business, for it says: “They profit most who serve best”.

 

The customers are empowered not just by a choice of multiple suppliers, but also the varying media informing them of available alternatives/ substitutes/ enhancements/ etc. So the customers have the “knowledge to discern” and thus create a buyer’s market scenario (despite of more customers existing than sellers). This intensifies competition and the only seller who can break ahead of this overcrowded rat race is the one who can best serve his prospect.

 

And the seller who leads is the one who profits by making his client maximize the profits, through either: strategy/ technology/ vision/ innovation/ analysis/ etc.

 

  1. Knowledge that ensures your client’s success.
  2. Enable businesses, empower people, extend scope
  3. Knowledge that works now
  4. Knowledge that assures client’s empowerment in present and future
  5. Knowledge to secure the ideal/desired future
  6. Accessible, simplified, classified knowledge – ensuring a feasible, preferable, structured growth
  7. Don’t offer change, offer opportunities instead
  8. Deflect resistance by bolstering your view with quantified, measured, validated knowledge-base

 

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“It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.” – Adlai Stevenson

 

Knowledge Base

Well if the shoe fits, you wear it. If you are in a flock, you are that bird. To be able to represent your organization or your product/ service/ solution as better or as a pioneering effort, you need to be able to create its identity by its presence alone.

 

  1. Find security in your knowledge-base
  2. Be comfortable with your scope of knowledge
  3. Lead in what you know and do
  4. Build products/ services that your knowledge-base says you can and…
  5. …that the market competition ensures you should
  6. Capture the team’s successes to assure them about their expertise
  7. Verified data, quantified analysis, measured market trends, listed skills, etc are your armor

 

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“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy

 

Pioneering Thought by Managing Knowledge

Life is a big long lesson. A person who is a student for his entire life benefits by his own experience and that of others. A knowledge management function ensures that a corporate entity learns forever in its business life from people, market, competitors, customers, economy, laws/ policies, technologies, etc.

 

  1. Knowledge Management is a learning tool
  2. Everyone needs to learn and upgrade know-how and skills in business
  3. The business environment is an important teacher that can reprimand and reward alike
  4. Leaders learn more than others in an organization by virtue of their scope of operation
  5. A business head may not necessarily be a thought leader; but a thought leader guarantees good business
  6. Know to manage and manage to lead
  7. Learning is fun when you get to teach your competitors new lessons in business

 

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“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell

 

The Lighthouse

A thought leader does not stand as a beacon in the sea of business. He simply helms such a lighthouse that can point the way for its business. Knowledge Management is such a lighthouse. It can stand the storm to direct opportunities in all corners of the business sphere.

 

  1. Share to verify and update the knowledge-base
  2. Make clients by offering them the benefit from this knowledge-base (whitepapers, case studies, sector/industry analysis, technology news, etc.)
  3. Within the company – let your people see the horizon through such a knowledge-base…
  4. …so they can go beyond this horizon to deliver innovative products/ services

 

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“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” – George S. Patton

 

Thought Leadership delegation

 

  1. Thought Leadership is not the responsibility solely for the business heads
  2. Every skilled employee has the relevant experience and knowledge to lead in his domain
  3. Assign Knowledge Management responsibilities to the team/ department
  4. The external sources for knowledge need to be distilled, verified and categorized as required – delegate that by assigning the sourcing to respective function/ department/ team
  5. Let the team members know possibilities, let them make it happen
  6. Every sector/ technology/ function specialist can be a thought leader in his domain

 

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“A general is just as good or just as bad as the troops under his command make him.” – General Douglas MacArthur

 

Knowledge Matrix

Every thread in your net matters, and they are there because they have the skills. So employ them efficiently to capture your clientele. And then along with the clients, reel in the threads too – so that its folds (project learnings) are noted for future clients.

 

  1. Ensure knowledge capture within your team
  2. Review lessons learned to have updated knowledge-base
  3. Leading in skill/ experience capture makes it possible to lead in applying that knowledge

 

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“You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

Reflexes! Reactions!

Management needs to be suggestive, directional and collaborative to get people on board the agenda of developing a functional knowledge repository. People need to be convinced of the changed processes that ensure knowledge capture. Thought Leadership addresses the issue of Knowledge Management efficiency by presenting the expanded opportunities as incentive to move ahead.

 

  1. Resistance to change is a natural reflex
  2. So don’t react to that; don’t aim at enforcing activities
  3. Instead “sell” the Knowledge Management concept to them
  4. Convincing your team automatically ensures their participation
  5. Familiarity with this concept would dissolve doubts/ concerns
  6. Incentive should be quantified by projecting expected gains in business
  7. The attraction for Knowledge Management needs to be created by “marketing” the concept within the organization and by its key influencers (business heads)
  8. Knowledge is its own reward – offer learning opportunities

 

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“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” – John Maxwell

 

KRA? Or maybe you know the way!

Do because of a reason, and let that reason be “to excel”.

 

  1. Knowledge Management by individuals in the organization is not done due to mandatory KRA element
  2. It is done to exceed those list of KRA elements
  3. To provide a foundation stone for the organization’s expertise in that function/ technology/ service/ etc.
  4. To build upon this foundation to reach new heights of excellence
  5. The thought leader aims not at fulfilling obligations, but to redefine client/market expectations
  6. Any domain/topic in Knowledge Management is always a collective endeavour – ownership to drive it lies with the one who can grasp this repository to envision better business
  7. Scope of the thought leader is limited only by his desire to think about those domains

 

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“Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men — the other 999 follow women.” – Groucho Marx

 

Getting Results: Carrots, sticks and inventing wheels

 

  1. Incentives are secondary – primary is the opportunity for everyone
  2. Opportunities in: growth of business, expansion of clientele, skills gained and individual’s learning, increased profitability, brand visibility, market recognition, customer appreciation, industry leadership, and of course the output from all these – monetary reward for individuals
  3. There is no reinvention desired – only innovation in delivery/ product/ customization/ marketing/ use of technology/ strategy/ etc.
  4. Material desires of the various players need to be realized from their material output
  5. Wishing is childish; thought leaders have goals and set targets

 

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 About the Author: Ujjwal Dey is a Life Coach, Motivational Speaker and Corporate Trainer. Call +91 9322005050

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Knowledge Communication http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/knowledge-communication/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/knowledge-communication/#comments Mon, 06 May 2013 05:59:40 +0000 udey http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=13604 Knowledge Communication

Why birds sing, why dogs bark and why cars blow loud horns?!?

 

The gift of producing noise is common enough in many living beings and material things. To be able to address the right people with the right message is however not as easily done.

 

Communication is the start and end for all relationships – including of course corporate relations. Whether  an organization is reaching out to its investors or employees or customers or even society at large – good intentions alone don’t make your plans succeed.

 

Communicating your plans, convincing to act, holding the conversation (a two-way dialogue) and being understood while understanding the audience ensures that you get what you want.

 

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“Even if you do learn to speak correct English, whom are you going to speak it to?” – Clarence Darrow

 

Targeted Communication – Converting Noise into a Message

In current global market, with global opportunities, comes global competition and the challenge to reach your target audience effectively.

 

Within an organization as well, for a richly diverse nation such as India, there will be a kaleidoscope of cultures, languages, and of course accents to deal with.

 

Apart from cultural and lingual differences, the more important aspect is “Who are you talking to?”

 

Even if you customize and personalize every single message you send across to employees or into the market – is there any reason to send it to them? Don’t make noise. Communicate!

 

Identifying the target audience is critical aspect of communication. Simply spending a small fortune on varying media doesn’t ensure effective conversation with your market/ audience.

 

  1. Identify target audience
  2. Make the message for them, not for yourself (customer-centric)
  3. Recognize effective communicators within your team/ department
  4. Before conversation comes “being approachable”
  5. Aim for interactivity
  6. Passive messages might as well be called “Spam”
  7. Inform, enthuse, interact
  8. Soliciting participation means allotting time for addressing the response
  9. Offer information, extract knowledge
  10. Communicate to get a rapport

 

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“When I get ready to talk to people, I spend two thirds of the time thinking what they want to hear and one third thinking about what I want to say.” – Abraham Lincoln

 

Efficiency and Communication

Business Communication needs purpose, motive and direction. If you are “talking” to your employees, acknowledge their needs, expectations. Meeting those needs may even be secondary – but to listen itself is half the accomplishment of desired communication.

 

Know your client’s profile. Know your employee’s profile. Communicating to either of them without hitting a point close to their business/ project is a failed message.

 

This not only involves research but some amount of empathy and EQ. Remember that you are dealing with people and not with a logo.

 

You can put across demands and even ask for action. The way you get the group/ person to acknowledge is by informing on the benefits, engaging on complementary terms/needs and aiming for consensus.

 

A good communicator is a diplomat. An effective communicator is a celebrity. Attract people to the table instead of moving around with your table.

 

  1. Know your goals before communicating
  2. Know your target’s needs/ desires/ capabilities before communicating
  3. Know people are “people”
  4. Know your own agenda and paint it as your target’s need rather than as your demand
  5. Efficiency is measured by level/quality of dialogue with your target and not level of media efforts/expenses

 

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“Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

 

Mind over Message

Focus on the subject matter but aim to invigorate. Knowledge is as much an intellectual pursuit as it is a business requirement.

 

While it is important to deliver your agenda, it is also crucial that you make your audience mentally stimulated by your agenda.

 

Brainstorming can’t work in a stifled or restricted discussion. Ideas can soar only as high as the ceiling provided – sky high approach requires a wide, robust foundation of knowledge.

 

  1. Energize with words – offer ideas, opportunities, profit, etc.
  2. Expand their horizons – let them see beyond the well in which they dwell
  3. Provide and engage thought-provoking insights
  4. Provide a platform to voice ideas
  5. Ensure opportunities for innovation
  6. Futuristic thinking for growth in present
  7. Suggest being a market pioneer, not just a market leader

 

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“Be sincere; be brief; be seated.” -  Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

Accommodating, Assimilating and Accountability

People skills are not the exclusive domain of the HR or PR department of an organization. When you are building a knowledge-base or communicating the essential need for participation in your initiatives – remember that the skills and talent lie in the people and not in machines or office furniture.

 

Dealing with people can be a learning experience. It can also be a harrowing experience. Accommodate their agenda/ requirement within your own. Assimilate their knowledge by making the conversation geared towards receiving more (from audience) than it delivers (to the audience). Accountability and ownership of “knowledge-groups” occurs when the audience/ participant sees benefit to his own function. Then his desire to be in control should be endowed with ownership of that “knowledge-group”.

 

  1. Connect on participant’s requirements
  2. Provide every participant the same opportunity
  3. Respect begets respect
  4. Cordial discussion shouldn’t be aimless – establish the purpose and participant’s gains
  5. Sincerity requires persistence of efforts at both ends of the discussion table
  6. Empower the individual, enable the group, ensure corporate agenda
  7. Responsibility is not a burden, it is a privilege for the talented few

 

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“The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.” – Hubert H. Humphrey

 

To Please or to Propagate

Aesop’s Fable is applicable. Aiming to please everyone is honorable, but this is not always practical.

 

An organization exists to serve needs of various stakeholders – investors, consumers/clients, vendors/partners, employees, society, etc.

 

The employee is associated with the organization to first ensure the corporate goals. The individual’s personal goal should result out of organizational success. So if the individual and corporate goals are not aligned, then there is a fitment problem.

 

  1. Ensure right fit in right place
  2. Align and orient the employee with corporate agenda
  3. Reason is good, common sense better

 

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“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.” – Joseph Priestley

 

Simplicity and Accessibility

Complicated and high-end means of communication is not necessarily the best. Knowledge should be accessible.

 

While using communication tools, prefer ones widely available so that participants can replicate the information easily and thus carry, recall and spread the data.

 

Selection of communication media depends on:

  1. Target’s preferred media
  2. Suitable means for the content that is to be communicated
  3. Effective utilization of resources
  4. Maximizing gains from the communication – visibility, reach, look & feel, relevancy, etc.
  5. Possibilities of reusing/ replicating the communication – either by you or your target
  6. “Word of mouth” communication requires simple, precise words
  7. Can the communication be accessed readily by anyone on being referred to it?

 

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“People change and forget to tell each other.” – Lillian Hellman

 

Updates, news and announcements

Communication also involves follow up. Make sure your contact list stays updated with relevant content/ knowledge/ information.

 

They form your network in a knowledge-base. If they are poorly informed – you are the poorer for it.

 

  1. Don’t overload the target with data
  2. Offer references/ links if target wants details
  3. Feedback is not enough – get them to engage in continuous dialogue
  4. Updates/ news/ etc. need to be received from the target as well
  5. Think of it as “conversation” instead of “communication”

 

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“If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.” – Woodrow Wilson

 

Brevity – communicate to endure

Brevity is easier said than done. It takes time to condense grand concepts into a few exact words. Nonetheless, in today’s Information Age, brevity equals survival of communication. It spreads easily, it stays on the mind easily and then self-propagates easily. The best catchphrases, slogans and marketing/ advertising content involves communication of knowledge without burdening the audience with Gigabytes.

 

Ernest Hemingway, known best for his unique concise and accurate style of writing, had said:

“Eschew the monumental. Shun the Epic. All the guys who can paint great big pictures can paint great small ones.”

 

If you know your subject-matter, then you can condense it. A professor of Social Sciences need not lecture you on the great distant region of his nation if he can show it to you in a Polaroid snapshot.

 

  1. To make it last longer, make it brief
  2. Get the subject-matter-expert and you get the best content-provider
  3. Focus on ease of distribution
  4. Aim for ease of propaganda
  5. Don’t overload the recipient – one serving at a time ensures good appetite and healthy digestion

 

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 About the Author: Ujjwal Dey is a Life Coach, Motivational Speaker and Corporate Trainer. Call +91 9322005050

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