Remember 5 Point Someone? Maybe its time now to be a Point 5 Someone …

 

Maybe this has always existed even in India, but it is only of late that I am beginning to notice the description of anything and everything in a ‘tens’ way. So much so that even the ubiquitous Sunny Leone discussions are around 10 things about her that you did not know before!

Sample these. Before I wished my friends a happy Ugadi, I googled to know more about this festival. And found an article saying, ’10 rituals you must know about Ugadi’.

Actress Nanda died and guess what, the media was abuzz with Top 10 movies of Nanda, 10 greatest songs with Nanda in it, 10 of her best dialogues, 10 heroes with whom she acted and it was 10, 10, 10 everywhere.

Am I beginning to pay too much atTENtion to this trend or is the world consTENtly changing? At times, the number can go up or down as well. 5 things you must be aware of before you decide on your choice of Lok Sabha candidate, 8 reasons why Modi is the best and 16 questions from Kejriwal to Modi on Gujarat, top 3 priorities of Rahul (women empowerment, RTI and err … whatever!).

To get distracted, I decided to watch India vs Australia T20 match. Thank God it was not a T10 game. But wait, my joy was short-lived. Just when the batsman was about to take strike, on the big screen players from both teams started a countdown, 10, 9 …. 1 … TEN again!!! Why cant countdowns start from say 8 or 7 or 15?!!

The good news: There are 11 players in a cricket team. But only 10 wickets to get all out, no? That was my brain asking itself a question. Does that also qualify as a ‘selfie’?

TENsion has to be overcome by getting amused at things that drive you crazy. With that as a guiding philosophy or hypothesis, I decided to design my own list of 10 things. Then, a serious thought came to my mind and I have decided to share 0.5 ways to Give! Yes, you can make a difference by following the 0.5 ways of giving.

  1. Chose to keep aside 0.5 [Could be 0.5 rupees per day or 0.5 dollars. Even 50 paise a day adds up to 180 rupees per year which is not a small amount for people who seek treatment / therapies. There are several such people I got to meet at Spastics School]
  2. The 0.5 could be a percentage of salary or time that you will spend doing something towards Giving to the needy. Realize that 0.5% of your time is less than 10 minutes a day. If you think 0.5% of your salary is a very big amount, make it 0.5% of a week’s salary, but stick to some 0.5% …

I can write down 8 more for the sake of writing. But it would be good if you could think of your own customized way to Give. There are many needy people and you are fortunate to be in a position to give something to such fellow human beings. If nothing at least give them a smile and see how the 0.5 ways of Giving can work wonders … ah, I am touched with what my Book can do, and am also touched by the overwhelming support from friends and well-wishers.

Thanks a lot &

Think about it.  The question is, Can you be a point five someone?

 

 p.s: Posting this in an unedited form. Sorry for the digressions and errors, if any

Side thoughts:

Let me share my findings on this 10 ways of abc stuff. One template to write 10 ways of doing anything can be as follows:

Example: 10 ways to reach your goal [Replace your goal with anything you wish to achieve]

  1. Stay focused on your goal ONLY.
  2. Do not focus on anything other than your goal.

Note that the above 2 statements will obey McKinsey’s MECE gyan (Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive) .. Things to focus and things not to focus on!

Now write 4 random things related to Statement 1 and 4 more on Statement 2 above. If you are wondering how could this be valid for talking about Nanda, no problem! Talk about how Nanda never got married, how she never got to act in Benhur because she did not like eating sausages.

 

 

 

Quick Update

Will have some time from Feb 1st as I am taking an off to focus on the book … not sure how people juggle many things but I sure need some dedicated book time. Things are going good e

xcept for the funding – a few action items remaining there and need to shoot a video plus edit a couple of videos. As I have spoken about Kavitha before, here are a few pictures introducing her to all of you.

Had been to the Spastics Society and saw the needs and kind of funding that they require. Amazing work is being done with tons of passion for very low costs … cant think of the usual financial equations or returns here! Kavitha, for example goes for a 3 hour therapy every week and it costs Rs. 150 (approx 2.5 USD); so we can actually sponsor her therapy sessions if you donate $10 (monthly) or $120 (for an year) ….

On the book front, I am keeping my fingers crossed as an interesting proposal is due for discussion with a media partner … Praying that it happens sooner than later and my collections get better. So far, $555 collected out of $8000 and another 25+ days to go.

 

Latest Update: Happy 2014

It has been a fairly long hiatus. Many of you well-wishers have expressed frustration and even scolded me for not releasing the book despite having talked about it for more than one and half years now. So an update is obviously long due. More importantly I excitedly share with you the deviation in the writing journey, and desperately seek your help and encouragement to make a difference.

As I finished writing the book, a few things dawned on me that I will quickly summarize.

  1. Thanks to my previous job in HCL I had a team to manage in Bangalore. Thanks to the remote location of Bengaluru airport and the garden city’s wretched traffic patterns, I began to travel by Shatabdi Express. I have always loved train journeys. For a change, I began to utilise the time by working on my book. So much so that to say thanks to Indian Railways the work is now called, The Book, A Train of Thoughts. The Train signifies train journeys and of course the journey of life.
  2. This work is also not a collection, but a ‘connection’ of short stories. As I shared the first draft with my editors (my dear friend Sunil and my dear SIL, Archana) I was amazed that the 10 odd feedback points from them had a one to one correspondence. But there were lots of positives. I undertook another longish train journeys and finished the final edits. Yes, the book is now complete! Phew!
  3. But how could this work make a difference to somebody out there? That was a question that kept nagging me and when I got the answer, it was still casual and that it could be a life changing experience hadn’t sunk in yet.

As this is my first book, I decided to not make a penny out of this and to dedicate all profits to painters with disadvantages. It took a while to identify such painters. Some meetings with NGOs led nowhere but I have now tied up with the Spastic Society of Tamil Nadu. There are talks with a few NGOs and we should be closing the search later this week if all goes well. Worst case I will only stick to the 4 painters from this organization. The idea is that at the start of each of the 8 chapters, a painting / sketch by a disadvantaged painter shall adorn the book. It is these painters whose works will gain publicity and funds will be used for their needs – survival, medicines, food, shelter etc. Proud to share an experience below!

I met this 21 year old painter, Kavitha who is disabled. She cannot use her hands and it’s difficult for her to use her legs as well. She can understand Tamil but cannot talk coherently. But she has a smile that is divine and oblivious to what we might call unfair to her.  Her house is very close to the Cooum, where the entire waste of Chennai gets dumped. So you can imagine how bad the living conditions must. She lives in a north Madras slum and her mother is a maid while her father does odd jobs to fund his passion for drinking. Eager to show how she could paint with her foot her mother mixed water colours and placed the painting brush between her right foot’s toes. In about 15 minutes, I saw magic unfold as the sheet was filled by the moon, its reflection, a few trees and an orange background. Some birds were returning home and it was then that I realized that I have an opportunity to make a difference. I am only human and was moved to tears when I saw her with her proud mother who carries a picture of Kavitha getting an award from Dr. APJ Kalam. That was 5 years ago and she was a rightful winner for being creative. However, today is different. Can we buy her paintings and decorate our houses, our work places or coffee mugs? Maybe …

Then I met a few other kids from the Spastics School and shortlisted 3 of them. One is autistic and the other 2 have LDs. They are not socio-economically challenged but the funds will go a long way to set up a dedicated center to encourage painting in the Spastic Society of Tamil Nadu. There are 3 more kids that will be finalized and these are from the lowest socio-economic strata. Amazing that while people like me are blessed to have studied at good schools and colleges and still cannot draw even if you point a gun at me, there are these amazing talents that exist in the most unlikely places very close to where you and I live.

While my book is intended to be a time pass entertainer, I am very happy that along with fun and the rare possibility of reading a book that covers topics across campus life, politics, cricket, ghosts, aliens and gyan, you can also make a difference.

I am looking to price the book at Rs. 300 and if you are in the US, would want to price at $15. So, you can contribute whatever amount you want and give the names of people with their addresses. I shall ship the books across as a gift from you to them. The network can multiply in that way.

Exact costs are being worked out and my team from NMIMS is exploring crowd-funding options. Many people have encouraged me but a few sceptics have also asked me the question, what next? My answer is that I don’t know. Just like we need to take a step out the door to start a journey across the world, this effort is a first step and I need your support, blessings and help. If your company can help through CSR, great, but whatever the route if we can make a difference to the painters whose details I will share shortly, I assure you it is worth it!

Have a great 2014!! I wish that in 2014 I shall have the honour of sending you several copies of The Book, A Train of Thoughts to you and your friends.

Mail me at rangarajan.sl@gmail.com for any questions / suggestions.

Update again

After constructive criticism from my editors, my dear SIL and my dear friend, Sunil, I am back to editing the book. What is weird is that these 2 people don’t know each other but the comments that they have given me are exactly the same. About 10 feedback comments and the one to one correspondence is a height of coincidence that I am still digesting! Wow!! Cant divulge the comments at this time but it sure is a spooky experience of sorts.

The editing part is turning out to be tough because when I was constructing the chapters, i could spend 10-15 minutes, draw a rough mind map, jot down an idea whenever it came to me, make notes and work on it later. i could slowly build the story. but the same is not happening during the editing phase as i have to edit in 1 sitting – that is at least a 2-3 hour ask in one go! But got to do it! Come on … haven’t you heard the story of digging, digging and digging till you reach the gold. Gold or not, dig I must.

On the update front, got some rejects … maybe I should have tested before sending it out to the big names. Lesson Learned!

Encouraging sign is the extremely positive feedback on the story line from both these editors whose feedback really mattered to me. That is the tonic I needed to push myself to edit.

Meeting a self publisher soon.

Execution is Key now … thanks to all for mailing me, asking me the progress, offering to help etc. I am humbled to know that there are so many people who are my well wishers.

Hang in there …

[the last line is a message to the readers and Self ;-)]

 

 

Part 3 of N: Some updates, idea and request …

After a long wait of about 7-8 weeks I got a reject email from a publisher yesterday evening. The timing almost coincided with another email from a leading publisher asking me to share my work for their evaluation. Therefore, I didn’t even get the time to feel bad about it … ha ha! Would be great if I could get feedback but unsure if that happens in the industry.

Keeping my fingers crossed and really excited about all the ideas and plans to make this work. Meanwhile, I got into some serious business planning mode, spoke to some of my batch mates and brainstormed. Figured that the cost of production is about 3.5 – 4 Lakhs (INR) and that is assuming I am putting zero cost for all the time and effort I have put in for the book. Debut author hoon bhai, shouldn’t dream too much 😉

Great to have some close people to review and edit the book … Thanks Archana and Romeet! and welcome to “The Book” Team.

A couple of friends told me about Kickstarter and I figure that funding for creative projects can happen through this website but unfortunately it is for people residing in US and UK only. [Still verifying]

I am seriously considering starting a similar service in the near future because creativity should be nurtured and encouraged! Period! If I cover my costs and make money, a % of it will go back to the contributors and another % will be used to fund other creative projects. I am thinking of funding debut authors in the future. Just thinking aloud here because the journey has been fantastic so far not because the destination is near or visible, but the possibilities are so many. May God bless me enough to carry on and inspire others to channelize their creative energies. Arun Chillara, for example, a batchmate from IIT KGP is a great example of pursuing an interest because of ‘interest’. While I work out the details, if you are interested to contribute in any way, please mail me at rangarajan.sl@gmail.com …. I am looking to make this a Not for Profit initiative. Suggestions, cash, gaalis, feedback – all comments welcome!

Cheers!

Raman Rengarajan Iyengar

Part 2 of N: What is it about?

Must be cosmic intervention that binds Ram and Raj together! A rare pair that goes together to school, IIT, IIM and now jobs at the same organization. After an intense introspection at the Himalayas, Ram vows to write a book to justify his existence. Raj volunteers to be a critic. Thus starts their book writing journey:  a roller-coaster ride through relationships, campus life, movies, cricket, politics, ghosts, consulting, aliens and philosophy before they give up. Since you are reading this, The Book has somehow happened. To know how, Hang in there …. The Book shall reach you soon!!

Part 1 of N … where N is an unknown

Enjoy the random rants of a debut author …

I wanted to use this post for many reasons but as you all know that I have drained myself of significant energy to complete the writing of my Book, called “The BOOK”.

The most difficult part has started as I try to convince publishers about how great my work is. As a graduate from a B-school and that has nothing to do with my ability to sell or market, just that I have come across great marketing gurus, read a few of their books, whitepapers, been in Sales, Pre-sales, strategy (which is again about selling and marketing) but believe me, the challenge of deciding the next steps for a book has got to be a real challenge for anybody who likes to solve challenges!! Consumer behavior  for example, is a great topic to read but if you go to a sari shop and try to use theory to understand how women analyse saris you are all set to fail!

I am sharing a few thoughts because I wanted to write a brief for a marketing firm before discussing what I really wanted to talk about. Ending up with this post and a new blog! Wow!!

Crib 1: Spoken to a few people and disappointed with the depth of thinking and ability to differentiate. Well, it is not easy to innovate, I know but it is time for me to randomly express my thoughts and then structure it into a better post later ….

  • The expectation is that somebody will pick THE BOOK to read what I have written. The underlying assumption is that I expect that person to spend say 3-4 hours to read my work. If I take a conservative estimate and take 4 minutes per page, maybe on an average 10 hours of effort and maybe 250 bucks (not getting into financials because the ability to pay is not a question, it is the willingness to pay that can be thought through later]. The 10 hours may be spread over a weekend, maybe 2 weekends or say over a week, but the average effort is of 2 movies, maybe 3 movies. This time has to be placed on a higher priority than other tasks. Other tasks could include having sex, going out with friends, listening to music, getting drunk, sleeping, eating, working, playing, lecturing etc. But wait, the best time to read is when you are going in a bus or a train or when you are in the loo or when you are in the bed … Wait again! Clearly shows that the ‘where will the reader read the book’ part needs to be answered before I can move to marketing strategy creation, right? It is therefore clear that I am not expecting cannibalization of some other time or activity on part of the reader to devote time for reading the book. Don’t worry … I am not interested in taking away the time meant for other activities
  • If I look at the ‘Who’ part, obviously I am interested in my friends reading it because they will relate to it. I have 500 friends on Facebook, about 500 batch mates from IIT Kgp  and another 200 from IIM L. I also want my other school friends and violin class friends to read it … I want each one of them to read it because in some way or the other they would have either seen the inspiration behind at least one sentence from the book or some of them might be surprised to see that are playing even bigger roles in the book …  with or without their knowledge, I may have added them somewhere. Add my colleagues too … but even if I assume all my friends are kind enough to buy the book, I am still looking at only 1000 copies. That’s it!!??? About 25000 more people are needed to give me entry level fame???? Now that I have written the book anyways, why should I not pray for fame? If I continue being humble [my true nature] I will continue to enjoy writing but should I not try to sell? Now, where do I get the 25k more people from? And hey wait, out of the 500 FB friends, many are brothers and sisters and wives and live under the same roof. Whatever they are to each other, they are all my dear friends on Facebook. But the bottom line is: If a family of 4 has 4 Facebook friends, I have 1 book that can penetrate their household if I think normally. If I want them to read more and buy more, maybe I need to sell a version on each mobile device that they carry around … a channel addition but an idea nevertheless! So, friends need to help me as they are my only friends … Mental Note: This is already depressing because I know lazy my friends are. My friends, aren’t they?
  • Who will read my book then? [Side note: stop chewing nails!!] Well, anybody who is of marriageable age, I mean 18 plus and has been or is in college will enjoy the book. Assumption is that I do indeed have a good content. Ok, let us get that straight, I believe I have a fantastic book and if it doesn’t appeal to people who read this, I will change my name to R Rangarajan Iyengar from Raman Rengarajan Iyengar … 😉 Apart from whoever is reading this, the following should read my book: People who are curious to get to know about what happens when they send their kids to IITs, NITs or IIMs or any hostel are welcome to shed their inhibitions and enter my book. People who want to watch much more than just a movie should read my book. Actors and producers and directors who acknowledge the lack of ideas will do themselves a world of good by reading my book. It packs a punch and has emotion, different genres rolled into one book and they can definitely look at a unique story that does have a message and a suspense at the end. So is it a thriller, no? Is it a ghost movie? no … no!! So what is it? A full meal sappadu with elements of Tamil Brahm culture, Bongali culture, Hindi gaali garoch, philosophy … Will share the plot summary soon. That is the 100 word back cover content and is called different things by different publishers.

A clear no-brainer of a statement is that if I were to track the activities of what my target audience does…. they are all on Facebook and will have email addresses [personal and official]. Each one of my target audience needs to be addressed. Appeal to them to take some time out and buy the book. In an ideal state, buying the book right away is important because if they buy and don’t read right away it is still ok. But if they wait to buy the wait is usually forever. Plan …. as the book is yet to hit the stands in xxx months

  • Should we even think competition? Tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 competition exists in each genre. My genre is fiction but even within fiction I have tried to be serious, funny, thrown PJs and taken the liberty of adding experiences of self and others and pickled it with my so called creativity. Self note: I am Angry!!! Remove ‘so called’ because marketing is about confidence and even an iota of tentativeness can kill the campaign!!!!

While I think of what next to do because publishers get about 1000 manuscripts a month and even if there is a significant overlap between publishers, there are at least 10000 books waiting to get published every month!!! I should have started a BPO or an IT company specializing in the study of what chip to use to keep a driver or pilot’s bum warm while driving or flying based on certain ergonomical and economical parameters and correlating it with environmental and social risk management parameters. But too late, I already penned down my book and need to give it a shot! Chala tho chala nahin tho I tried man, didn’t i?’

I am clear I need external help on the marketing part: distribution, digital marketing – strategy and execution. By the way I already found a great cover designer. She hasn’t done book design stuff before but shh …. she is good, will share details at the right time.

Why are the players I read about or spoke to are not good enough in my opinion?

  • Tall claims but am not sure if book trailers and other publicity thoughts work as simple as they say it will. I don’t see differentiated thinking. Clarity of thought itself is not enough to appeal to my inquisitive mind. Surprisingly the websites also seem to Ctrl C Ctrl V liberally. Out of millions of books, where will my book be? Or should I straightaway talk to Prabhudeva? Will Dhoni put it on Twitter and ask people to read my book? Will Rajnikanth acknowledge that the book is a also a tribute to his superstardom and be kind enough to write a review, a foreword …. Will my head explode? What have I done?

That is the looong background … if somebody out there still thinks you have it in you to work with me and make this a success, please approach me with a plan. We can write history together …. but as Chanakya said, the events that make it to the pages of history are those that are well thought out. Execution without strategy is noise says Art of War …. Have a plan and pitch to me.

Self note:

Om Chetan Bhagwataaya Namah

Om Amish Tripathiayah Namah

Om Ashwin Sanghiayah Namah ..

Om Karan Bajajaya Namah

Om Yashodhara Lalaya Namah!! [For Mata Shakti effect]

This is the Chanakya’s Chant for Indian authors

[Another mental note: in the above note, IIMA, B, C and another C … hee hee IIM L slot is vacant]

By the way my book can appeal to a larger population as well, the international market is huge! Kite runner, for example has so much of Farsi references and won awards. Khalid is such a great author though.

So, Will I too win an Award? Dream on Rongorajone, Ambani and Kalam have asked people to dream. I can dream because I can control it without depending on others. Keeping fingers crossed and maybe as starters I can give an interview to Aarthi, MBA for the Youtube audience.

To be Continued… This was Part 1 of N where N is an unknown