Kiruba is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, podcaster and a farmer.

New Year Resolutions: 3 Tips from Science

Its the second week of January 2013. The time when our new year resolutions lose steam! Read these 3 tips by my friend Ramnath Subbaraman.

New Year Resolutions: 3 Tips from Science

1. KEEP IT TO YOURSELF: Because, announcing your goal gives you a “premature sense of completeness”, and you are less likely to work hard towards achieving it, according to a study – When Intentions Go Public – by New York University professor Peter M. Gollwitzer. (Via)

2. KEEP IT SMALL: Because, small things – such as doing 10 push ups as soon as you wake up, or playing guitar for 3 minutes everyday – are more likely to become a habit, says Stanford professor BJ Fogg. Check out his site tinyhabits (Via)

3. KEEP YOUR COOL: Because, a relapse of an old habit doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. “It’s like learning to ride a bicycle. Almost everybody falls at least once,” Alan Marlatt says. If you fail once, pick yourself up, fight the abstinence violation effect and keep going.

And, one more, KEEP A SCORECARD: Because, Hawthorne Effect suggests you’ll do better when you are being monitored. (The Nike Experiment: How the Shoe Giant Unleashed the Power of Personal Metrics | Wired)

Have a great 2013! Original article here.


Make Your Blog Awesome: 7 Key Lessons from TIME’s Top 25 Blogs

TIME Magazine Logo
Time Magazine has made a list of the Top 25 blogs in the World.  I came across this list today and the timing couldn’t be better. I was looking for ways to get back to active blogging and this list gave me an idea. What can we learn from these successful blogs? What is it that makes these blogs awesome? Is there a success pattern that we can adopt for our own blogs? I decided to find out. And so, I patiently visited each of these 25 blogs and made notes as I went along.  Here are my findings from my 5 hour mission.

 

1) Pick a Niche Topic:  This clearly stands out as a success pattern. Almost every blog listed in the TIME’s list has focused on one particular area and focused deep into it.  Lets take a few examples.

TheBillFold is about money. The site’s tag-line says it all, “Everything about Money you were too polite to ask”!

DesignSponge has fascinating ideas and lovely photos of home decorations.

BookShelfPorn does not talk about books. It only focuses on the book shelf designs and there are hundreds of great ideas.

Well, you get the idea.  Pick a niche space that you are passionate about. Then focus on covering that area alone. Easy recipe to differentiate yourself.

 

Invite Guest Authors: There’s only so much that one can write.  A good blog requires regular dose of good content to attract and retain audience.  Mike Dang and Logan Sachon, the owners of  TheBillFold do that cleverly by inviting writers from around the globe to contribute articles on their personal experiences with money. 500px, a great photo community thrives on fantastic photos shot by its members.

A possible lesson here. Open up your blog and invite your readers to participate. This ensures that your blog don’t get cobwebs for long. And its good to have company too.

 

Use Facebook Plugin for Comments:    Commenting platforms like Disqus sucks. People hate registering on sites. Besides, they never update their avatars. See this page.    FB commenting system works great, gets repeat audience and helps build a conversation going. For example, scroll down this page and take a look at the comments below.  You can embed similar FB plugin from the Facebook Social Plugin Page.


Photos for Every Blog Post
:  Almost all the blogs in the Top 25 list use a picture to accentuate their blog post. Not only does it make your blog post look good, it provides visual relief from the monotony of text.  Even better if you can mix audio and video into your posts.


Talk About Things that Others Won’t:
  Its very rare for people to openly talk about failures, embarrassing situations or difficulties in life. When people do, they immediately stand out and earn the attention and empathy of the readers. Take Emily Rapp, a mother  who writes a blog  about her 3 year old son Ronan, who is slowly dying from Tay-Sachs disease. He can no longer move or see.  Its a very difficult situation for a mother but the fact that she is opening talking about it and how she is handling the situation is what makes people love her.


Controversy is Good
:  Take the case of Martha Payne, a 9 year old student who started posting pictures of school lunches everyday in her blog. Not many knew about her blog until the School Council decided to ban her blog. Word leaked out and this created a  outrage on social media. Mainstream press started to cover the censorship and a senior minister had to step in to overturn the ban.  Her blog helped raise over Rs.1 crore in charity money and she now has a book published. Goes to show that there’s nothing called bad publicity.


Well Researched Articles and Strongly Opinionated
: Across all the 25 blogs, I noticed that the blog posts average around 200 words. That’s about 4 paragraphs. Long enough to write a well researched piece.  Leave brevity for Twitter and Facebook. Blogs thrive on longer content. Also, remember that people come to your blog for *your* opinions. Say it the way you feel it.

So, these are the 7 trends that I found. What other trends did you notice from the Top 25 Blogs? Got any new ideas to improve our blogs? Please do share.


Getting Started on New Year Resolutions.

It’s the birth of a fresh new year. The mind is fresh and filled with positivity. It has always been a tradition for me to write down my new year resolutions in the last week of December itself. But this time, my single minded focus was in completing the 900 kms Tour of Tamilnadu. I was too tired from cycling to whip out a list.

So, I’m dedicating the next two days to jot down my New Year Resolutions list. Previous experiences and wisdom from aging has taught me not to be too strict with it. Its a friendly guideline and not a must-do list.

As with previous years, my resolutions will be kept private. But if you follow my progress, it’d be easy for you to make it out.


The New Year Celebration I Won’t Forget in a Long Time

In 13 years since our apartment has been built, this is the first year that a New Year has been jointly celebrated. When we took over the responsibility of the apartment association during mid-2008, this was on the must-do list. And huge credit should go to the kids for pulling a remarkable event together. I was pleasantly surprised by their organizing skills and financial acumen.


The kids performing a dance for the song ‘Yeh Ishq hai‘ from Jab We Met. I must’ve listened to this song a hundred times while they were rehearing the dance at my home. My wife was the troupe’s choreographer.

Notice the colourful screen in the background. It’s made out of 64 sarees, generously lent by the ladies in the apartment.

There were many games during the 3 hour event. One such is the musical chair contest for men.


The buffet was the highlight of the celebration. Each home took the responsibility of cooking one special item of their choice for everyone. It reminded me of unconferences where folks picked up their own topic to speak. We had over 3o items and I can tell that this can rival any 5 star hotel food.


Just before midnight, we all got together for a group photo. That’s just half of them. Few had to leave for churches and temples for New Year Pooja.


We bought some classy fireworks (these are monstrous guys) and we timed it beautifully with the New Year countdown. Then came a huge cake where the eldest couple and the youngest kid in the apartment jointly cut the cake. Then followed a melee of cream splashing spree!

To see the unity amongst the residents and the amazing spirit and talent of the kids was fantastic. A New Year Celebration I won’t forget in a long time.


The Making of the Community Christmas Tree

Every year, I set up an artificial Christmas tree at my home, decorate it with small goodies and lights. However, it just doesn’t have the festive feel nor the spirit. This time, I wanted it to be different. I wanted it to be bigger and more importantly, make our apartment folks to be involved. That’s when the idea of a community tree cropped up and quickly latched on to it.


This is the tree that’s inside our apartment that we chose. We planted this two years ago and this guys has grown fairly strong. We decided to give it the Christmas look.


Off I went to Parrys Corner. It’s a good one hour ridefrom my place. Worth the long ride. You get the best varieties and the best prices. Picked up stars, trinkets, bells, and other stuff.


There’s a special lane in Parrys corner that only deals with electrical goods. Picked up a whole bunch of ‘china made’ Christmas lights.


The whole idea attracted the apartment kids like Pied Piper. That’s just half of them. A whole lot more joined in soon.


The kids helped set things up and the adults joined in doing the hard stuff like electrical wiring and hanging.


We needed thin metal wires in order to hang the stars and the bells. There’s a nice hardware store nearby and bought these wires.


Meanwhile, another team of volunteers began work on getting the electrical wiring ready. Since all the bulbs were to be fixed as a serial connection, we had to make sure that the connections were perfect. One mistake and the rest of the bulbs won’t glow. I wanted to call in a professional electrician to help but the enthusiastic guys said they’d do it themselves. I was impressed.


A kind gentleman in our apartment helped source a ladder that greatly helped. Once the wiring was done, we began to hang the lights.


As the evening progressed, the day light began to fade making the task harder. The team didn’t want to stop mid way and we laboured on. The thin branches didn’t help either and we had to be careful. The lightest guy in the team took on the adventurous job of getting up the tree.


When we switched on the power, it was a sight to behold. The colourful lights lit up the place brightly. The kids and the folks in the apartment broke into an applause immediately. Seen here are the three guys, Nagesh, Manohar and Rajesh who took on the bulk of the work. Each of the kids went and shook their hands saying, “Thank you uncle”. The joy on the kids face was worth all the 6 hours of hard work.

The spirit was contagious. One of the neighbours even bought a whole pack ‘jalebis’ for the team. Now the folks in the apartment are enthusiastic about celebrating a joint New Year Celebrations on 30th night and plans are underway. It’s the first time in 12 years that this apartment is seeing a joint celebration.

Amazing what a little spirit and a Christmas tree can do! :)