Monday, March 24, 2008

Logic can't Predict Behavior

There is a meaning in everything that happens around us. There is a logic in everything that happens around us. We may not be able to understand the logic behind these things. When a few variables are visible to us or can be perceived by us we can correlate and we can understand the relationship between them we can ascertain the behaviour. But when there are too many variables and the complexity of the correlation between them is high how can we ascertain the behvaiour of the system. This becomes virtually impossible. My conviction is that the best of the supercomputers will not be able to derive a sense of the system to predict the behaviour. But this cannot be concluded to mean that there is no logic in the behaviour. There is the logic. But it is that we are not able to perceive it. Inability to perceive does not mean absence of logic.

The comfort in dealing with a system which has a logic, though cannot be perceived, is the comfort in the belief that there is a reason. We are most perplexed when we do not know why something happens. Even more when we assume that there is no reason why something should not be happening. The intelligence is knowing the ignorance of the intelligence in the system. There is a logic in the system and things happen as per the logic of the system. We are unable to perceive it.

Take the movement of stock market. Can anyone in the world be able to predict the behaviour of the market? It is impossible even though there are tonnes of trees sacrificed in trying to do this. The number of reasons that could affect the movement of the stocks can go and on. The weather in Gulf of Mexico, a riot is Kenya (effecting the oil/commodity price), an earthquake in Indonesia, resignation of a minister in French government etc. etc. Now can one really capture all the nitty gritties of the various factors which could affect the stock markets. It is impossible. But then we have to believe that there is a logic and not try to get into the logic. The moment we get into the logic we will be wrong because we cannot comprehend all the factors or variables and will be therefore have a limited perspective.

The beauty is letting go, accepting that there is a logic in the complexity and that the only thing we could do is control our behaviour assuming that this is something we could do.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Famous Short Quotes

Short memorable quotes that'll get your confidence going. You'll love them as much as I did. Save these short quotes and phrases and read them when you're in low spirits.

First things first.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

All the world loves a lover.

Early bird catches the worm.

A problem shared is a problem halved.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Don't burn your bridges behind you.

A good beginning makes a good ending.

Handsome is as handsome does.

There's no smoke without fire.

All's fair in love and war.

You can't tell a book by looking at its cover.

Love is blind.

Better safe than sorry.

The pen is mightier than sword.

A penny saved is a penny earned.

You can't teach an old dog new tricks.

If you can't beat em, join em.

Charity begins at home.

Two heads are better then one.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Laughter is the best medicine.

Opportunity only knocks once.

People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Great minds think alike.

Lightening never strikes twice in the same place.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Kicking Bad Habits for Good

Habits acquired over the years can be unhealthy, sheer waste of time, utterly boring or unrewarding. They can reduce efficiency. Lower our life span. Make people love us less. Or push us to the brink of risking our lives.

But, they could also be good, healthy and positive. They could improve our efficiency. Help organize our lives better. Inculcate self-discipline.

A lot depends on whether the habit is good or bad. Something that’s done regularly over a long period of time turns into a habit. And when that happens it’s no longer in the realm of conscious acts. Habits exist independently in our subconscious. Which makes it all the more important for you to identify and work on the bad habits, or they could kill your time, reduce efficiently and stunt your personality.

Breaking your bad habit
Remember you weren’t born with a bad habit, you just acquired it over the years. So it’s something you can undo.

Drawing up a plan
Decide which bad habit you want to do away with first. Procrastination, back-biting, killing time before the TV, overeating, smoking or drinking. Take on one habit at a time. They are as tough as nails.

Writing your intention on a piece of paper works like magic. That’s how most successful people have realized their dreams. When you put them on paper that’s commitment. Then you must visualize doing away with that bad habit. See yourself smoking fewer cigarettes. Attending to things immediately. Spending lesser time before boring serials. Eating healthily. This helps tremendously in your fight against bad habits.

Get family and friends to support you
Quitting a compulsive habit like smoking or drinking is tough. Not having the support of loved ones only worsens your resolve. Inform everyone of your resolve to throw a bad habit out of the window. Seek their support. They’ll only be too glad to lend it. Join alcoholics anonymous or a non-smokers club. Being amidst people who’ve benefited from losing a negative habit will motivate you.

Substitute with alternate activities
You can stop a bad habit in the butt only if can find a better activity to replace it. Let’s say you want to stop sitting in front of the television for long hours.

Can you do something more healthy and rewarding during that time. Maybe reading a book. Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, if you please. Or get into a routine of exercising. You’ll be a lot more healthier. Perhaps, an Evening Walker’s Club or polishing some unused skill of yours. Painting or playing the guitar. And why not join a computer class. Check the list below for some suggested alternates.

Overeating: Substitute with low calorie foods. Start exercising.
Drinking: Join Alcoholics Anonymous. Be with teetotalers. Spend time with family
Procrastinating: Reward yourself for work executed.
Backbiting: Say only good things about people. Keep away from those who encourage you to gossip, and instead team up with positive people.
Smoking: Chew gum. Join a non-smokers club. Enroll in a public speaking course.
Glued to TV: Enrol in an association. Join a Walker’s Club. Read books.

Reward yourself for small gains
After a week of disciplined effort to break a bad habit, give yourself a pat on the back. Go out for a movie. Treat yourself to a Chettinad dinner. Buy the long-delayed wrinkle free trousers. Perhaps, even a new haircut. It works magic on you. Rewards bring a smile on your face. They motivate you. They bring out that feeling of success. You need it.

Who dares wins
It’s been tough the last few weeks, but I’m sure you’ve satisfied with the headway. You no longer sit passively before the TV. Stopped postponing exercising. Have been regular to Alcoholics Anonymous. Feeling Good. Would you like to feel this way forever. You can do it NOW.

Friday, March 7, 2008

5 Ways to Bargain and Win.

From Delhi’s Paalika Bazaar to Linking Road in Mumbai, bargaining is what matters.

If you follow the rules of the art, not only will you save money, you will enjoy little games with the shopkeepers.

First, it is important to always remember that sellers are pretty smart folks, and have honed their art to perfection. They can be as charming as Cleopatra if needed, and are perhaps worthy enough of an entry in Wikipedia.

Games Sellers Play
Let me narrate a story about their psychological games.

A lady walks into a sari store. After enquiring about her budget (range, as they call it), the shopkeeper proceeds to show her a few pieces. She can't seem to decide on buying.

He spots the indecision, and quickly capitalizes on it.

Suddenly, in a PC Sorcar-like act, he pulls out a few saris at a higher price than the range quoted.

As she goes through them, the choice is pretty clear. Sensing the opportunity to seal the deal, the salesman says, "Madam, take the lesser priced range, it suits your budget.

The lady, feeling insulted, "Pack the blue coloured higher priced sari."

"OK Madam," says he, with a wry smile, knowing he's won the game.

We are all bargaining most of the time. Sometimes over which program to watch on TV. At other times over the salary your next company should pay. Many a time, we don't realise that we are bargaining.

But, when we do and learn to communicate, negotiate and close deals better, we become good at the game. Here are a few tips that will stand you in good stead.

Show no Interest in the Product you actually want
When you walk into a bazaar and spot something interesting don't pick it up. Be cool and without much interest enquire the price. Sniffing an opportunity, the shopkeeper will request you to pick it up and feel or read it (in case it's a second-hand bookshop). Pretend as if you'd rather have a painful tattoo on your forehead than buy it at that price.

Now see the price drop. Because you're not the interested buyer, he's the keen seller.

Quote 30 percent less. Always
Yes, you heard me right. Quote 30 percent less than what you're willing to pay. And see what happens. If he begins to drop from the quoted price, then for every Rs 100 he cuts, you hike your price by Rs 20. In the end, if you're patient and play the game well, you could well end up getting it for a song.
Tip: Always make 'em sell. You don't buy.

Learn to Negotiate
Let me walk you through a typical bargain I do at a second-hand bookstore.

Me (pointing to Stephen Covey's Seven Habits, without much interest): How much is that book?
Seller: Rs 150 sir. Please take it and see, sir.
Me (Looking at another book on the other side): It's ok.
Seller (Pursuing an opportunity to push): Tell me your price sir.
Me: (browsing through something seriously): It's too steep.
Seller: Ok, you tell me your price.
Me: Perhaps, Rs 70.
Seller: Rs 70 is too low, sir. The new edition costs Rs 390. Give me Rs 125.
Me: (Shocked as if a rickshaw guy asked me Rs 100 for a one KM ride): Nothing more than Rs 80.
Seller: Let's make it Rs 100.
Me: Thanks. The ELBS edition is Rs 130, did you know?
(I slowly move on towards the next shop.)
Seller (coming after me): Ok take it at Rs 90.
Me: Rs 80 only.
Seller: Ok, here's the book. Any other books you want, sir.

Smiles take you Miles
Always smile as you bargain. It lowers prices like nothing else does. Shopkeepers don't like to sell less to scowling faces.
If you know the stuff you're buying, he'll definitely offer you a good price. That's if you can differentiate between a micro and leather, 100 percent cotton and polycott. Otherwise you’ll get nothing. Zip, zilch, nada.
Tip: Show no great interest. And be in no great hurry to buy.

Never quote your Price
Never put a price to anything you want to buy. Let the seller say his price. Then say it's too high. Seller will come down further. Now put a price, say 30% lesser than what you're willing to pay. Keep negotiating from thereon to the price you're willing to pay, or lesser.
Tip: Closing times are the best times to buy.
In case you're in a strange territory or don't know the language, never put a price to anything you intend to buy. 'cause if you do, the only way to go is UP. Instead, try a few shops and you'll know the approximate price for the product you want to take home.
Tip for the traveler: Never go out and buy things in an unknown place. Check with some locals before buying.

All’s Well in Love and Bargaining
Even if you are not able to close a deal, don't worry. You actually haven't lost. Instead, you have found out a price range to negotiate in the next shop.
Now, are you headed to the bazaar?
Happy bargaining!

Written by KS Rajasekar