Tuesday, December 26, 2017

How my istriwala irons out his challenges

pic: gov.au
The arrow has to be pulled back to go forward. My istriwala's wife was diagnosed with cancer and here's what he did. Challenges bring out the best in you, did they say. He turned out to be a hero. At first, he sought financial help and a few of contributed. In a couple of weeks, he started delivering rice bags to the neighbourhood. I was very happy. Next he also got into sale of water cans, good business in Chennai. When I met him, he said, "I need to support her as she has stood by me and means a lot to me. I never knew that I could push myself to do all this." Live has a beautiful way of giving us the strength and courage to do things just when things are down for us. But few of us do it like my istriwala. The arrow has to be pulled back to go forward. The tiger crouches before leaping. If you go one step backward, don't worry. Leap forward like my istriwala.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

How to be Happy in 7 Days - My Guaranteed Happiness Formula

Be in the moment
The happiest person is the one enjoying the moment - be it sipping tea, walking in the drizzle, doing your work, enjoying the sunset or playing with the kids or the pet.
Immerse yourself completely and your experience and awareness will raise beyond unimaginable heights. Your capacity to learn and perform is dramatically upped when you do this. Life offers a thousand moments everyday, just that you're missing it in the anxiety of waiting for something big or worrying about the future.

Be aware of your expectations
They can kill the spirit inside you. Aspire for the best but don't let expectations bog you down and make you under perform. Give 100 percent to everything you take up and push beyond the boundaries of your capability. Mere expectations, without effort, is like sitting on a bike with no fuel. You have to push to make things happen. Try and you'll be surprised by the results and the capacity in you. Footprints on the sands of time are not made by sitting down.

Hug and kiss nature
We were created to coexist in our surroundings and therefore you can be happy only if you live the fragrance of flowers, the shade of the trees, the joy of the gushing waters, the beauty of the sunset...

Lend help to those who need, doesn't matter if they don't seek
We are given two hands so that we could help people around us. Be emphathetic, be aware and care for others. It's most fulfilling and happiness will pervade your being.

When you see the tree, become the tree
Learn to rise above your circumstances and your experience. Don't see the world through filters of your experience or capability. By just being aware of how you react and behave, you will soon understand why you do what you do. That awareness will help you overcome the filters.

Don't judge, don't be judged
See people fresh every time you meet them. Not through the previous experience. Give them an opportunity to make mistakes and learn. Forgive them, it's healing. Don't react to opinions. You can't be weak to let opinions hurt you. Stay still, stay calm.

These are fundamental things which have kept me happy, full of "Josh", devoid of negativity and mood swings. I like like a child. You too can.

Try it and let me know how you feel. I'm available to help anyone who needs some direction to happiness. Reach me via LinkedIn.

Rajasekar KS, GM – Marketing at Matrimony.com
Speaker, writer, social media and content strategist, Raj helps organisations leverage social media to create conversations and turn fans into collaborators besides create and market compelling content to build lasting value. He was recognised by Adobe & Paul Writer among Top 100 Content Leaders (2017). He was also recognised among Top 100 Influential Marketing Leaders in India by the World Marketing Congress (2016). He writes on technology, content marketing, social media culture in the Economic Times, Business World and Business Line. He loves technology that empowers customers to find better solutions and richer experiences

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Delivering Happiness Through Social

pic: Tech.co
Aspirations have changed and so have Service expectations! 
From booking a taxi the previous day to taxi in 5 minutes, food in 30 minutes and a even perfect match on BharatMatrimony in a day...

Customers want empathetic listeners who can solve problems.

Customer service through phone is perceived to be slow and tough.

The way we’ve been taught to listen to customers is perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists - Phone surveys and web forms.

Customers want to be understood, connected at lighting speed and issue resolved anytime, anywhere.

But just phones, web forms and customer care mail ids seem to have limitations in today’s world.

Customers feel that they’d be spun around from one number to another
They think that it’s slow
They feel they're just "token numbers" and "tickets"

Whereas on social... 
Customers think there are real people to whom they can connect with. They've understood that social is powerful and companies won't ignore them.

Think social!!!! Deliver Happiness Through Social!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Sales Vs Marketing – The Tom and Jerry Show

Ask anyone who’s knows a sales or marketing pro and you’d hear stories about the eternal fights and accusations. A sales-marketing meeting is never without some disagreement or the other.

Sales: The leads were bad
Marketing: Leads were good, follow up was bad

Sales: We bring the money, you spend it
Marketing: We sow the seeds, you harvest

So how does one resolve this Tom and Jerry problem.

Bring them together and make them understand the business goals. Get clarity about the target segment, media used, measurements, type of leads, follow up and closures, discounts and looping back with data.

And the discussions should be regular, open minded, friendly and towards a common goal – resolve the customers’ challenges.

And soon like the endearing scene where Tom and Jerry drink from the same plate, you’ll find Sales and Marketing pros meet with a smile.

Doesn’t matter whether you’re Tom or Jerry – you work to make customers happy.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Why we must listen with humility...

Forget who you are, forget who the speaker is. Just listen to what is being said. Don't interrupt, don't ignore. Listen. Listen with humility and you'll benefit from what you hear. Forget your own experiences. Stop evaluating as something is being said. Don’t assume things. Don’t let your predetermined image of the person distort what you are listening. Listen to understand, not to respond. Listen to the story in between the speaker's speech. Listen to the pauses. You'll always end up being wiser than before.  Listen with humility to show that you truly care.

Rajasekar KS

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Have You Sold Your Freedom For Push Notifications?

While technology seemingly empowers us to do more, be connected and take control of our lives, it’s doing exactly the opposite. Demanding apps thrust notifications into our face and take control of us, says Rajasekar KS.
Like aliens invading my private space in the dark of the night, push notifications are violating my right to a peaceful moment. Damn it! Can’t even have a peaceful nap on a Sunday afternoon without these sneaky invaders.
While Facebook notifications range from the silly, “It’s been 7 days since you posted something” to the scary “Rahul and Tina” marked themselves safe during the downpour in Mumbai, ecommerce notifications from Flipkart, Amazon, Swiggy can range from, “it’s India-Pak match, have you ordered your snacks for the show” to “Your favourite Red Tape shoes on sale. 10% off only for the next 2 minutes.” Imagine the roller-coaster emotions one goes when one gets these notifications in the midst of work or while driving.
While marketers are on the overdrive pushing notifications left, right and centre, the average user is beginning to feel annoyed at the attention-grabbing technique. Distracting users at work with endless notifications that occupy the screen of their private space can be very disturbing. Research has proven that notifications cause ‘ADHD-type-like-symptoms” and take a toll on our productivity and our ability to take decisions.
The distraction is so deadly that many users report that they hear a beep but don’t see any notification on checking the phone. Studies point that these distractions hamper performance of the task on hand, even when users ignored the notification. In 2016, Localytics, the leading mobile engagement platform, found in a study that 52% feel notifications annoy them. Even Apple acknowledged that people find it tiring and distracting to pull out phones from their pocket every time there’s an alert, and so had users turn their wrist to see any notifications on the watch.
With artificial intelligence, analytics and algorithms arming the marketers with up-to-the-minute intelligence on the consumer’s location, activity and behaviour, it’s just a matter of time before it gets worse. In the search for profits, the old “permission marketing” principles have been forgotten.
What action could you take? Turn off these notifications on the individual apps.
Done that and yet getting one more missile slide by begging for attention. The culprit is the “Allow peeking” feature in each of your apps. Open app notifications on any of your apps and you’ll see: “let this app emphasize certain notifications by sliding them briefly into view on the current screen” or “Treat as priority” which says: Let this app’s notifications when Do Not Disturb is set to Priority only.
If brands don’t get the message, timing and frequency right, push notifications can result in customers deleting apps, missing out important notifications and a very bad consumer experience.
I’ve just turned off the notifications on all my apps. It took be many minutes but is worth the time spent. I now suddenly seem to have freed up a lot of time from the shackles of the annoying notifications.
This article was first published in the Economic Times http://tech.economictimes.indiatimes.com/catalysts/have-you-sold-your-freedom-for-push-notifications/2548

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Why TOI, HT & The Hindu Must Grab This New Facebook Opportunity To Stay Relevant on Digital

After two years of its launch, Facebook’s talk of a subscription plan on Instant Articles has provided the much needed hope for publishers worldwide. It says that users will be able to subscribe to news and magazine publishers from its app the end of the year.
This development comes a week after the US congress was petitioned for “an anti-trust exemption to negotiate collectively with large platforms, specifically Facebook and Alphabet's Google.” The News Media Alliance which spearheaded this move charges that Facebook and Google benefit from the hard work of newspapers without fairly compensating publishers.
Facebook along with Google controls almost half of the global digital spend and with users clocking most of their time on their platforms, and this has made them gatekeepers of information. The publisher’s complaint against Google is that the search giant hurts them in search if they do not allow a “free article read” on first click. Many who didn’t allow the free first article have seen a drop of 70 to 90% in referral traffic from Google.
Instant Articles are said to drive 20 to 50% more traffic than hits to the publishers’ mobile site. Instant Articles are somewhat like Google’s AMP, serving lighter and faster. According to Facebook , over 10,000 publishers are now using Instant Articles, and more than a third of all clicks to articles on Facebook are to Instant Articles.
Facebook denied that it’s algorithm favours Instant Articles to publishers own links. Users seem to be keen to stay within Facebook and the consumption of news decides the content that shows up on newsfeed. It’s executives though have indicated that the frequency of Instant Articles (by a publisher) determines it’s display in newsfeed. A cue for publishers to upload more content on Instant Articles.
New York Times, Guardian, Washington Post, HBR have all been struggling to monetise their traffic. But the paywall doesn’t seem to be doing wonders with readers somehow believing that digital is free. And with Facebook Instant Articles keeping users within its own network, publishers were shy to go there, infact many pulled out citing drop in traffic to their own sites.
But, there’s so hope now, with Facebook announcing that a paywall can be added by publishers who need to give first 10 articles free and then give users option to subscribe. While it offers an opportunity for publishers to monetise their content, it’s also an acknowledgement that Facebook values the partnership with publishers.
It has also offered a deep dive for publishers to, “measure Instant Articles' impact on referral traffic from Facebook. The tool will be available to publishers who have published enough Instant Articles and mobile web versions to measure the difference”.
It’s not yet clear how they’ll charge users. Publishers say they also want first party data that comes with subscription since it helps personalise the content and offers. 
Rajasekar KS is a speaker, writer and #SocialMedia & content strategist. He was listed among Top 100 #Marketing Leaders India '16 by the World Marketing Congress. He writes in #EconomicTimes #BusinessWorld  #BusinessLine  Currently works as GM - Marketing @bharatmatrimony and tweets @PositiveMantra

Friday, May 12, 2017

What Can Marketers Learn From Mothers?

pic: Getty Images
With Mother’s day round the corner, there’s so much that organisations can learn and adapt from mothers when it comes to delivering better experiences for customers. Are we open to it is the question?

Personalisation for Family
Mothers provide experiences that are aligned to each child’s preferences, mood and needs. Her interactions are meaningful because it’s based data - lifetime behaviour, experiences and understanding of her interactions with you. She knows what’s going on in your mind with a sheer glance into your eyes. And quickly moves to give you the warmth and love you need and sits down with you to understand your pain. Of course, she also does recommend a way to resolve your problem. And she does all this because she loves you and looks forward to no obligations in return.

Kids are the Centre of Her Universe
From when she wakes to the time she switches off the bedroom lights at night, all this superwoman does is make the family comfortable and happy. She thinks about them all the time. What delicious dinner can I make, evening snacks to make for the kids, clothes to press for the spouse… the family is the heart of her home, even though many mothers have the dual role of a career outside.

She Takes Responsibility
When mom is around, the buck stops with her. Her perseverance is the stuff legends are made of. She gladly takes on extra load and creatively improves her culinary and home d├ęcor skills. Although she goes to work, she never has an excuse for not doing something, not does she blame anyone for her lapses. She fixes it all by herself. 

Understanding the People at Home
Mothers love their family unconditionally and make it a mission to make life beautiful for the people around them. She has time for everyone, even though it’s tough at times. She listens. She Understands. She cares. 

KS Rajasekar is Speaker. Writer. #SocialMedia & content strategist. Recognised Among Top 100 #Marketing Leaders 2016 by World Marketing Congress. He writes in #EconomicTimesTech #BusinessWorld #BusinessLine 

You may enjoy reading this https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-technology-makes-us-trust-strangers-rajasekar-ks

First published here https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-can-marketers-learn-from-mothers-rajasekar-ks

Monday, March 13, 2017

How Technology Makes us Trust Strangers

Trust is a high-value currency that applies very well to the online world. From a physical store to a toll-free support line to a verified page to a Verisign or TRUSTe symbol, to user reviews to support for good causes – each one of them creates trust in the user. After the internet era, we seem to have developed almost absolute trust in online.

In recent years, that faith is getting extended to services that begin online and are fulfilled offline by strangers – the ride sharing, the product and food deliveries, the room-sharing and such.

What has really changed? In the real world we trust people and organisations based on the reputation of the brand, our knowledge, past experiences and social influences. The same has extended online, although a bit differently. People believe online services are trustworthy. We also trust the notion that ride-sharing, room-sharing or placing money in online wallets is safe. We believe the platform is built to be safe and secure and that it has proper mechanisms for speedy resolution in case of disputes. We also trust the person who delivers it (the cabbie, the matchmaking company, the food delivery person, the host on Airbnb).

What could be the reasons we trust strangers? The benefits and convenience offered by the service override any rational concerns we may harbour. There seems to be a sense of obligation too, because you can choose to pay in cash for the goods ordered on Flipkart or Amazon, you pay Ola or Uber online after you’ve taken the ride. Because they trust us to pay after delivery, we tend to reciprocate.

Humans behave and reward differently when they’re trusted. The peanut seller’s story is a classic case. A peanut seller outside a busy IT park always had a long queue of customers. His peanut were tasty, but that’s not why. He just packed the stuff but never handled the money. Next to him on a table was a box that had paper currency and change. People had to drop the money and pick up the right change themselves, based on their purchases. Every day he got 20 per cent of his sales as tips. The reason: When people were trusted to tender the money for the product purchased, they repaid the trust generously with tips. Yes, there’s the fundamental reason too – the trust in people doesn’t seem to have altered at all in our society.

The speed at which we trust has been forever altered by technology which seems to have persuaded us with the sheer convenience and benefits it offers.

However, when a stranger rings our doorbell we’re not going to be relaxing our trust norms, simply because we don’t have anything trustworthy to relate to the stranger and we have seen and read quite a bit about crimes and thefts at homes. The dichotomy of behaviour will continue to exist. The question, though, is whether this will change in the long run?

What does all this mean to marketers? It simply means that they need to create trust by using cues relevant to them. While a 10-day full-refund guarantee may work for Flipkarts and Amazons, a simple mobile-verified profile may work for matchmaking companies such as BharatMatrimony, brick-and-mortar presence may work for some, visual clues like ‘1 per cent of your payment goes for CRY’ might work for others and Verisign secure payment can suit some businesses. What works for you?

Rajasekar KS is a speaker, writer and social media strategist who works as GM – Marketing at BharatMatrimony. Views are personal. His article was originally published here http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/catalyst/how-technology-makes-us-trust-strangers/article9579641.ece#

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How technology disrupts human behaviour

Some new technologies make a significant impact on our culture. When mobile phones arrived, it changed the way people interacted with each other.
But the internet, social and apps have impacted in bizarre ways that confounds even sociologists. Here are some changes that surprise and sometimes scare us.

Sharing our homes with strangers
While, as children, we were told not to speak to strangers, today, we find young girls with seeming nonchalance share their Ola and Uber cab rides with complete strangers. And they don’t seem to have any complaints.
On Airbnb, we rent a part of our home to total strangers. Even all-women families let out a room to unknown people, on daily rent and even serve meals for a fee.
Not long ago, we treated anyone who rang our doorbell with caution. But now thanks to OLX and Quikr, strangers visit our homes, check out living rooms and even have a coffee before buying our stuff. Strangers have come a long way, thanks to digital changing the way we “trust” people.

Losing the moment for the memories
Whether it’s a restaurant or a visit to a hill station, people are keen to take pictures to share on WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. The truth is - the experience of the moment is lost. Instead of seeing the world through our eyes, we’re doing it through the lens. Instead of enjoying the moment with the people around us, we seem to be seeking elusive happiness in a virtual world.

Lonely in a connected world
When the family is out for dinner, members are animatedly snapping pictures for social sharing, furtive glances are exchanged but hardly any conversation.
The silence is torturous. The whole scene seems bizarre. We know more about where our friends dine during the weekend and less about what our family likes.
The social compulsion to keep up with what’s happening online with our friends and family is detaching us from real world relationships.
The phones have led to a visible decrease in the outdoor activities and real world interaction of children. The bedroom culture where kids have access to various devices has led to the privatisation and individualisation of family life.

Buying online like crazy
Our buying habits have drastically changed in the recent past. While in the real world, we take time to consider a purchase, on Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal we don’t bat an eyelid while ordering goods worth thousands of rupees.
There’s a huge difference in user behaviour on the app and website. There is a sense of urgency that mobile apps impart on the new path to purchase. Users spend less time evaluating stuff on an app vs the offline world.
We tend to do think faster and think less when on an app. It’s easier to sway such a user with extra discounts. The flash sales and the one-hour deals are baits to keep users hooked to the app.
The audience is a bit captive here with dedicated viewing and no comparison options. The convenience of mobile devices and availability of internet 24X7 has shaped new consumer buying habits.

Short attention spans
It’s a fact that our attentions spans have become shorter over the past decade, the multiplicity of mediums being a culprit. Since the medium of news consumption is going the digital way, the size of devices make it difficult to read for long and consequently, have contributed to changing our reading habits permanently.
We scan news, we don’t read them any longer. The book stores and private libraries that dotted our local landscape have long disappeared while the iPads, Kindles and iPhones have taken over.

While these rapid changes happen right under our nose, we’re oblivious to the potential privacy and personal data risks that we could encounter soon. The way we view our privacy offline is completely varied with online privacy, although the trace we leave on social networks is permanent.
Our notions of privacy and confidentiality have undergone drastic changes.
One thing is sure, privacy may in future may well become a major issue for governments and the people. We have a need for strong policies and frameworks to protect our privacy and personal data, the sooner the better.

Until then, I’m accepting all the terms and conditions on my Bla Bla app.
Rajasekar KS' article was originally published in The Economic Times here http://tech.economictimes.indiatimes.com/catalysts/how-technology-disrupts-human-behaviour/2090

Friday, February 10, 2017

Why we should love what we do… to achieve more than we think we can

The only way to do great work is to love what you do. What really happens when we fall in love with something or someone… if only you knew you it, you’d fall in love right away.

We’re driven by the love
When we love what we do, we’re energised and find meaning that anchors us. We’re connected to the purpose which drives us forward. We look forward to the challenge every day because we’ve chosen it out of sheer love. We don’t shirk the hurdles.

We don’t find excuses
To procrastinate. The devil called “resistance” never builds up inside our heads ‘cause we’re looking to ride into the storm and steer the ship forward. Because we know nothing other than do the thing we love. Like Sachin Tendulkar, Dhoni and Virat Kohli, Roger Federer, Usain Bolt get up every morning and think nothing other than their game, we also get up and look forward to doing the thing we’re passionate about. We simply offer no excuses for not doing it.  

Responsibility for success lies on us
When we are passionate about something and make a choice to do it we know that we are accountable for our actions. Success, even failure rests squarely on us. Therefore, we’re driven to our goal. Just do it and the joy of the journey will keep us happy. You started it, therefore you’ll finish it.

Love raises the state of the being
The moment we fall in love (with someone or something), the self is at an exalted state of being. The energy, confidence, courage that stems from it defies logic, and sometimes us too. One needs to be in love to feel this aura.

Love is a great feeling
We humans are driven by emotions and nothing drives the world forward than love. The feeling of love is the most powerful one. Fall in love and you’ll find yourself doing things you never imagined.

I’m in love with what I do. Are you?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Why Flipkart and Amazon Offer Extra Discounts on the App

pic: offersbiz

Ever wondered why the Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal offer extra discounts for purchases on the app? Let’s unravel the mystery.

There’s a huge difference in user behaviour on the app and website. There is a sense of urgency that mobile apps impart on the new path to purchase. Users spend less time evaluating stuff on an app Vs the website. When one’s on an app, we tend to think and do things faster and think less when on an app. It’s easier to sway such a user with extra discounts.

And app users compared to website users, it has been proven, take lesser time to decide whether they want a product or not. So conversions are superior. According to Criteo’s Q4 2015 State of Mobile Commerce Report, which is based on a global analysis of 1.4 billion online transactions, app-conversion rates were 120 percent higher than mobile browser conversions and higher than desktop conversions, as well.

No comparisons on app
Wait! There’s more to it. Unlike an app which is standalone, the user on a website is prone to do comparison with a quick “control N” on the keyboard. So apps cut out comparisons and in some ways the real time price cuts that happen on shopping sites.

More focus on buying
Due to the smaller size of device screens, there’s better focus on the product and lesser distraction on the app. Whereas on the website, the email notifications, the hyperlinks, videos, images are all distracting our attention. On the app, user attention is better and consequently the purchase.

Cost-effective pull mechanisms
Not to forget, the app notifications make it a low-cost affair to push messages to the users. The click rates on an app notification unlike emails (where’s there’s a clutter with many mails screaming for attention) is high. Notifications can be pushed at the right time when the sale is on, converting much better than other sources.

Always on
The availability of the mobile devices 24X7 with users is of course very enticing for ecommerce sites, who’d like to create new consumer buying habits by offering extra discounts on the app.

Tapping a human behaviour
The rewards (extra discounts etc) that apps offer conform to Skinner’s behaviourism, which explains that human behaviour is a function of incentives and rewards.

Convenience is the key to success
Not just that, it turns out that users find it more convenient to buy on an app. They can do it wherever they are. The storage of payment information and the quick checkouts prods the user to action also helps.

Research also proves that users who shop on mobile seems to be more open to try new retailers and brands and Supershoppers love the abundance of options on an app.

The advantages of personalisation
Apps allow ecommerce brands to study user behaviour, mine better insights and offer relevant products thereby increasing the conversion. Apps also provide a deeper engagement with the brand and build loyalty when compared to usage of a website. The scope for personalisation is very high on apps.

Now or never hooks
The flash sales and the one-hour deals on apps are baits to keep users hooked to the app. The audience is a bit captive here with dedicated viewing and no comparison options. The usability and experience can be controlled very well.

Hey, I have to stop here as I’ve got the “deal of day” notification on my Flipkart app. See ya and Happy shopping!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Pudhucherry Born Neuroscientist and Author Teaches Kids Complex Science Through Simple Activities

Praba Soundarajan, born at Pudhucherry, India, and currently living in Tampa, Florida, strives to develop and grow the type of creativity and curiosity our kids need to become tomorrow’s inventors. He has authored two books: Pumpus Has A Glowing Idea! and Pumpus Has A Flowing Idea to foster creativity and help children understand science through experiential learning. Rajasekar KS chats him up on what made him choose this journey.

How did the idea of making complex science easy and simplistic for kids strike you?
In the United States, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) topics are typically not introduced until middle school.  However, studies suggest that every effort should be made to start introducing STEM topics as soon as children enter elementary school.  Furthermore, recent studies have identified the elementary school years as the period when students form their interests in STEM identities and careers—much earlier than people traditionally believed.

As a concerned father wanting to help introduce STEM topics to young children, I volunteered to read stories to my daughter’s kindergarten class with hope of encouraging a positive shift.  To my surprise, it was near impossible to find STEM books for young children.  So instead, I gathered up information and talked to them about inventors and their inventions.  The response was incredible!  I was amazed by the children’s level of intelligence and how quickly they grasped concepts—and they were excited to learn more.  This experience served as my inspiration and motivation for creating BOON-dah, the company I started to create a "series" of books and educational products that help address this gap in our current education system.

To start off with, BOON-dah is going to offer books that feature a group of friends going on adventures together or doing a project, and while they are doing these activities, they use a particular invention or scientific concept to solve a problem they have. The lead character in all my stories is “Pumpus the Pumpkin.” He is this cute, little fella who happens to be a smart geek; and in each story, he solves a problem using concepts from an invention perspective. I am sure the kids will love him—and I know my daughter certainly does!

Your first book “Pumpus Has A Glowing Idea” is pretty interesting. Tell us a bit more about what the kids loved the concepts.
Kids loved how Pumpus and his friends solved the problem in a "practical" way with all the tools they had with them and were intrigued by the exciting story line. As they read the story they came up with their own solution to solve the problem. Furthermore, the kids liked the characters’ expressions and those tiny details that bring a scene to life, such as the notches in the wood when trying to build a fire. Sounding words like ‘boon-dah!’ gave them an experiential quality, hence they could relate to the characters in the story.

Children world over are taught theories, but doesn’t really help create scientists or writers or artists…

Children are born as natural engineers and tinkerers. Creativity, as we know, does not stem from a formal or conventional education. I firmly believe that one of the ways we can foster creativity early in a child’s life, particularly at the early developmental ages of 5 and 6, is by describing how things work from a unique, simplistic, and imaginative perspective. It’s very similar to how we learn a language after birth. First, we hear it; then we learn to speak it, and then we begin to understand all of its grammatical components. Applying this same concept, my stories explain different inventions and scientific concepts from a 30,000 foot view, and in a way that children can understand. They provide a way for sowing the seeds of creativity at a very early stage in a child’s development, and they will help nurture their curious minds as they grow by encouraging them to investigate how things work the way they do.

How do you provoke the curiosity of elementary school children?
At birth, children are curious by nature and have an inherent desire to learn how things work.  They are natural tinkerers, engineers, team players, and problem solvers. It is by giving the elementary school children a practical platform to build and solve problems we can nurture their creativity.  My stories are designed based on BOON-dah's early childhood "Experiential Learning" Platform to teach children STEM concepts through hands-on approach in parallel to their prime brain developmental years. BOON-dah's experiential learning platform is build on the concept of "I do and I understand".

How do we foster creativity in children during the early years?
In addition to teaching our young children math and science, it is imperative that we also teach them how to apply these concepts to create and innovate better designs and make the world a better place in which to live. For this to happen, we must expose our future inventors, scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to STEM during their pre-school and elementary school years. To be successful, we need to change our approach in educating the next generation and focus on what I call the Four P’s. We must instill a passion in our children to figure how things work, the patience to find problems, the persistence to solve problems, and the prudence to learn from their failures.

Tell us a bit about how neuroscience helped you create these books?
As a neuroscientist, I believe the key to addressing the issue on fostering creativity lies in understanding how the human brain develops after birth.  During the first decade of life, the human brain is highly malleable and forms new synaptic connections.  However, after this first decade, when most children are completing elementary and moving on to middle school, the formation of synaptic connections in the brain occurs at a slower pace. An excellent example of this is how we learn a language. Children are able to learn a language much faster when compared to learning it during adulthood.

For the reasons above, we need to be exposing our children to STEM concepts during the first ten years of their life, and especially during pre-school, kindergarten, and first grade.  By introducing STEM concepts early on, we can help shape our children’s brains and not limit their potential from an ability, interest, or knowledge point of view.  This is particularly important for science, which gets little or no attention in most elementary schools.

What kind of concepts is your next book teaching?
All my forthcoming stories will be based on BOON-dah's experiential learning platform focusing on STEM education to parallel the brain development during early childhood learning. Each book will contain a problem that Pumpus and his friends will solve from an invention perspective. For example, building a robot, periscope, sundial and so on with infinite possibilities to nurture their curious minds.

Experience at schools
The kids from Kindergarten through Grade 5 loved both the "glowing and flowing" stories. The most important thing they liked about the stories is that in each story Pumpus & his friends encounter a problem and they solve it with their tools available with them along with the surrounding nature. The teachers loved the stories because it taught the kids critical thinking, problem solving, collaborating with friends and creative tinkering.

Next plans
For each story, we are planning to introduce interactive audio-visual books and augmented reality based versions to enhance interaction with the characters and their surrounding environment.

The team: Jack Spellman (Illustrator), Kim Clement (Social Media Director), and Praba. For details, go to Boon-Dah.