Sunday, February 13, 2011

add some sugar...

“Here you go Mrs. Banerjee” said the airlines girl giving her the boarding pass. The lady grabbed it and then tried to stuff some papers back into her side bag. Then hastily in a rather sorry note to the person standing next, left the queue. She was still trying to cram her belongings, while silently cursing the bag when she heard someone say a “Hi” to her. Her hands suddenly stopped, as she looked up at the person who had just greeted her. ”Rohan!!” she exclaimed. A grin back and then it was all silent again for some time. “How are you, where are you and what are you doing here?” she volleyed him with her questions. “Hey!! Cool it” Rohan replied “This time you certainly did remember me”. They laughed on that and went up to a row of empty seats and started to leer. Both were still carrying the amazed look on their faces’ and were rather silent.

Rohan finally broke the ice. “So Mrs. Banerjee” he paused to add a smirk, “how are you and what have you been doing all these years?” Sneha still was a bit rapt. Actually, their story goes back long. Rohan and Sneha had stayed in the same locality in Kolkata and had always met weirdly. Rohan’s friend Pradip was honey-eyed about Sneha’s best friend Shreya. So, they had once met in the grand old romancing period of Kolkata, the durga pujas. It was those 4 days of the year when the teenagers in Kolkata not only had new and bright clothes to flaunt their looks but also had the liberty to be out on their own and try and make their unfulfilled wishes of the year come true. Most young guys in Kolkata must have had their first puff of the cigarette or a first sip of beer during one of these puja days while most girls would have discussed their crushes with their girlfriends during those long hushed up adda sessions. There was no reason for them to have remembered each other after about 10 years, when they had met again in an office in Rajarhat, New Kolkata where somehow both of them were led by fate. Rohan though did retain Sneha in his memory. They started to travel together and soon had a good camaraderie blossoming. The 10 years in between had both good and bad experiences for them. Rohan had a flunked year and a 5 year broken relationship in his pool whereas Sneha had accounted for a traumatic 3 years breakup and an unfortunate cut-off failure for her tech Masters.

Sneha was preparing for her CAT which would get her a ticket to be out of the city that haunted her in all respects. She never realized but her relationship had actually made her do things differently. She chose to be less confident and less responsible towards herself and she quite liked it. It was an easy choice for her as the guy she chose to be with, was more than perfect for her parent’s wishes. To see her parents’ content, her elation was doubled and for the same reason she felt doubly hurt when her parents too were duped. Now she wanted to join a reputed B-School and be out of the hullabaloo of an impending arranged marriage and also wanted to make herself affluent. Now she again wanted a top floor studio apartment in a high-rise just for herself with a hanging swing to laze on. Now she wanted freedom from relationships and tried to possess her own wishes, her own dreams. Life was leading her all these years maybe now she wanted to lead a life. And Rohan wanted her to dream on; he wanted her to smile on. His memories and anguish were washed away to have come across Sneha. Her belief, her resilience, her aura and authority to live life made him sit up and take notice of his past. He knew that his mistake was to allow himself face the forthcoming storm. He was aware of the danger and he chose to endure that twinge, making him more vulnerable to the one he had once committed his being. He now knew that he was never wrong and somehow now had all the time in the world to talk to himself and reconcile with his existence. And it was all because of that soul who had shared her experience and dreams with him. But he was not being very loyal to his thoughts. Having met and befriended Sneha he started longing for her presence. Knowing her was not enough for him anymore. Her plans which would take her away from him started to bother him for no good of his. He suddenly started to posses a dual personality of a comical and chirpy guy when with others and a rather mute and absorbed one when with Sneha. This did bother her and she tried to comfort him in all possible way but he just wasn’t receptive to it. They still were good friends and the weirdness in his behavior though had somewhat implications to their confrontations, they both hung in. Then came January, after 10 months of attachment it was S. P. Jain Institute of Management Studies next for Sneha for a PGDBM. She was very happy to have secured a berth there. Her strenuous efforts had paid a rich dividend and life for her was about to change soon. Rohan too was very happy not only for her but for himself as well, for in her dreams and their fulfillment he realized the moral fiber and vitality to pull himself through. Looking for the rainbow in every coming storm he let her fly like an angel heaven had sent to him.

Sneha completed her MBA in 2yrs time and joined a reputed financial organization. While in SPJ she had met and befriended Nikhil Bannerjee. They were good friends in college and man and wife after it. Rohan in the meanwhile stayed back in Kolkata working for the same company and harboring his plans to launch his web product. Both knew that they couldn’t keep in touch with the distance so they didn’t even try much. They were friends because they met every day. They were friends because they were with each other 12 hrs every day. They were friends because they didn’t want to trade the time that they shared together for anything; they were friends because they both had allowed themselves to be important to each other for no reason whatsoever. And once they were parted their friendship was like the small chapter of a novel read with a lot of interest and forgotten soon after. Though Sneha always spoke of no one being indispensable in life she too knew that she wouldn’t have met another Rohan again. For Rohan, Sneha always remained indispensable. Today after 10 years from then Sneha and Rohan met again at the Kolkata domestic airport where Rohan was flying to Boston via Delhi for a meet to co-brand his web-product and Sneha was flying back to Delhi after paying her parents a visit. “Can we have some coffee?” he asked. “Yes sure. There’s time for the flight”. While in the cafĂ© they discussed about their families and work. Sneha had just left her job and was giving herself a break to attend to her 6 yr old daughter. She had worked her way up the ladder with her efficiency and hard slog all these years. Rohan was very pleased and fulfilled to know about her. Sneha suddenly asked “Did you not marry?”; “No” he said and grinned back. “Why?” she promptly added. Rohan was suddenly reminded of the days when these firm “Why”s of Snehas’ would really put him in a spot of bother. He never was equipped enough to answer them and yet he kept bugging her to the point where she would have to ask “Why”. “Didn’t get the time to get married” he replied. “What rubbish!” she was dissatisfied with his answer. “Well, don’t worry, Ill marry soon, there still is time” he smiled back. She brought her wrinkling brows together and nodded her head forcibly trying to encourage his poor joke. They kept on chatting about their lives’ and finally as they rose to walk towards the terminal Sneha suddenly beamed back at him and said “Do I pull out my purse or do you still have a habit of winning over the waiters and cabbies?” They both had a good laugh over it and headed towards their plane.

It was winter in Kolkata, but the attire that the city people took to would definitely have put any native Scandinavian to shame. But both Sneha and Rohan were never troubled much by the cold except when it was time to get out of the bed in the morning, the usual thing with sluggish bongs. Once in the plane Rohan managed to convince the person sitting next to Sneha’s seat to exchange with his. As they plane took off Sneha had her fingers plugged into her ears and eyelids tightly shut in an unsuccessful attempt to brush off the noise. Rohan smirked to himself as he was again reminded of a rather annoyed Sneha who used to curse the flashes of lightning which used to bring with itself the bothering thunder sounds.

They started to talk again and as always Sneha was the one who kept on blabbing with an occasional complain of Rohan being rather absurdly quiet. Little did she know that it was these moments of boisterous peace that gave him the spirit of life some 10 years ago. He was bathing in the same essence of subsistence that got in him the belief to survive after the battering of emotions. He never had a stronger need or desire in his life than to have been with her and see her speak, smile, walk and even keep silent at times. The flight was over and the same old fear and anguish of losing her gripped him all over again. Sneha could sense that same old Rohan whom she couldn’t have helped 10 years ago, come back to life. She felt guilty and for a moment thought that they shouldn’t have met this day. Refurbishing memories and reliving some moments it was so strange for her. 10 years ago maybe it was her memories and thoughts for a certain someone that withheld her from taking that extra step towards Rohan and relieving him of an apprehension. And today it’s the memories and moments shared with Rohan which were never more than instantaneous delight and inconsequential future that was asking her a question, the same question she had quizzed Rohan with, so many times before, “Why?” This time though there was a difference. Every time before she had known answers to her ever-enquiring questions but now she was clueless and seemed blank up there. Soon, they were emplaced to say goodbye once again. “So” started Rohan, “You I guess will have to go this way” he said pointing towards the exit. “And I’ll go this way towards the international terminal.” “Yes” said Sneha and wished him luck for his meeting. He too wished her the best with her family and life. “Dream on to do in pursuit of your dream” he said as they walked their different ways after silently bidding farewell with a smile. They didn’t care to exchange numbers or email ids for they knew it was the non existence of distance that had made them bond and it was the same distance that gave them the assurance of well being of one another and made them lose touch.

They say, it takes a minute to find a special person, a day to appreciate them, a month to like them; but then an entire life to forget them. But, sometimes god is unkind to start this process all over again. The dunes are changed by the wind but the desert never changes and that’s the way it will be for these friends. As Rohan walked away quietly he whispered to himself “If I am a part of your dream any night, you'll again come back one day to give me one more moment.” Smiling back to himself he again whispered, “Oh! But you don’t remember dreams.”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Social Media for Non-Profits : A Lesson

After some hectic weeks and hard-laboured efforts to pull my organization out of some financial mess that they were venturing into, I am now back blogging. So I thought its best to talk about my experiences in the last few months with my work, The Social Media!

Few months back, we started a service for Non-Profits in the US to sign up with our SMM program and get to develop their Donor Database considerably. SMM is Social Media Marketing. The idea was to promote the Non-Profit’s ‘Message’ with the help of the easy access to the world population that we have on the Social Media portals. The approach had to be personal and the goal was planned to be donations. 5 months down the line we failed miserably in getting donations galore for our Non-Profit clients as we had promised earlier. Our Business model also suffered majorly since our costs were to be recovered from the share of these donations. Now, about the lessons learnt:

  • Twitter is an extinguished tool now. It has not got the ability to attract attention towards a message being prompted there. More importantly it’s way too fast to catch another person’s attention. If you tweet about your non-profit then your followers would read it and at the best ‘help’ you by retweeting it. But as the statistics often showed us, a link tweeted was opened lesser times than been retweeted. But, having said that, it still remains the best tool to make an online conversation and gather individual attention if used in a personalized manner.

  • The variety of Facebook is not properly used in most Social Media promotions. And we did the same mistake. Facebook is powerful and that’s not because of its huge reach which has propelled it to become the world’s second ranked website after Google. Their power is from the diverse ways of reach that they have envisaged for their users. The Apps like games and Causes, their Fan Pages and their Wall are all tools to reach out to more and more of the Facebook crowd.

  • An Online campaign is never fruitful without an offline stimulus. There has to be some worthy good for the people who are promoting your cause or donating for you. The campaigns should be planned in such a way that they bring out a Viral motive to promote the cause. What that ‘motive’ is, would be the challenge.

  • And finally, the most important aspect where we did miss out was to Phase the entire service program. Whatever campaign SMM or SEO that you run for a Non-Profit, the Non-Profit’s would not cease to send Email Messages or Appeals for donation. So, it was important for a SMM Campaigner of Non-Profits to store the contact details of all relevant donor prospects in one Database and reorganize a plan to utilize that data to convert them as donors.

It’s important for us to know that Social Media is just a buzzword and whatever way of campaigning works in gaining mass attention is to be treated in a dedicated yet unique manner because that is a SOLUTION. Every detailed aspect of such a campaign should be attaining a database of probable donors. That’s a step one should look at first and then move to the challenging part of conversions. I’ll write more in the nature and ideas in Social Media. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

God takes the King !!

4 decades of magic and a sudden silence. It's so unbelievable that there wont be a moonwalk ever again. The absolute mayhem for pop star on stage would be silenced. The one gloved wonder will not dance to his tunes and flick his hat to show his fans his face and make them go wild. It's all so unbelievable.

I caught up with Monimalika Sengupta, an absolute MJ addict from Melbourne, Australia. We had a quick chat about MJ and I thought of posting it here.

aweblander: So what's the feeling like ? has the news sunk in as of yet ?
Monimalika: Came as a shock, still not sunk in yet.
aweblander: Ok.. from when were you following MJ's work ?
Monimalika: Since I was in standard V
aweblander: So that would be since you were 10 ??
Monimalika: Yes
aweblander: Ok.. what made you or rather why do you think millions like you worldwide were enthralled by MJ ? What was his USP so to say? and trust me I feel bad to say "was".
Monimalika: He was an enigma. His moves, his styles... he was always steps ahead of his time. I can think of him as the only contemporary performing pop artists who has been in the limelight for more than 4 decades... influencing the various genres not only of music but also videos. Somehow his being ahead of times never made him hard to understand his lyrics or songs. He somehow did mange to become the last legend of the contemporary times. And as for USP the answer is ... He himself was the USP. Got the answer?
aweblander: Yes very much. So which of his albums was your favorite ? and which singles song ?
Monimalika: Can't really pin point one. Sorry. Too many favs. I grew up with his music. Too many memories r assocoated with his songs, albums.
aweblander: So good. and finally you think his private life and consistent experiments that he did with his body was a reason for his sudden demise ?
Monimalika: I am not eligible enough to comment on that
aweblander: Fair enough...
aweblander: Thank you Monimalika. Appreciate your making the time out for this. Even if the world is poorer today, MJ's legacy surely grows richer with people like you who loves him unconditionally and will immortalize him in the history of music, worldwide and forever.
Monimalika: Thank you

Michael, we all love you and you live in the millions of souls that you touched with your gift! Rest in peace !

Friday, May 22, 2009

Beautiful Mind : Graeme Cowan

I came across Graeme in a bizarre manner. It’s another example of what the internet has made us; I love to call it “the neighbour effect”. I’ll not get into that story because here I intend to talk about another Beautiful Mind who became an online acquaintance of mine a few days back, Graeme Cowan.

He is a survivor, an author and a life mentor. I found his story very interesting and inspiring and immediately wanted to interview him for the blog. He obliged and I am really thankful to him for that. Graeme had a history of depression bouts and the last one which lasted from 2000 – 2005 was the worst one which even his psychiatrist acknowledges as one of the most difficult cases he had ever treated. But, he came back from the brink and since then he has tried to make an impact on all the depression ridden people in Australia with the help of his books, BACK FROM THE BRINK and BACK FROM THE BRINK TOO. In the interview I learnt from him about his plans to take the book and his endeavours outside Australia and reach out to millions of depression sufferers around the world. His long struggle against the world’s 2nd most fatally consequential disease prompted him to write these books which comprises of more than 250 interviews with people from different strata’s of life who have all gone through the anguish of depression and how they overcame it. These stories are possibly the best medicines to recover from depression. As Graeme puts it, stories of such people who overcame depression made him get better with every such interview.

His plans to take the books outside of Australia are what keeps him busy these days. I discussed with him, his plans which includes a trip to the US later this month. He hopes to find a publisher in the US so that the books are available in the US, by the end of this year. He would be visiting New York for the Book Expo America and signing copies of his books. Catch up with him there if you want to. He would also be meeting my friends in Chicago who would try to help him with his fine efforts. Interestingly, he has tried a lot of ways to promote himself and the books he wrote via his website and visual media interactions in Australia, but he is yet to start-up a whole hearted social media attempt for promotion. I was particularly interested to know what kept him away and he reaffirmed the issues like lack of time and staff to manage a social media campaign as the primary concerns. It was a very interesting chat with him where he could foresee the effects of social media and I too was thrilled to help him. You can get in touch with Graeme by mailing him at and on Twitter @DepressionCure.

This is a very precise interview that Graeme gave to the show, Wake Up ! WA

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Beautiful Minds - Social Media : Wayne Mansfiled

picture from Google Images

Today, I got a chance to speak with Wayne Mansfield from Perth, Western Australia and it was great to know more about his ideas on internet marketing and social media in particular. He is a pioneer in email marketing since 1997 and has tried all the tricks to capture the attention of a regular netizen and convert them into business prospects. The concepts he shared were valuable and can be used by most non-profits around the world to gather a larger reach; and use their own smart ideas to convert that reach into donations.

Here are the excerpts from the 26 minute long interview.

aweblander: Thanks, for agreeing for this interview Wayne. Let me begin with your definition of social media.

waynemansfield: Well, social media constitutes of what we know as twitter, facebook, linkedin, youtube, myspace, blogs and all that. It is quicker and easier to build a personal one on one relationship with these tools than with the traditional internet marketing tool – the email. Social media works well for people interested in conversations and can be used in a very smart way to market a brand or product.

aweblander: Since you mentioned email marketing and you have such vast experience in that field, how do you see the impact of social media when compared to email marketing?

waynemansfield: I have been a involved with internet marketing for the last 15 years and with my experiences I can say that email is and will be the most strong tool for marketing on the internet. So, social media with all its good virtues will have to inflate the email databases of a prospective marketer. Social media’s impact has been huge and in the last few years. twitter, linkedin and youtube has helped me to reach out to about 25 million users online. I have 56,000 followers on twitter which helps me to reach out to 7 million users and my 6,500 level - 1 contacts on linkedin fetched me visibility to more than 18 million users. Also, our videos uploaded on youtube have an average of 30,000 views on a 24 hour basis. So, as you can see the numbers are incredible and social media with its wings of viral marketing can really make it big for an internet marketer.

aweblander: Where do you see social media 5 years from now?

waynemansfield: Ow!! it certainly has a long way to go. It can be really valuable if used smartly and restrictively. If you have followed my work on facebook or twitter, you can probably understand what I mean. Friendships are one thing and business another. Social media with its personal touch could help one to create an online influence which could also help to grow opportunities from a business perspective. So , yes depending upon how it is used I do believe that social media will flourish in the coming 5 years.

aweblander: Coming back to non-profits, if you had an opportunity to raise funds for a non-profit via social media, how would you be doing that?

waynemansfield: I do donate to and help other entrepreneurs to revive themselves. Incidentally, I got to know Kiva from a Canadian friend of mine called Mike whom I had met online as well. Also, we have a charity of our own that funds the education of children from sick households who could not complete their education due to various issues .And we had major success with social media in raising funds for them. What we do basically, is have different identities on social media websites and share stories about these students. A recent graduation party that we attended for Corridors College was mentioned on twitter and facebook and it brought in a lot of attention from the online folks.

aweblander: This would be my penultimate question. Is it difficult to manage a social media campaign given the amount of activities involved and its interactive nature? I mean email marketing is one way traffic where one would not be flooded with instant replies, whereas social media thrives on immediate response. How do you think this can be tackled without a huge support staff?

waynemansfield: Its true that managing social media is tough and that’s why objectives have to be very clear. I limit my twitter usage for half an hour before the start of work everyday and half an hour before I end and that’s usually is enough for me to keep the network buzzing. But for a campaign where one has to write a blog and post videos on youtube and microblog all of them via twitter and facebook, it becomes really difficult to manage all that. I use tools like tweetdeck and friendfeed which helps to manage these social media activities from one dashboard. Infact, I would recommend tweetdeck highly because with the upgrades they did last week, now one can also update their facebook accounts from there as well as follow their facebook friends. Our developers have been working on a dashboard to pull in data from the social media websites and help manage the activities. So, to answer your question, it is indeed difficult to manage social media but certainly some tools are there online to help you do that.

aweblander: And finally Wayne, would you like to share your social media contact ids with us.

waynemansfield: Yes of course. I am not personally involved on facebook, its more of a corporate account. However on twitter and linkedin I am waynemansfield. And our newsletter portal – The Maverick Spirit, which is very popular all over this part of the world is This is my way of remembering the registration number of my first car. You can also get access to my active blog @ Confessions from a Boy from Margaret River.

aweblander: Wayne, thanks so much for your time and thoughts. It was wonderful to know so much from you.

waynemansfield: no problem. Let me know when you get this posted. Bye.

My lesson from this interview was that skypecap records video sans the sound for skype 3.8.0. So, I ended up recording a mute interview of Wayne from skype. And you all are missing all the good words he spoke about my questions ;-). But, it was good that I was noting down his views as well. Sorry about it Wayne. But, thanks a lot again for taking out the time.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Beautiful Minds...Coming Soon !!

I know, I know. I am sorry for not having blogged for so long. But I do have an excuse, and a very good one at that. I was busy knowing people who are absolute inspirations to the field of work I have made myself belong to. And, I am so enamoured with the concept of helping non-profits with social media and any online web 2.0 medium that I have hunted out my role models here. Tony Hsieh, David J Neff, Beth Kanter, Wayne Mansfield, Jamie Inman, Jordan Viator and so many more such beautiful and awesome minds are all my role models. I wish and I hope to get them to talk more and more about their unique ideas and how those can be linked to non profit causes with the internet as the medium. I am loving this. The sea of knowledge that these wonderful minds have, can be translated into technically strong web-apps and get help for all the creatures of god!! Isn’t that amazing! Guys...I am not being spiritual here...just being human. Anyways...keep reading my blog where I promise to bring you at least one interview every week and I would live all the conversations tagged with them. Follow me @sumitory001 and mail me if you want to know more. Thanks. Keep helping !

In pic (clockwise from L to R): Jordan Viator, Tony Hsieh, Beth Kanter, David J Neff, Jamie Inman and Wayne Mansfield.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Twitter Lifespan.. What next ??

Twitter is over crowded and the strategies involving it is becoming increasingly difficult. But then, it’s all the more challenging, isn’t it? Social Media to most pundits is a conversation and that is powered by various user content based tools. Twitter is one of them and has been the hottest one in the last few months. Its rise has been meteoric much like its social networking predecessor, facebook. It receives over 3 million UMVs (Unique Monthly Visitors), and has seen a daily growth of approximately 420% over the past 12 months.

Though they are different from one another in terms of features and usability both twitter and facebook serve the purpose of the social media theory, communication. However, as with facebook, twitter too will soon start to suffer from the ‘data splurge’ syndrome. It’s fast loosing the personal touch and being used more as a marketing medium. This not only detracts the users from such profiles but also causes irreplaceable damage to the domain. It’s difficult to find the required data and too much of information makes the user’s experience rather grim. The bounce rates start falling and it becomes a tool which only attracts new users and not new interactions from existing users. Facebook users who had registered 12 months prior have accepted of having gone down on their visits to the site. Most use it as repository for their snaps and videos while others use it for people search.

But then every social media site seeks popularity to make it a more powerful tool. So how does it survive the ‘plateau effect’ (the user traffic stats remains static while the bounce rates fall)? What can a Twitter or Facebook possibly do to diversify? What can they do to stop their popularity from ultimately paving the way to their collapse? Somehow they have to show a new way to their extensive user-database with another interesting and interactive tool. That should help them keep their massive list of followers/ users intact and then subsequently, grow.. Much like what google did with gmail.