Set Higher Standards by Ravi

Ramblings from a 30-something ultra-marathoning yogi with a day job.

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Goal setting

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The best way to increase the odds of achieving a goal is to actually set a goal.

What’s your big goal?

Vegan meal at the Microsoft cafeteria in Beijing, China. Tofu, Rice, Seaweed, Diced Potato, Rice roll, Baby Chinese Broccoli. If you can't tell already....the pics I include in my posts often have no relationship to the content of the posts!

Written by Ravi Raman

December 5, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Difficult Conversations

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I’ve had a few difficult conversations so far this week. These are the types of conversations that typically are avoided, but really have to happen. The types of discussions that can make even the most seasoned negotiator squirm.

They have to happen because if they don’t, the underlying problems don’t get resolved. They fester and grow and get worse until eventually you have to deal with the much larger and more difficult problem. Sometimes confronting people and saying what must be said is the only way to move a situation forward. This is what I realized and did a few times already this week.

It might be an issue with a team-mate or employee, a child, a spouse or a friend. Regardless of who it is, when faced with these uncomfortable conversations, it helps to do the following:

  1. Don’t apologize for what you are saying or for confronting the person. If it isn’t your fault, you shouldn’t apologize. You need to be clear and confident with what you are doing and why before you confront the person.
  2. While confronting the person, go out of your way to say as little as possible and listen as much as possible.
  3. Once you say what must be said, do whatever you can to make the other person feel comfortable in the situation. This doesn’t mean taking them off the hook, it does mean not pushing too far or steam-rolling them. Everyone deserves respect and and a chance to be heard.
  4. If at all possible, make a phone call or meet face to face when confronting someone. E-mail is aweful for this.

Have you had a difficult conversation recently? Any tips to share? Please leave a comment.

Written by Ravi Raman

June 23, 2009 at 9:06 pm

Good Enough Is Not Enough

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Good enough is rarely enough. When it comes to your customers, your family, your community,  a sport, or your own personal development – good enough is just not enough.

If you are running a business, being good enough will put you out of business.

In your career, being good enough will keep you where you are at best, and more likely result in your getting smaller rewards that you hoped for.

Good enough is not enough because the universe aligns with those that are willing to commit and direct their purpose and energy to do their best. In business the result can be even more clear, with those who just have good enough customer service or attention to product quality steadily losing their customers to a more focused and committed competitor.

In life, like in business – it really does pay to do your best. However, unlike business, your best is relative to your own capabilities. It’s about you being truthful to what you are really capable of, and not settling for anything short of your best effort.

Written by Ravi Raman

April 1, 2009 at 1:27 am

Posted in Business, Personal Development

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A Few Good Reads

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Darri left a comment to my last post about “The Dip” asking what some of my favorite books are. This post isn’t about my all-time favorite books, but rather about books that I’ve read recently and have enjoyed. Here are five that I particularly like right now.

The Dip. I just wrote about it and I’m going through my own exercise right now to figure out what things in my life are worth slogging through the dip for, and which things I should cut loose from. A short and very good book that applies to personal development and business. It’s all about being deliberate in doing certain things well (and pushing through “the dip” that happens when times get tough), and quitting those things that aren’t bound to be productive to your life.

Made to Stick. I read this book as part of a marketing leadership development I’m in at work. It’s all about storytelling. While geared for business professionals, the book applies equally to how we talk about and present ourselves every day to family, friends or co-workers. The book is an easy read and there are quite a few case studies that bring the text to life.

Think and Grow Rich. This is a classic but I’ve put off reading it for many years. It’s the foundation for many other personal development books and systems that have come about over the years. Napolean Hill studied the success characteristics from the world’s most successful people for decades on behalf of his benefactor, Andrew Carnegie. It was written years ago but is highly relevant. Highly recommended.

Tribes. Another Seth Godin book, and also very short but very good (it is really hard to write short books, I commend Seth for doing this!). This book is all about communities, and how we are ALL empowered to lead a community (if we so choose). Be it a community group, church group, meetup group, peer group or any other community….the world needs leaders now. Are you up for the challenge? Best of all, you can download the audio version of the book for FREE from audible!

Journey to the Heart. This is a book of daily reflections/meditations that I use frequently when teaching my yoga classes. The readings are powerful and very well put.

Ultramarathon Man. I haven’t read this book <yet> but it is next on my list. Dean Karnazes likes to run…to the point of frequently running ultramarathons lasting over 100 miles (or longer) over rugged terrain. He also completed 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days last year (this is covered in his most recent book – “50/50″). Some people like to call him crazy, but I think we all can learn something from his focus, dedication and sheer tenacity.

What books have you read recently and really enjoyed? Please leave a note in the comments, I’m always looking for good book recommendations!

Written by Ravi Raman

November 25, 2008 at 10:00 am

The Dip – When to Quit and When to Stick

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Source: Seth Godins Blog

Source: Seth Godin’s Blog

I was reading Tynan’s blog and his recent post about Seth Godin’s book, “The Dip.” I just finished reading Seth’s most recent book “Tribes” <very short and very good> so this caught my eye. So much so, that I just headed over to the library to check it out.

Now, less than am hour after reading Tynan’s post, I have finished reading “The Dip”! Yes, it’s a short one.

The book is about being the best in the world at something, and the effort that goes into that pursuit. Being best in the world is itself subjective. It could be best in your town or whatever micro-market niche you are in. Regardless, being the best at something always involves some amount of effort and toil <the dip> before coming out the other side and seeing the benefits.

Most people quit in the dip.

The trick is to know when to push through the dip and when to quit. Lifting weights is a great example. It is the last few reps that produce all the gains. Most people quite before they break a sweat. Those last few reps are painful.

On the flip-side, quitting is also important since languishing in mediocrity is a sure-fire way to waste a lot of resources (time, money, opportunity cost of doing something great).

So in the end…we all need to decide what to stick with AND what to quit. The book is a great and very short. I highly recommend reading it a few times (I plowed through it in less than an hour).

Below are some random notes I took while reading.

  • Being the best in the world is important. The best get out-sized rewards.
  • Everyone wants the best, nobody wants the second best.
  • Being the best in the world means quitting lots of things where it is clear that you won’t be best in the world….and sticking with things that do have promise, even when the going gets tough.
  • Best in the world is subjective. It is the best in terms of the range of your customer. Best in the world might really be the best in your town in the price range that your customer can afford. It’s about being the best in your niche.
  • The customer determines what the “best” is…not you. And their definitions may change.
  • People who are the best in the world get really good at answering the questions that are hard, the things that they don’t know. That’s what they specialize in. If they skipped the hard stuff, their skills would not be valuable.
  • Be exceptional in the areas that matter.
  • Dips don’t last as long when you whittle at them. Successful people don’t just survive the dip, they lean into them.
  • Jack Welch made the decision for GE to only stay in businesses where it was #1 or #2 in its industry. He was a great “quitter.”
  • Quitting when you hit the dip is a bad idea.
  • Quitting means deciding ahead of time that you are done.
  • Write down under what circumstances you are going to quit! Don’t quit in the moment.
  • Questions to ask before quitting:

1.    Am I panicking?
2.    Who <or what> and I trying to influence?
3.    What measurable success and progress is being made?

If you are making a decision about when to quit in the moment, you are probably making the wrong decision. – Ultramarathoner Dick Collins as quoted in Seth Godin’s book “The Dip.”

Written by Ravi Raman

November 23, 2008 at 10:00 am

When Markets Crash Don't Overreact

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If you have watched the news at all lately (which I’ve actually been great at avoiding!), you’ve noticed that the financial markets have teetered off of their precipice and fallen into the dark abyss. I wrote a little about this in an earlier post.

The Dow today was down 700 points at one point after the $700 billion governmental bailout package was shot down by the House. Chances are that the planned re-vote will also fail.

What do you do in situations like this? Well, I have a philosophy around how to deal with these type of situations. It’s based on over 10 years of active investing and general interest in how financial markets work.

The first thing you do in a situation like this…is DO NOTHING. A common reaction is to immediately sell to avoid further losses. Getting rid of the assets gives a false sense of calm since the loss is no longer visible when you check your brokerage account and look at the performance of the individual assets you still own!

Another common reaction is to buy or dollar-cost-average. That is to say, assume that the market can’t go down any more and buy low with assumption the coming gains will offset your loss. Again, this strategy rarely works.

In situations where there is massive panic and market reaction, I DO NOTHING. I do not buy or sell. I sit with what I have.

What I do DO, is I plan. I think about what kind of assets I have. What industries am I invested in? How much money do I have in commodities like Gold and Oil-related assets/industries? How much cash do I have? Where is my cash invested? Is my cash in a money market? If so, is the money market “safe” (i.e. investing in assets that are not exposed to the financial turmoil under way)? How much exposure do I have in US vs Global markets? Is my money in FDIC insured accounts/assets?

I plan like crazy.

Planning gets you out of your emotions and gives you  a way to logically think about where you are at financially. You then are in a much better position to make prudent decisions with your money once the markets have had a chance to digest all the news that is current hitting the airwaves.

Normally, markets over-react to news (both on the upside and downside). Right now, I am guessing that we haven’t seen the end of the decline. However, I would also guess that we will see some degree of recover after the markets have settled. I don’t know when this will happen, but for now I am waiting this out. Once the news stops trumpeting impending market doom as the big front-page headline, I’ll adjust and take any required action on my portfolio.

Written by Ravi Raman

September 30, 2008 at 3:36 am

Posted in Business, Wealth

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