Monthly Archives: February 2016

20 movies that weren’t invited by Mr. Oscar for the 2016 Oscar ceremony

“Wake up, wake up, it’s the Oscars” #MondayMorningWakeUpCall

A day when imagination and make-believe is celebrated. When awards are given to those who best blur the lines between fantasy and reality. Let’s celebrate it… after all, movies have been one of my greatest sources of learnings about life, love and laughter, if one chooses to learn from it.

It’s also a day when many memorable movies get lost into oblivion simply because they couldn’t make it to the guest list, let alone get an opportunity to prepare a forgettable speech (well how many dad/moms/dogs who were thanked can we remember).

But we can’t really blame Mr. Oscar for not inviting the many more debatably deserving ones. He does have a limited seating arrangement. And he is known to be snooty. You may not agree with his guest list, but then, it is his party.

So, thought I’d put out an extended list for an extended party. Inviting those who have been snubbed by Mr. Oscar (no Oscar nominations) but they have either entertained me, inspired me or made me humanely richer, if not all three.

Here’s my extended list of the 20 movies that I think deserve a party as much as any of the nominees along with a tweet description of the imprint it left with me.

  1. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation – It’s impossible not to love Ethan Hunt’s 5th impossible mission incarnation #moviesilove

  1. Ant Man – Thank God I didn’t judge a super hero by size #moviesilove

  1. Avengers: Age of Ultron – Avenger or not, it’s an ultron fun age to be in #moviesilove

  1. Kingsman: The Secret Service – There’s no way this kind of service should be kept a secret #moviesilove

  1. Pawn Sacrifice – Tobey (The Grandmaster) plays chess better than Tobey (The Spidey) can spin a web #moviesilike

  1. The Walk – Now this is how one should ‘walk the talk’ #moviesilove

  1. Entourage – Always fun to hang out with the boys #moviesilike (Warning: The bigger the fan the greater the fun)

  1. The Gift – It’s not the gift, but the movie behind the gift that matters. Dark & disturbing, chilling & nail biting story telling #moviesilike

  1. Minions – A minion minions. Each 1 in a minion & I can watch them a minion times. Verdict: A minion stars #moviesilike (Disclaimer: I’m biased)

  1. Spy – She’s no Bond or Bourne. But she will crack up criminals (and you), if not through her moves, then definitely through her laughs #moviesilike

  1. The Visit – After a long time a Manoj N. Shyamalal movie worth paying a visit #moviesilike

  1. Furious 7 – While the chases are 7 times more daring than the original, what stays with this one is that it has 7 times more heart. An ode to Paul Walker #moviesilike

Warning: The following are the arty kind that I thought wasn’t farty but still might not be everybody’s bowl of breakfast. Recommended for the eclectic movie buffs.

  1. Anomolisa – I’m cheating a bit out here. Charlie Kaufman’s (one of my favourite film makers) stop-motion picture has been nominated for best animated feature. I loved this deeply moving existential tale so much that I’m giving it a double shout out so that I do my bit to make sure it doesn’t go unnoticed #moviesilove

  1. What We Do In The Shadows – Who knew vampires could be so hilarious #moviesilove

  1. Lobster – To many I suspect this might taste a bit bizarre. But for those who have an appetite for offbeat story-telling packaged with the dark, the amusing, the poignant, the deep, might just find that the after-taste pleasantly lingers on for quite a while #moviesilove

  1. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – And in it is hidden a gem of a pearl #moviesilove

  1. The Tribe – A bold and intriguing film that left me speechless #moviesilike

  1. Clouds of Sils Maria – The understated and layered emotions of holding on to the past, change and youth vs maturity tend to hide behind the clouds. If you can see past the clouds then maybe you’ll spot a silver lining #moviesilike

  1. Diary of A Teenage Girl – Maybe this is why it’s bad manners to read someone else’s diary. Not an easy consumption but then diaries rarely are #moviesilike

  1. Tangerine – Makes the list mostly cos it’s an illustration of a movie shot ONLY on iPhone. That it’s high energy story telling that gives a reality take into the lives of transgenders is a bonus #moviesilike

And a special shout out to 2 of my favourites from the year (and possibly this decade so far)… Mad Max: Fury Road and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Here’s 20 more from last year in case you’re playing catch up or just movie binging.

Which ones were your favourites that got snubbed by Mr. Oscar?

 

Is gamification the answer to motivation?

Is gamification the answer to motivation?

If only..

If only everyone shared Edison’s sentiments then there would be no dearth of ‘light bulb’ moments and our lives would be brighter. But alas, fun not only seems to be missing at workplaces, it’ll also probably start being recognized by Oxford dictionary as an acceptable antonym for work.

Making work fun should not be the responsibility of only HR professionals but should cut across all functions and all persons responsible for a team.

Recognizing that “Traditional incentive structures to motivate customers and employees often fall short. The carrot and the stick don’t cut it anymore; and money, status, and the threat of punishment only work up to a point. In a world of near-infinite choices, the old techniques are rapidly becoming less effective” authors Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter believe gamification is the solution to ensure that employees are not “disengaged, demotivated, disempowered and disconnected.”

In their book ‘For The Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business’ they attempt to provide you with a sophisticated understanding of the concepts around gamification along with providing frameworks and step-by-step instructions to implement your ideas along with examples of how organizations of all types are putting gamification into practice.

Here’s answers to 7 questions that might be slowly poisoning you if you want to know how gamification rhymes with motivation.

  1. What is Gamification?

Gamification is the use of game elements and game-design techniques in non-game contexts.

Example: Consumer electronics giant Samsung has gamified its website with a program called Samsung Nation. Players can earn badges and level up by reviewing products, watching videos, and providing responses for product Q&As. Samsung built a point system that assigns values to all these actions. Sharing an action on Twitter is worth 100 points, while registering a Samsung product you just bought is worth 500. The 5-to-1 ratio is arbitrary, but it represents a rough estimate of the relative benefits to the network of the two activities.

  1. How does gamification in business help?

There are three particularly compelling reasons why every business should at least consider gamification:

  • Engagement
    • The most basic answer is that gamification is about engagement. The same human needs that drive engagement with games are present in both the workplace and the marketplace. Think of gamification as a means to design systems that motivate people to do things.
    • The reason for this is simple. It turns out that our brains are wired to crave puzzle solving, feedback and reinforcement, and the many other experiences that games provide. Study after study has shown that games activate the brain’s dopamine system, which is associated with pleasure.
  • Experimentation
    • Mastering a game is all about experimentation. You expect to experience some failure, but because you can always start over, failure doesn’t feel so daunting.
    • If the game is effective—not too difficult, never too easy—players are continually motivated to strive for improvement. And they are encouraged to try new and different approaches, even crazy ones, to find better solutions.
  • Results
    • It works. Which is why established giants such as Nike, American Express, Microsoft, Samsung, to name a few, are doing it.Top of Form
  1. Where does gamification fit in your business?

To figure out where gamification might fit your needs, consider the following four core questions:

  • Motivation: Where would you derive value from encouraging behavior?
    • There are three main kinds of activities for which motivation is particularly important:
      • Creative work,
      • Mundane tasks, and
      • Behavior change.
    • Meaningful Choices: Are your target activities sufficiently interesting?
    • Structure: Can the desired behaviors be modeled through a set of algorithms?
    • Potential Conflicts: Can the game avoid conflicts with existing motivational structures?

 

  1. Why games work? The rules of motivation

Self-Determination Theory (SDT) suggests that human beings are inherently proactive, with a strong internal desire for growth, but that the external environment must support this; otherwise, these internal motivators will be thwarted.

  • SDT focuses on what human beings need to allow their innate growth and well-being tendencies to flourish.
  • SDT suggests that these needs fall into 3 categories
    • Competence – “Competence,” or mastery, means being effective in dealing with the external environment: pulling off a difficult deal, learning how to dance the tango, filing a tax return.
    • Relatedness – “Relatedness” involves social connection and the universal desire to interact with and be involved with family, friends, and others. It can also manifest itself as a desire for higher purpose, or “making a difference.”
    • Autonomy – is the innate need to feel in command of one’s life and to be doing that which is meaningful and in harmony with one’s values.

There are 3 rules of motivation:

  1. Always focus on building authentic engagement; there are no shortcuts – Gamification is not just reward design. Many gamified sites and gamification platforms seem to assume that a virtual reward is inherently compelling. It’s not. It might be a pale substitute for what people really want and might actually kill intrinsic motivation. Internal gamification can work for core job requirements, but there must be some novel motivation. That could be the status of winning a coveted employee award or the opportunity to learn new skills.
  2. Don’t mindlessly attach extrinsic motivators to activities that can be motivated using intrinsic regulators. Extrinsic rewards can encourage positive behavior and outcomes when one is dealing with dull, repetitive, and/or tedious activities – Fun Extrinsic rewards can be profoundly demotivating. Any gamification design has to take this into account. Sometimes giving people a bigger benefit to perform some activity will actually make them do it less, and worse. For tasks that are interesting, intrinsic motivation dissipates when extrinsic rewards are tangible, expected, and contingent. It turns out that if you give kids tangible rewards like gold stars for doing well at reading—or, worse, if you give them money—they will improve up to a certain point and then stop. The tangible, expected, contingent reward initially motivates the kids, but its effectiveness plateaus dramatically.
  3. Feedback in a gamified system can be the linchpin of effective motivation – In building successful gamified systems, immediate and frequent feedback is necessary but not sufficient. Here are three important lessons about feedback:
    1. Unexpected, informational feedback increases autonomy and self-reported intrinsic motivation.
      • It means that people enjoy being surprised by achievements and rewards that they didn’t anticipate.
      • Example, when you know that if you tweet 100 times about a product then you will get a “You Tweeted 100 Times About Our Product” badge—getting an unexpected badge or trophy stimulates positive feelings in the user.
    2. Users like to get reinforcement about how they are doing.
      • Informational feedback about progress toward a goal—“You’ve completed three out of the five steps necessary to unlock the AWESOME JOB badge,” or providing some continuous graph of performance against specific metrics—will typically engage a player and may motivate him or her to complete the other steps necessary to complete the task
      • Video games are veritable feedback fests, filled with scoreboards, flashing colors, musical fanfare, and more, whenever something important happens.
    3. Users will regulate their own behavior based on which metrics are provided to them.
      • If you provide feedback loops about customer satisfaction but not about sales figures, employees will begin to care more about customer satisfaction than monthly sales, and vice versa.
  1. What are the characteristics of an effective game?

  • Games are voluntary – No one can force you to have fun. Top of Form
  • Games require those who play to make choices, and those choices have consequences that produce feedback – The choices may involve picking a weapon in a first-person shooter videogame or playing a particular word in Scrabble.
    • A game can simply be defined a “a series of meaningful choices.”
    • Contingent choices highlight the connection between games and autonomy.
  • Players feel a sense of control in games that is deeply empowering.
  • Even more essential is the fact that games seem somehow different from mundane reality.
  1. What are the elements of a game?

  • Points: Points effectively keep score
  • Badges are a chunkier version of points – A badge is a visual representation of some achievement within the gamified process. (The terms “badges” and “achievements” are often used synonymously in gamification.)
    • Badges can provide a goal for users to strive toward, which has been shown to have positive effects on motivation.
    • Badges provide guidance as to what is possible within the system and generate a kind of shorthand of what the system is supposed to do. This is an important feature for “onboarding,” or getting the user engaged with the system.
    • Badges are a signal of what a user cares about and what he or she has performed – They are a kind of visual marker of a user’s reputation, and users will often acquire badges to try to show others what they are capable of.
    • Badges operate as virtual status symbols and affirmations of the personal journey of the user through the gamification system.
    • Badges function as tribal markers
  • Leaderboards
    • A leaderboard gives context to progression in a way the points or badges can’t. If performance in the game matters, the leaderboard makes that performance public for all to see. In the right situation, leaderboards can be powerful motivators. Knowing that it’s just a few more points to move up a slot or even to emerge on top can be a strong push for users.
    • On the other hand, leaderboards can be powerfully demotivating. If you see exactly how far you are behind the top players, it can cause you to check out and stop trying

Furthermore, there are three categories of game elements that are relevant to gamification that may be of help to understand and apply:

Game elements

Game Elements relevant for gamification

  1. How to gamify your business?

Gamification is best implemented in six steps –

  • Devise activity cycles – The most useful way to model the action in a gamified system is through activity cycles, a concept that has gained traction in describing social media and social networking services. User actions provoke some other activity, which in turn provokes other user actions, and so forth. Think of a user tagging a friend in a photo she uploads to Facebook, the upload triggering a notification message to the second user, the second user posting a comment on the photo, a new notification going back to the first user, and so on. There are two kinds of cycles to develop:
  • Describe your players –.
    • Ask what might motivate your players
    • Hint: Players have been categorized as 4 types
      1. Achievers love the rush of leveling up or earning a badge;
      2. explorers want to find new content;
      3. socializers want to engage with friends;
      4. and killers want to impose their will on others, typically by vanquishing them
    • It’s easy to design for four representative avatars—Lucy, Bob, Layla, and Faraz—but it’s hard to design for audience segments like “white, well-educated female players between 25 and 40,” “blue-collar male players who don’t like games,” and so on
  • Define business objectives – define specific performance goals for your gamified system, such as increasing customer retention, building brand loyalty, or improving employee productivity
  • Delineate target behaviors – Focus on what you want your players to do and how you’ll measure them. Behaviors and metrics are best considered together. Target behaviors should be concrete and specific, for example:
    • Sign up for an account on your website.
    • Post a comment on a discussion board.
    • Exercise for at least 30 minutes.
  • Engagement loops describe, at a micro level, what your players do, why they do it, and what the system does in response.
  • Progression stairs give a macro perspective on the player’s journey. They reflect the fact that the game experience changes as players move through it. That usually means an escalating level of challenges

 

5. Don’t forget the fun! – Ask yourself the following question: Would players participate in your system voluntarily? If there weren’t any extrinsic rewards offered, would they still be likely to play? If the answer is no, then you should think about what might make your system more fun. Nicole Lazzaro, a game designer and consultant who is an expert on the emotional aspects of games, found four distinct kinds of fun in studying a group of game players.

  • “Hard fun” – is a challenge or puzzle, which is fun because of the pleasure of overcoming it.
  • “Easy fun” – is casual enjoyment, a way of blowing off steam without overly taxing yourself.
  • Experimental fun – It’s the enjoyment of trying out new personas and new experiences.
  • Social fun – or “the people factor” is essentially the kinds of fun that depend on interaction with others, even if competitive.

6. Deploy the appropriate tools

  • In broad brush, though, you’re going to need a way to track interactions with game elements and integrate those results with your existing business systems.

Let the games begin!

 

 

Great Expectations!

“There are two ways to be happy: improve your reality or lower your expectations” – Jodi Picoult #MondayMorningWakeUpCall

Better still, do both!

The Frsutration management Formula

The ‘Frustration Management Formula’ = ‘Happiness Formula’

Sharing 3 parables that have given me some insight into how to navigate world of agitations caused by great expectations which might give you some direction to reduce the frustration from these misguided imaginations.

Parable 1:

A young disciple of Socrates approached him as he sat by the beach. The young disciple told Socrates that he wanted to be as wise as his master. Socrates looked at him for a moment and then led him by the hand into the sea till they were almost neck deep in water. Socrates then asked him what the young disciple wanted. He replied “wisdom”. Socrates dunked his young disciple’s head under the water.

After a bit of struggle Socrates let him resurface and once again asked him what he wanted. The confused young disciple, thinking it was some test, once again responded “wisdom”.

Socrates once again pushed his head down under and held it longer. When he pulled the disciple up he once again asked him the same question and the disciple once again responded with the same answer.

Socrates pushed his head down a third time, holding it even longer till the disciple had to wrestle for his fledgling life and was gasping for breath on resurfacing. This time when Socrates asked him what he wanted he just about managed to whisper “air”.

Socrates smiled and responded “when you want wisdom as much as you want to breathe the air, you shall get it and you won’t even need me”

My take away: Don’t just wish for something. If you really want something then take action.

Parable 2:

A Zen student asks her Master: “If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen?”

The Master replies “10 years”

The student asks, if I work twice as hard and diligently then how long will it take?”

The Master replies “20 years”

The confused student asks, if I work thrice as hard and diligently then how long will it take?”

The Master replies “30 years”

My take away: Work towards your goal but don’t crave for it. The Universe then just loves teasing you. The more you crave for it the more the Universe makes it a point to pull it just a wee bit out of your reach.

Parable 3:

Two monks have been meditating in a forest for an equal number of years. Monk #1 has been extremely dedicated and diligent about his meditations and Monk #2 has been a bit naughty, occasionally letting his mind wander, peeping and even whistling at pretty passer’s by.

The fable goes that Buddha was passing by the forest. He crossed Monk #1 and blessed him. Buddha told him that he had been very sincere in his practice and he would get enlightened in 14 years if he kept up his practice with all honesty. Monk #1 was absolutely dejected on hearing that he would have to ‘crap’ in the forest for another 14 years.

Buddha then passed by Monk #2. To him Buddha said that he had been an ill-disciplined monk and it would take him another 14 lifetimes to get enlightened. On hearing this Monk #2 was ecstatic to the point that he started doing cart-wheels. Buddha asked him why was he so happy to which Monk #2 responded by saying how could he not be jubilant when he was definitely going to get enlightened.

Guess who got enlightened 1st?

My take away: Like Bill Waterson says “I find my life is a lot easier (and happier) the lower I keep my expectations”

Each of these 3 parables in isolation could end up being misinterpreted. But when woven together (like Pulp Fiction) has worked as my google map when it comes to the navigating the vicissitudes of great expectations.

  1. Wishing for something ain’t enough. When you truly deeply madly want something, you will know it in your bones and you will then willingly and happily work towards it, you will take action and go after it with a single minded purpose – improve your reality.
  2. However, if you start craving for the goal, chances are it’s going to bring you more misery then happiness. So you’ve got to be passionate yet detached – don’t get attached.
  3. And if you can work towards your goal without expecting any fruits in return, then you’ll be the happiest cos you are bound to get more than you wanted – lower your expectations.

Yup, easier said than done. But what’s the alternative?

12 music albums that weren’t invited at the 2016 Grammies

In the spirit of tradition (my attempt at making it one which I started last year), I’m sharing some of the music albums from outside the Grammy list (that haven’t been nominated for any category), that have had a delirious impact on me.

I’ve listed my favourite albums from last year, in no particular order (with artists in the brackets) and linked my favourite tracks from the albums. Give them a listen. After all, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” – Victor Hugo

And the 2016 non-grammy winners are…

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road (OST) – The soundtrack is as mad as Max, as furious as Furiosa as high-octane as the film.

  1. Wilder Mind (Mumford and Sons) – They have ditched their trademark banjo and have gone wilder, more rock than folk rock with the electric guitar. Always tough for me to choose a favourite track from their albums. Just for the sake of picking one I’ll pick the title track.

  1. Grand Romantic (Nate Reuss) – From Fun. he’s gone grand, he’s gone romantic. And he stirs up a great big storm with many a fine moment.

  1. No Place In Heaven (Mika) – That’s what he thinks about himself, but heaven or not, he deserves a especial place in my ipod

  1. Smokes + Mirrors (Imagine Dragons) – I’ll blindly bet ‘my precious’ on any of their albums

  1. Whispers II (Passenger) – He’s like a younger brother of Ed Sheeran. I’m thinking he needs to shout a bit (and sing some happier tunes) else he just might get lost if he continues to whisper.

  1. White Light (Corrs) – Resurrected after 10 years. And they’ve woken up with a bolt of white light that can make even the darkest of night ever so bright.

  1. American Beauty American Psycho (Fall Out Boys) – It’s psychotic. It’s beautiful. Hope it last for centuries.

  1. Beneath The Skin (Of Monsters And Men) – Beneath the skin I found crystals, and a whole bunch of hidden gems in this album.

  1. Blurryface (Twenty One Pilots) – They really are a super talented duo with an amazing range of musicality.

  1. Emotion (Carly Rae Jespen) – Yup, I could run away with her

  1. Furious 7 (OST) – I could ‘Ride On’ for quite a distance with this album

Bonus Track:

Downtown (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis) – Can’t but help mention my favourite track (single) from last year, almost reminiscent of Bohemian Raphsody.

So what else got missed. Share some artists/albums that rocked you last year and you feel they deserve to get noticed.

Badass, smartass, greatass or Buridon’s ass?

Don’t wait. Decide your own fate #MondayMorningWakeUpCall

Buridon's ass

Don’t be an ass

The story goes that Buridon’s ass is halfway between a pile of hay and a pail of water. He is extremely hungry and equally thirsty. He keeps looking left and right, trying to decide whether to satiate his hunger or quench his thirst first. Unable to decide, eventually he collapses and dies of hunger and thirst.

This paradox in philosophy, named after French philosopher Jean Buridan, quite nicely metaphorically portrays the decision paralysis that plagues many.

The plague exists for a variety of reasons. 4 reasons that come to mind are:

  1. FOMO – Fear of missing out
  2. Analysis paralysis – Over thinking
  3. Greed – Wanting it all
  4. Not thinking long term – Being myopic about the fact that you can first drink the water and then eat the hay. Duh!

Hint: The 1st step is to be aware of the cause of indecisiveness. Awareness is a great antidote to irrational fears.

So, do you want to be a badass, smartass, greatass… or Buridon’s ass?

Take a decision!

Vanity: The Road to Insanity

Vanity: The road to insanity

Look closer, the mirror does lie



When will I realize that all I am made up of is dry dust
However pretty, in time it is bound to turn course, to rust
Of use it is nought to cling to my threateningly thinning tress
To despair and depress when her my skin-deep beauty fails to impress. 
Detach from this crude matter I so so long to. I so so must.