Saturday, October 22, 2005

Jaag Pakistan's Bloggers Meet-up

JAAG PAKISTAN is a financial support group for NGO's working on ground in the disaster area.
- To raise funds for reconstruction phase..- To raise funds for immediate direct relief for various allied NGO's working in the disaster areas.- To train volunteers to send to the affected areas for emergency relief and works.
JAAG PAKISTAN will be an open forum for all to contribute towards the relief effort. A collective platform where all organizations work together.
JAAG PAKISTAN is a transparent fund raising effort and its activities can be monitored throughout on our website.
JAAG PAKISTAN will be a continuous effort to be replicated across Pakistan and the Karachi chapter as the initiator will forward its format to like minded people across Pakistan.
JAAG PAKISTAN Karachi, has selected Hill Park as the central venue for its activities in Karachi , for its high visual prominence and accessibility.
JAAG PAKISTAN will come alive whenever there is a calamity in Pakistan.
Jaag Pakistan is also planning to have a blog meetup on their first event, which is Farid Raziuddin Qawwal - Live at Hill Park, 9pm October 22nd 2005.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

HelpPakistan.Net Flyers

"Choose to Give"


I am rather proud of these flyers for HelpPakistan.Net and our fund GIVEPakistan! Please copy, paste, print, distribute. Click to enlarge.

GIVE to the GivePakistan fund! As little as $5!

What do you think of the concept & design? (Hint: Say only encouraging things. We need all the love!)


Thursday, October 13, 2005



There are thousands of people under the rubble. Mothers crying to save the bodies of their dead children from being eaten by dogs. Tons of donated goods waiting to be moved, when transport is bought. Thousands of volunteers working without stopping to eat or drink.

We can no longer say: These people SHOULD/ MUST be helped.

Say: I CAN help them.

Help Now. Donate at ANY charity of your choice. If you know or trust me, donate here to GIVEPakistan! We are organizing a ground-based relief effort. You can help. Donate. Just a little S 5, 10, or 15. It's less than worth a good cup of coffee, but it can save someone's life NOW.

Don't wait. ACT.

Note: the money from this charity will be routed to me. More details at


Monday, October 10, 2005

GIVEPakistan! Fund Launched


2400 hr and beyond? Found Faraz. Tell him and Auf, eventually un-ignored, about "doing something for the relief effort." Meanwhile swapped coupla e-mails with Teeth Maestro. He has set up PayPal. Better! I am invited to co-blog. Swiftly accepted, logged in, blogged.

Realized we need something more.
+ I love wiki.
+ Oh, where did I read up about a people-to-people fund set-up? On my fav trend spotting website!
+ I wanted to write about that since the longest time!
+ Searched my favorite trend spotting website... rush of blood.
> Found Yeah!
> Asked Auf for help.
> Faraz gets intereted.
> I'm setting up
> Ask Auf to check out Fundable.
> Auf, sign up!
> Faraz shown the wikispace.
> Faraz offers to set up a .org.
> Wow. I love that!
> I am shooting off a few more mails.
+ My computer's been on for 7 days. Lotsa windows. I can't close them! Copying URLs to check out again. Gotta close to save bandwidth and avoid distraction.
+ Copying URL's, talking to Auf. Ali Khan is online. I'm asking if a concert can raise funds. He's asking where to put his money. I tell him about The Fund. He's impatiently waiting.
+ Faraz is impatiently waiting. I am now designing "the world's make-shiftiest logo" for Help Pakistan.
+ Faraz has bought a Org and Com are gone. Okay. We are waiting for hte FWD to work.
+ I'm telling Auf to set a large amount to raise. $ 10,000.
+ Auf is making a flyer for distribution in his university.
> Shall we use in the flyer? Site still not forwarding to wikispace. I am a little nervous.
> Then I ask Auf to say Bismillah and no worries. We are sure we'll do it. $5/head. 2000 people. $ 10,000 to raise. 14 days. Okay!
> Auf leaves for Iftaar (USa). Faraz surprises me with a lovely logo. By now, he's made several versions. I've taken down my ghastly version. Sadly, it's still on the Fund Page.
> HelpPakistan wikispace launched at 0311 hr.
> I'm adding pages, shooting e-mails, worrying about the fund. Relying on Allah.

Sehri Break.

Oct.10.05, 0600 hr: A while back, sms'd Kibs for marketing advice. Told mom about website, she started glowing. I think she's also happy to hear about Auf.
After Fajr: Ran upstairs. Faraz has MSN-transfered another logo. Very neat! Auf is finally setting up fund. And oh, before the Sehri, finally landed on the wikispace.
+ I am advertisign on
+ AUf has set up the fund. They aren't accepting the large fundraise demand. Okay, we're lowering to $5k (excuse, I just told Auf to try $1k - and then see how it works?). We're starting with this, and mailing Fundable on the side.


Auf will collect a check, and we'll transfer the money to Pak.
We will think of handling the money and other stuff meanwhile.
I updated a team page that's missing and I am ticked.
We are arranging groups of reliable folks.
Let's see what happens.

In a few hours, we've done so much. But it's so little! Someone's still under the rubble waiting for us to come help.
Help. Save a life. Donate. Something, anything.
Spread the word about the largest people-to-people collaborative on this effort: a site where you can write, edit, share... help!

I'll keep ya all posted. Keep the world posted through the website! launched!

HelpPakistan.Net has been launched. It is a people-to-people disaster relief site. Also launched the GIVEPakistan! fund at If we don't raise $ 5,000 in 14 days, we lose all the funds. Privately, our target is to raise funds in 48 hours. GIVE now!

The past few hours have been very busy. If I recall correctly, they went something like this.

Oct.9.05 - 1901 hr: just thought of Ameena Khan out of the blue. The next second, she sms's:

earth-quake victims 55,000 + dead bodies. we need kafans (most important), blankets, tents, medical supplies:

  • amoxil 500mg
  • flagyl 400mg
  • cotton rolls
  • bandages
  • dettol
  • polyfax
  • children's fever & cough syrups
  • first-aid kits
  • syringes
  • distilled water
  • medicine for heart & diabetic patients
  • drips (dextrose and normal saline)

1956 hr: I've just found Dr. Awab/ Teeth Maestro's Help Pakistan blog. Great ida to collect onoline funds. Little problem: Google doesn't allow link-clicking to generate revenue. I shoot a little e-mail to the good doctor noting this, and racing my mind for a solution. On the side, I am writing to a marketing e-group to consider NOT putting the ad jingles in the midst of a grim transmission. The Ufone "aaj hamara, kal bhi hamara" (my fav ad, otherwise) seems hopelessly out of place.

1957 hr:
Set off for taraweeh prayer four homes away. I've made a list of things Ameena asked for to share with other ladies. We will raise and donate together.

2003 hr:
I start taraweeh. Wondering if I can speak up. I will. This is what I enjoy most: to help; to solve critical problems.

2137 hr:
Taraweehis over. We are discussing fund and goods collection with a Jamaat lady in presence. I offer to share a list of items we should all find at home. They can stock at my place tomorrow, and then we'll take the goods over to the nearest but reliable collection point. We discuss many things: who is collecting what kind of aid? We will find not jst used clothes, edhi-style, but utensils and other stuff - needed to make a new home! The ladies seem to trust me. Good. I promise to research what kind of things can we donate and share them by today.

By 2200 hr: I'm back home. Thinking like crazy what to do next. Convinced my parents, sitting awe-struck by TV, to clean up the home and DONATE!

2200 hr - 2300 hr:
Working in the kitchen. Making mental lists of people to contact. Stuff to collect. Torches. Batteries. Where did I hear about this before? Some Katria list? Backpackers' guide? Boy scout thing? We need lists!

A little past 2315 hr: Running upstairs. Need to work and research!

2345 something hr: Found brother Auf online. Ignored. After thought. I am unblocking everyone. Yes. Shame on me. I have everyone blocked on the list but me and my bro. :|


Friday, October 07, 2005

9 rock-stars of finance @ Yahoo!

Just found this at Yahoo!: 9 business and finance columnists - the "Rock stars of Finance" as Yahoo! calls them - are writing on Trends, Retirement, Money & Happiness, Common Sense investing, and more. Even Daniel Pink is there! Check out The Trend Desk. This looks promising.

These columns are one in the line of many new initiatives that Yahoo! is taking to re-launch itself as a hip, global news agency + portal. I feel Yahoo! is now looking more like a lifestyle than just a portal that looked like a bazaar carrying all things e-. Being a "lifestyle" will give Yahoo! products an integrity. They will also gel in well with the consumer's need for having saner media that streamlines their needs for news, entertainment, communication all in one.

MSN and Google should start worrying. Google in particular - for it seeming to be a constant work-in-progress (everything is beta!). Perhaps Google needs to stop getting fascinated by its own awesome technology (there IS something eerie about sensing and ranking) and get down to providing reliable solutions for the users. The Gmail downtime has come to the point that I have to forward my mail to Yahoo!

Anyway. More on the emerging portal and search tech wars later. I am back to reading at Yahoo! Finance. Let's see what Pink has to say in Green is Good.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Re-positioning NEXT>

Two days ago, the description of what NEXT> is about (up there at the foot of the header) was a long-winding statement that tried to be all-inclusive. In effect, it restricted my thoughts by listing a few things NEXT> would be about.

I took a dose of some Seth Godin advice: if you can't state your position in 8 words or less, you don't have a position.

So here it is:

NEXT> by Ramla is about the emerging global society.

That's the core position. The tagline remains: Know What's Coming!

It gives me one freedom that I was itching for: not just chronicle the future and trends, but have the room to shape trends (more important, esp. for original thinking). This is a smaller line, but its nakedness gives me the freedom to clothe the blog in many ways.

For the curious, here is the old position statement:

"NEXT> by Ramla is about a future that becomes past faster than we know it. So how do we anticipate, and make use of rapid change? Where, essentially, is the world going to? Or is an essence even there? NEXT> by Ramla predicts, anticipates, and celebrates a future that is not centrally controlled. That is going to BE. And fast! This requires new thinking skills and high perception to survive and prevail. In a rapidly changing world, this may be all that matters."

What do you think?

Monday, September 05, 2005

F1 Pit Crew: Excellence in Action!

Every Second Counts” is an article about McLaren Mercedes pit crews that taught me about excellence in teamwork. The article appeared in 2000 in Team McLaren’s (fan group) magazine Racing Line.

At that time (and now once again after a long dry winning spell) McLaren was known for its short pit stops that were under 7 seconds. For the uninitiated, the pit stop is when a car in F1 racing stops for fuel and tune up. F1 winners often win by less than a second’s margin, so a “pit stop strategy” is crucial to minimize the stop time, and have as few stops as possible while not compromising on the safety/drive-ability of the car.

The Pit Crew
A pit stop crew is made up of 21-23 members typically for every team (Ferrari, McLaren, Toyota, etc.). Each member controls their part of the job and their task is not just to minimize the time, but to close their work before deadline and not get in anyone else’s way. They are trained in what they do as at action time, no one is overseeing what they do at that moment. The beauty is in the coordination. The pit stop has to be designed in a way that the driver facilitates his team in facilitating him. If he is even centimeters off the stop mark, his team loses seconds in adjusting position – which eventually means that the driver loses. In a pit stop, everyone is the master of their own game – they are the expert of the part of the task they deal with. The lollipop man*, the jacks, the fuel-men, the type men – each person is the expert in their task.

Just meditate on the pictures above (I found better Ferrari pictures). These are two different pictures, but it’s hard to tell the difference. This is how well-trained the teams are. What’s in between the lines of the Racing Line article above is the understanding among the team members. If they were spending their times poking into others’ affairs, the pit stop would be better off in a normal gas station. My lessons:

  1. The driver may be the hero-leader, but when it comes to expertise on individual matters, he follows experts on the matter – such as the lead engineer. The final decision, however, is of the driver.
  2. A leader doesn’t have to individually handle all aspects of the work. That’d be poor leadership.
  3. If a leader’s people win, he wins. It also means he has to make room for them to win. Their loss would be his loss. And their victory is his victory. So no snatching the personal glory of team members! (Oh-so-common in business boardrooms.)
  4. An agile team is required to deliver the offer fast and first to the market. Just as an agile pit crew sends a car back on the track faster.
  5. If excellence is created in each part of the value chain, the final product is superior.
  6. ...But, it’s about the car, stupid! “Excellence in value chain” can’t be misunderstood to collect the best hodgepodge of parts. You can’t fit a jet’s tires to an F1 car no matter how much more excellent they are! Likewise a team can’t be made of disconnected stars (e.g. the Pakistani cricket team – a notorious collection of starts who don’t see eye-to-eye), or the components of a process can’t be unequal. There’s got to be a “balance” – assembly line style! This is especially relevant to employers who collect goodie-bags of talented people but not a team – what’s more tragic than a Stars’ War?
  7. Excellence is by intelligent design (and practice, and training). It is not a "magic moment" - a random chance.
  8. F1 engineering is very, very sexy. Why can’t we have service stations like that in normal life??

* “Huh, who’s a lollipop man? Are they vending candies in the pit lane??” Want to know who’s who in a pit crew? See this fabulous article.

Email: nextbyramla AT

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A moment of silence...

An exciting day in Blogosphere - a sad day in the world sphere. In the memory of the 800+ Iraqis killed in a stampede and the many in USA devastated by hurricane Katrina.
The photos and links are from CNN.
Special note/ode: The photo above is by a "citizen journalist."

May Allah bless them. And us.

Email: nextbyramla AT

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

3108 - Blog Day 2005

Nir Ofir thought up of 3108/BlogDay so that the bloggers break the routine of reciprocal gratification. You know, Google ranks pages based on their rank, which is based on how many other pages link to them. The more pages link to PageX, the more important PageX looks to Google and gets higher on the Google results. Blogosphere was beginning to earn a little suspicious reputation for this "you scratch my back, I scratch yours" linking.

Ofir suggests an end to this by asking bloggers to step out of their clans and explore the wide, diverse blogosphere. On 3108 (August 31 - it reads like the word "blog" when written as 3108), all participating bloggers link to five new blogs that are different from their usual interests and points of view. And as for participating: everyone's invited!

Serendipity! The amazing variety of life revealed in one lovely accident! It took me to many blogs that I discovered in the past couple of days - these are the best five:

1. Order and Anarchy - by Syed Sibghatullah - tags: politics, society. An insightful blog about Pakistani politics, the local elections, the state of the society. It almost reads like an op-ed in a national daily. Has a clean, uncluttered look.
2. Closet Therapy - by Closet Therapy - tags: fashion, lifestyle, shopping. A colorful, spunky blog with product reviews, "lust" lists, and just plain fashion and shopping writeups.
3. Science Blog - by Ben Sullivan and "a team of science editors, writers, and enthusiasts" - tags: science. This is a meta-blog with "node" blogs sticking out in true scientific fashion. Topics range from brain & behavior to media and security & defense. Aha! Perhaps I should satisfy my passion for physics here and get writing on theories of time!
4. Shifting Light (Postcard from Provence) - by Jullian-Merrow Smith - tags: art, painting, nature, France. Am I proud of the gems I've discovered! I once chanced upon this site a long time ago, and today, I'll take Ofir advice and discover something beyond my usual sphere. With a different design, this blog features a painting a day from the blogger/painter's studio. You can also receive a painting a day in your inbox through an opt-in newsletter. My artsy gift for you!
5. Bakpakchik - by (tada!) bakpakchik - tags: personal. I discovered this one through a comment left on NEXT>. I found her storyboard blogging very amusing and unusual (though not unseen).

This is my truly random blog pick-basket. Am I delighted or what! :) BlogDay zindabad!

Email: nextbyramla AT

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Madam, you're an idiot

Wha...!? Whoa! Bhai saab! You think I'm an idiot!?
These are the kinds of thoughts that flashed through my mind - and face, I'm sure - as I found myself being duped by the sellers on a shopping trip.

I was shopping at this overpriced market in Karachi (it's close to home) to buy some essentials for a pilgrimage tour. It had been some time since I had been out shopping on my own, and I had to devise a way to get a bargain. Pretending to be a dumb customer is a strategy I employ to negotiate - it kind of alarms the seller: "could-be irritating girl, right ahead!" Usually, they give me a bargain just to get me out of the shop.

But this isn't something that really works. (I'm just checking different strategies.) In fact, I don't even have to try to act dumb - I walked in to several shops that seemed to be waiting for customers (in a minute we'll know why) - and the shopkeepers had this "in walks my prey" written all over. My thin veneer of the naive-university-girl-out-for-shopping quickly wore out as I tried to control my temper - and amusement.

At the cosmetics shop, I was presented with a thick-grained blush-on in a wornout plastic pack. It was from "UK." Now a quality blush (or eyeshadow, or even chocolate!) is fine-grained. You can't even feel the powder if you rub it between your fingers. I asked them if "UK" was in a bara [unregulated markets, often full of smuggled or counterfeit goods] in Peshawar? They gave me that "silly lady asking too many questions - why don't you just buy the damned thing and leave!" look. They lost the sales, and even in my confidence in what appeared to be perfectly legit Etude cosmetics.

Other Stories [more of the same]:

Repeat: Cotton-buds pack declaring it's a 100-bud pack, with only about 50 cotton buds. When I noted, the price was slashed from Rs. 25 to Rs. 20. Thank you!

Repeat: The salesgirl, pitching another small-time item: "And this is for.... [turns to the shopowner] How much should I say?" He doesn't look up and says: "Make it 50." I: "Er, this sticker says it's Rs. 30.50." Salesgirl: [Pause, blink.] "We also have to make profit." I: "Ok, make Rs. 5 profit." Salesgirl to shopowner: "Khalid bhai?? ['Brother Khalid...']" Khalid Bhai, doesn't look up but for a frustrated glance: "Ok, ok. [[Stupid customer!]]" Salesgirl: "Ok, 35." I: "Ok, 35." My heart: "30.50 has profit included." I, to heart: "Shut up, sir. I'm in a hurry here, but my only solace is to blog it!"

Repeat: I: [On being presented with a cheap-shot "Italian" blush pack when I asked for Etude, of which the shop bears huge posters. The printing on the box was coming off.] "This is not Italian." Khalid Bhai: "Madam, you said it so abruptly. Don't do this... [Pause] This is Italian." I: [blink, blink] "Let me say it politely, This is not Italian." Khalid Bhai [removes all cosmetics from the counter, sullen] "Ok."

What makes these people think they'll get business if they try to fool the now-extremely savvy customers? Their large shops with 0-2 customers at one time bore testimony to their anachronistic selling techniques.
P.S. Retailing needs an overhaul. At least, all items should have a price tag, at least the branded ones.
P.P.S. Pakistani firms need to focus on branding big time. They are losing sales by the unethical selling practices of the retailers who are pocketing the unreasonable amounts of profits.

Email: nextbyramla AT

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Hi readers. I am on a little break here, involved with a few creative assignments. Actually, working on so many topics at one time, I've got my own tiny Internet in my head! I'll be back in about a week, perhaps earlier. While I'm gone, why not check out a few interesting FREE reads?

The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki - a manifesto I recommended to my students of entrepreneurship. Pretty interesting. It emphasises the prototyping approach to get going. I've decided to include prototyping as a compulsory part of my next "hands-on" entrepreneurship class.
How to be Creative by Hugh MacLeod - dispelling a fat load of myths about creativity. A shocking, provocative, but real-life welcome to the world of creativity in advertising. Warning: Real Life, dead ahead!
Start Talking Ideas - Want to Make Your Mark on the world? Want to do something? Check this site out if you have an idea that you want to bring to life.

I am off for now. Just a little something else: How woulld you like to be the designer for a branded line of t-shirts, given the chance?

Just think wishful, no economics, no real-life. It's a wish survey. Leave a comment or mail.

Oh yes, anonymous comments are allowed once again. And the site's licensed under a Creative Commons Deed now. More later. Salam for now!

Really missing me? Here's the email: nextbyramla AT gmail DOT com
P.S. As a way of giving more time to things that really matter (me, my family, my faith), I am practicing spending fewer time online, especially on emails. I'm scheduling weekly time for email responses. It may be slower, but it also much better and thoughtful!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Small is the new big

Can a small firm pose serious threat to a large one? A reader disagreed with the idea that Nestlé Pakistan could face competition from Cottage Foods - a small, unknown new entrant. What Cottage Foods eventually does is something I am not privy to. But I sure think that even in Pakistan, which by no means is a very developed economy/nation, consumerism basics in the urban centers are similar to the basics the world over. And so are the opportunities.

Whatever the scale or type of an economy, certain things about human psyche always hold true, which is why small and medium enterpises thrive side-by-side with the large giants. And one day, they can grow in to major challenges. The stories of the local Pakistani food and beverage companies such as Haleeb and Tapal with their runaway success testify this. They didn't start out as big as Unilever or Nestlé, but today, they are a force to reckon with.

Besides, Pakistan has a highly associative culture. So the cornerstone / small, huggable company has a chance to be a preferred product provider. In fact, with the rising consumerism in Pakistan that brings with it a dissociative culture, the best form of a company would be a middle-of-the-path enterprise with the elegance of a large corporation (on delivery of promise and branding) and warm lovability of a corner dhaba.

Tom Peters think a small corporation stands a big chance in its niche. Here's his list of "musts" for the "little guy." Or gal. Underdog Marketing by TEC International suggests this:

  1. Define the market
  2. Differentiate until your drop &
  3. Dominate your segment

Of course, Pakistan is not a place where a copy&paste strategy will work as is. But the basic principles of organized marketing will apply to most markets. At any rate, it doesn't hurt to be loved by the customer!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The thinking tummy

Instinct. Gut feel. Something that all business schools don't teach, but should. The Trump University newsletter [vol 8/ Go With Your Gut] says:

We all have instincts. The important thing is to know how to use them. You may have superb academic credentials, but if you don’t use your instincts you might have a hard time getting to and staying at the top. Knowing how to use your instincts is one of those gray areas that remain... [Read more...]

Email: nextbyramla AT

Cut it short and just KISS!

Your Elevator Pitch Heard of the KISS principle of oral communication? No, don't pout and poise the lips just yet, it's a short-hand for Keep It Short and Simple. Personally, I prefer the more cheeky version: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

I bumped into Your Elevator Pitch by chance, and it turned out to be a great resource for my Entrepreneurship class! The idea is neat: Can you summarize and pitch your business idea clearly, and communicate in the time that it takes to make an elevator ride? If not, you may need to understand your own business before presenting it.

The site intro says:

An "elevator pitch" is a quick and concise way to communicate who you are, what you're trying to do and why you do it better. It's much more than a mission statement, it's understanding your business in a way that gets people excited and thinking.

I used the idea in the class today: I asked the students who are making group business plans to give an elevator pitch about their offer. The idea was, if the elevator pitch sounds okay, we have something solid on hand. I have made the elevator pitch the starting point of the class biz plans.

What happened next? The correlation between a good pitch and a plausible business idea was clear. Pitches that raised the most comments, "It's vague!" "What are you trying to say?" didn't have a sound business idea. The idea's bubble burst as questions pointed in.

One pitch about a telecom product created quite a buzz. The idea raised questions about the legality and technical aspects of the product. There was incredulous suspicion in the air, and some of the people, me included, just didn't get the idea until we played 20 questions. As questions and discussions pounded in, it was clear that the biz plan and the marketing plan will have to focus on the product part and educate the consumer about the tech part first.

One Pakistani telco comapny, GoCDMA, could learn from this. The product hasn't worked, and the marketers complain that the customer doesn't get it. Ahan!

For more help on elevator pitches, see sister site: Only 30 Floors

Email: nextbyramla AT

Friday, July 15, 2005

Burning to find answers?

Burning Questions is a premier global business gathering where... leading executives and management thought leaders... explore the latest research and emerging best practices that will give... practical insights for steering [an] organization toward a more productive and profitable future.

Burning Questions is where forward looking business people discuss, debate, and ultimately set the strategic agenda for the months and years ahead. {Read More...}

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Can Pottermania be potted up?

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth book in the wizarding saga, goes on sale worldwide at 0001 BST [British Standard Time] on Saturday. UK book chain Waterstone's says it is expecting about 300,000 to queue at its stores for the late night opening on Friday. {Read More}

Meanwhile, doubts prevail about the magic of Harry - has he been overcommercialized? In the latest newsletter, Ann Handley declared that the Pottermania was limited to the spell of the story itself. The merchandise didn't have the magic of the word. There are others who wonder if the Harry Potter charm itself is wearing off? The BBC lets the public wonder.

That said, the core Potter brand (ah, them lovely books!) shows limited signs of wearing off. Publishers expect 2 million books to vanish in a day.

From the blogosphere: The Leaky Cauldron, the most popular Harry Potter blog on Google search list, is maintaining a countdown clock accurate up-to-the-second and some excellent news about the upcoming release.

Is Harry Potter just a brand with a craze following (it just seems to be a must-have book series) or is it a lovemark, adored for the spell it creates?

London blasts and the blogosphere

What's terrorism? How should the new world deal with it? Quite an argument going on here ( on the London blasts.

There was another dimension to the blasts: the power of the individual as a media source. The BBC and Guardian received images caught by viewers on cell phones and digital cameras. The blogosphere was full of personal accounts of survivors. Blogs instantly reported the news (courtesy tp wire service). The BBC invited a survivor blogging about her ordeal, survival and coping - and she's keeping a survivor's diary at the BBC News website.

The world of news has changed for good with blogging, T-mobiles/t-zones, and the high level of interactivity between the newsmakers, reporters, and the public.

What will the role of the journalist be in the new world of media, when we can get the news straight from the source??

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Nestle PK has competition in health food...

Just spotted a new line of milk food products by Cottage Foods. While I reached for the Nestle fruit yogurt (my substitute for ice cream) in a grocery shop fridge, I found the Cottage Foods Low-fat/ regular yogurts lined up right next to Neslte.

The type-face and the design is good-looking - not the typical Pakistani. (Seems to be a direct life from some American/European style design template). The line of products (cheese, pasteurized milk, yogurt, raita) nods to the growing trend of health foods.

I am glad to see a local health food brand come up. This will give Nestle Pakistan a run for their money.

Re: the website. I don't understand why the customers have to register for delivery through email. This still isn't how B2C business is done in Pakistan. There should be a 0900 number for home delivery registration and a toll-free 0800 for customer quesries and feedback. Cool interface, but I could do without the ultra-rapid scrolling on info pages.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Whole World Thinking - the third way

Left hemisphere of the brain ll Western hemisphere of Earth;
Right hemisphere of the brain ll Eastern hemisphere of Earth;
Whole-Brain Thinking ll Whole-World Thinking!!

It occured to me while I was thinking about the balanced, whole brain thinking, and this discussion on has prompted me to finally blog this idea:

I was teaching Right Brain thinking and mind maps to my students of entrepreneurship when I had an epiphany: the optimal thinking and intelligence is WHOLE BRAIN THINKING. If you look at the WORLD, and its two hemispeheres are macrocosmic enlargements of our brains - the left/ Western hemisphere is logical, precise, analytical, individualistic, masculine. The right/ Eastern hemisphere is holistic, intuitive, interdependent, creative, feminine.

The optimal thinking is the whole brain thinking. The optimal Way is the WHOLE WORLD WAY. The one that balances the yin and the yang. The East and the West. Our Way and Their Way. It takes the best of both and creates a common ground. And it accomodates both of "the others." It's very much like a male-female interaction taking place to create a family. Both are different. By co-depending and understanding, a man and a woman create a harmonious relationship while still remaining themselves. Think Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.

I am also working on a manifesto, The Religious Corporate Leader. And that is perhaps what really inspired the Whole World Thinking idea. For this manifesto, I have used not just religious theories, but also the knowledge of chaos theory, lessons from The Art of War, Seven Habits, theories of Leonardo da Vinci, current business literature and what not. That it all effortlessly blended in together made me wonder if there is really a way in which apparantly distinct and conflicting knowledge can be brought together? Is there a way in which the whole world can think together to produce a better, third way of thinking, just as the two sides of the brain can think as a whole to arrive at optimal solutions?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Wannado City

The blurb says: At Wannado City, kids can be whatever they want to be – right now. From paleontologist to news reporter, to everything in between, kids try out tons of grown-up jobs in the first indoor city just their size. They can operate on a patient, cook up a pizza or even solve a crime.

This is amazing. Be what you wanna be! DO what you wanna do! The ultimate realistic-fantasy of all human beings: get a taste of what it's like to do what you want to do with real objects and playmates.

Kids play out their fantasies in style by role-playing with imaginery objects and imaginary settings (and in my kiddie days, there were sometimes massive disputes on setting the scene and even assigning gender roles). But in Wannado City, brainchild of Mexican-born entrepreneur Luis Javier Laresgoiti, kids roleplay in real-life settings and carry out virtually real tasks. He got the idea for this experiential park when he watched his own daughter play with his telephone.

This park is not only experiential, which is the big idea of today's business world, but Luis also has the colorful designation of Chief Creative Officer. Certainly the kind of designations that should get a seat in the Board of Directors of today's organizations. Use them, or lose them! [And if they "should not" get a seat, they "will" get a seat.]

The next thing I'd like to see is a Wannado Park for adults! Or a kiddie-style amusement park for the adults. For a loooong time, the kids' play pens in McDonald's have been making me think of this. No more boring old gardens (ala the Karachi Safari Park) for adult amusement! I WANNA DO some thing! :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

And now... Trump University!

I registered with the Trump University today, which I had accidentally discovered yesterday. I want to take the entrepreneurship course there. Trump University is using the Learning by Doing method, which is what I am also practicing in the entrepreneurship course I am teaching at a university. Rather than make them read backward-looking textbooks, I want the students to choose their assignments and investigate the future opportunities in their own region.

There are a few things one can learn at the Trump University.

How do you rate on nine success factors on the Trump Success Profile? What do you need to know before buying or selling real estate? Who are the "bottom of the pyramid" and why are they a hot market?

Most of this is old for me, but I am interested in learning how they execute the entrepreneurship course, and I may learn a thing or two. At any rate, it's not bad to learn a little from The Donald. I already found my weak areas on the Trump Success Profile, and though the test is pretty simplistic, it's a good way of red-marking the areas of improvement.

Trump's reality show, "The Apprentice," is already my hot favorite TV show. What I enjoy most is how you can always tell which candidate is going to get fired - and how they could have saved themselves were they able to see themselves objectively. Eerie. There's a reason why people see SUCCESS/FAILURE written on your forehead. And how it's upto you to pull that label off!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Already got a home on Mars in 2076? Tell the MIT'ians...

Time travel has fascinated many of us, and I am not exception. But why hadn't it crossed our mind to invite a future traveler in time back to our home, right now? Amal Dorai of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) thought of just that.

He's invited any one from the future to a Time Traveler Convention - if they have a cure for cancer, a home on Mars, or anything to prove they really are back from the future!

Location: MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) East Campus Courtyard (42:21:36.025 degrees north, 71:05:16.332 degrees west)
Date: Saturday, May 07, 2005
Time: 10 P.M. sharp for the time travelers

I can't wait to hear about any guest who turns up!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Flexibility Key to Retaining Women (HBS Working Knowledge)

I recently negotiated a work-from-home arrangement at my job. This was how I could balance my life and work - and avoid the hectic and tiring commuting routine of Karachi. And this would give me time to focus on things that I love, such as writing this blog!

This, I realized through conversations with friends and through research on the Net, is a common issue with today's economic-participative females. I was surprised to see McKinsey's Quarterly talk about work-life balance, and now here is a Harvard Business School Working Knowledge article. This will help many an organization reconsider their flexibility for females (and for that matter even men in workforce who need more quality time at home).

Happy reading!

In the workplace, employers need to take into account women who take a temporary "off-ramp" from their careers. Here is how to keep them connected to your company. An excerpt from Harvard Business Review.