Sunday, November 5, 2017

Humorous Speech Writing Techniques

It is easy to write a speech, but it is very hard to make it humorous. If you are wondering, "How to make a speech humorous"... don't worry, this article will give you tips to induce humor in the speeches and get a few (if not more!) laughs. There are a number of techniques available to inject humor in the speeches. I am not a humorist either and the wisdom shared in this article is a collection of information sourced from various educational sessions, blogs and podcasts.

1. The Literal Meaning

You can use the actual meaning of some words, to trigger humor.

  • I was always an outstanding student in my class. Yes, dear friends... my teacher always makes me to stand outside of the classroom. 
  • Almost everyone looked up to me in my college, because I was the tallest guy in the class 

2. Self-Deprecating  

The easiest way to make people laugh is to use self-deprecating humor. Never attempt to make fun of others. Also, stay away from taboo topics such as sex, religion and politics. Using these topics will make you and your speech look cheap.
  • Once upon a time, I used to have a small face to wash and lots of hair to comb. Today, I've more face to wash, and less hair to comb 
  • Some day, I thought I'll be like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I worked out really hard... and finally, after several failed attempts I did become like Arnold. Wait wait wait... not like the Arnold in his 20s, but like the Arnold in his 60s. 

3. Exaggeration

Exaggeration enables audience to visualize .. and that triggers humor immediately.

  • Chennai looks like Venice during rainy seasons. And you would need a boat, not a car. 
  • I got a new Credit Card to my wife. She spent so much in a month, that she got into the Master Card Hall of Fame. 

4. Compare / Contrast

Comparisons help you to tie two unrelated things / situations / people. Comparisons help you to highlight your frustration, which triggers humor.

  • I was looking for a perfect better half. But, I wasn't lucky. The ones who looked like Aishwarya Rai, hadn't crossed 10th grade and the ones who had completed Ph.D looked like a 40 year old. 
  • My friend is like a radio... if she starts talking she wouldn't stop. The only difference between her and the radio is, she doesn't even give commercial breaks in between.  
  • Who said finding God is difficult, try searching for a plumber on a weekend.

5. Word Play 

This is the most (ab)used form of humor. You can use word play like spices on the soup, and not as the main ingredient.
  • The moment I told my friend that I am going to get married, he said "Congratulations on the termination of your isolation and may I express an appreciation of your determination to end the desperation and frustration" 

  • A man was hit by a coke can, but he wasn't injured at all... because it was a "soft" drink.

6. Twisting quotes 
 

Quotes = Inspiration.  Over usage of quotes have irritated people more than inspiring them. That provides you an opportunity to twist some quotes, to trigger humor.
  • If you are talking about your mom and wife, you can say Behind every successful man, there is a woman... and behind every unsuccessful man, there is two. 
 
  • If one door closes and another one opens, probably your house is haunted

7. Setup / Pause / Punch 
 

This is the most effective technique to trigger humor. When you setup the situation, you are actually making the audience to think in a particular direction.. and immediately, you pause and surprise them with the punch.

  • The classic joke "Take my wife ... PLEASE !

"
  • As you all might know, I’m a very organized person. Immediately after the marriage, I wanted to prepare myself for a successful married life. The first thing that I did was I bought the book “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”. I read the book page by page, line by line, word after word. After reading the book, I thought I’ve mastered the art of “understanding a women”. I thought I had learned all the tricks to keep my wife happy. A few months into the marriage, I realized “Men are from Mars, my wife is not from Venus”.
 

8. Obvious Statements


Sometimes, an obvious statement would trigger humor.

  • A warning label on a baby stroller: "Remove child before folding". 

  • My boss said "Have a good day"... and I went home
  • I went to the grocery shop... and I saw this sign on the glass door "Open the door before entering"
9. Rule of Three

Rule of Three is very similar to the setup / pause / punch technique, but will help you to do the "setup" in a more systematic manner. 
  • Judges in contests are always consistent. They are consistently punctual, consistently sincere and consistently pick the most undeserving person as the winner. 
  • The best part of getting married in Las Vegas is you'll get everything that you need at one place - music, flowers and divorce document
If you know of other techniques, please post here as a comment. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Venture out ... NOW !

Chennai Speakers Forum Newsletter Article Oct 2017

How many times have you taken a risk in your life and failed?! Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of the social media company Facebook says “The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that changes really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks”.

Let me admit it. I had never taken a huge risk until I finished my college. In fact, I had never ventured out to try something new, until I joined my first job at HCL technologies. I always signed up for something only when I can see the end result clearly. The year 2002 put an end to my risk- free life. That was the year after the 9/11 attacks and the dotcom crash. US President Bush’s administration was planning to launch a war against Iraq any time. US economy was at an all-time low and going through a recession. I was in a well paid job in HCL Technologies. But, I decided to quit HCL and look for opportunities in US because of not getting promoted at HCL. My family members asked me “Why do you want to go to US when the condition there is very uncertain?”. My friends were asking me “Saro! You are in a well paid job and in a good position. If you leave now, and come back later, you may not have the same respect and influence here. Why do you want to take an unnecessary risk?”. I was in a very confused state and asked myself “Should I leave the golden goose? Should I leave my comfort zone? Should I move out of my cheese factory?”. After some serious thought, I decided to take the plunge. I got an offer from a start up in US. But, the unfortunate part was, the startup company had hardly 6 months of funding left-over. My friends warned me “Saro! You are looking at the light at the end of the tunnel. But what we see is a train coming in the opposite direction”.

Despite the warnings, I took the risk. I booked my tickets and flew to US. When Kannagi and Kovalan tried to enter the famous Temple City Madurai, the flags on the fort waved their hands fast alerting them not to enter the city. But, despite the alert they boldly stepped into the city. I had the same feeling when I landed in US. I heard horror stories of people leaving their home, car and belongings and moving out of the country due to the economic situation. The commercial buildings were empty and the IT corridor in silicon valley looked like a ghost town. When all the inmates of a burning house were running out, the fireman boldly walks into the house. I imagined myself as the fireman.

I joined the start-up in US and worked hard for nearly 6 months. Like my friends rightly predicted, the light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be a train coming fast in the opposite direction. The company that I joined shut its doors in 6 months. One fine morning, our CEO called for an all- hands meeting and gave pink slips to nearly 60+ employees working for that startup. I was in the job market with just 6 months US experience. I hardly received any calls from potential employers. Thankfully, the founders of my old startup formed another new startup and I was among the first few employees to onboard the team. I spent a solid 3 years in that startup, learning a multitude of skills such as full products development, handling customers and doing product demonstrations/trainings. I also completed my part time MBA in the mean time. Around the same time I joined a well established company Redback Networks, which got acquired by Ericsson. After spending 4 years in US, I decided to get ready for my return to India. I took the opportunity to travel to nearly 32 states in US over a 2 years period. Those travels opened up the doors for many more new learnings and experiences. After meeting all of my monetary goals, I finally decided to return to India in 2009... almost overnight. Now, I am happily settled in India with my family.

[Also read: Returning back to India ...]

Lucius, a famous roman philosopher once said “It’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult”. If I hadn’t ventured out to US in 2002, I wouldn’t have had the exposure that I have currently. Living in US for 6 years not only filled my pockets, but also brought-in a number of good things into my life. For example, I got introduced to a wonderful group of people called Toastmasters in US. Joining Toastmasters helped me to develop book reading and blogging habits. Today, I strongly believe that “If you have a dream, pursue that. If you have a passion, give it a try. If you want to venture out, venture out now!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

CC Project #7 - Research your Topic - Ms. Smelly

Introduction 

She is in my neighbourhood. I’ve seen her almost everyday. Whenever I walk past her, I hear her giggles. She is dark, but anyone who looks at her for the first time will give her a curious second look. I’ve seen her dancing in the rains, jumping in joy.

No… No… No… I don’t have a crush. I hate her… for just one reason… she stinks. She is our Chennai’s identity… She is our Chennai’s pride… Instead of me talking about her… I would let her talk to you directly. (Change of caps - white cap to black cap)

Dear Toastmasters and guests, I am your stinking Cooum river. I stink because of you.

(Also read: Sweetie ... I hate you)

Origins of the river 

I originate from the excess water that gets diverted from the Kesavaram dam. I am from a place called Koovam in Tiruvallur District near Chennai. Though I am 72 Km long, I am the shortest river that drain in to the Bay of Bengal.

During the ancient times, I played a major role in maritime trade between Roman empire, South India and China. If you think I’m boasting, check with those archaeologists who discovered ancient wine jars, Roman and Chinese coins along my banks. I was once called the “Thames of South India”.

There are close to 100 temples along the sides of me. I was once a holy river. People believed that even the sins that were not washed away by my elder sister Ganges could be washed away by bathing in my waters.

State of the river today

I go through the rural areas of Tiruvallur for nearly 40 Km. I am unpolluted, there. In fact, those people use me as a source of drinking water even today. But the moment I enter the Chennai city I lose my virginity… and I become a carrier of sewage, thermocol, plastics and trash. It is not the slum dwellers who pollute me, it is also educated folks like you who dump garbage, sewage and waste on me.

Until the 1950s, I was clean. I was so clean that I had the company of 49 species of fish, who were my friends. But slowly, I started losing my friends. By late 1970s, I had only 21 of them. However, today, all of my friends are dead owing to the highly toxic pollutants that you guys dump into me.

Restoration Efforts

I made multiple attempts to seek justice from Tamilnadu government in the last 50 years. I wanted the government to punish the folks who polluted me and to cleanup and restore my pride. In 1967, C.N Annadurai, kick started a restoration project to clean me up and he allotted Rs.1.9 crores. In 1973, Karunanidhi cleaned me up and even launched a pleasure boat service at a cost of ₹ 2.2 crores. But, none of those programs sustained… People continued to dump garbages, sewage and waste into me and I again got polluted.

Recently, Tamilnadu government has initiated an Integrated Cooum River Restoration Project for Rs. 604.77 crore. Government has started removal of solid waste from my banks. You know how much solid waste you folks have dumped into me over the years? One lakh tonnes. Chennai City generates nearly 5000 tonnes of waste everyday. Imagine the entire Chennai city dumping all their waste continuously for a month into me… that’s how much solid waste is accumulated in me. So far, about 18,000 tonnes of solid waste has been cleared by the government as part of the restoration project. 55 slums have been identified and nearly 14,000 families zeroed in on for eviction.  This project is expected to be completed in another 2 years. I am eagerly looking forward to regain my virginity.

Dear Toastmasters and Guests, Yes… I stink… but, I stink because of you (shouting voice)

“Oh! Oh! Oh… Cooum dear… don’t lose your emotions” (Cap change… black to white)

Conclusion

Friends, knowingly or unknowingly, directly or indirectly, we have spoiled the life of a beautiful girl, Cooum. It is not just Government’s responsibility to keep her clean. We also have our obligations to her. What can we do to help her? Let us refrain from throwing waste or dumping sewage into her. Let us help her to rejenuvate, regenerate and restore to her old glory. Let us take the pledge to make Ms. Smelly as fragrant as Ms. Lilly.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Serving Leader by Ken Jennings and John Stahl-Wert

Today, Servant Leadership is taking a prominent place not only in volunteer driven organizations, but also in corporates. With the growing number of "matrix organizations" and teams embracing "Agile" for project delivery and led by a Scrum Master, Servant Leadership skills are the need of the hour.

I had a chance to read the book "The Serving Leader" from the Ken Blanchard Series, written by Ken Jennings and John Stahl-Wert. The authors have sandwiched the Servant Leadership lessons in a fictional story. This blog post summarizes some key lessons and learnings from the book.

The following are the 5 powerful actions that the authors teach for you to transform your team, your business and your community:
  1. Run to Great Purpose 
    • To do the most impossible good, strive for the impossible
    • Sustain the greatest interest in pursuits beyond self-interest
  2. Upend the Pyramid
    • You qualify to be first by putting other people first
    • Your are in charge principally to charge up others
  3. Build on Strengths
    • To address your weaknesses, focus on your strengths
    • You can't become the best unless other do, too 
  4. Raise the Bar
    • To serve the many, you first serve the few
    • The best reach-down is a challenging reach-up
  5. Blaze the Trail
    • To protect your value, you must give it all away
    • Your biggest obstacle is the one that hinders someone else

Source: The Serving Leader, by Ken Jennings and John Stahl-Wert

Some traits of a servant leader and key messages worth noting from the book:

  1. He spent a lot of time in activity that looked more like "teaching" than "managing"
  2. He was known for setting high goals and standards.
  3. He encouraged risk taking, though he wasn't afraid to remove people for "persistent" underperformance
  4. He unleashes the strengths, talents and passions of those he or she serves
  5. When she points out a problem, she also offered several solutions and she always showed up when it was time to do the hard work of implementation
  6. She constantly gets her ego out of the way and builds up the confidence / self-esteem of others
  7. By putting others first, the Serving Leader is able to catalyze the creation of high performance teams
  8. He ensures that the right people join the team, those with the right skills and values, those who embrace the same shared purpose. He is tough on selecting people and setting standards
  9. In order to serve many people, the servant leader at first picks just a few other leaders to serve, people who can meet the Servant Leadership standards
  10. He ensures that "activity" is no substitute for "results". At first its about being selective in choosing the leaders you're going to work with. And second, it's about continually raising the expectations for performance
  11. When the performance of an individual doesn't improve after "heavy coaching", the Servant Leader helps him or her get a position somewhere else
  12. People by nature try to live up to what others expect of them. That's true for rich and poor, people who have an easy life or a hard one. Expect little, and we live up to the expectation. Expect a lot, and we stretch and grow to meet the expectation. What kind of service is it... when you deny a person the challenge to become really terrific
  13. Life is too short to waste on sentimental pursuits that don't actually improve anything
  14. Servant Leaders teach others the knowledge, skills and strategies they need to succeed. And the Servant Leaders work hard to get obstacles out of their team's way so that the team can make progress.
  15. Servant Leaders build teaching organizations to create excellence at every level. Leaders who teach become consistent in their own performance.
  16. Community happens when everyone rolls up their sleeves and gets to work
  17. You get better results by shifting attention away from your weaknesses and focusing on your strengths
  18. Serving leaders articulate a purpose so compelling that people are willing to run toward it. The leaders set the pace and this spirit gets transferred to the people they serve
  19. If the purpose isn't bigger than the people involved, great things wouldn't happen
  20. Mistakes aren't the issue, what you do with them is the issue. Ask to be forgiven for the past, and then seize your future with all you've got. 

If you want to learn more about Servant Leadership, visit the authors' website http://theservingleader.com/

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Vocal Variety - 4Ps of Voice

“Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs” said Stephen Covey, the famous author and speaker.

Delivering a speech to the audience, is similar to the journey that you take in a train. The train journey becomes much more enjoyable and adventurous, when the train traverses through peaks and valleys, instead of just going in a flat terrain. The train changes its speed based on the terrain. Similarly, your speech should also be going through moments of peaks, valleys, flat terrains and at times, even a complete pause. You can achieve that by tapping on the power of voice.

Toastmasters provides you a platform for “finding your voice”. When it comes to voice modulation, one of the speakers that I admire is Zig Ziglar. Despite the age, his voice comes across as energetic, attractive and inspiring. Watch the video of Zig Ziglar, where he talks about the "Art of Selling".


In this article, I'm going to describe the 4Ps of Voice - Pitch, Pause, Pace and Projections.

Pitch

Pitch can be used to communicate emotions. A high pitch reflects "high emotions" such as anger, happiness or excitement. Low pitch reflects "low emotions" such as a somber mood or sad moment.

Listen to my recordings:

“How dare you take my bike keys?”  (High Pitch)

"Why did you take my bike keys?      (Low Pitch)


Pause

Pausing is good - do you know that? As a novice speaker, we may think that Pausing means "You forgot the content". While the reality is, advance speakers use Pause as an effective tool to maximize the impact of the speech, on the audience.

When you are on a roller coaster, the roller coaster comes to halts in between, before picking up momentum. The halts make the roller coaster ride much more thrilling.

What are the situations in which you can pause:

  1. Before beginning to speak on the stage, to get the attention of your audience. You can easily take a 3 or 4 seconds pause, trying to establish eye contact with audience. Even an unsettled crowd will become settled when you pause for a while at the beginning
  2. Before delivering a punch line in a humorous phrase. For example, "A doctor tells a woman she can no longer touch anything alcoholic. So she gets a divorce". The pause makes an audience to think in a particular direction and when you surprise them with your punch line, it brings humor. 
  3. When delivering a quote, to stress the important parts. For ex., "5 years from now you'll be the same person except for the people that you meet and the books that you read"
Listen to some of my recordings:


Do you know which club got the first prize….  Chennai Speakers Forum! 


You don’t have to be GREAT to START  but, you’ve to START to be GREAT 

Pace 

Pace is the most missed out tool in regular speeches. Novice speakers deliver at fast pace due to nervousness. However, it will be very hard for the audience to follow the speaker, when the pace is too fast. The best example is when Ravi Sashtri or Sunil Gavaskar narrates a wicket loss during a cricket commentary.

Listen to some of my recordings for fast pace:

Steve Jobs’ motto was to “Simplify!” He said “No” to pretty much every SINGLE thing … 

Should it have screws – NO 
Removable batteries – NO 
Stylus – NO 
Keyboard – NO 
Manuals – A BIG NO 

And that resulted in the birth of sleek, cool and attractive iPhone


All of us join Toastmasters to evolve to become a great communicator or a great leader. So, I recommend all of you “NOT TO GIVE AN EXCUSE”, after you sign up for a role. 

When YOU give an excuse, you miss an opportunity to explore, 
When you don’t explore, you miss an opportunity to gain experience 
When you don’t get the experience, you miss an opportunity to evolve 
When you don’t evolve, how will the fundamental purpose of YOU joining Toastmasters is going to be met? 

Here is an example of a slow pace: 

When I went to the stage and spoke, everybody laughed. That was my last visit to the Speakers club.

Projection 

Projection of voice helps you to reach out to the people sitting in the last row. You've to adjust your voice projection (aka volume) based on the number of people in the audience, room size, whether you are using a microphone, whether you are speaking to a live audience or over a webcast. When you have a good projection, you come across as a confident speaker. Low Projections, at times make your audience lean forward to listen to you. For ex., when you want to tell a "secret", you can use "low projection". 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

CC Project #6 - Vocal Variety - Lessons from Steve Jobs

Call him as charismatic or argumentative …
Call him as a visionary or brutal …
Call him as innovative or idiotic …
No matter what you call him as, you will be right.

Good morning fellow Toastmasters and Guests,

The man that I’m going to talk about is “Steve Jobs”. Steve Jobs once said “People, who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do”. He is a perfect example of this quote. You can derive inspiration and messages for a 100 odd World Championship speeches from Steve Job’s life. Today, I’m going to share 2 significant messages that I learned from his life.

Quality is more important than Quantity, one home run is much better than two doubles

Paul Jobs… the man who adopted Steve Jobs was a good and intelligent car mechanic. His profession was to rebuild old cars. During the weekends, Steve helped his dad in doing some household work like laying fence or building cabinets for the home.  His father was a man of perfection. He refused to use poor wood even for the back of cabinets. He would paint even the back of the fence – the same way that he painted the front side of the fence.

Steve Jobs once asked his dad “Dad! Why are you wasting your time in paying attention to what people couldn’t see?”. His dad looked at him, smiled and said “Son… Yes! Others wouldn’t see it, but I know it’s there. For me to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, the design has to be carried all the way through

This philosophy led jobs to manufacture Apple products with the same care, even in the details that would be invisible to the user. For example, Jobs rejected the designs of the original logic boards inside of the Apple II computer … as the ‘lines were not straight enough’.

“Deciding what not to do, is as important as deciding what to do”

Jobs loved simplicity in design. He honed this when he became a practitioner of Buddhism. After dropping out of college, he made a long pilgrimage through India seeking enlightenment. This is when he got hooked to the principles of minimalism from Zen Buddhism.

He applied those principles in every product that he designed. For example, when you are combining the functions of a camera, a music player, a GPS, a phone and a browser into a device like iPhone, you can end up having a product that is so convoluted and so complex.

But, Steve’s motto was to “Simplify!” He said “No” to pretty much everything …

1. Should it have screws – NO
2. Should it have a stylus – NO
3. Should it have a keyboard – NO
4. Removable batteries – NO
5. Pack them with manuals – A BIG NO

The result is what you see in an iPhone.

How did these lessons impact me?

These two messages are related to each other and they stress the importance of quality and saying NO to things. Until very recently, I used to think of me as the “Master of Time Management”.   I’m sure all of you might’ve heard about the example of putting “BIG stones first into the jar and you’ll always find time for the SMALL stones, later”. My time management principles were based on that. I used to categorize tasks as big or small based on the time it takes me to complete the job… and I sequenced them accordingly. However, the drawback in that approach is… you are trying hard to accommodate ALL stones and ALL tasks.

What if you have twice the amount of stones than what your jar can accommodate? You’ll have to say NO to some stones… actually… to many stones. So, these days, I adopt a different methodology in time management. I pick only the 3 stones that are of importance to me… and just do a perfect job in that. Be it the emails that I read/respond, be it the stake holders that I deal with, or be it the activities that I focus on.  I’ll brutally say NO to many. This method has increased my efficiency and performance. It also helps me to lead a very balanced lift.

Fellow Toastmasters and Guests, there are very few people in this world like Mahatma Gandhi who can say “My life is my message”. And Steve Jobs is one of those very few people. Steve Jobs' life is a tale of highs and lows, successes and failures, friendships and rivalries, love and hatred...It has innumerable messages for us to take away. If you’ve forgot everything that I told you today, just remember only these 2 things:

  1. Quality is more important than Quantity, one home run is much better than two doubles
  2. Deciding what not to do, is as important as deciding what to do

I’ve started following them… will you… Toastmasters?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

You call him as charismatic; you call him as argumentative; you call him as a visionary and you call him as brutal. You will be right. When I finished reading the last page of the book "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson, I get the feeling of having watched Baahubali 2. Jobs' tale is both instructive and cautionary. It is a tale of highs, lows, surprises, successes, failures, rivalries, emotions, love, hatred... and everything else that you would see in a movie like Baahubali.

Rob Siltanen's quote "The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do" won't fit anyone else better than Steve Jobs. Jobs aspired to live at the intersection of humanities and technology, and he just did that throughout his life. He always thought that he is special and he compared himself with the likes of Einstein and Gandhi. I am not sure if he is as good as Gandhi, but he definitely made an impact, as big as what Einstein made with the theory of relativity. Jobs' feeling of getting rejected at an early age... created the feeling to prove. He did prove to the world, that he is different.

Steve Jobs not only built great products, but also built great companies. All of the products that he built followed Leonarda Da Vinci's mantra "Simplicity is the ultimate Sophistication".

Both the book and the man, impacted me ... and made me to think. Here are some highlights from the book:

  1. Unlike other product developers, Jobs did not believe that customers are always right. He felt customers do not know what they want, until you show them. He didn't just motivate his teams to make mere product advances, but whole new devices and services that consumers did not know they needed. 
  2. He loved doing things right. He even cared about the look of parts that you couldn't see. During his childhood days, he learned from his dad about the importance of making even the back of the cabinets and fences properly, even though they were hidden. 
  3. He practiced strict vegetarianism (vegan diet) for the major part of his life. 
  4. Apple's marketing philosophy - empathy (intimate connection with the feelings of the customer), focus (eliminate whatever opportunities are unimportant), impute (presenting products in a creative, professional manner)
  5. Jobs ends up to be brutally honest, telling the truths that most of us sugarcoat or suppress. He usually didn't care an iota of what people actually think of him. According to him, people were either enlightened or assholes. Products were either amazing or shit. 
  6. Jobs thought "If you need slides, it shows, you don't know what you are talking about"
  7. Jobs was driven by his perfectionism and gets impatience with those who made compromises in order to get a product on time and on budget. People look at him as someone who has reality distortion, especially when he gets too passionate about a product.  
  8. Lessons Jobs learned from the Buddhism - material possessions often cluttered life rather than enriched it. So, he embraced "minimalism". He reflected that through the things that he accumulated at home and through the things that he wears everyday. He also applies this philosophy in designing / building products.
  9. Jobs wanted to have end to end control over the entire ecosystem, when building products. He believed that for a computer to be truly great, its hardware and software has to be tightly linked. He followed that right from the MAC to the iPhone to the iTunes. He was a believer of creating end to end solutions. 
  10. Jobs thought "You have to be ruthless if you want to build a team of A players. Its too easy as a team grows, to put up with a few B players, and then attract a few more B players, and soon you'll even have some C players. A players like to work only with A players. Part of my responsibility, is to be a yardstick for quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected"
  11. Jobs is good at focusing on a few things and say no to many things.  He feels that "deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do. That's true for companies and that's true for products"
  12. The mark of an innovative company is not only that it comes up with new ideas first, but also that it knows how to leapfrog when it finds itself behind. He believed in making hit products and promote them with terrific marketing


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Mistakes to avoid in English while forming sentences

I lost the precious opportunity of mastering English in both school and college days. I had to compensate for that during my professional life. Thanks to Toastmasters, I inherited a number of good habits, including the habit of regularly reading good books. I am able to speak without (many!) grammatical errors today because of the habit of reading good books and newspapers.

Even today, I don't understand the dictionary definition of "past participle", "past continuous tense", "adverb" etc., because I haven't studied grammar properly during school days. However, I manage to speak good English. There is a famous quote "Small things make perfection, but perfection isn't a small thing". A few simple grammar corrections to your sentences will make you appear like a good speaker.

1. After "did" there should not be a past tense verb

Wrong usage: Where did he went for lunch?

Right usage: Where did he go for lunch?

2. Use of "Can able to" 

Wrong usage: I can able to complete by Friday

Right usage: "I can complete by Friday" or "I'll be able to complete by Friday"

3. "I and my friend" 

Wrong usage: I and my friend went to a restaurant for dinner on Friday

Right usage: My friend and I went to a restaurant for dinner on Friday

4. Use of "One of my"

Wrong usage: One of my friend work for Cisco Systems

Right usage: One of my friends works for Cisco Systems

5. Use of  "People vs. Peoples" "Children vs. Childrens"

Wrong usage: I met a number of peoples in Coimbatore

Right usage: I met a number of people in Coimbatore

Wrong usage: I enjoy playing with Childrens

Right usage: I enjoy playing with Children

6. Use of "struck" vs. "stuck" 

Wrong usage: I got struck at work

Right usage: I got stuck at work

7. Literal translation of "native language" to English

Wrong usage: You going-ah for the wedding?

Right usage: Are you going to attend the wedding?

8. Use of "simple present" tense

Wrong usage: Anitha work really hard in this project

Right usage: Anitha works really hard in this project

Wrong usage: Anitha and Sam really works hard in this project

Right usage: Anitha and Sam really work hard in this project

Wrong usage: I works really hard in this project

Right usage: I work really hard in this project

If you want to increase your proficiency in sentence formation in English, I would strongly recommend you to read good English novels. Though you may be reading a lot of self-help books or technical books, your English fluency may not improve. Because, they don't teach you how to form sentences like "Hey! Shall we quickly go to cafeteria and grab some lunch?" However, in novels there will be stories; in stories there will be characters and characters speak through dialogues. If you don't know which novel to pick, you can start with Chetan Bhagat's novels. They are simple enough for all of us to read and understand. If you are reading novels with an "intent to learn" as opposed to reading with an "intent to kill time", you'll be able to develop your proficiency in sentence formation.