Are the online reviews playing you?

Time and time again, I hear from friends that they bought a ‘thing’, selected a book, went to a place, went for a movie or have spent their hard-earned money and invested their time based on the online reviews. Many times they come disappointed.

Photo Credit – NY Times

In this day and age where we want quick answers and quick gratification, we want something and we want it now. This is even easier with the Internet. But before we take the plunge, some of us want to confirm if their decision is the right one and they go and check the reviews. They do that on Amazon, IMDB, shopping sites, financial products, builders, buying perfumes, restaurants, food items, buying cars, boats, checking online people references etc. Essentially we get reviews for nearly everything. Again, the connectivity comes handy and people are just one search and few clicks away before they can dive into reviews of their desired products or services.

Although this mechanism to make informed decision is great but has a big (but an easy) flaw! The reviews can be faked and relying on those reviews can cost someone tens to thousands or a lifetime of savings and agony. You will survive if you buy a book based on fake reviews or waste 3 hours of your life based on fake reviews but imagine investing thousands or millions based on star rating given by an rating company?

Fake Review on IMDB

When was the last time you identified some fake reviews?

So if it is too true to be true, check again! Just don’t blindly follow the star rating but open the bonnet to check further details! Fake reviews most times are easy to spot. Assess the risk of you making decisions based on the ratings. Don’t let the online reviews/ratings play you, dig deeper.

Who is (or should be) taking accountability for the fake (or inaccurate) reviews? In some countries there are laws which forces business/platforms to take ownership of checking on false reviews but who is checking on Businesses if they are following through? You won’t pick a life parter just based on online reviews then why not extend the same due diligence on some other things in your life!

Don’t rush through that book

Reading is a type of meditation. Don’t rush through the process.

Tejas Patel
Trust the Process

As a book reader, I often ask people as to what they are reading and sometimes the conversation becomes about what people have read and how long it took them. As times I sense that some people take pride in how quickly they are reading the book (or skipping through it)!

Read to learn, to understand and to connect the dots. The more you read (and understand), the better you will get at connecting the dots between different point of views, topics and your own experiences.

There are hardly any medals if you finish the book early unless you are taking part in the speed reading competition. So relax, let the words sink in, let your mind decide if you agree or disagree with what the author is saying and formulate your own perspective.

News on streaming service – Is it a matter of when?

I write this on the eve of Disney+ launch in Australia. With more and more streaming services coming to market, I wonder how long before streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime etc. before they start broadcasting localised news?

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

How long before one of the streaming services re-define what the local news is like? How long before streaming services start delivering news that matters than the current version of broadcasting TVs?

The local broadcasting channels have lifted their game in the last couple of years but still nowhere near that I would cancel my Netflix subscription anytime soon. In the last few years, I am used to paying for the privilege of enjoying my TV time without the intrusion of ads. Is it a possibility that to begin with, a streaming service partners with local broadcasting service to offer a daily news service (nationally)? What is stopping Netflix from being a one stop shop? Is it just a better of time before they become one?

Questioning what you read

Question everything that you read or hear. Challenge newer thoughts or hypothesis until one intellectually agrees to it. Reader’ principle aim should be to think about what he or she has just read and how it fits into their thought models.

Blindly accepting someone else’s thought process does little good in short or long run.

Simplifying the Complex

I think ‘simplifying’ things is an art that needs to be mastered over time. Some people are naturally good at it while others have to put in deliberate practice to hone the skill (same as storytelling).

When we assess deal with things be it a personal matter or work related, we are using various faculties of our brain including emotions. Depending on our analysis, we may tag the matter as ‘complex’. It can be overwhelming when one has to decide on a matter perceived as complex. At this time analysis paralysis might kick in for few of us.

Some may find themselves stuck and are unable to make decisions. They find themselves tangled in the web of ‘complexity’ as they think of all the possible things that can go wrong, all the dependencies, all linkages ( both which can be controlled and are uncontrolled), possible reactions (mostly worst) from people impacted and how the whole thing will be a reflection on them.

Don’t get me wrong! I am not saying that we should not do a detailed assessment of the matter before making a decision, but we need to ensure that we don’t overcomplicate matters in our own heads. We need to be able to decipher the complexity, identify matters that we can control and the direction in which we want to steer. We need to be able to articulate ‘complex’ in simple terms.

I like to use a simple framework of focus and simplify.

This short TED video explains some ways in which we can simplify complexity.

My top 5 go to things when dealing with ‘complexity’ are:

  • Am I asking the right question/s?
  • Write down the problem statement/Write down the desired results
  • Draw – It does not have to be pretty but enough so that you can explain it to someone else
  • Involve the right people – be it to get a perspective or in decision making
  • Set a deadline – to save from paralysis analysis

How do you deal with simplifying the complex?

What Won’t Make You More Productive

Working crazy hours and ‘hustling’ does not necessarily make you more productive. It certainly makes you busy (or look busy)but not productive. As a network engineer, I used to spend days on fiddling with the software settings, playing with the firewall software but that was not necessarily productive. I was learning stuff in the process but that was certainly not the best return on the time spent.

Reading tens and hundreds of articles on productivity or entrepreneurship will not produce the results you want. For that, you will actually have to do work that matters and that will make a difference. You will need to produce.

I believe that everyone has their own definition of what they call as ‘being productive’. Whatever your definition – ensure that you are producing things that matter to you and that is taking you towards your goals or objectives in life.

I recently came across Mark Manson’s article on “How to Be More Productive by Working Less“. It is a great short article that I would recommend people to read. It might just add an insight or two about productivity. It might assist you in managing your time better or assist you in managing your team environment better.

Here’s my summary:

  • Productivity is a deeply personal thing
  • Apart from some physical factory work and some office tasks, hardly any work is linear in function. It means that more time spent doing work does not necessarily mean that more is accomplished
  • Overworking can produce diminishing returns or negative returns
  • Identify leverage and deleverage points. What activity from your list can you pursue providing the best value for your time and efforts?
  • Take strategic time-offs. This will help to recharge your brain without loosing focus.

Top Tech Companies I Depend On In 2017 …..

Recently I read Farhad Manjoo’s article on nytimes.com about frightful five tech companies and his thought process on order of elimination . I realised that it has been few years since I have created a list of top 5 companies on whom I rely the most on a day-to-day basis.

So here’s my list of top 5 businesses where I have the most reliance for day-to-day services:

  1. Apple
    – iPhone
    – Macbook
    – iPad
    – Watch
    – iBooks
    – Apple TV
    – iCloud Services/Photos App
  2. Google (Alphabet)
    – Search
    – Youtube
    – Gmail
    – Google Drive
    – Google Photos
  3. Facebook
    – Facebook
    – Whatsapp
  4. Microsoft
    – Office 365
    – LinkedIn
    – Onedrive
  5. Netflix

Next, I wanted to go through the hypothetical scenario where I am being forced to eliminate these services from my life. I wanted to Identify the order in which I will eliminate them.

The first to go for me was Netflix. Not a surprise for me and I did not have to think too hard or wasn’t very emotional about it either. Surprisingly, Netflix is the second company in my list where I spend the most money on a yearly basis after Apple.

The next to go after Netflix was Facebook. I spend substantial time on both Facebook and Whatsapp connecting, socialising and learning. But thinking through it, as much as I will miss not having these services in my life, I can survive. I can go back to emailing and calling people and still being in touch! Also the amount of time I can get back through eliminating them was a no brainer.

Number three on my elimination list was Microsoft. Among productivity tools, my dependency on Office suite of products is very high (interesting that I am typing the draft of this post in OneNote too), followed by LinkedIn for professional networking. But again something I can live without if pushed for it.

The battle for the top spot became difficult. People who know me will know that I love my Apple devices but then without having access to the right services and applications, they will just be pretty awesome devices with little use. My reliance on Apple apps and services is minimal right now. I hardly use iWorks productivity suite. I don’t know what I will do without my iPhone, iPad and my Macbook Pro but hey the hardware itself does not keep me connected and productive.

The last one on my elimination list is Alphabet (Google) products. I have heavy reliance on all major Alphabet services such as mail, videos, storage and importantly search. If I had to give up using all other companies, I can downgrade myself to using Android (;) ;)) and use Google productivity suite, search using Google and entertain myself watching content on Youtube.

This thought experiment also lead me to think about importance of services eco system, but let’s leave that for another post.

What are the top 5 Organisations that you rely on the most and what would your elimination list look like?