From the biggest news stories to the trendiest trends

Inspiring Stories

04 April 2019

From the biggest news stories to the trendiest trends

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Oscar Wild has said that ‘Life imitates art more than art imitates life’. And there is definitely some truth to his observation. It is common knowledge that works of fiction have been known to inspire. But sometimes things are taken a few steps further, and then these imitations turn borderline bizarre.

The year’s barely a quarter down and it has already spawned a series of incredible stories and mindboggling trends, the kind we would have never dreamed would catch on.

Presenting a few of the biggest stories and trendiest trends of 2019 (so far), in no particular order:

Game of Thrones Finale

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlR4PJn8b8I

 For many fans the wait is finally over, almost. The much-awaited grand finale of Game of Thrones is set to premier on HBO on April 14 this year. And social media is abuzz with how the series will end. Keeping in mind the huge build-up and the expectations that the audience have from the series, David Benioff and Dan Weiss chose to direct this themselves. However, they are well aware that even the best-case end will not please everyone and they can only hope to receive minimal fan backlash.

There is much secrecy around the last episodes of the series that GoT the whole world hooked. Not many details are out, and apparently only select crew members wearing a special Episode 6 badge were allowed on set, and some scenes were even shot on a closed set.

If fans are worried about not knowing what to do with their time after watching the finale, a week later a 2-hour documentary on the making of the show’s final season will air on HBO. What they look forward to next is anybody’s guess.

Now that the biggest news is out of the way, let’s look at some of the trends that have swept up the digital world.

The Bird Box Challenge

You might want to take off the blindfold for this one. Netflix’s latest horror flick, Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich and Sarah Paulson, is a movie about an invisible entity that can make people hallucinate if they are exposed to it. As a result of that, people in the movie go about with their eyes covered to avoid any accidental exposure that can cause them to eventually kill themselves.

The thrilling movie had the audience on the edge of their sofas and beanbags, no doubt. What the makers did not expect was that people would recreate the movie in real life and give birth to the Bird Box Challenge, where people go about their daily life with their eyes covered. Naturally, some of the results are hilarious and, in some cases, things did go wrong horribly.

The challenge got so out of hand that Netflix had to issue a warning asking people to stop the challenge and not land up in the hospital.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=361kslpyQMU

Egg Post

What does a humble egg have that Kylie Jenner doesn’t? For starters, more Instagram likes than her birth announcement post. While Jenner once held the world record for the maximum number of likes on a post (18M to be precise), the unassuming egg has poached the title and gone on to amass 24.5M likes since it first made its appearance on social media on January 4th this year. And it is the only post of the account, made explicitly to beat Kylie’s record.

In response, Kylie cracked an egg on the ground and posted it online with the caption ‘take that little egg’. It’s an amazing time to be alive, isn’t it?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-LqnJuamRQ

This isn’t the first time that people have tried to get a lot of Instagram likes, quickly and break existing records. And it won’t be the last. Even now people are scrambling to break the egg’s record with their posts. Let’s see who beats this one.

https://twitter.com/myawfis/status/1085500673263726592

‘Throw cheese at your baby’ challenge

If there’s anything that takes the cheese, we mean cake, it is throwing slices of cheese at babies. All in the name of garnering points or likes or share on social media.

It all started when a father from Michigan tossed a slice of cheese at his toddler. Understandably, the kid was shocked, but the father was amused. He posted the video online and it was reposted on Twitter by another social media addict who goes by the name of @unclehxlmes. The video went viral and soon after twitter was flooded with people throwing cheese slices at their kids or younger siblings.

A few did feel it was disrespectful and tossed them at their cat or dogs instead. We’re sure those guys were pleased as punch. The original Facebook video and the Twitter one have both been taken down since then.

Cleaning!

The last in our series of strange but true tales is the cleaning trend. Instagram influencers like Mrs Hinch (with 1.4M followers) have managed to glamorize mundane, back-breaking tasks like cleaning. People are jumping the bandwagon and hashtags like #cleaningobsessed were trending on Instagram late last year. Cleaning tips and ideas was one of the most common topics on several friends and family groups too.

Interestingly, this trend did benefit some people. Cleaning companies saw a dramatic rise in their numbers since Mrs Hinch started talking about cleaning. One of the brands also noticed a spike after a product was endorsed for free by the influencer.

Not many were pleased though. Some people think that their family members are taking this obsession too far. Being excited to clean the house or wanting to try out a new dish cloth or a cleaning product taking precedence over family time seems like taking things a little too far, according to them. But the cleaners themselves find it therapeutic.

Will the trend last long? No one knows. After all, there are better things to do than watch someone clean a sink or fold and put away washed laundry, right?

Conclusion

Trends come and go, and no one really knows why something sticks and why something doesn’t. In today’s quick-fix age, it is important to understand the ‘Instagrammable’ value of something before speculating on its popularity.

Why do Leaders Swear by Thinking Fast and Slow?

Inspiring Stories

27 April 2020

Why do Leaders Swear by Thinking Fast and Slow?

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

According to Daniel Kahneman, human beings have fractional thinking – System 1 and System 2; where System 1 is the gut, intuitive thinking, and System 2 is analytical, problem-solving and reflective decision making. Overall, both aid our judgement, where for some situations system 1 (fast thinking) provides the foundation for System 2 (slow thinking). But in many conditions, these work independently – for example, first impressions are formed solely by fast thinking. However, best decisions are made when both these methods are running simultaneously.

Hence, leaders swear by thinking fast and slow because it provides multiple business advantages such as:

Error Minimisation: Leaders encourage employees to indulge in fast and slow thinking because it reduces errors. If a person applies any of the two independently, there is a higher chance of tilted decisions. For example, when a person thinks too fast, it leads to cognitive biases, leading to erroneous results. For example, A project demands the regional sales of X product. But an employee registers only ‘sale’, conducts a quick search and quotes global sales while providing no figure for region-wide sales.

Enhanced Productivity: When a person effectively balances both slow and fast thinking, productivity rises sharply. This promotes wise thinkers who analyse situations rather than rely on quick judgments. For example, in a team, two employees do not get along and indulge in ruthless competition. A leader, who applies fast and slow thinking, will adopt a sound strategy to form better relations between the two, such as joint mediations or a combined project. But alternatively, in a quick response, if a leader fires the underperformer, it will be a loss to the team.

Rational Decisions: Decision-making is the basis of management and hence, needs to be made rationally. For example, a team needs to vote for a leader. Some employees, instead of carefully assessing the candidates, might make an unreasonable judgement based on superficial qualities. This will lead to the selection of a wrong candidate, which could be avoided through balanced evaluation based on multiple factors, including appearance, attitude, career trajectory, team spirit, etc.

Quick, Calculated Response: Hasty decision making or slow thinking can both result in a disaster independently. Hence, employees need to be quick but also calculated in their responses. Assume a scenario where a client is angry, and the employee reciprocates with the same emotion or worse. In such situations, the employees should be prompt yet calculated with their replies, calm the client and ensure error rectification.

Better Negotiation: For leaders, negotiation is an everyday task. One of the most important factors that can help a leader win a negotiation is how well he/she understands the opponent. The principles of thinking fast and slow help one to better understand the opponent and ultimately win an argument.

Thinking fast and slow advocates a healthy balance of the gut and factual thinking.

How to Harness the Power of Lateral Thinking to Enhance Creativity?

Inspiring Stories

20 April 2020

How to Harness the Power of Lateral Thinking to Enhance Creativity?

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

As working professionals, productivity and creativity come at the apex of keeping a business going. The world out there is competitive, the industry stops for no one, and innovation becomes the key. Therefore, it becomes vital to continually engage with unique techniques to produce out-of-the-box ideas. Lateral thinking can help you work those grey cells and keep the creativity flowing.

What is lateral thinking?
The term was first coined by the famous psychologist Edward de Bono. He summarized the need for lateral thinking by saying, “You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper.”
Once you are presented with a problem, how do you get to thinking about its solution? Lateral thinking can help you break the barrier of age-old solution-driven techniques that have become redundant in the modern age. While practising lateral thinking, the answer is searched in indirect and creative light. When your perception about the problem is tweaked, the solution-driven mind is forced to think of alternatives and come up with solutions that are unique to one’s experiences.
Steps to harness the power of lateral thinking
A few things that can help you execute lateral thinking perfectly are –
1. Stay curious. The only way one can look at the question/problem from a new perspective is when they are questioning everything enough. Ask yourself questions about the whole concept before working your mind towards solutions.
2. Since lateral thinking has only one rule, i.e. think outside the box, there are no restrictions on the order in which the thought must proceed. You could also ideate solutions first and then think backwards. It will help you garner creativity.
3. Switch personas. Sometimes thinking differently could be difficult. An effective technique would be to think of yourself as a different person and run your thoughts as if you were someone else.

Why should you practice lateral thinking?
There are many pros to this technique. Some of them include-
1. It pushes you towards alternatives. When you look at the problem in an unusual light, it naturally will invoke newer solutions, something that will be more creative and unique.
2. It boosts productivity. Eliminating redundancy and monotony, lateral thinking will drive impressive ideas, keeping you motivated enough to not give up and keep working.
3. It makes your solution/product a potential game-changer. Most start-ups or early-stage companies rely on products and solutions that can help them impress stakeholders, including investors and consumers. A novel and out-of-the-box idea is sure to grab eyeballs and get the ball rolling for you.
4. It can be used during interviews to test the creative potential of the candidates. A talent that can drive your business towards incredible heights must be screened well!

The Rags-to-Riches Story of Jack Ma

Inspiring Stories

24 October 2019

The Rags-to-Riches Story of Jack Ma

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

We’re just two months away from entering a new year. And if you are looking for some inspiration to chart your journey into 2020 as a business leader par excellence, this is the story you want to read. Learn how Jack Ma, co-founder of the Alibaba Group, didn’t just dream big, but made it happen. He has rewritten the rules of the e-commerce game, become ‘China’s richest man’ and has gone on to become ‘the most flamboyant tech founder on the planet’.

Jack Ma – A man with great emphasis on learning

Born Ma Yun on 10th September 1964 in Hangzhou, China, Ma worked as a tourist guide for nine years so that he could practice spoken English. Interestingly, it was an American tourist who nicknamed him Jack when they were pen-pals. Although he was Head of the Student Council in school, college was not easy. He struggled to obtain his degree and then enrolled himself at a teaching institute to become a lecturer in English at Hangzhou Dianzi University.

 In 1994, Ma started his first company, Hangzhou Haibo Translation Agency. The following year, he visited the US with his friends for a better understanding of the World Wide Web. There he realised that China and Chinese products found no mention on the internet. This motivated him to start his second company, chinapages.com, which he registered in the US. In three years, the company earned about USD 800,000!

The birth of Ali Baba – A global inspiration

For the next few years, Ma headed an IT company established by the China International Electronic Commerce Center, a department of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation. He quit in 1999 to return to Hangzhou with his team to found Alibaba, China’s answer to Amazon. Ma firmly believed in an open market economy that caters to customer needs. Soon, his company revealed the mega potential of small and mid-sized (SMEs) businesses across the globe. In 2014, Alibaba raised USD 25 billion, the largest initial public offering in US financial history to become one of the world’s most profitable technology companies.

The rejections en route – A tale of extraordinary perseverance

Ma’s parents worked as musical storytellers and growing up, he had little exposure to the world of business. Life threw him his fair share of rejections and failures, teaching the entrepreneur important lessons in patience and perseverance. His first tryst with failure was during college graduation, when he could not succeed in clearing the Chinese entrance exams until his fifth attempt!

He applied 10 times to Harvard Business School; he was rejected every time. Ma also applied for 30 different jobs, including one at KFC, but failed to hear back from any of them! The failures only strengthened his tenacity and will to succeed. Today, he inspires people with his stories urging them to remain steadfast in the face of obstacles. An entertainer at heart, Ma enjoys singing and dancing. Did you know that he made his acting debut in 2017 with a Kung Fu short film?

 The richest man in China – More than a serial entrepreneur

Four years after Alibaba received the USD 25 billion funding, Ma announced his plans for retirement as Executive Chairman to pursue educational work. He is seen as a global ambassador for Chinese business, and a role model for start-ups.

As of October 2019, Ma is one of China’s richest men, with a net worth of USD 37.9 billion. He also featured in the Forbes’ list of World’s Most Powerful People and World’s Greatest Leaders. However, he remains frugal in his daily life, with humble hobbies like meditation, reading and Tai Chi.

In 2015, he launched Alibaba Hong Kong Young Entrepreneurs Foundation to support entrepreneurs in Hong Kong. The same year, the company funded the rebuilding of 10,000 houses damaged by the earthquake-hit in Nepal. This year, the Foundation launched the Netpreneur initiative that grants a million US dollars each to 10 African entrepreneurs annually, and launched a fund with USD 14.6 million to develop education in Tibet.