Conversational Narcissism / Shift Response vs Support Response

Reading about a very valid conversational tendency we have to make the topic about us. I guess It happens unintentionally but getting better at conversations and listening is a never ending path. Here is a snippet and couple of references:

The shift response

Karen: I need new shoes.

Mark: Me, too. These things are falling apart.

The support response

Karen: I need new shoes.

Mark: Oh yeah? What kind are you thinking about?

Shift responses are a hallmark of conversational narcissism — they help you turn the focus constantly back to yourself. But a support response encourages the other person to continue their story. It lets them know you’re listening and interested in hearing more.

Read: Why we should all stop saying “I know exactly how you feel” Second, the Facebook post which got me thinking about this topic again. Sorta documenting on my blog so that I can come back to this and keep this concept alive. Hat tip: Aarohi

Ps: I wanted to link to the Facebook post. But damn Facebook’s growth hacking. I can’t get the link from their messenger mobile app (I wrote this post on mobile).

Killing The Battery Anxiety

I often joke that there are three levels of Apple Enthusiasts. The top tier is formed by the ones who buy an Apple Watch. The second tier are the ones who buy a Rs 12,000 ($149) earphones, the Airpods. And the third tier are the not so rich but still very much Apple enthusiasts, the ones who buy a Rs 7000 ($100) power bank i.e. Apple’s Battery Case. I am one of the few who invested in an Apple Battery Case.

I have used my iPhone 6s with the Battery Case ever since I first got it in April last year. For me, undoubtedly it has been the most productive mobile accessory every purchased. The case feels good to hold, provides protection to my phone and most importantly close to doubles the battery life on my iPhone. This means, on most days, I am home with anywhere from 40-60% charge still left on my device. Even on days when I am traveling with heavy GPS and LTE usage, I do manage to survive with 10-15% at the end of the day.

This has had an amazing impact on my mobile usage. I am more confident about using Google Maps or stream Neflix / YouTube on mobile. Plus I no longer have to consciously charge my phone in office before I leave for any evening commitments. Else I risk being out of power and scrambling for a lightning charger, which is still very uncommon to find with any restaurant staff in India. (Side note: I would actually switch to Android if I can only trust my data / privacy there). Read More

UX: The Fallacy of Making Things Faster!

I never received formal training in design and as I started to build web products in 2012, it was a learning curve. Certain ideologies on what I like about different products guided me. There is of course a lot of design lingo that I picked up over the years. Yes, the usual suspects like “CTA”, “Above the fold”, “How many clicks does it take…” etc etc.

However, good design isn’t a factor of learning jargons or spending money on expensive consultants. I have seen some hyper funded products with poor experience and some very well executed apps by a single person effort. For this reason, it becomes important for founders to educate themselves a bit about what makes their product more usable. Today, I want to talk about one of the most common fallacies of UX – Trying to make things faster by eliminating steps.

Don’t we hate apps that introduce a LOT of clicks during checkout? It may be for various reasons like confirming order details (qty, price etc), address and payment mode. In some cases there are steps induced for up-selling (Hey Godaddy!). And given that all of us have suffered terrible UX, we strive to make our own apps / products easier to use. Often by reducing steps. Read More

Is Open Office Setup A Fail? My View & Discussions

I recently wrote a Facebook post sharing a sentiment that open office setup / modern work stations is a fail.  At Pricebaba we have always had an open setup and I always considered it to be a good thing in the initial days. However as the team grew we started seeing occasional complaints of ‘too much noise’ but the underlining problem escaped my mind because most of us were on desktops. As we grew and moved to a larger space with most people shifting to laptops overtime, we realised that this setup is a big problem! Many people (including me) started to escape into meeting rooms with their laptops. One of our advisors even commented that finding a closed room / section for developers will up their productivity by 50% or more.

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Here is what my post read:

I am leaning towards agreeing 100% with this.

“The open office plan is a tyrant of interruption, a deep loss of privacy, and the death of productivity.”

The above quote is from a post by Yan on Quartz. He covers the Open Office topic and that sparked my search for more comments from friends about what they feel. Here are a few responses to this. Read More

As I Turn 30. Some Things I (Almost) Didn’t Learn

When I first read this awesome post by Rand Fishkin on his life learnings, I thought I should write one too. My immediate next thought was, may be I don’t need to write about my learnings. I haven’t learnt enough.

I just turned 30. Sometime in the past few months I realised that there are things I have learnt in this life so far and those are the exact things that I strive to live up to each day. Here are some of my learnings that still continue to challenge me … Read More

Empathy – Pricebaba

Pricebaba started with a ambitious online to offline approach, connecting consumers to local retailers. In 2016, we declared this part of our business a failure along with the reasons. However the amount of traction Pricebaba generated (at peak ~INR 60cr worth of leads every month), there were several interactions with end users & retailers that shaped our learnings. Back in 2014, at a time when we were growing very fast, we started encountering a problem that we had long anticipated – customer experience issues at local stores listed on Pricebaba.

We built out enough flags & intelligence in our systems to detect anomalies. A lot of this was smooth because the ops, business & tech teams were one small group working from the same floor (even at peak we were 30 people in the company). I sensed the need to get our teams to understand the gravity of any customer complaint that reached us. Below is an email I wrote to the team (alongside all the other processes & systems that we put). Sharing it just like the previous post on Commitment to Equality. Read More

Magical Mauritius! Here Are Some Things That May Help You Plan Your Trip

Mauritius Roads - Biking Around

An island country that is probably as big as Mumbai + some surrounding areas, Mauritius is THE Honeymoon destination. So much so that every third couple there might be on Honeymoon. So as it happened, I made a ~10 day trip (Yes, Honeymoon) to Mauritius. Here are some notes & postcards from my travel that may help you.

The Curious Case of Many Temples

Mauritius has a ton of folks whose family shifted base there from India many generations back. So Indian tourists are liked & locals will resonate with you. Many folks in Mauritius make an India trip to shop for weddings and carry back a huge list of stuff ordered by their friends! [Yes I Smell Business Opportunity Too]

Hindu Temple In Mauritius

Indian Temple @ Mauritius

The density of Hindus in Mauritius (while people keep mentioning different figures ranging from 50% to 90%) can be gauged from the no. of temples you see across the country. I kid you not, one temple seen every 10 mins when zipping across the country on a bike. Read More

Commitment To Equality – Pricebaba

Following is an email I sent to the entire Pricebaba team last year. Some of my friends have recently pushed me to share more insights from running Pricebaba all these years. So I would be sharing a few notes that I wrote to the Pricebaba team over the years. Please do note that this was written back in time and often impromptu emails sent out without much editing or at times much thought. I am open to feedback and comments on these 🙂

From: Annkur P Agarwal <annkur@pricebaba.com>

Date: Mon, Feb 2, 2015 at 7:17 PM
Subject: Commitment to Equality
To: all <all@pricebaba.com>, “community@pricebaba.com” <community@pricebaba.com>

Dear Friends,

Every since I started working in 2002, I have had invaluable learnings from the people whom I met and transacted with. However my learnings in recent years has been far greater than the entire previous decade of work that I saw. A large part of these learnings are as a result of starting PriceBaba. I have had to break many barriers within myself, learn new skills every day and grow myself as an individual & leader. In our Super Saturday sessions and other leadership meetings, I try and share a lot of these learnings with you.

Today I want to share another commitment that I have towards the PriceBaba team and the society as a whole. This commitment is towards equality. So much so that we are adopting Equality as a company value today. In some forms, it has been around in our values as growing each other, but let’s be more explicit about it.

During my US trip with 500 Startups, Read More

Little Things That Make Me Stick To iOS

iphone 6 annkur

Its been a decade since I got a smartphone for myself. Right from the Treo 600/650, XDAs to the Nokia E series, I happened to use all the pre-iPhone era devices. But for a good part of this last decade, I have stuck to the iPhone. So far I have tried twice to move to Android with a lot of conviction. First with the Galaxy Nexus and second time with the Moto X 1st gen (I moved to a 5s from there as hinted here). One of my complaints from Android phones I owned always has been the poor camera, but that can be excused given that I never bought a top of the line Android phone for myself. May be my experience would have been different had I got something more mainstream like the Galaxy S5 / S6 or the Nexus 5x (priced Rs 26-30k – it fits my budget) today.

But the camera issue aside, I have been trying to figure what habits of using an iPhone has me locked down into this iOS world? There are a few small things, moving away from which would mean a bit of a learning curve on Android. Perhaps that’s what makes me fret every time I think of moving to Android.  Read More

Heavy Computer User? Here’s 7 Ways To Fight Repetitive Strain Injury

Originally written in 2007, this article on RSI / CTS by Ankesh Kothari was first written on the site DumbLittleMan. Since the same is no longer on the web, this is being reproduced by me with permission from Ankesh. Video at the end wasn’t part of the original article. 

I first experienced RSI 3 years ago. Because I make my living online and have to sit at the computer 6 hours everyday, I couldn’t just take a long vacation and wait for my body to heal itself. I researched a lot and asked a lot of questions. With trial and error, I found some simple changes that could help decrease the risk of RSI.

What is RSI?

RSI is the dreaded abbreviation that stands for Repetitive Strain Injury. It occurs because of repeated physical movements and affects the nerves, tendons, muscles and other soft tissues. If you sit on your computer regularly, the repetition of thousands of keystrokes and prolonged use of the mouse can cause RSI to you too.

Symptoms of RSI

Most computer users experience tightness, stiffness or soreness of hands, wrists, fingers, forearms and shoulders. Many also experience burning sensations. It’s not life threatening but it’s very discomforting and painful. It can also prevent you from doing your work and enjoying your life.

Scary Fact: 10% of all computer users will suffer from RSI one time or another.

Scary Fact 2: Doctors can’t cure RSI. There is no magic pill that you can take which will make the RSI go away. RSI can only be cured by stopping the repetitive action that caused it in the first place. And even then, it may take weeks. Read More