6 Email Mistakes to Avoid

I hesitated about this post because it’s not related to enhancing life. But it will surely enhance your communications over emails. I don’t know about you but I get really peeved about a few things people do when using emails. Here are some established email etiquette to consider:

  1. Subject line. Some people try to convey the entire message in the subject line. And some people never bother to change/update the subject when the topic of the email changes. The subject line should only be used for the subject.
  2. Group emails. If sending an email to a group of people who don’t know each other, put everyone under ‘bcc’ instead of ‘to’ or ‘cc’. Otherwise you expose everyone’s email addresses without their permission.
  3. Reply. Only hit ‘reply all’ if you want all the 100 people on the email to see your reply. Otherwise, hit ‘reply’. This is particularly relevant when sending an acknowledgment to the sender.
  4. Punctuation. have you seen those emails where the writer doesn’t use any punctuation marks those emails are not only difficult to read but also very unprofessional punctuation marks are for a reason and they should be used even in informal emails. SIMILARLY, AN ENTIRE EMAIL IN UPPER CASE IS EQUIVALENT OF YELLING AT SOMEONE. and full emails in lower case are Continue reading

Getting Things Done vs. Making Things Happen

Getting things done is not the same as making things happen.

You can…
…reply to email.
…pay the bills.
…cross off to-do’s.
…fulfill your obligation.
…repeat what you heard.
…go with the flow.
…anticipate roadblocks.
…aim for “good enough.”

Or you can…
…organize a community.
…take a risk.
…set ambitious goals.
…give more than you take.
…change perceptions.
…forge a new path.
…create possibility.
…demand excellence.

Don’t worry too much about getting things done. Make things happen.

By Gina Trapani who blogs about software and productivity at Smarterware. Her new book, The Complete Guide to Google
is available to read online for free.

Do You Trust Strangers?

0911 book coverI just re-read one my favorite books, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. It’s full of his real life stories and experiences that are fun to read and full of wisdom. Here’s one about trusting strangers:

“How about some good news for a change? Something to consider when you are in a people-are-no-damn-good mood? Here’s a phrase we hear a lot: “You can’t trust anybody anymore.” Doctors and politicians and salesmen. They are all out to rip you off, right? It ain’t necessarily so.

Man name Steven Brill test the theory. In New York City, with taxicab drivers. Bill posed as a well-do-do foreigner with little knowledge of English. He got into several dozen taxis around New York City to see how many drivers would cheat him. His friends predicted in advance that most would take advantage of him in some way.

One driver out of thirty-seven cheated him. The rest took him directly to his destination and charged him correctly. Several refused to take him when his destination was only a block or two away, even getting out of their cabs to show him how close he already was. There greatest irony of all was that several drivers warned him that New York City was full of crooks and to be careful. Continue reading

Clutter is Procrastination

0909 declutter

An excellent post by Leo in Mnmlist.com – one of my favorite blogs:

When our houses or offices get piled with clutter, much of the reason is procrastination.

We all procrastinate — let’s just get that out in the open. There’s not a one of us who doesn’t, to some degree. But while our tasks and projects can pile up, giving us some anxiety, the clutter is a visual sign of that procrastination, and carries with it just as much anxiety.

When we put down an object, a piece of paper, an article of clothing, a stack of mail … and we leave it there, undealt with, saying that we’ll put it away or deal with it later … that’s procrastination.

Unfortunately, this piles up, accumulates over time, and then we’re stuck with a mountain of clutter that’s too overwhelming to deal with. You’ll need to deal with that mountain. I’ve shown you some methods. Get it down to minimal, and enjoy that.

But once you’ve dealt with the mountain, you need to stop it from happening again. That’s where beating your procrastination habits becomes so important. When you’re going to put something down, deal with it right now. It only takes a few seconds. Continue reading

Buy.ology by Martin Lindstrom – Why We Buy?

0908 BuyOlogyFind out how everything we believe about why we buy is wrong. A must-read for anyone who buys or sells anything – that’s all of us.

Find out why majority of the anti-smoking campaigns inadvertently encourage people to smoke. Why does the scent of melons help sell electronic products? Why did so many people who took the ‘Pepsi challenge’ say they preferred Pepsi, only to carry on buying Coca-Cola? This books is a fascinating look at how people perceive logos, ads, commercials, brands and products.

Tell us about any great books you have read recently.

Take Time to Read

0908 readingReading a book is one of the best ways of feeding your mind with information, inspiration and ideas. If we can find time to feed our body 3-5 times a day, we can surely find time to feed our mind at least once a day. If you want to keep yourself at maximum creative capacity, you have to make sure you are taking in new ideas and thoughts. If you are a professional, you need to stay up to date with the latest. If you are a parent, you need to set an example for your kids so they also develop a habit of reading and a love of learning. Few tips:

  1. Set aside a time. It doesn’t have to be much but even a 10-minute commitment to yourself can make a difference. For me, it’s the commute, on flights and at night before going to sleep.
  2. Keep a list. I recently read somewhere how keeping a list of what you have read and what you want to read can be so useful, and I have just started doing that. Continue reading

Taj Samudra Hotel, Colombo – plug in!

Most business travelers carry a notebook computer, mobile phone and a digital camera amongst many other things. Then why is it that most hotels, including five stars and top brands, can’t provide 3-4 power outlets near the writing desk. There are usually only two power outlets hidden under the table and one of them is connected to the table lamp. So I often end up charging my phone and camera by unplugging the TV or the fridge or the standing lamp if I am lucky enough to be able to move them and find the hidden power outlets!

Taj Samudra in Colombo is one of the very few hotels that understand their customers’ needs. When I checked in tonight, not only there was a power extension fitted right above the desk with four outlets, it could take different power plugs! WOW!

Pacific Coffee also gets it!

One more company that uses their customers’ date of birth to enhance their service is Pacific Coffee!

When I touched my Pacific Coffee debit card on their scanner to pay for my coffee, the barista immediately said, “Happy Birthday, today we can upgrade your tall coffee to grande.” WOW! I responded by changing my order to short coffee and getting it upgraded to tall. It was just a $5 saving for me, but surely a WOW customer service!

Read my last post about brithdays in case you missed it.

American Express and Mandarin Oriental get it!

mandarin-bdayMost hotels are very particular about getting their guests’ date of birth upon check in. Whenever I am asked to fill in mine, I ask, “Are you planning to send me a birthday card?” I usually get a sheepish smile in response.

Out of the hundreds of hotels that have collected my DOB during the last ten years of my traveling – including some of the biggest chains and brands – only Mandarin Oriental in Macau sends me a birthday card every year. And it comes with a special offer of a deluxe room for two at almost half the price for any two nights during my birthday month! That’s WOW!

amex-bdayThis year, I also got a birthday card from American Express. And this included six discount coupons on meals at some of the best restaurants in Hong Kong! Another WOW!

If you are in any kind of business or sales, remember that one of the easiest ways of enhancing the relationship with your customer, or with anyone in your life for that matter, is remembering their birthday. And then following up with a gift or a personalized card or a phone call or even an SMS – anything but a link to one of those electronic greeting cards!

I know you can’t help thinking what to do on Mush’s birthday 🙂 Forward a link to my blog to somebody who could benefit from the information and inspiration. Also, any feedback, good or bad, on my blog through comments on Why I Write? page would mean a lot to me.

How not to sell?

Someone, we’d call Kevin for now, called me and asked if I remembered meeting him about a year ago at a particular event. I didn’t. He then described me and himself, then asked for an appointment. He wouldn’t tell me anything about the purpose of the meeting except ‘you were an inspiration, and I’d like to see you again’. I proposed the day and time and place; he agreed. I told him I’ll give him 20 minutes. He said ‘too short’ but agreed.

On the day, Kevin was about seven minutes late ‘due to traffic’. After a quick hello, he asked if I’d like to do something to help the environment. I said I’d love to. Kevin then told me I should go with him to the ‘Environmental Shopping Mall’ he works for – about 30 minutes commute from where we were. I asked him if it was some kind of network marketing, to which he said ‘no’. After a few minutes of probing, it turned out Kevin worked for a well-known network marketing company selling skincare, nutrition supplements and household products which were all supposed to be “good for me and the environment”! And his purpose was to recruit me or sell me some products.

I won’t tell you how the meeting with Kevin ended, but it shouldn’t be difficult to see the good, bad and ugly in this sales call.

Pacific Coffee Company gives free coffee!

I’m a starbucks and pacific coffee addict. On one particular day, I was really craving a chilino from pacific and so without further ado I rushed to my nearest branch (where I happened to be a regular customer). I could already taste that coffee in my mouth before I stepped in. I went to the counter, placed the order, took out my wallet…only to realize that I was low on cash…and by low on cash I mean my wallet was empty. First thing that comes out of my mouth is ’shit!’ as you can imagine my extreme frustration at this point. The guy at the counter, who knows I’m a regular customer, smiles and asks me what’s wrong (he already knows). I show him my empty wallet, he tells me it’s not a problem and gives me a free grande chilino of my choosing on the house! Definitely WOW!

[Contributed by Hamza, Hong Kong]

Pacific Coffee

Fernando’s in Macau

It was the last day of our fantastic family vacation in Macau. We checked out and headed to the highly recommended Fernando’s on Hac Sa Beach on the Coloane side. The restaurant had very homely atmosphere, breezy backyard and friendly waiters. We had delicious finger-licking curry and fried king prawns. When we produced our credit card to pay for the meal, we were told, “Cash only”. Oops, we didn’t have enough. The manager said, “no problem, take the bill, mail us a check.” We couldn’t believe what we were hearing! There are actually people and places like that today? WOW!

[Contributed by Altaf, Hong Kong. Oct. 2007]

Pizza Hut in Jakarta offers WOW customer service!

pizzahutThis is the Pizza Hut right after the tollgate on the highway to Bandung. And there’s something different about this one. Besides the fact that the staff is very happy and enthusiastic, they love to entertain kids by making balloon animals for them. There’s a huge basket in a corner which is filled with long balloon tubes. Kids come and select a color and one of the staff would make an animal or something for the kid. Kids love watching the transformation of balloon tubes into different shapes. And these balloons are easier to keep. It also makes their parents happy because the whole process keeps their kids away for a while. It seems to make the staff happy because they get to interact with different kids and spread some cheer in between taking orders and serving pizzas! The balloon hat in the picture is my contribution to the shapes now available ☺ What a simple idea! And so much WOW!

Cathay Pacific goes from Wow to Shit!

Cathay has been my favorite airline since 1997 when I first started traveling on it, up until recently when I finally made up my mind that I don’t like it any more. And it’s the little things that seem to be slowly disappearing – like the genuine smile at the check-in desk, the passion and enthusiasm of the cabin crew and the real care for the passenger.

I have had faulty AV systems on my seat twice in the last six months – they say, “Sorry sir, would you like to change your seat.” I don’t, because I am sitting on a first-row aisle seat – the only comfortable seat in the plane for someone who is tall and suffers from back pain.

Most cabin crew don’t hear English very well, so you almost always have to repeat yourself if you ask for anything other than water. People making cabin announcements often sound like kids who have just learnt how to read.

What peeves me the most is when you press the call button and nobody bothers. I have often had cabin crew pass by without stopping, even when they see the call light turned on above my seat. One of my colleagues often tells the attendants who show up after a long time, “If I had a heart attack, I’d be dead by now”. Most of them don’t seem to understand what he means by that.

So yeah, Cathay is consistently moving from WOW to SHIT on my scale. So why do I still travel Cathay? For it’s convenient connections from Hong Kong, where I (mostly) live. And for crew like Athens, who still care and love what they do. Today he recognized me and remembered that few months ago, I had given away my favorite seat so a mom and child could sit together. He treated me really well today.
[Written during a Cathay flight from Hong Kong to Karachi on Oct 19, 2007]

Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport is WOW!

What comes to mind when you think Indian airports? Old, dirty, busy, crowded and dimly lit; rusted baggage trolleys with slow noisy luggage belts. But the new airport in Mumbai will change that image forever. It’s big, beautiful and very functional. With its white marble floors, modern look, currency exchange and rent-a-car counters, uniformed staff, clean toilets and shopping areas, it compares well with some of the best airports in Asia. When you come outside, the organized lanes for cars, auto rickshaws and taxis further surprise you.

The entire departure area has free wifi internet access for Airtel (India’s leading mobile network) subscribers. And there are cyber cafes, bookshops, coffee shops, restaurants and a few branded goods shops. The air-conditioning actually works unlike the old airport. This revamp is part of a mega project to be completed in 2010 when international and domestic terminals will be combined into one, current domestic terminal will become a dedicated cargo terminal, and the airport will cater to 40 million passengers and one million metric tons of cargo per year!

A big sign at the entrance to arrival halls reads: “Be the change you want to see” (Mahatma Gandhi).

Al Jawal Network in Saudi Arab is WOW!

I have started keeping local SIM cards for all the places where I frequently travel to, in order to save on the roaming charges. When I went to Riyadh on my first business trip, the first thing I wanted to do was buy a local SIM card. But soon after landing, I got a text message from Al Jawal, the local network: Get a local number without changing your sim, call … WOW! I immediately called the number and followed the recorded instructions; soon I heard, ‘your local number has been activated’, and the line went dead. I said, ‘wait a minute, what’s my local number, what do i do next???’ At that moment another text message came with my local number and instructions on calling and recharging. WOW!

For the next four days, I was able to use both my HK number and the local number at the same time. What’s more, after every call Al Jawal would send a message about the balance amount. Surely a WOW network!