Gaurang's Blogs

Must read for every first time flyer -

For a keen traveler, every flight is an adventure. It just lifts you up ( quite literally ) and shows you the bird eye view of the world. To make the travel experience a memorable one, there are some (un)written rules which must be followed.

Some of them are:

1. You cannot carry your power bank in your check-in bags.

Airlines around the globe disallow inclusion of powerbanks in the check-in bags. Airports have the signages with these intructions clearly mentioned.

Possible Reason - God forbid if there happens any internal short-circuit in the power bank, they have got enough charge in them to blast and fire up.

Moreover powerbanks comes in various shapes, sizes and brands. Most of them don't have high pressure tolerance or they have improper circuitary and there can be dozens of various reasons to not consider them as safe.

Watch this:

After 2-3 hammer strikes, the power bank exploded.

Therefore, one must not carry them in their check-in bags. Hand baggages are okay for carrying power banks as although risky there are measures to control the fire in case of any eventuality.

2.

How to engage with influencers who have been vocal about your brand?

Offer your loyal customers something - perhaps a goodie, a surprise.

The more your loyal followers will speak about you, better your word to mouth publicity will get and their followers will become your prospect.

Consider a lifetime value of a customer as well as the size of their network - as the benchmark / critical metric for your marketing / targeting efforts.

A customer ( for e.g.: flyer ) at 27 is definitely going to use more services ( for e.g.: travel ) every year - possibly more than the previous year. Therefore it is prudent to identify personas of your customers and offer different packages / surprises to them so that they just won’t stop speaking about you.

The impressions they will fetch for you in yours / their posts will mostly exceed the amount of impressions the brand gets by itself.

Since social media is all about community, it is the people / followers who makes the brand stronger or weak.

Community Managers - Who are they?

I have been a community manager for about 9 years now and I have led community of few hundreds to few thousands for my projects as well as the organisations I have worked with. Community management being a critical piece for organisations, I wanted to write about what I understand about the role of Community Managers in organisations of different scale.

Professionals who are the voice of your brand, who understands the organisation’s culture well, has empathetic persona and who can communicate the brand of your organisation in more personal way because of (possibly) following simple reasons:

  • Being empathetic towards all the stakeholders whether it is the employees, the customers or any prospective hire in the future - they handle your brand reputation in the best humanly manner through consistent communication.
  • Marketers primarily focuses on establishing organisation as the market leader, market the products and services of the organisation which is massive work in itself.
  • Human Resources are perpetually managing major tasks like requirements, negotiations, onboarding processes and what not.
  • Sales professional focus primarily on building sales pipelines, does the market research, understands the product and market better, does the prospecting, demos and thousand other things.
  • There was a need of someone who has the trait of HR + Marketers or HR + Sales Pros or the trio - HR + Marketer + Sales Pro.

Why every organisation needs a community manager?

While there are departments like Human Resources, Marketing, Sales - the organisations definitely needs someone who can act as a bridge between all these three departments and has the complete understanding of what’s happening in these departments who are like power houses of the organisation.

Furthermore, the community managers interact with the employees, customers, prospective hires in different setups - like during the events in the sponsors booth, while attending conferences, during the town halls / retrospective meetings of the offices.

To build an organisation which lasts for decades and more, a community needs to be built up possibly around organisation’s areas of interest, for example if the business is an Airlines organisation - then community around Flight Attendants, Pilots, Aviation enthusiasts can be built and nurtured which will help in discussing the industry best practices, building sales / hiring pipeline ( which is of significant advantage ).

Moreover, when a community is built up, the pointers discussed are actually the personal experiences of the professionals which can help in improving the processes, the attendees with little or no experience will have great learning experiences and all attendees will enjoy the networking which opens the gate for mentoring and fostering relationships.

Communities are meant to be inclusive and businesses should embrace them. Seeing each and every fellow organisation as the competitor actually limits the ability of organisation in terms of network, getting access to industry wide best practices, pool of prospective hires.
Organisations will stop poaching ( which is the case in most of the industries ) because of one simple reason - respect within the community.

Employee’s loyalty these days is hard to judge/ forecast. While there will be outliers in a positive way ( they will become veteran of the organisation ) or negative (leaving job in months the moment better offer is received), no one leaves a well engaged, highly rewarding ( in terms of learning, roles and responsibilities and monetary way ), employee centric organisation with unbiased leadership.

To retain employees for long term - the organisations must nurture the employees by identifying their personas, understanding their motivations and their career aspirations and then planning the succession of theirs.

Community Manager takes care of the engagement part very well as they tirelessly communicate with the internal community which is the employees and while understanding the concerns of the employees regularly, they actively work towards enriching their experience at the workplace - by encouraging them to volunteer and participate in different organisation’s activities, acknowledging their achievements on organisation level platform ( through emails / social media ), encouraging them to attend events, take up certification courses ( every industry has got internationally renowned specialised certifications available which upskills them ).

Fostering and supporting the Communities is a challenging task which will require dedicated volunteer hours, some capital ( for hosting the events ), lots of passion and grit.

More to come soon.

How to become more productive in life - to be able to do more?

Productivity defines success as it measures your efficiency in doing things.

The more efficient you are, the faster you will get results in lesser time. I have been experimenting with my life for years now, to become more productive, more efficient in my daily life.

I am compiling my tips for becoming productive here, which are as follows:

1. Follow Pomodoro Technique ( 25 hard work -> 5 mins break -> 25 hard work -> 5 mins break -> 25 hard work -> 15 mins Long break -> 25 hard work -> 5 mins break )

It is one of the most famous techniqus for working in short burts. The short breaks reduces the stress you build up while working, it relaxes your muscles and makes you happier and healthwise better. 

Tomighty is a free app for Mac and Windows OS and you can learn how it works by watching this

2) Delete all duplicate documents from your computer - using DupeGuru

I had thousands of PDFs and photographs which took away hundreds of productive hours as I was trying to manage the mess which one cannot complete in one's lifetime. It is always better to start fresh and destroy all duplicated clutter. Once that's done, just slowly steadily categorise the mess.

Stop hoarding the data, it will steal your life away from you. Download from here.

3) Learn to tie Ian Knot ( for Men )

For decades we men were tying shoe laces in a wrong manner ( granny knot ) which opens quickly and it is most common yet most basic type of knot. Ian knot is fastest for tying the knots and it never opens randomly. After trying for 30-40 minutes and watching 5-6 video tutorials I managed to learn it and I am so happy about it. Dr. Shoelaces teaches how to tie an Ian Knot.

4) Get the Premium Account of Evernote right now! ( Free 1 month Premium Subscription here )

Let's accept that Flat files are time consuming and time wasting at the same time. If you have hundreds of documents then it becomes really hard to manage them, search through them and as a result hundreds of productive hours just disappears from the life.

Won't it be just better to have a single app for taking all the notes ( which you can share on social media platforms, export into PDF, check all the revision history, can be tagged, can be clubbed in a notebook ), webpages can be clipped?

Evernote does it - that too across all your mobiles - whether it is windows/ macOS / linux or anything at all, evernote takes care of everything. 

Read more at: http://www.gaurangagrawal.com/blog/why-i-love-evernote-so-much-for-all-m...

QuickLookUIServer process takes huge RAM in High Sierra macOS

So  I upgraded my MacBook Pro's OS from Sierra to High Sierra but it wasn't very nice experience.

The machine was acting sluggish and there were huge memory consumption by different apps. QuickLookUIServer happened to be one of them.

So took 10 GB / 10 GB RAM I had and rest of the processes were running on SWAP space / Cache. 

Moreover the sad thing about the High Sierra is that you cannot skim through the videos while previewing in finder. Being a video editing enthusiast, it is such a loss for me in terms of time and everytime I had to open the videos in VLC player to be able to skim through the videos. 

So my recommendation is against upgrading to High Sierra.

Drupal Error: PDOException: SQLSTATE[22007]: Invalid datetime format: 1366 Incorrect string value:

So I was getting following issue in my Drupal 7 website: 
 
PDOException: SQLSTATE[22007]: Invalid datetime format: 1366 Incorrect string value: '\xF0\x9F\x93\xB1an...' for column 'body_value' at row 1: INSERT INTO {field_data_body} (entity_type, entity_id, revision_id, bundle, delta, language, body_value, body_summary, body_format) VALUES (:db_insert_placeholder_0, :db_insert_placeholder_1, :db_insert_placeholder_2, :db_insert_placeholder_3, :db_insert_placeholder_4, :db_insert_placeholder_5, :db_insert_placeholder_6, :db_insert_placeholder_7, :db_insert_placeholder_8); Array ( [:db_insert_placeholder_0] => node [:db_insert_placeholder_1] => 494 [:db_insert_placeholder_2] => 538 [:db_insert_placeholder_3] => blog [:db_insert_placeholder_4] => 0 [:db_insert_placeholder_5] => und [:db_insert_placeholder_6] => <p>I take notes extensively
 
and it turned out that the reason of that error was the Emoji which I was trying to include with text. UTF-8 supposedly doesn't support emojis so one has to post the content without those emojis. ( SOLUTION ) 

Interesting reads

Often I come across interesting quotes/ phrases and what not. Some of them are worth sharing so here they are:

  • Eat to please thyself but dress to please others. But in my opinion wear dresses to please yourself as well as others.
  • Be a lion and have the strongest army which will be working just for you and to make you more powerful round the clock.
  • Be the protector, rule it. 
  • Prepare for the wars in which you can win. 
  • Prepare yourself for the biggest war perpetually. Fight and prepare yourself for the battles. Be Skilled.

Quotes

Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day. —Jim Rohn

Why I love Evernote so much - for all my notes / journals keeping?

I take notes extensively - round the clock, be it while traveling, watching movies, in middle of lectures, meetings, you name it, I take notes of things everywhere. Recently I touched 10,000 notes and it was becoming increasingly hard to manage those. 

Keeping all those notes in flat files ( Word files ) was making them useless as I couldn't search through them / edit them readily. I edit my notes extensively so it was crazy hard to achieve that in Google Docs as well as then you have unsegregatted notes spread across hundreds of documents. 

I used to use Catch app as well which worked nicely for segregatting the notes and it was easy to use but it shut down its services in ~2011 leaving me with a few options.

That's when I started using Evernote ( started in 2011, turned premium a month back ) which turned out to be blessing. It was such an amazing app to use as it allowed me store thousands of notes including voice recordings, tables, images so that was pretty great and served my notes taking habit well. 

So what are some of the most appealing features of using Evernote?

1. It stores all the versions of your notes - For Premium user 

So let's say if you are writing on a particular topic and you are adding new points everyday and refining the writeup then it becomes important to see different versions of the same note and to see how the note/ your thought evolved over time. 

Evernote lets premium users access different revisions of the notes and you can rollback to any of the other versions of the note. 

Imagine having this feature for thousands of notes, it is truly a blessing. 

Apple notes doesn't have this feature and if by chance you change any text and navigate to the other note, the accidental changes you made can't be rolled back. So beware!

2. Syncs across multiple devices - I use 2 Macs, 2 phones ( Android, iPhone ) 

Since I use multiple devices most of the times, I have to ensure that everything is synced all the time as I keep on taking notes in one of those devices at any given point of time (whenever required). 

Apple's Notes app is awesome but doesn't have a web interface and can't be used on android devices - so a thumbs down.

3. Documents scanner & Business Card Reader 

Evernote can scan documents with ease and saves those documents in PDF Format which you can share using any social media platform / email / any other service.

4. Web Interface is awesome, so are native apps for different platforms 

Since I use multiple devices ( macs, ios, android ), there are native apps for them so everything works out of the box. When I use friend's machines then I login using web interface which is equally powerful.

5. Web Clipper - AWESOME AWESOME!

Suppose you read a lot of blogs and you frequently clip the webpages / copy paste the contents from the webpages then Web clipper tool is awesome for you as it has extensions for Firefox, Chrome, Safari and once you are done with installing them, you can clip entire webpage ( 2 modes - in identical formatting & simplified formatting ), bookmark it within evernote.

You can also tag those clipped webpages and categorise them for faster retrieval of content for notes making, reading. 

To get fully functional one month free premium account, register here. 

After one month if you choose not to renew the premium account ( which is the paid one ) - you will still get the basic evernote account and all your previous notes on evernote will be safe ( I tried that and all my notes are intact ).

Different Evernote's packages are as follows:

BASIC

PLUS

PREMIUM

Capture everything that matters.

Access Evernote wherever you are.

Take ideas into action with the complete Evernote experience.

 
 
 

Basic features:

  • Clip web pages & images
  • Find text in images
  • Share notes with others
  • Add a passcode lock on mobile
  • 60 MB of new uploads per month
  • Sync across up to 2 devices

Plus adds:

  • 1 GB of new uploads per month
  • Sync across unlimited devices
  • Access notebooks offline
  • Forward emails into Evernote
  • Find text in images
  • Customer support via email

Premium adds:

  • 10 GB of new uploads per month.
  • Sync across unlimited devices
  • Find text in images, PDFs, and Office docs
  • Annotate PDFs
  • Enhanced customer support
  • Scan and digitize business cards
  • Present notes in one click
  • Browse the history of your notes
  • Discover related content
  •  
 
 
 

To get fully functional one month free premium account, register here. 

Updates:
1. Apple notes are extremely unreliable. (May 4, 2018 - Lost 1300 notes but recovered from backups)
In a minute I lost all of my notes from my iCloud account ( was using Mac ) - thank god I instantly switched off the Internet of and moved notes from iPhone ( iCloud ) to local storage of the phone.
More bullish on #Evernote than ever.
 

Should you pay for the Premium / Window Seats in Airplanes?

While boarding a plane or a train or even a bus, have you ever thought of getting a Window Seat? 
Just about everyone wants one for sure. While if you have luxury of time which you get when you book travel tickets earlier - you can get window seats pretty easily, it's a bit tricky when you are flying. 
 
Reason being most of the good seats are already gone - thanks to e-check ins and the leftovers are either in middle ones or they face aisle. 
 
Now even if you get the window seat by any chance, chances are there that those seats would be around the wing. Now sad part about having a seat near a wing is that it obstructs the view completely / partially - if you are super lucky. 
 
Now, either you would want the rear seats which gives you ample of view but they are least sought after seats - mostly because you receive refreshments in the last, there is enough noise because of the lavatory. 
 
My personal preference is to get the front seats ( 1,2,3,4 ) as they have zero-wing view which is great as then you can enjoy the view of nature outside, the clouds, the moon and other planes sights too which makes it easier for you to pass out time or go into dreamy land with lots of cotton clouds around. 
 
AirAsia offers you the 1,2,3,4 seats at a premium ( INR 400 - 650 ) which is not the case with other flights like SpiceJet, Vistara as although they are amazing carriers, their business model revolves around selling premium economy and premium seats which is not the case with AirAsia. 
 
So if you are a travel freak and love to admire the nature around, I bet you would like to get a window seat in 1,2,3,4 seats which gives you the best possible view. 
 
I paid recently INR 550 for the 3F seat, although it hurted my pocket a bit, but those 2 1/2 hours of flight time, I enjoyed
pretty much. Also, I got priority check-in and express baggage checkout which was icing on the cake.
 
So if you can afford to spend some extra bucks, absolutely try getting 1A, 1F as they have extra leg space or else target 2A,2F,3A,3F seats in the plane, most likely the AirAsia as you experience the premium without paying any premium amount.

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