Category Archives: Understanding Audience

The Lion King – Same but Different

As a child I fell in Love with this movie, Lion King. I remembered most of the script by heart. Around 15 years later, I watch the same movie with a slightly different script and annimations.

The movie captures so many valuable insights into our own internal mind activity, as well as how those internals play out in a much larger society, lead by inequality and self interest.

Lions and Hyenas, both carnivores, both part of the kingdom, yet driven by the teachings of the past, manifested as rules, to be separated and totally identified by the separation.

Pumbaa and Timon represents great teachers, but too innocent to know that, and display nothing other than their authentic selves.

Simba’s land is no where close to the heaven Pumbaa and Timon comes from, from outward appearance, but the passion of a true leader, true friend, true child, who is called to serve, will always be respected and heard by true friends, and true parents and true partners. Pumbaa and Timon was lead by innocence, and friendship. Simba and Narla, childhood friends, separated by circumstances of, devine timing, although it doesn’t appear to one’s eyes, was also lead by innocence and friendship.

So there they embark on a heavenly, mission!

Inside job always First.

Elders of the past and present, Able to see the elders of the future, in childlike innocence.

Lion can be ego, knowledge, or wisdom.
Hyena can be ego, knowledge, or wisdom.

All depends on the seers, true leaders, and angels in disguise.

If you ask Pumba and Timone, they wouldn’t give a toss, who is who, as long as they can lead a peaceful life, and enjoy the time they have. They bow down to circle of life. They take life as a game they play, just like children.

The important characters, Zazu, Muffassa, Rafiki, Sarabi, Simba, Scar, Narla, Hyenas, Pumbaa-Timon combo, and all characters of nature carefully created to represent external nature, as well as each individual’s internal nature. A beautiful job done.

The story captures death, birth, chaos, suffering, greed, aversion, concepts of heaven and hell, and gives golden insights into the eternal nature of life itself, for the one who seeks wisdom.

Lion King, is everyone’s effort and response to their own inside jobs, to manifest the Kingdom of Nature, Kingdom of God!

Everyone, omitting none, only wants to be happy. But happiness is? The answer is the inside job, then helping others.

– Nim –

P.S: Thank you. I love you! Image is not mine, but I’d like to share.

Uber Driver Software Feedback Submitted on 26th October 2017

Once an IT professional, always an IT professional. During my 3 weeks driving as an Uber driver, I came across a few usability issues, “nice to have” features, and some questions, which I decided to submit as feedback to Uber. Although I haven’t used the most professional tone (was having fun, taking a career break, didn’t feel like being professional), and didn’t really receive any response, I felt quite pleased (and annoyed at the same time), that I was still thinking of user experience, and customer experience as a good IT professional with quality as a state of mind.


Passenger Comfort and Safety:

As much as I like to earn money, and do back to back trips, I hate it that I get bells and whistles alerting me to forget about the customer in hand, and his/her safety, switch apps, click a button, switch apps again to get that back to back trip, to earn that $10/- (or more). I value and respect each customer who pay me. I would prefer if the back to back feature didn’t have to happen while another customer is in the hands of the driver.

Driver Safety + Reinventing the wheel:

Please work with Waze or an already proven maps app by Uber drivers and come up with a final solution that involve less of driver phone interaction. Isn’t it bad to drive and text? So how can it be good to click so many buttons? Please don’t reinvent the wheel, let’s take it to next level. And trust me, voice commands aren’t the next level. I hate it with a passion. If the programmer who gets this ticket can’t understand this bug, get him to drive Uber for a week.

This could be my ignorance:

I would like to have one contact (phone number) dedicated to Uber, to “allow” calls and texts from Uber or passengers, and send all other alerts quiet/voicemail. My phone has a feature to do this, but I need a list of numbers Uber use. Can you please provide this to me?

Feature Request

Take a break while customer is with driver, who ever chose that pays (E. G. I’m on back to back trips, my windscreen gets a bit muddy, I’m an excellent driver, but I don’t want my customer to feel unsafe, so I want to wash my windscreen by getting permission from my customer, and assuring they will not be billed while I “pause” the trip.) For security reasons, we can get both rider and driver to confirm. If one requests, the other authorize. This bug/feature request is pretty clear if your Uber technical Engineer doesn’t understand this, fire him please.

Feature Request

Sometimes I drive quite a bit to pick a passenger up, only to get a small amount. I understand not billing the customer. But if I have a full log book made available that indicates actual kilometers travelled to earn that money rather than only the kilometers where the passenger was in the car, I can claim expenses during tax time. (E. G. The full distance I travelled from the time I accepted a trip, till the time I dropped off the passenger. Currently we have the distance travelled from the time I picked up the passenger, until dropped off. But here I am driving a lot more, while thinking about the passenger comfort and making my way to pick that passenger, no one pays for. At least let me pay less tax.)

Question

Is it legal to accept a cash tip? Can we make a feature in Uber rider app, at the time of giving feedback, to ask a customer if he/she wants to tip the driver and how much, so that it is a possibility? I prefer cash tip due to obvious tax reasons. But most of customers don’t have cash, and no one is sure about tips these days. So if it’s illegal, sorry (but not really), I accepted 2* AUD 5/- cash tips so far. Let the one who wants to give, give to the one who deserve to be given.

I LOVE UBER.


Meanwhile, the compliments I received from passengers:

Has anyone mastered the art of giving feedback?

It’s always easy to misinterpret another’s words or deeds. One will never know the true intentions or collection of emotions behind another’s expression. All we will ever know is the translation done by our own experiences and beliefs.

I am definitely no expert at giving feedback, and have definitely got myself in situations where I have said to myself;

Oh dear! How do I backtrack?

But a simple structure I like to follow is by asking myself some questions. Sometimes, depending on my own emotional state, I may not necessarily follow this, but I would at least like to practice this approach as often as I possibly can.

1. What is my intention?

Depending on the situation, our inner emotional state often drives our intention. I would like to advise not to get into a feedback session, when you are already challenged by your inner emotions. But the reality is, sometimes we find ourselves in the centre of it, not knowing how to back track.

I would suggest that the minute you realise this, to try to centre yourself, and align the intention by choosing to serve the highest:

I choose to serve the highest good for myself

I choose to serve the highest good for the other

I choose to serve the highest good for all that is impacted

Yep. This is easier said than done. But aren’t most things that? So if you have already gone past it, maybe sing a little prayer retrospectively. It is advisable to get to this intention even late, than never.

Our Intention ideally should never be about:

  • Displaying one’s self as better than the other.
  • Proving the other wrong
  • Displaying one’s power that may or may not come with position or knowledge
  • Hurting another
  • Making one’s own self look good in the face of superiors (Managers, etc)
  • Manipulation for personal gain

2. What is the emotional state of the other?

If someone is already showing strong emotions, it probably isn’t the best time to give any feedback about Improvements. Maybe you can choose to use this situation to provide genuine positive feedback. Reminding the person of all the “good things” or “positive contributions”.

If you need to provide feedback about aspects they can improve, it is advisable to wait until they are having a good day.

3. Have I asked to give feedback?

In the online world, this is rather a challenge. It is much easier to write something as a comment. But, I believe, in the online world, people are also used to getting various different comments.

For one-on-one situations, it’s best we seek permission.

4. Have I experienced a similar situation before?

Often in life, we stumble upon similar situations. It always benefits us if we revisit these experiences and seek guidance within ourselves for areas of improvement. If you have noticed that the tone you used, or the words you used, got in the way of delivering the message, it is advisable to change them.

5. What words should I use?

Using words to “give definitive solutions” rather than “recommending options” often will hinder your message delivery. I don’t believe any one of us are experts in another’s life or another’s situation. Even when we have the best intentions, and already aware that we know nothing about their life, our words may indicate otherwise to the other.

It is always best to acknowledge the current reality about the accuracy of your perception out loud, at the beginning of the conversation. This would probably assist all parties to get grounded.

6. Am I genuine in the choice of my words?

It’s not difficult to find “experts” on any given topic these days. These experts may be genuine or not so genuine, and it would be an absolute challenge to know! If there is something to learn, we can safely put aside their genuineness and just learn.

But if we just learn the words, but not the entire lesson behind it, the depth behind words, structures, or frameworks, the emptiness of your words may become quite obvious!

What ever the words we use, they need to be backed by our genuine thoughts an emotions. Using words taught within a framework, even when your internals are screaming the opposite, will only go a limited distance. And if you are aware of this, you are probably not in the best situation to give feedback. Maybe you are ready for a discussion instead.

7. Am I going around in circles?

If you feel at any given point in time that the message isn’t being heard, it is a good indicator to use “silence”. As much as I hate this, especially to be the recipient, it probably is the only remaining option.

Allowing another to speak their heart out, by holding a space, and not saying a word, even when you disagree with what they say, requires a lot of training. At least this is my personal experience. It is less about giving up, but more about giving in, and giving time. Of course, this experience would drain your energy levels, but if your intention is to serve, silently listening is also serving.

8. Do I have a balanced view of both positives and Improvement areas?

It is advisable not to only focus on growth areas. Who doesn’t like to be admired or celebrated. Any feedback session I believe should start with genuine celebration. Should show genuine empathy and care.

Once again, let me remind you, I am no expert. The amount of times I’ve f***ed up is a lot more than a few. But each of those times, I’ve tried to learn. And I’m sure I have a lot more to learn.

All we can ever do is to continuously improve ourselves. So let’s excel at that!

– Nim –

To Be with One Itself

May every thought
May every fear
May every doubt
Become one trust
Become one faith
Become one with the uncomprehendable vastness of the one itself!

May every thing that ever existed
May every thing that never existed
May every thing that ever cease to exist
May every thing that never cease to exist
Become all there was
Become all there is
Become all there can be
Become all there will ever be
Become all with this never ending ever present continuum

To be one with the tiny uncomprehendable particle of that continuum itself!

– Nim –

What about the Werewolves?

Introduction

So there I was sitting among a group of highly talented Developers, playing a game called Werewolves. I didn’t really know what I subscribed to, until I was playing, and being a “Werewolf” in my first game itself.

The game requires convincing the group that you are someone in favour of the “Innocent Villagers”, and definitely not a Werewolf, the “Bad Guys”.

Although I hated being a Werewolf, it was fascinating to observe the players, their strategies. It was scary to observe that this is not just a game, and in “real world”, one has no idea “Who is Who in the Zoo”, especially if someone has mastered the art of “Conning”!

The Most Amazing Lesson: Team Work

After playing three addictive rounds of this game, and being an innocent Villager twice, what did I observe about me?

When a Werewolf, I am an absolute shit team player. I labeled myself the “Baddie”, and didn’t really support my team of “Werewolves”, I was trying to be “Kind” to the “Innocent Villagers” who in turn were trying to “Kill” me and my team. Retrospectively, it doesn’t make sense at all. So yeah, I was a “Shit Werewolf”!!!

Removing myself from the equation, I observed the care and support everyone passionately contributed to their team. Which was awesome to see, it reflects what a lot of us strive to excel at, this thing called “Team Work”.

How do we choose the friend and the foe?

It was mind-blowing to see how a group can assume friendship purely based on each individual perceptions, and with time, group perceptions. Also, it was interesting to see how the group established the “rights” and “wrongs” and then passionately supported those beliefs under the banner of “Loyalty to the team, the group who thinks like me”.

Of course this was a game, and we had to do that.

But, isn’t that “Real Life” as well?.

What about the Werewolves?

Due to the nature of the game, it was absolutely required to think of the Villagers as “Innocent” and Werewolves as the “Bad Guys”

But I have walked enough of a lifetime in this “Human Shell” to know, this is not just a game, and this is “Real Life” as well.

After a while, the labels are so strong, we don’t stop to observe and know the “Werewolf Story”, and the “Why” around their Werewolf-ness, and vice versa.

In my imaginary land of Rainbows and Unicorns, Werewolves and Humans can come to some middle ground.

The End – Looking forward to playing again!

I loved the game! I loved the lessons. I loved the way it immediately made me comfortable and safe around this “Alien Bunch”.

I feel the need to play more of it, observe different strategies, and game plans. I would love to know what I would do next as a “Werewolf”. I am learning so much about “Me”!

I am truly blessed! I haven’t learnt a lot of “Programming” yet, but I am learning a lot more than I imagined.

So can we play again please?

– Nim –

Data Visualisation and the Go-No Go Meeting that went on Repeat

It was year 2010, I was still very new to Australia, and even newer to Telstra as an employee. I was preparing for my first presentation for a firmware release “Go/No Go Meeting”.

It was the first maintenance release of a Media Product that had gone live a couple weeks prior.

I had looked into some of the reports presented in the previous meetings, and took them as templates to fill out the team’s findings.

I was confident that the report was complete. It had been reveiwed, and I had not got any negative feedback. My only fear was my audience, a lot of business stakeholders from various departments, most of whom I didn’t know, and I couldn’t see as it was a teleconference. Apart from the usual “stage fright” that I feel all the way in my tummy, I didn’t expect the presentation to be a failure.

I presented the findings, and the team’s recommendation, but the audience was not “buying” any of it. There were many questions directed at me, which I successfully answered with numbers I had with me. But the audience was still very unhappy. It didn’t take too long for the key business sponsor to tell me something that conveyed the message:

“You are not prepared for this meeting, go back, prepare again and re-call this meeting”

This was the first time in my career, something like this had happened to me. I felt more sick in my tummy. On top of it I was very confused, and kept asking myself:

“What information is lacking? How else am I to prepare myself?”

I consulted my manager(s), and the team, and took their feedback, revised the pack, and re-called the meeting.

Guess What?

It was the Same Story!!!

Believe it or not, this happened about three times!!!

I was ready to quit my job and go back to Sri Lanka.

I couldn’t get my head around what the audience wanted!!!

After the third meeting, the program director, who was also in the conference bridge, came out of his room and walked towards me. I thought:

“That’s it! I better pack my bags!

But he was smiling. I was more confused! I was clearly performing poorly, but his smile didn’t have a hint of that.

Greg pulled up a chair and casualy sat next to me and asked:

“So what can we do?”

almost jokingly!

He confirmed that I had all the right information, but suggested we present it very differently.

He sat with me for about 15 minutes, gave me some tips, and asked me to show what I’ve done once I’ve completed it.

I felt like I was back in University, presenting for an assignment.

The presentation was filled with colour, pictures, highlighted words, graphs, etc, which are things not too unfarmiliar to me, but it felt different doing this at “work”.

When Greg saw the report, he was very happy and asked me to re-organize the meeting.

I was terrified! I really didn’t want to go ahead with it. But, there was no choice.

I couldn’t really run away!!!

But, this time I managed (with Greg’s kind guidance) to turn the ship around!!!

The audience was so happy! In fact, I got a lot of praise as well.

Finally, it was a “Go” decision for both the presentation and the firmware release!

This entire story, I always remember for Greg’s kindness to me. I will never ever forget him for the confidence he gave me that day.

But just the other day, I was at a free event on introduction to Data Analytics which was presented by Anshu Bantra. He spoke about Data Visualisation, and how important it was to understand the audience. He also took different graphs that depicted the same data and showed us how differently they communicated, and the different messages they conveyed.

There it was! I understood why I was unprepared all the way back in 2010.

Although I presented the facts, I didn’t present for the questions and concerns of my audience.

I guess I was too new to the organisation at the time to know the history, audience, or their concerns. But, looking back, revisiting the story, having been blessed with a session from Anshu, I can clearly see what I did wrong.

It is 2019, 9 years later, I whole heartedly thank Greg for his kindness, Julie (business sponsor) for giving me 4 chances to correct myself, and Anshu for giving me some key lessons to bring this story to a lovely closure.

– Nim –