Is playing hard-to-get truly rewarding?

Do men value women who play hard to get more than the ones who don’t? In the realm of attraction, pheromones, love, dating and the eternal banter that surrounds it, perhaps, all the answers emanate from a simple theory. We as humans, seem to have a peculiar appetite for complexity, atleast for things that fascinate us the most. Hence we like complex answers and theories associated with them. We read, discuss, listen, analyze and like me, ponder and theorize! Upon pondering a little about it myself (I continue to do so), I came across an interesting perspective that I felt rather compelled to share. So, here it goes.

A little background first:

Let us, for a brief moment, turn our clocks back at a time when our predecessors were hunting and gathering to survive. The time when we competed with other animal species in order to survive and the forest was our world.

I think, a simple yet powerful and primitive instinct  plays a key role in answering this question – the instinct to acquire the resource that is most valuable to us. This would have had multiple connotations. The correlation of scarcity to value /power (something that is scarce is more valuable than something that is easily available and vice versa) may have determined who lead the groups and which women were considered most valuable. Now,let us look at two important terms – resource and valuable. A resource can be defined as a source of aid or support that can be drawn upon when needed, or an asset or form of wealth that helps us accomplish a goal. Valuable is an adjective to describe something that is extremely useful and important. If neanderthals were to win the race of evolution and come out a winner, then they had an all encompassing, crucial and collective goal to accomplish – to survive and increase in number in order to preserve their species. Let’s call this, the greatest goal.To ensure  reproduction, the golden key was to mate with the healthiest/ most fertile women whose bodies could facilitate and survive child birth. This made those women a truly valuable resource, upon whom, depended the achievement of the greatest goal. Now, if our cave men back then naturally selected the mate who was perceived as the most fertile  (group A), it implies that  the rest of the women (group  B)  may have had more difficulty in finding partners and would have been easily accessible as they, probably, didn’t have many suitors. Let’s assume the most desirable men, from primitive women’s perspective must have been the ones who were more resourceful in comparison to other men-  the leaders / alpha males (Group X) as they exerted the most power and owned more assets than other members (Group Y).

These dynamics may have led to a peculiar behavior profile of Group A,B,X,and Y. Group A, that comprised the most desirable women, may have found it natural to play hard -to- get as they had choices and were in fact scarce, implying that they commanded the highest perceived value and a string of cavemen may have competed to mate with them.

Now, maybe somewhere in the primitive psyche of men, during this time, the memory of the behavior profile of group A somehow became ingrained with the idea of a scarce resource that was worth fighting for in order to  accomplish it for an instinctual goal – the greatest goal. A woman who acts like a scarce resource by way of playing hard-to -get, perhaps then, could trigger the primitive male memory (maybe embedded in the Y chromosome) by doing so and activate the mating instinct. In other words, the more easily available a woman is, the instinct in a man might suggest that she belongs to group B and make her seem less desirable thereby turning him away from a not-so-valuable resource. It would be logical then, that the function of the primitive instinct in each man is to propel them towards helping them fulfill the greatest goal by pulling them away from an unvaluable resource and pushing them towards a valuable resource. So conclusively, women who play hard-to-get, if this theory proves to be valid,would indeed be rewarded. And it may be easier for men to reject a woman who does not let him ‘chase’ her; denying him his instinctual and subconscious need to feel that sense of accomplishment.

This write up raises many more questions relating to women’s roles then and now, whether they share this instinctual tendency to reject men who are easily available; that perhaps this is a human instinct?  I would love have your feedback to further enrich this article. Please feel free to write me.

Disclaimer: This write up is only an expression of my personal views and opinions. It’s objective is to share an interesting perspective that is open to insightful discussion. Please understand that I am not an expert in anthropology, biology,genetics, dating and do not claim to be so anywhere in my blog.

7 Blogging tips for newbies

If you have been contemplating about writing your blog but haven’t published anything yet, stop researching, analyzing and waiting for inspiration to strike. Just start writing! Writing the first blog post is always the hardest. Once you are on it, you’ll gain momentum and writing future posts would be way easier. I am not saying write anything and  publish it right away.  Most popular blogging websites, like wordpress have the option to save it as a draft, so don’t fret. You can always come back to it, edit it and then publish it. The key here is to start.I pushed myself to write my first post and before I knew it, it “evolved” itself.

Here are some tips:

  1. Writing about topics you feel passionate about is easier than writing about what may seem “hot”.
  2. Half-hearted writing is hard to finish and no fun to read – so try and involve all your senses into what you want to say.
  3. Sometimes, the act of writing itself is a creative process, you may end up getting more ideas by a few minutes of free writing than an hour of thinking about what to write.
  4. In my opinion, writing a few great articles is better than writing a hundred mediocre ones. Although I haven’t myself reached any numerical milestones in my writing volume, I am happy with the feedback and results I have received so far.
  5. When asking for feedback, try to resist the temptation of seeking appreciation instead of critique / realistic feedback. More often than not, friends and family may refrain from providing you negative feedback because they do not want to come across as discouraging you. But for you to grow as a writer, you will need to de-sensitize yourself from constructive criticism. So go ahead and share your write ups with fellow writers.
  6. Write about something easy / you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be the next big research paper that will take the world by storm. It could be about an interesting and thought provoking observation that could be related to a philosophy, news article, history, technology, sports – the possibilities are endless.
  7. And finally, reward yourself for writing your first post!

Hope this helped you.  Happy blogging! :-)

Web Trends we may see Post-Recession

I have had some ideas, thoughts and opinions regarding the future trends of social media. Let me share:

1) I think Twitter may lose it’s popularity in the next two years. This “wave” of information explosion is soon going to fade away, giving rise to another wave that will be a reaction to the current one. Users are already becoming conscious about losing productivity by the overwhelming need of sending/ receiving constant updates; it may not be too long when Twitter and perhaps even Facebook may lose their shine altogether.
2) The next wave may involve more customized and intelligent applications meant to optimize the user’s productivity by focusing on “vital few”. More minimalistic designs and lesser text. More options to opt out.
3) 3D cameras may become affordable, which implies Vlogging, video chatting and conferencing will become extremely popular.
4) Graphic/ basic web designing tools and features (in applications or web pages) would be user friendly enough for any non-user to create designs easily and quickly.
5) Travel should be cheaper! After the recession ends, I am hoping in the next one year or so, all those who have been saving their jobs by turning up everyday at work, forgoing vacations, weekly offs, may create a flurry of travel activity as the tensions ease off. I am sure the travel, entertainment industry will have plenty of promotional schemes. This also means more travel blogs. More places to advertise for the industry.
6) Lots of writers. Many will have the inspiration to publish their written stories, and many more maybe inspired to tell their “recession survival” stories.This means popularity of e-books, desktop publishing, maybe even kindle may rise significantly.
7) On a personal level, people going through a rough professional patch now, if they haven’t yet, will realize the value of their friends and family. Adversity has it’s way of revealing true friends and inner enemies. :-)
This was an extension of my post titled “Getting Personal”. There are many more thoughts and ideas, guess I’ll reserve those for the next post! Bye for now.

Recession Survival Tip – Value Chain Barter

With everyone tightening their purse strings to cut costs, exploring barter could be a unique solution that can improve cash flow, utilize excess capacities and dispose off slow moving inventory.

If you dig deeper, assets that are failing optimum utilization can actually be utilized for something that may provide real value to you or your business.

How do you do it?

Return On Exchange (ROE) can be compared with the objective price quotes. Deficits and Surplus credits could be paid in currency terms.

Excess or unused capacities / resources, whether fixed or variable could be bartered across value chains of other companies and verticals. Below are some examples of possible barter exchanges.

C2C Bartering

• Bartering online ads
• Graphic designing services
• Server Space
• Content writing
• Expert Consultation
• Business / Marketing plan
• Programming
• Sketching / Painting
• Golfing / driving/ swimming / Cooking lessons
• Parking
• Discount coupons / Vouchers / Show passes

B2B Bartering

• Distribution channels
• Air time
• Hotels – Food to Not for Profit for Advertising
• Server Space
• Marketing Database / Reports
• Offering testimonials
• Collaborative Advertising

B2C Bartering

• Office Space
• Business ideas
• Leads/ References
• Acknowledgement in book / article
• Experience/ Appreciation Certificate
• Proofreading
• Modeling
• Photography

Paradox of Choice and the ‘Missed Opportunity’ Perception

I happened to read Barry Schwartz’s 2004 book “Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less” last weekend. It’s a good read and I must say he brings out a compelling argument about how there is in fact no freedom that we experience when inundated with choices.

“More is Less” refers to less customer satisfaction against multiple desirable choices. In sum, he finds that when we are in a situation where we are required to make a choice, we will begin to think about all that we have foregone (real or perceived) and the choice/ opportunity would be associated with it’s trade-offs rather than it’s inherent potential. Hence, the “Missed Opportunities” phenomenon.

Eg. I like the new shoes that I bought, they are great but not as classy as the black Chanel pumps that I saw on the 2nd aisle last week, which are out of stock or which I can’t afford! But then I like the design and the leather seems superior quality as well.

My take:

This may not always be true. I am sure many of you are nodding your heads. However, I feel that we may tend to continually look for reinforcing evidence to support the decision once it is already made. We may do so in course of time, if we were not completely satisfied with it while making the decision. So maybe I may realize that the shoes I bought are “lucky” for me or may also find hypothetical advantages (as against the hypothetical trade-offs I perceived during decision making). I’ll try and make good with my decision by psychologically defending it. Or I may just unconsciously throw it somewhere in my closet and ‘forget’ about them. Or if I was compelled to buy something or make a wrong decision, I will find reinforcing evidence supporting my unconscious negative perception about the shoes.

Going by Schwartz’s argument, it could also imply that we will tend to switch brands more swiftly if our decisions were based only on trade offs. But if I am brand loyal to Jimmy Choo shoes, I won’t even consider comparing it to a substitute and in that light, I may never look at my decision to buy a Jimmy Choo as a compromise or a trade off. I will not compare singular aspects of the shoes with other brands. I won’t be thinking “Oh! the shape of the yellow wedges are better than the ones I saw at Nine West”. I am looking at the Jimmy Choo shoes for their “overall personality” and what I believe reflects me or represents something I may aspire for.

Schwartz:

The more negative our emotions are (unhappy and not unhappiness surrounding the particular decision) while deciding, the less likely are we to consider more possibilities and more likely to experience lower levels of satisfaction from our decision. The more we see our choices as trade-offs, the less likely are we going to experience higher levels of satisfaction. Recent studies points that happy people tend to consider more choice possibilities than otherwise.
Schwartz has talked about our decision making process and elaborated on other ways we “suffer” because of being bombarded by choices.

Conclusively:

It has been studied that too much analysis leads to paralysis. Meaning if we spend too much time in the process of consideration/ research / analysis it may lead to inaction. I think choices are essential for us to maximize our benefits. However, I agree with Schwartz that being constantly “inundated” with them will make us no more freer or propel us to make swift decisions and timely action.

Getting Personal

Did you ever have pen friends as a child? I did, and for a long time. I would receive lengthy hand written letters from some of my friends from Poland, Ireland, France, Denmark, Switzerland, Japan, and Uganda….and it was such a joy to open my ‘real’ mailbox and hold the ‘real’ letters. They carried scents from far away lands and seemed painstakingly stamped, sealed and signed off. Sometimes the envelope flaps were caricatured by smileys or something funny. It was personalization at it’s best and I bet it still is. I bought fine stationary and letter pads to exchange our knowledge about our countries, cultures and trivia. We even shared recipes! And I am not ashamed to admit that I still have those letters. They are lovingly preserved, with my childhood knickknacks, pictures, posters and other memorabilia.

But then there is pragmatism. The paperless revolution is pertinent amidst environmental degradation. I didn’t mind switching to the instantaneous communication mode either. The emails were uber cool, and this one key feature knocked off and compensated for all the sensory material it did not carry.

After having read, replied and composed thousands of email messages through years, (a milestone I know I would never have been able to achieve if I were hand writing them!) I am beginning to miss hand written letters again. Maybe once in a while I want a hand written letter. I long for personalized hand written messages as I am saturated with the coldness of short texting, mass emails, forwards and the “send to all” phenomenon.

Let me share an experience. I have a friend – let’s call him Mike – who took the emailing to a whole new level of enthusiasm. Mike got hooked on to sending group emails (to friends) all the time. All his emails to me would start with “Hi folks / Hello people”. Once I replied back and asked him about how he is doing and why the group emails. To which he wrote, that it was “time effective” to do so. It worked for him in the short term but many of his friends, including me felt like we were bundled together in a classroom and the communication seemed impersonal. Why? Here’s what I think: Most positive relationships have a healthy or balanced attention ratio. Attention in general could mean communication or responding to direct or indirect attention requirements. It could be your friend, husband, wife, mother, father, in laws, siblings, team mates, co workers or even your manager.

Let’s assume Attention = number of seconds and 1 second = $ dollar. We strive for reciprocity by balancing this ratio and more often than not when there is an imbalance it would also be marked by some level of resentment or debt perception. We do not explicitly talk about keeping such a score. (I am leaving out the influence of social conditioning, self esteem and cultural implications). I spent about 300 seconds in opening and reading my friend’s email. Although Mike also took approximately 300 seconds to type his email; each of the 20 recipients were receiving only 15 seconds of his total attention span (300 seconds/20 recipients).

Converting the metrics, think about me spending $300 on my friend with a expectation of similar if not exact reciprocity. When I realize I have been mass emailed continuously, I feel cheated. Why? I am getting $15 in return. This is a meager 5% of $300.

Now let’s assume that my friend realizes this, and calls me up. This ratio is now balanced in my eyes until the next transaction. Now let’s assume my friend sends me flowers with an apology. This would probably be an excess of $1000 since he has also spend real money along with attention $ on me. The scales tilt further and I feel credited. Even if in reality he made his secretary do it for him and he had used some free coupons to use at flowers.com.

What does attention got to do with personalization? When you perceive that a significant amount of energy was put into creating something unique for you and that reflects you, that something is personalized. Needless to say, attention to the subject’s behavior, goals, aspirations, habits and personality precedes this.

Personalization and the perception of personalization are extremely powerful in building strong bonds, credibility and value in any relationship. We have understood the importance of personalization but are going crazy faking it in multitudes assuming we will not be found out. In marketing, advertising, customer relationship and even with friends and family. Customers are inundated with it. We are inundated with it. Aren’t we? But we may not be complaining.

To me, true personalization is the act of discreetly extracting and using the subject’s information that is most valued by him/ her emotionally, psychologically / spiritually and aims at gratifying one or more of such needs. I am looking for that unique tool in the Web 2.0 space that allows me do just this. Going beyond quick personal status updates like in Twitter, which a great tool in itself. Or Facebook, which has 80% of its users that login everyday for atleast 20 minutes. There is excessive importance assigned to ‘micro-actions’ and ‘curiosity’ about them. I feel that considering there are millions of users at these websites, I only see these benefiting marketers more than users who are hooked up to attention explosion.

Don’t we all unconsciously look for real world equivalents in the virtual world? In the same light, I am wondering just how satisfying it is to use Social Media tools. Are we awaiting a whole new revolution that will resurrect the traditional and fuse it with the futuristic? Like being able to send sensory information in new age output devices? Or will we gravitate towards traditional channels of communication? Either way, our modes of communication may change but our need to communicate will always persist.

cc -Some rights