Archive for July, 2013

How Not to be Pakistani

It is an inevitable part of the human experience to be emotionally affected by what happens around us. And those emotional responses will trigger thoughts that we’ll then use to try and define our reality.

Which is why it is so important to choose your responses.

Victor Frankl, author of the brilliant book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ and survivor of 4 Holocaust camps, has the following to say:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

If you had suppressed your yeh-to-Yahoodi-hay alarm bells for long enough to understand the message, you have understood the crux of what it means to be human: we are not what happens to us, we are our response to what happens to us.

And our responses vary; man is capable of exhibiting a spectrum of…

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Photo Credit: Omar Gilani (OG)

16 year old Malala faces backlash at home.

Malala is a 16 years old Pakistani girl from Swat. She was shot in the head for going to school by the Taliban. She was taken to the UK for treatment. She got better. She gave a speech to the U.N about the need to universal education. Pakistan’s social media caught fire. She was called many things. Brave and heroic not one of them.

I am not here to repeat the narrative that has been beaten to death by by my personal Facebook/Twitter feeds, mainstream media and a whole lot of tiny blogs in the Interverse. My purpose is simple — to share my opinion -as egotistically wrapped that may sound.

When she was first shot — I was shocked. But not as shocked as I should have been. Living in Pakistan you get used to these sort of things, especially post 9/11 it becomes a fact: People die. Everyday. Out in the streets. But shooting a young girl in a school bus was a horrific and more deliberate then a suicide bomber in a crowded bazaar street seeking maximum collateral damage.

Women are not exactly living in privilege in Pakistan. But before you start thinking oppressed women scenario’s in Pakistan, let me clarify — yes they are oppressed but they don’t need to be liberated by an outside force or invading army. Rather both men and women need to be educated. Your gender does not dictate your place in society. Your gender does not make you weak. You being a woman demand more respect then males do in alot of contexts. Men tend to be very protective of their women (sisters, wives, mothers) and if you can call out to a man’s brotherly instinct, he will go out of his way to make sure you get home okay. Pakistan is a land of dichotomy. We have the liberals and the conservatives. We have the super rich and super poor. We have imported cars and tall buildings and men beating their wives.

Post shooting by Taliban incident, Malala was in a hospital in Pakistan and then flown to the U.K for treatment by the Pakistani government; who ironically have never taken a strong stance against the Taliban in the first place except for turning the other cheek to the Pakistan Army bombing Swat and other areas.

The world turned its attention the brave girl who dared to stand up against the Taliban — even the then Pakistani PM went to visit her. People from all over the world and Pakistan were praying for her to get better. It was truly one of those moments which restores my faith in humanity. Except for cricket, the earthquakes and cursing Asif Ali Zardari (President of Pakistan) I have rarely ever seen the people of Pakistan coming together in love or hate.

But soon after her speech to the UN General Assembly the tides turned. While I watched her speech at work, trying not to cry (because that would be hard to explain) I felt proud. Proud as a Pashtun and a Muslim and Pakistani that this girl stood for something great. Her tragedy had not gone unnoticed as that of many before her. Too many women have suffered for their basic rights like education and independence in a chauvinist society like ours. This girl of 16 had defied the odds, fought in the face of death and stood defiant. Her words were eloquent and her parents proud. I remember a shot of her parents, her mom dressed in a chaddar (thick cloth to cover the head) crying. Reminding me of my own sweet mother, I thought to myself — perhaps her mom doesn’t even speak or understand English but she feels immensely proud. It was surreal.

Overwhelmed and emotional I quickly sent the link to some close friends and family over email. Why email? Because email gets attention and its more personal and private then posting it on Facebook and tagging the living Jesus out of people. I was riding my emotional high untill a close friend who I respect and consider a non-conformist sent this note as a reply:

I saw it. I didn’t like it. She was talking out of her hat most of the time.

I was disappointed. But everyone is entitled to their opinion so I didn’t engage in a torrent of arguments trying to make the case of being proud of what she had achieved.

And then I opened my Facebook and Twitter — all through my news feeds was postings like “Malala is a western agent”, “She was never shot, its a CIA/Mossad/Jewish conspiracy”. Lets not forget the picture of Edhi — a great humanitarian and great man (He would be a saint if he was Christian) and Malala side by side comparing them. The argument being — Edhi has not received the Nobel Peace Prize and Malala is being nominate for it. Thats not fair.


I have read Edhi’s biography and he probably the most selfless man alive. He is great. He is a saint. But comparing him to Malala is apples and oranges. They both stand for completely different ideals. Please don’t insult Edhi or Malala by comparing them to each other. They both have my utmost respect. But I am sorry, your argument is invalid.

Then a couple of weeks ago, a letter by a Taliban commander to Malala made waves on the internet — following that was a whole fury of news and Op-eds talking about the White Man’s Burden, Brown Man’s Burden and all sorts of colored skins burden. Between the mud slinging and politicization of the cause of education for girls was a little sarcastic humor of Muhammad Hanif the acclaimed Pakistani novelist even took a crack at writing an open letter to the Taliban. The sarcasm has some hard nerve hitting points.

The debate will probably never end. A majority of the Pakistani population fear that Malala will become the puppet of the western powers to be to brain wash and justify their actions in the War against Terror. Re enforcing the stereotype of the uncouth and uncultured barbarians in the Middle East and used as justification to bomb the sh*t out of Afghanistan,Northwestern Pakistan and Iraq — with Iran being close to next. Now I am not a political analyst nor a policy expert on America and UK’s foreign policy but these fears are well deserved. The States and U.K does have a bad habit of bombing the sh*t out of my home country and killing innocents in the process. Collateral damage they call it. With Gordon Brown being central in Malala’s speech to the U.N these theories are not completely pulled out of thin air. But the brainwashing propaganda being pushed by our conservative friends and politicians knows no rational bounds.

So what? My point is simple — Don’t make Malala and her bravery and courage about politics. This message goes to both my home country and people there and the western politicians who are just looking for an excuse to bomb the sh*t out of some poor mans home town with cluster bombs while he struggles to feed is growing family. She is a brave girl and she stands for a great cause. We all need to listen to her message about education for girls and not mire or distort her innocence and courage with the lens of our political ideology and ambitions. Malala is a brave girl and she has fought the Taliban, a bullet to the head and the conspiracy theorist to get where she is. Let us show her the respect she deserves. She stands for a cause — educate girls and the culture will change. It starts with books, not bombs. Leave the invading armies at home and let us focus on our problems, own them and then do our little bit to change them. Too often Pakistanis blame everything of western intelligence agencies, their fear or disdain for Islam and just the hunger for more oil to keep their industrial machinery going. Too often the West stereotypes us as barbarians and wife beaters, with no sense of morality or society but alot of oil and open markets.

Change must start from us and Malala and Edhi are great examples to look up-to. Everyone is a critic but no one is a realist. It’s the least we can do.

Note: I learned yesterday there is a home grown animated series set to be aired on local cable TV called ‘Burka Avenger’, a local school teacher dressed in a abaya kicking some serious butts with books. Now that is awesome.

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Photo Credit : Ivan Andrevich| Deviantart

What my card says and What I think I do.

Many of you wont know me unless you signed up for a trial at Organimi. Those who are lucky to know me must have heard from me within a couple of days of signing up and using Organimi. You probably don’t remember me though. In the age with so much digital noise, it’s hard to make an impact. But in case you do — I am the guy who makes sure that everything is going well. As an early stage startup our customers/users mean the world to us. That isn’t everything I do here at Organimi but it’s one of the things I do – I run Customer Success with Brett (Co-Founder/CTO).

Customer Success sounds funny. It does to me too, even though I’ve been with Organimi for a while now, I haven’t really gotten used to my title. We’re not big on titles here (Everyone does everything) but my business card had to say something right?

I’ve been reading up on Customer Success but there’s little out there on it that actually defines it in a succulent way. Since it’s a young field that’s recently risen out of the SaaS industry, every one interprets it in their own way. So allow me the permission to divulge my own thoughts on this post.

The way I look at Customer Success is the intersection or rather combination of user acquisition,user experience, sales/marketing (Frankly I have hard time drawing a line between Sales & Marketing).

Allow me to me explain:

First you have to make sure people find you. So I get involved with alot of the marketing and demand generation campaigns we do. This can range from social media to whitepapers to email campaigns and whatever may strike our fancy. (psst … shameless as it is, this blog post is part of the social media strategy)

Second you have to make sure people have somewhere to go when they click on the ‘Click here’ button – so I get my hands dirty in market automation using Hubspot with Joe, our resident Demand Gen and Market Automation Guru.

Once people sign up and they’re treated properly and get the best possible experience in the product (That’s part of customer success too in my opinion – automating the process to deliver the best possible user experience)

After they sign up I stalk them – Not in a bad way. We are metrics driven like any other start-ups. Our dreams are made and shattered based on numbers. So to make sure everything is the way it is, I monitor closely our metrics in Mixpanel and measure engagement meanwhile daydreaming about magical potions and messages that will drive that user engagement up and up and up… the sky’s the limit.

And of course apart from all the automation, everyone likes a human touch, so I reach out to all you good folks who are using our trial to make sure you’re making the best of our product and how we can help make your life easier.

The sales bit comes in the end formally sometimes. But then again, in a small tech startup like ours, everyone is selling all the time.

So in my opinion, the end goal of this is to turn customers into evangelists. Yes you heard me right, We want to deliver such an exceptional experience to our users that they love us and shout our name from the roof tops. I don’t think We are there yet, but we as a company are just coming to grips with it.

In essence then, Customer Success is a blend of different ‘departments or roles’ and the end goal as with everything else is to provide the best possible user experience. So the next time someone mentions that they’re a customer success manager, just nod and say ‘sounds very cool’ because we’ve moved past the era of job titles and roles. The boundaries are fast becoming fuzzy.

Disclaimer: all of the above is the authors personal opinion and by no means reflects on Customer Success Managers in other organizations or the views of the company on Customer Success Management.

Note: The above post is a very slightly modified version of the original post that I published on http://chaicharsi.com/

Written with the help of R2k on helpmewrite.co

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Cheating Ramadan?

Photo credit – m-aljahwra Deviant Art

Today is the day before fasting season begins.

I woke up today thinking it was Ramadan and mentally prepared to circumvent my morning rituals and day snacks and jump straight into the day. A quick glance at my Facebook news feed and a sigh of relief with a little tinge of guilt – it’s tomorrow.

Since that moment till the now (almost bed time) I have been savoring every morsel of food that goes through my saliva laden mouth. To prepare myself for tomorrow however I had strict rules

  • No gluttony
  • No muffins,chocolates or any of the sweet sent from heaven goodness.

Each time I think to myself how much I am going to miss these little moments of joy. From the morning coffee on my way to work, to the mints I chew after a quick snack. But most of all I’ll miss smoking. Yes – I said smoking. With all the negative taboo associated with smoking (with good reason I must admit, I am a multiple times failed to quit kind of guy) it’s hard to admit, even to myself, that I will miss going out into the sun and enjoying a smoke. It’s one of those honest to myself moments that rarely ever come. To build on my streak of honestly though I feel a huge amount of guilt every time I smoke. I dont enjoy it as much as I feel like I need it, but that’s a post for another time another place.

During the day of observing my day – I had some philosophical musings. I got thinking about how every taste and sensation is so passing. True they say nostalgia can be kicked in by familiar smells but there is no ‘Taste Bank’ like there is no ‘Sleep Bank’ in the brain so that one can draw on tastes and flavors. I can try to imagine what a juicy steak would taste like but until it’s in front of me on a sizzling hot plate & steaming, I can’t seem to ‘replay’ it from my memory palace. God knows I’ve had steak enough times. Coffee! Everyone intuitively knows what coffee tastes like but I can’t seem to recall the exact sensations,flavors even joy when I have my first cup of coffee or tea in the morning. I’d mention cigarettes here but they just taste bad and there is no romanticizing those cancer sticks.

And so as the day draws to a close, I can try and stuff myself but I know that tomorrow is going to be a long day. All I can do is be patient and remember why I am fasting in the first place and sincerely attempt to make the most of this month.

Note: I have been active on Medium for a while but never wrote anything. With all the brilliant posts – it gets a little intimidating.

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