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A Lion Needs No Toothbrush

The Hilarious Field Guide to the Wild

World of Self-Help Books

Shripad Dharmadhikary
A Lion Needs No Toothbrush
The Hilarious Field Guide to the Wild World of Self-
Help Books

Author: Shripad Dharmadhikary

Published: August 2017

Shripad Dharmadhikary 2017

A Lion Needs No Toothbrush by Shripad

Dharmadhikary is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-
NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Exception to the Above CC Licence: Photographs used
on the Cover. These are licenced under
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0
International License.
as the original photographs have been made available
under this or more liberal licences.

God Help! Those Who Help Themselves, or,

Why I Wrote This Book .................................................. 5

Fish, Ferraris and Cheese

Navigating the Confounding World of Self-Help
Books ............................................................................... 19
Excerpt 1.1: Fair Sale ................................................ 35
Excerpt 1.2: George Washington and the Cherry
Tree ............................................................................ 36

A Book a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Self-Help for Health and Healing .............................. 40

Turn Pages, Gain Riches

Self Help to Unlimited Wealth ................................... 65
Excerpt 3.1 Is Your House an Asset or a Liability
The Indian Story....................................................... 98

Have Your Time and Save it Too

Self Help for Time Management .............................. 100
Excerpt 4.1: Save Time by Multi-Tasking ............ 135

Refrigerators for Inuit, Heaters for Bedouins

Sales Wisdom from Self-Help Books ....................... 138

Chill Pill
Self Help Lessons in Stress Busting ......................... 164

Success at the Workplace

Self Help Guidance for Managing the
Unmanagables People ............................................. 199

How I Lost It
Self Help Advice for Diet and Weight Control ...... 230

The Six Secrets of Super Satisfaction ................... 275

Acknowledgements .................................................... 309

God Help! Those Who Help Themselves,
Why I Wrote This Book

I always wanted to be rich. Only, when I was young,

we could not say it like that, because those were times
of traditional values and high moral thinking. In films,
the hero was always poor, and the villain rich. So I
had to say that I wanted to be healthy, wealthy and
wise (HWW, for short, and to make it more
acceptable). Still, whats so difficult about it, you may
think. All I needed to do was to go to a bookshop, buy
a few great self-help books, and I was on my way to
health and riches and what not.

Unfortunately, it was not so easy because I had a very

underprivileged youth. The problem was that in those
days, there were hardly any self-help books available
for someone who wanted to be HWW - healthy,
wealthy and wise, remember? I am talking about days
long past when I was young. There was no internet or
email then, let alone Whats App. I mean it, yes, really.
What did we do to communicate with each other?
Write letters, of course. And how did we send them if
there was no email? By ordinary. Oh ! Let us just
leave this discussion, and please take my word for it.
There were no computers, there was no email, no
internet. But ah! We had STD. Just a few years it had
been around, but what a wonder. Do you know that
the STD is faster than a lightning call?

But I am digressing, so let me get back to the point. As

I said, there were simply no self-help books worthy of
the name available at that time. The only two that
came close were the hugely popular How to Win
Buddies and Influence Persons and The Power of
Optimistic Thinking. (It is so many years now that I
may not have got the titles exactly right. The authors
were Daley Somebody and Somebody Pearl.) Like all
aspiring HWW persons, I took up the perusal of these
two with great expectations.

I first started with The Power of Optimistic Thinking. I

must admit that I was pretty negative about it, but still
thought Id give it a try. It was full of some very
powerful and spiritually uplifting advice. It suggested
such means like honesty, perseverance, hard work and
other equally difficult things. I mean, if one had to
follow all of these, then why read a book for it? But it
did give you various checklists of the things you
needed to have. I remember there was a section about
how to be successful in life. It listed the seven
Common Characteristics of successful persons. These
included Confidence, Conviction, Commitment,
Compassion, Common Sense, Control and Courtesy. I
found it interesting, though somewhat incredible, that
all successful people had Common Characteristics
starting with C. Was the Constant Clamour of the
Consonant C merely a Convenience, or was it a
Condition? I was left wondering whether it was okay
to have self-assurance, sincerity, passion, dedication,
empathy and so on, or whether it had to be
confidence, conviction etc. As the book presented such
Difficult Dilemmas and Demanded Doses of
Disgusting Drudgery (like hard work, spiritually and
morally uplifting behaviour and so on), I finally came
to the conclusion that this book was not for me.
So I turned to the other great bestseller, How to Win
Buddies and Influence Persons. It was very simple and
powerful (quoted from the blurb). The problem was
that it being the only such book in the market,
everyone had read it. And this created many an
embarrassing situation. I remember the day I tried the
trick (no, Daley doesnt call them tricks, but I guess
between friends we can dispense with such niceties
and tell the truth) the trick used by the young
salesman Smith from Nubridge in Vermont (name
changed to protect identity). I tried to influence my
school principal so that he would allow me to miss my
maths exam without failing me, but the moment I
tried it, he said, Hmm. This is what the salesman
Smith from Nubridge does in Daleys book, right?
That was the end of such hot tips that I had picked up
from this book, including some sure-fire ones like
what the young uneducated mother of three from
Alabama who had lost her husband did, or the
fantastic technique of the businessman in New York
who had become bankrupt due to the lifting of
prohibition. Such glittering gems from How to Win
Buddies and Influence Persons soon lost their shine. But
there was one trick in the book that did work. This
was the section on winning friends. To make a long
story short, the friends one made were fellow readers
who became buddies while commiserating about the
uselessness of the book.

Having exhausted the only two sources of advice on

how to become HWW, I was left pondering over this
somewhat cruel turn of fate. As you can see, I had
pretty much a disadvantaged childhood.

But I did not lose hope. Hope is the key to Happiness

(Pearls book says it, so it must be so). In fact, I set my
targets even higher. Apart from just healthy, wealthy
and wise, I added several other things that I wanted to
be. Successful, superrich, young, famous were a few of
these. And then I waited. Patience is another
important necessity for success, Pearl has said.

Finally, it seemed that the time had arrived. No, I had

not yet become HWW, but I did notice that over the
last few years, bookshops had become flooded with
self-help books. There were literally hundreds of them,
I discovered. And so I went on a buying spree. At
every railway station I bought one, or more if the
journey was longer. I went to book exhibitions and
hunted for self-help tomes. My favourite haunts were
of course small booksellers on footpaths selling
pirated books, where self-help began as soon as one
purchased the book, with the savings on the exorbitant
bookstore prices.

For several years I spent all my free time reading these

books. (The rest of my time was spent trying to earn to
be able to purchase the books!) I read like mad, like
someone possessed. I read some books twice, some
three times. I read You Can be Victorious in English and
Hindi. I also read Navneets Guide to some of these
books, as well as their original 21 Expected Questions on
How to Become Successful and Rich. There were some
books I could not read. One, recommended to me as a
sure-fire remedy for poverty, I could unfortunately
read only half of. This was because my dog chewed off
the other half. So I read only half of every sentence.
Ten Easy Ways to Eternal Health was lost in the hospital
where I was admitted for malaria. Four books were
borrowed by friends who promised to return them in
week. So I could never manage to read these. Some
seemed so much like others I had read that I left them
half-way. But for these few exceptions, I read every
book that I bought, begged, borrowed or, well
borrowed. These must have run into a couple of
hundred at least.

Now I had the collective wisdom of these volumes, a

significantly depleted bank balance, spectacles and

Having assembled the necessary knowledge, I was

now ready for the great leap forward to become
HWW. I gave it a lot of thought. I looked at the
problem from every angle. And then it struck me like
a bolt from the blue. It was so profound, and yet so
simple, so obvious, that I wondered how I could not
have realised it earlier.

In a flash of inspiration, I saw that the people getting

wealthier from these books were not readers, but the
writers themselves. Health and wisdom would surely
follow for them. And there, I had my solution. I
decided to write a self-help book.

Now, you may surely ask, what good is another self-

help book when there are already hundreds in the
market? Who would buy my book, you may well
wonder. Naturally, that is the first question I asked
myself too, after the initial exhilaration had ebbed and
my feet were closer to the ground.

I decided to do this systematically. At first, I

performed a market assessment. I concluded that there
are about 600 million people out there who havent yet
read a single self-help book and are just dying to get
one. Are you surprised? Well, let me just explain my
method. I urge you not to skip the following
paragraphs even if you feel you are mathematically
challenged. In fact, in case you are somewhat
intimidated by all the mathematics, I also advise you
to read Eleven Easy Steps to Mastery in Mathematics.
And if that doesnt help, Life is Greater than the Sum of
its Numbers A Guide to the Good Life Without the Maths
is sure to soothe you. But back to my market

Now, with hundreds of self-help books with me, I

found that I had a statistically adequate representative
sample. I totalled up the claimed sales of these books.
Some claimed that they had sold a million copies,
while others gave true figures. Estimating that the 200
or so books I had represented 3% of the total self-help
books in the world in English (the 3% is arrived at
after scanning catalogues of 27 leading publishers in
the world, again a statistically adequate sample), all I
did was to scale up the total sales of the 200 books
proportionately. This figure was much, much higher
than the total number of healthy, wealthy and wise
people in the world, so one needs to question either
these figures, or at least conclude that some of these
books dont work. But let us leave that for the time

One then has to adjust for the fact that some readers
may have read more than one self-help book. This
required some skilful estimation. I put together, from
a survey of my friends, of people I encountered in
trains, of Amazons Those who bought this also
bought etc. some very useful co-relations. For
example, that 50% of those who read a self-help book
on management are likely to read a self-help book on
health. That those who read books based on oriental
mysticism were only 30% likely to read a book based
on good Christian values. I found that on an average,
20% of the books were sold to libraries, so that these
books were read by more people. Using these and
other complex mathematical equations, I found that
300 million people in the world had read one or more
self-help books.

Looking at this now from the other side, consider that

there are about 7 billion people in the world. About 1.8
billion of these are below 15 years old. So that leaves
5.2 billion people. Since about 3.7 billion do not know
English or Hindi (the only languages I was
considering), that leaves about 1.5 billion. Then there
are about 300 million people who think they are the
greatest, best, biggest, richest and so clearly may not
want self-help books. (Hint: These are people living in
a country with 50 states. However, I must add that I
know 78 of them personally and none of them is like
that, so actually we should count them as 300 million
minus 78). That leaves 1.2 billion. About 300 million of
these are illiterate or can barely read or write their
names. So 900 million are left. Of these, 300 million
have read at least one self-help book, so that leaves 600
million people who can read and write English or
Hindi, who do not think they are the world, and who
have not read a single selfhelp book. What a market!
And many from the three hundred million may also
buy more self-help books. So you can see why I am
sure that there is plenty of room out there.

Now of course, you may legitimately ask another

question what gives me the authority to write a self-
help book? There, the answer is simple remember
those 200 or so books that I already have?

One of the things I realised is that there are self-help

books on many, many subjects. On making money of
course, but also on health, dieting, weight reduction,
making pals, persuading people, time management,
salesmanship, stress reduction, corporate success
you name it. (Not to mention the numerous self-help
websites, CDs, DVD, self-help gurus, newspaper
columns, etc.) But this is an undue burden on us
readers. People who want to be healthy also want to
make money, and also want success at work. Why
should they be forced to buy so many books? So I hit
upon this brilliant idea why not put together a book
that helps one with reducing weight, gaining health,
making money, managing a firm, making
relationships work the all in one omnibus? The book
that will make all other books redundant. The one book
tells you all book. Brilliant, am I not? And all I needed
to do was to take parts from these 200 books, and put
them together.

Did I hear you say plagiarism? Well, let me tell you

that if I take a part from each book and put it all
together to form a separate book, then it is a
completely different, new book that is uniquely
distinguished from all the other books. It is
mathematically proved, yes. Let me just give the proof
so as to settle the matter once and for all.
Now this may be a bit difficult for non-
mathematicians to follow, but I am making it real
simple. (So it may be a bit difficult for mathematicians
as well.)

There was this mathematician who lived quite some

time back called Cantor. His field of specialisation was
the study of infinities. Now you know infinity, right?
When there is so much of something that it is never
ending, then it is infinite. Well, our friend Cantor was
engaged in proving that some infinities are greater,
that is, have more things, than some other infinities. (I
know, I know, but we have to humour these people.)
So he listed all the numbers on one side, and there is
infinity of them, you know that. Then he took one part
from every number, and put these parts to make
another number, and he mathematically proved that
this new number was a brand new number,
completely different from any of the earlier numbers
he had listed. Now, this is exactly what I have done
with the books taken parts of each and put them
together. And Cantor has already proved,
mathematically, mind you, that this is an entirely new
work. It is this book that I have brought to you and I
hope you will like it and find it useful, the one book
for all your needs. So read on, get the tools to
completely transform your life. Remember, God Help!
Those Who Help Themselves.
Fish, Ferraris and Cheese
Navigating the Confounding World of
Self-Help Books

Ah! The wonderful world of self-help books! So many

of them, such colourful covers, even more colourful
titles. Alluring blurbs, catchy promises. The sweet but
real dilemmas of which one is right for you. How to
choose from the hundreds, with each one of them ever
so enticing, and the choice so utterly confusing? Well,
its precisely to address this predicament that I bring
you this chapter.

Hold tight as I take you on a birds eye view of self-

help books, as I provide an overview of their great
variety, the diversity of techniques and ideas they put
at your disposal, and some great tips for choosing the
right books. Of course, since my book itself is a concise
digest of the knowledge contained in all self-help
books, you wont ever really need to refer to any other
one. But if you are like most people, you will not heed
these words of wisdom. You will want to read them
all. You will always wonder if that other book which
you have not read has a valuable tip that is helping
your rivals at the office get ahead while you languish
simply because you felt you knew it all. Well, well,
this is human nature. However, since you have
already bought my book, other self-help books are no
longer in competition with mine. The least I can do,
therefore, is to put before you some words of advice to
guide you through the wild, disorderly and slippery
world of self-help books.

First off, you must pay attention to the name of the

book. In the past, names were fairly straightforward,
allowing you to choose precisely what you wanted. If
you wanted to win friends and influence people, you
chose a book whose title said just that. If you were
interested in using the power of positive thinking, the
books title would tell you if it dealt with this aspect.
Of course, this did not mean that you could blindly
buy these books. There were crafty and shrewd
authors who tried to name their books in the same
fashion to cash in on the popularity of self-help books.
For example, I got neatly taken in by a book by one
Bertrand Somebody Russell I think who cleverly
titled his book The Conquest of Happiness. It was
only after I paid valuable money, took the book home
and started reading it that I discovered that it was
hardly about self-help! It was all about philosophy,
with big, difficult words and complicated sentences!

Anyhow, times have now changed. The ordinary is

out! Books with commonplace titles no longer sell.
You need a catchy name, or at the least photos of
bikini clad nubile women on the cover. I guess even
most money-grubbing publishers baulk at the idea of
swimsuit clad busty women on books with titles like
Secrets of Happiness or Think Big. The only choice left to
them is to have attractive titles that would intrigue
and invite. So you have titles referring to holy men
who sell their expensive cars (how the said holy man,
who by definition has renounced worldly material
possessions came to own a high-priced car in the first
place is a question, though Indians are familiar with
several such renouncers who drive around in posh
cars). There are management books that call
themselves after aquatic scaly creatures. (It is
rumoured that the Indian edition of one such book is
being named Spinach in deference to the vegetarian
sentiments prevailing in the country). Well, all this has
made it difficult to choose self-help books. This is a
really terrible state-of-affairs, and such misleading
titles should be banned. Can you imagine if real books,
say textbooks, were similarly titled? Picture your
disappointment when you pick up the Hot and Wet
Catalogue to find that it is a dressed up copy of steam
tables, used by engineers to determine the water
content in steam at various pressures and
temperatures! Or think of your feelings when you find
that the Seven Simple Steps to a Stunning Makeover is
actually a Photoshop user guide.

So what do you do in a world of self-help books with

titles that are grossly misleading at worst and simply
perplexing at best? My advice - dont get taken in by
catchy or weird titles, but look for other criteria which
are described below. First tip. Turn to the back cover
and you will see that most publishers include,
somewhere near the bottom, in tiny print, the category
to which the book belongs. If you see Self-Help or
Self-Improvement or something similar, you are on
safe ground.

The next thing you need to watch out for is sequels.

No self-help book is worth its name if it does not have
a sequel, in fact, if it doesnt have a number of sequels
or follow up books. So the Poultry Soup for the Spirit
is quickly followed by the Poultry Soup for the
Teenage Spirit, for the Mothers Spirit, for the Sisters
Spirit, Brothers Spirit and so on. Sequels are one of
the most important indicators of a books success.
(Getting pirated is another). So never buy a book that
does not have at least three follow-up books.
However, remember the golden rule: Always buy only
the first book never buy the sequels! Why should this be
so? Just ask yourself if a book promises to transform
your life, turn defeat into victory, show you the secret
of everlasting success, fulfil your dreams, develop rich
and satisfying relationships, make you confident and
build leadership things that any self-help book
worth its salt has to promise, then what is left for its
sequel to do? You dont need the sequels if the original
book has delivered what it promised. So, buy only that
book which has sequels, but never ever touch the
sequels themselves!

The third important parameter to keep in mind is the

number of copies of the book that have been sold.
Most books will list this figure prominently on their
cover, for example, Three Million Copies Sold, or
something similar. However, dont just go for the book
with the highest figure on the cover. This too is tricky
ground, and you will need (my) expert advice. First of
all, read carefully what is claimed. Is it Over Three
Million Copies Sold or Over Three Million Copies in
Print? If it is the latter, it could just be an over-
enthusiastic and somewhat foolish publisher, now
hunting for cheap warehousing space!

Make sure to distinguish between unequivocal claims

of X Million Copies Sold and more ambiguous,
misleading statements like No. 1 on Biswanian
Bestseller List or By the Best Selling Author of
EarlierBookName. For all you know, Biswania could be
a tiny island in the middle of one of the oceans with a
total population of 58, or a village in Bihar with a
population of 3960. The second type of claim only tells
you that the author had published a book that became
a bestseller (hopefully not only in Biswania) before
this book.

What about the veracity of the claims? After all, isnt it

easy for a publisher to put some arbitrary figure in the
range of 1 to 10 million to push his book in the
market? Who can verify it? Who can go around all
over the world trying to count the actual number of
books sold? Luckily, this is the one thing that you
dont have to worry about. No, this is not an
affirmation of the honesty of publishers as a class,
though I am not in doubt of it. You only need to
remember that most publishers have an agreement
with the author that requires them to pay him or her
royalty for every copy of the book sold. So if the
publisher writes Three Million Copies Sold, you can
bet the author is going to run up to him and say, Hey,
what about my royalties for the remaining two
million, nine hundred and ninety nine thousand

But you are still suspicious. After all, in the big bad
world of publishing, what is to stop the publisher and
author from reaching an agreement whereby the
publisher is allowed to print One Million Sold on
the book, while paying royalty only for the 857 copies
actually sold, in the hope of doubling that number?
The author too has an interest in the book being
pushed. Here you have a sure shot confirmatory test.
If the book is a bestseller, it is definitely going to be
pirated. Conversely, if it is not being pirated, it is
nowhere near a blockbuster. Just go out on the
pavements and see if the particular title is available
with the roadside booksellers selling cheap editions
of popular books. If you see the book there, you can be
sure that the claims of the publisher are correct, give
or take a few hundred thousand copies. In the
publishing world, it is an honour to be pirated, for it is
a sure sign that you have indeed arrived.
Now we come to the various categories of self-help
books. This is very important to understand as it can
help you chose the book most appropriate for you.
First of all, there are the Traditional Books. These are
books written about 40-50 years ago, with fairly
straightforward titles like Work Hard and Succeed,
Tough People Always Survive, Truth and Honesty the
Way to Win in Business and so on. Now you really
dont want these books unless you are a masochist. I
mean, if you really want to do things the ever so
boring old-fashioned way of working hard to succeed,
why do you need the books at all? We can get such
books out of the way fairly quickly. It also helps that
they have straightforward titles, which makes it easy
to identify them.

However, you could consider buying a few of these

titles, in hardbound, deluxe editions with the titles
prominently printed in gold letters on dark mahogany
or black jackets. They are handy for displaying in your
drawing room book case along with other classics
(where all the books that you would like to imply you
have read are kept). These books would be
particularly useful if you have children and are trying
to build their character and inculcate values in them.

Then you have the Specialised Books. These are books

that deal with specific subjects like health (sometimes
with an even narrower specialisation like healthy
heart etc.), diet and weight loss, marketing and sales,
leadership, management, time management,
confidence, relationships, money and so on. These are
useful if you have specific problems to address. These
provide useful techniques and tools in their own
subjects. But beware, often these are just parts of the
Traditional Books in disguise. (Sensible eating will aid
weight control, etc.) Yet, you will find some very
important and innovative books in this section, as we
shall see in the remaining part of this book.

Next in line are the Inspirational Books. These are

books that talk about the values of honesty and
fairness. They have wonderful, heart-warming stories
of immense courage and fortitude in the face of grave
danger, of selfless and noble service, of virtue and
goodness of the heart. These are stories of great men
and women, the modern and ancient heroes and
heroines. (No, Superman, Spiderman and Batman
comics are not what I mean). These make good
reading, and are worth buying especially if you have
children. But we dont want to spend too much time
on these, right? After all, courageous and selfless is
fine, but we want to be rich and successful. To be sure,
there are some exceptions in this genre that offer
sound advice. Excerpt 1.1 throws light on how being
fair is important in the business world, and Excerpt 1.2
is an excerpt from the book What Lives of Great Men and
Women Teach Us. (Both at the end of this chapter). If
you can find the rare inspirational book that offers
such learning, just go for it, otherwise you can just
leave them to inspire others.

Among the more interesting books are what can be

called the Short Shots. These books present a number
of short, simple and profound answers to lifes
complex situations. These are collections of brief write
ups, sometimes just a page each, dealing with a
variety of circumstances we face in life. They deal with
a wide range of human conditions anger, stress,
tragedy, frustration, helplessness, love, longing, etc.,
offering terse but forceful solutions. For example
when you are angry, count to 10. Do one good deed
everyday. Sounds familiar? Well, I will be the first
(and probably the only one) to admit that some of
these short shots are known to us. Indeed, these
wonderful remedies to lifes everyday problems have
been around ever since the problems themselves. They
have been offered to us by the Ten Commandments,
the Gita, and the Panchatantra. They have reached us
through our grandmothers stories, Aesops fables,
and Boy Scouts. And of course, from Grand Old Man

Indeed, if you strip off all the thous and thees from
Shakespeares plays, what you have left is all the
wonderful wisdom of the world. For example: All
that glitters is not gold (dont fall for that email from
Nigeria where the daughter of an overthrown general
wants to share her fortune with you); A rose by any
other name would smell as sweet (dont pay that
exorbitant amount just for the brand name); No
comets are seen when beggars die, the heavens
themselves blaze forth the death of kings (the rich get
all the attention); Take your pound of flesh but not a
drop of blood (When you go to collect your free gift
or encash your accumulated points, you find that
Conditions Apply); and I Love you Portia (Oops, that
last one doesnt sound very profound).

It is well known that Shakespeare has written

everything that there is to write, so writers who came
later are bound to repeat things. We should not judge
modern writers of these pithy stories harshly. Indeed,
we must be thankful to them that they have distilled
the wisdom of such Master Works as the Bible, the
Gita, the Panchatantra, Shakespeare, etc. and put it at
our disposal. (Tell me, have you really read all these

While some people (mainly those who did not think of

the idea earlier) refer to these snidely as quick fix
remedies, these Short Shot books are really a blessing
for the modern day working man or woman with his /
her short attention span sorry, I mean being so
hard pressed for time as he /she is trying to meet all
the demands of modern life.

These Short Shots have been made even more effective

now with a wonderful innovation using the power of
technology the computer, the mobile phone and the
internet. The QuickFindRemedies (Patent Pending)
App allows you to find, at a click of the mouse, or a
touch of the finger, just the right warm, powerful, wise
and wonderful story to address your problem. All you
have to do is to log on to, where you will find
the following drop-down box that you have to

I am
Angry G0

You can choose out of the 45 options in the drop-down

box (I am Angry, In Love, Frustrated, Rich, Poor,
Down in the Dumps, etc.) and then click on Go. It will
take you to just the nice story you need. If you fill up a
small form of introduction (age, gender, preferences),
it will find an even better match for you. If you place it
as a widget on your laptop screen, it will read all your
emails, will monitor the websites you are visiting, use
the laptop camera and mike to see and listen in to your
conversations, and then using patented algorithms,
derive your moods to always offer you the most
appropriate story for your current mood. Isnt
technology wonderful?

Useful as all these categories of self-help are, the one

that I find the best is what I call the Lazy Mans Books.
These are some of the most wonderful books that are
essentially based on the principle that whatever you
want in life, you can just Think It, and it is yours.
Now, isnt that great? They use different ways of
saying the same thing if you want to achieve
something, you just need to desire it strongly.
Whatever the human mind can conceive and believe, it
can achieve. The Law of Attraction never fails your
mind can attract into your life whatever it is that you
want. There are hundreds of books on this theme, and
the law of attraction is very well known. Strangely
though, some people insist on referring to it as
something hush-hush or secret.

Books in this category present some extraordinarily

powerful techniques to achieve your goals. Often
called auto-suggestion or self-suggestion, as the name
suggests, they involve closing your eyes, relaxing and
telling yourself what you want. (I want to be rich, I am
rich, I am successful). You also visualise yourself being
rich or successful or whatever you want to be. And if
you do this, with faith and belief, you will get there.

Now that is something just after my heart. Imagine,

just sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight to riches, to
success, to fulfilment. Naturally, these are also the
most successful and bestselling of all books. You most
certainly want to have one or more of these in your

You are now well acquainted with the wonderful

world of self-help books. Of course, you have shown
great acumen by actually buying the book that you are
reading (my book!) and I promise you that this book
provides you the wisdom of all of them put together,
and more. So you wont need any of the other books.
But if you do feel like it, you have the tools to choose
the books most appropriate for your needs.

Meanwhile, read on for the collective wisdom of the

generations, of the centuries, of all the self-help books
ever written.


Excerpt 1.1: Fair Sale

One essential rule for success in the business world is

to be fair. The somewhat lesser known book The Fair
Sale is the Best Sale tells you that one of the most
important principles of making a sale, especially when
you want a long term presence in the market, is to
make sure that your sale to one buyer does not
wrongfully disadvantage other buyers. For example, if
country A is selling weapons to country B which is at
war with country C, then country A should also sell
the same weapons to country C. We find that many
countries do follow this practice of ethical selling. This
ensures long-lasting business for country A.

Excerpt 1.2: George Washington and the Cherry

Excerpted from What Lives of Great Men and

Women Teach Us

The story of George Washington and the Cherry tree is

one of the most touching and powerful stories. While
most of you may have heard it, it is worth repeating
the essentials here as it teaches us very important
lessons. When George was a young boy, someone
presented him with a beautiful axe. He wandered
around in his garden and in his enthusiasm about his
new proud possession, he chopped down a beautiful
cherry tree, a favourite of his father. When his father
came home and discovered that his beloved tree had
been chopped down, he was livid and angry, and
asked who had done it. Little George, though
trembling with fear, went up to his father and owned
up to the act. In a moment, the fathers anger was
gone, replaced by a tender pride. He told his son that
his courage in telling the truth was worth a thousand
cherry trees.

Now, most people draw a useful lesson from the story

that one should always tell the truth.

This remains the essence of what George

Washingtons life teaches us. But it is Indians who
have drawn a much more valuable variant of this
lesson. It is the Indian people who have understood
the real power of this story.

What Indians have discovered and internalised is that

the powerful lesson from Washingtons life is not that
one should always tell the truth; that one certainly
should. But the key lesson is when to tell the truth. One
should First Do, and Then Tell the Truth.

Indians have mastered this skill of First Do, Then Tell.

There is even a technical term for it, called
Regularisation. For example, if there is a piece of land
that belongs to the Government, you can just build
your factory on it, and then go and tell the truth. Like
Washingtons father, the Governments anger will
vanish because you have told the truth, they will tell
you that your telling the truth is of far greater value
than the land, and to prove that, will readily transfer
the land to your name with some small fine. The fine
is necessary as a symbol of the punishment meted out
to you because you have done something wrong, but
the wrong is nothing compared to your telling the

You can see the power of this lesson. Have permission

to build seven stories of a building but want to build
10? First Do it, and Then Tell the Truth. Get it
Regularised. Dont have environmental clearance for
your dam or power plant? Start the work, and then tell
the truth. Regularise it.

As you can see, this method is particularly useful in

cases where if you reverse the sequence (first tell the
truth about what you want to do and then do it), you
are not likely to be allowed to do it.

Can you imagine if little George had first told his

father that he wanted to cut down the tree, and then
tried to do it?
A Book a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Self-Help for Health and Healing

The most important lesson I learnt from the numerous

health books is that you need to take them with a
pinch of salt. Oh! Oh! Thats a faux pas, isnt it? If there
is one dirty word in the health food lingo, it is salt.
Salt, as they say, is a four letter word. Why? Because
years of medical research has proved that salt is bad
for your blood pressure, heart, kidneys, lungs and for
your little finger. We have been told by family doctors,
specialists and our ever-so-fit neighbour to just drop
the salt. We dont need it anyway, they tell us. The
food that we eat has enough salt for us, they say. But
let me tell you, they are fooling us. These are not the
reasons why salt is a no-no. The real explanation why
salt is on the prohibited list is because some of the
most mouth watering delicacies come with loads of
salt. This is the same reason why sugar, fried stuff, ice-
cream, chocolates, pastries, and butter are all a
doctors red flag.
Have you ever seen a child eating soil? Many a
worried parent has been assured by doctors that this is
no cause for concern. Apparently there is a scientific
reason for it. Doctors say that the childs body is
deficient in iron, and the wonderful mechanism that
the body is fills it with a craving for soil so that this
deficiency can be remedied. But when the same body
craves for a giant helping of hot fries liberally
sprinkled with salt, these very doctors pretend to be
aghast. Isnt this highly unscientific? Of course, there
is a hidden agenda. Can you imagine anyone going to
these health food clinics, specialists and stores if
french fries, burgers, coke and pastries were on the
allowed foods list, and cod liver oil, unsalted boiled
vegetables and the likes were on the banned list? My
research indicates that the health food business has
shot up from a mere 1.3 million dollars when all the
former foods were allowed, to a huge $350 billion
worldwide now that these items are forbidden.

Of course, we know that the main aim of these big

corporations and businesses is to foster human health,
inculcate good eating and hygiene habits and promote
human well-being, so we should not grudge them
their paltry billions.

There is another secret that I discovered in reading

books on healthy eating - that what is allowed and
what is not changes every fifteen years or so. It is
cyclical, like fashion, with the foods in-favour
becoming un-favoured, and then coming back into
favour again. Let us consider the example of the
Enemy Number One Cholesterol.

If there is one substance that competes with salt in
making so many parts of the body (particularly the
mind) tremble with fear, it is cholesterol. We have
been repeatedly told that we need to be wary of the
bad cholesterol (yes, there is a good one too!).

Now everyone knows that eating ghee, cream and

butter is terrible for your cholesterol levels. So rotis
have become dry, the asli ghee ka tadka has been
replaced by some-flower oil, and toast is being spread
with some low-fat low-calorie tasteless butter-like
pretender. What a change from my mothers
generation, when girls grew up being taught that the
best way to show their love for their child (especially
male child) was to apply ghee liberally on parathas and
rotis. Apparently, when these generously-loved male
children grew up and started having chest pains,
anginas and heart attacks, the culprit was narrowed
down to increased cholesterol, which in turn was said
to be due to ghee. Drop the ghee, we were told. And the
remedy, ghees replacement, was soon out the best
thing for your heart is one of these mono-vono-poly-
doly-saturating-multi-bond CHC oils. (Or something
like that). A few new brands of oil hit the market and
made cool bucks telling us how the same forbidden
things (deep fried samosas, to name one) could be
done legitimately with their brand of oil. Girls began
to be taught that the best way to show ones love for
ones child (male of course, things dont change that
much) was to feed him all those same deep-fried
delicacies, but done in this new healthy brand of oil.

Now, the problem was that the competitors felt

aggrieved. So they explained how it is not just the
mono-vono-poly-doly-saturating-multi-bond CHC
element of the oil that is important. It is really the
balance between this MVPDSMB CHC and the LLDL-
poly-unsaturated-omega49 components that is crucial.
And guess which brand of oil has precisely the correct
balance? So now you could still have your samosas
and parathas, but with this newer new oil. Mind you, it
is not the oil company which was saying this. There
was medical research to prove it. For example,
extensive tests were carried out to show how mono-
vono-poly-doly-saturating-multi-bond CHC is really
good for your heart. Of course, there is a bit of a
chicken and egg issue here. How and why should any
medical tests be carried out unless this mono-vono-
poly-doly-saturating-multi-bond CHC oil was already
there? In fact, remarks are noted from some malicious
quarters that such medical tests followed the launch of
these oils.

Whatever may be the facts of the medical trials, we

note that sometime after a particular oil makes its
debut (and its millions), medical tests show others to
be more efficacious. After all, this is what scientific
progress is all about.

This scientific progress is clearly reflected in the self-

help books on health. So the earliest books I have tell
you to drop ghee and use sunflower oil. Then some
years later, sunflower oil is replaced by safflour oil.
Then comes olive oil. Then soybean. And I believe
sesame oil is the current favourite.

So what does one do under such circumstances? I will

share with you my secret to beat the system. Sample
all the oils that are available, and select the one that
you like the best. Then simply pick the book that
advises this particular oil as the healthiest. Dont
worry; you will always find a book that recommends
the oil you like - over the last forty years, self-help
books on health have picked every oil as a favoured
one at some or the other time.

But the heydays of all these brands bringing out the

healthiest of oils could soon come to an end, as a new
wonder substitute seems to be on its way. Insiders tell
me that medical tests are already on to bring out
something from the cornucopia of Indias glorious
ancient traditions, a wonderful preparation that has
the pride of place in ayurveda, used by wise sages and
royal palaces alike. I think it is called ghee.

Now if there is another killer to rival cholesterol, it is
stress. I would say that stress clinics have made as
much money as heart hospitals. Stress help books
outsell books related to heart problems by far. In my
own collection (which we already know is a
statistically representative sample of self-help books
worldwide), stress related books outnumber books on
heart problems by three times. Now stress is very
important because it can lead to hypertension, heart
attacks, strokes, hysteria (which in simple words
means having the symptoms of the disease without
having the real thing), ulcers, hallucinations,
delusions, obesity, weight loss, divorce, marriage, and
so on. So I hope you are convinced that stress is a
terrible thing.
Why does stress affect us so much? It is very simple
really. (See Three Simple Ways to Handle Stress by David
Sampson, 2 Million Sold). All our stress problems can
be traced to our ancestors. No, no, teenage readers,
please. I dont mean parents. And for all those young
brides reading this - I dont mean your husbands
parents. Modern day stress affects us because of the
way we have evolved biologically. It is in our genes,
part of the survival weaponry of our ancestors. Now
our ancestors lived in the bad old days when ferocious
sabre-toothed tigers were on the prowl and
mammoths routinely blocked the pathways to forests
where our forefathers gathered succulent fruits and
other such things to feed themselves. Danger also
came in the form of fellow forefathers who fancied
some part of the booty from the hunt, or thought that
hitting you with a bludgeon on the head was a sure
way of winning the election to become the headman of
the tribe. This led to some real tricky situations when
the rather unfortunate homo sapiens suddenly came
face-to-face with one of the abovementioned ferociouses
tigris, or worse the bludgeonis wielding brothoris.
However, intelligent race that it was, the human
species developed a wonderful mechanism that was a
winner in the evolutionary competition. This was
called the fight-or-flight response. This is so important
that we should spend some time understanding it.
(See Using Fight or Flight to Survive the Office and Reach
the Top, by Dr. Doshi and Dr. Joshi 200,000 copies in

When faced with danger, the bodies of our ancestors

rapidly deployed the F-or-F response. There would be
a surge of adrenalin, stimulating the heart to beat
faster and pump more blood and energy into muscles.
The brain would become extremely alert. Muscles
braced themselves for a sudden burst of activity.
Breathing started becoming shallow and rapid so as to
supply oxygen very fast. In short, the body moved
into a heightened state of preparedness to swing into
action so that it could fight with the greatest force it
could muster or flee as fast as it could. Luckily,
preparations required by the body to fight or flee are
the same. Then, depending on the assessment of
danger, our ancestor would decide whether to fight
the danger, or flee from it. If the danger was felt to be
manageable, for example the tiger, then the chosen
response would be to fight. If, however, the danger
was too great, like the fellow human being, then flight
was the chosen response.

The genes for the F-or-F response were so successful

that they were selected naturally as a part of
evolution, and we modern day descendants too carry
this full apparatus. Thus, when faced with danger
even today, the F-or-F response is triggered. Only, the
modern world has changed so much that in the case of
most dangers, neither are we able to flee, nor are we
able to fight. For example, when the boss screams at
you for bungling up with the figures in the tender, you
cannot fight him, nor can you run away. If an #@ on
a menacing motorbike jumps the red light and speeds
at you as you try to cross the road, the danger is too
fast to flee, and you better not even think of fighting.
In short, what happens is that the body gets all heated
up for fight or flight, but you just stand around, doing
nothing, probably even looking a bit foolish. This, in
modern medical terms, is called stress.
The same stress that was so useful for our forefathers,
has become a big risk for us, just like salt and French
fries. I guess this is the price we have to pay for
civilisation. Fortunately for us, there are many ways of
managing stress. Indeed, medical opinion is
unanimous that all stress is not bad, and that being
completely stress free is not necessarily a good thing.
After all, the medical profession also has to make a

The key to stress, therefore, is not in eliminating it, but

in managing it. In this aspect, it is similar to other
difficult things in life like spouses, partners, children
and jobs.

Luckily for us, there are several very efficient and

proven stress-busters available in the market. One
very popular technique is Yoga and meditation. This is
a traditional technique perfected by the many sadhus
and yogis who lived in ancient India, now brought to
us by the Americans.
As the ancient rishis showed, mediation is a very
powerful technique to manage stress. Every morning,
the rishis used to sit with their eyes closed, thinking of
nothing. Just twenty minutes of this and the body and
mind both would become completely stress free. Of
course, it helped that after these twenty minutes, the
rishis did not have to rush to catch the 8.07 fast train to
Churchgate, or hurry to cook lunch for the husband
and children, drop the older one to school, younger
one to the crche, and run to make it in time for office.

Meditation is only one example of the vast number of

wonderful and powerful techniques given by self-help
books to manage stress. As it is such an important
issue, we devote a separate chapter to discuss how to
handle stress.

According to all the self-help books on health, along
with a proper diet, exercise is the best medicine for
your body. Pages after pages of self-help books are
filled with the fantastic benefits that exercise offers.
Luckily for us, it is very easy to exercise in todays
times. Huge strides in science and technology have
made exercising a relatively uncomplicated and fairly
straightforward matter. Our ancestors were not so
fortunate. First of all, the daily grind of life left them
with hardly any time to exercise. Our forefathers
would have to get up early in the morning and walk
several kilometres to their fields. There, they would be
doing all kinds of back-breaking work ploughing,
sowing, cutting, weeding and so on. Then they would
have to walk back to the house. By that time, there was
no time left for exercise. The lot of women was even
worse. The day began even earlier for them.
Immediately after getting up, they would have to go to
the well and draw out buckets and buckets of water
for daily household use. Then they would milk the
cows. Then came cutting of vegetables, cooking,
washing clothes and utensils, which went on till the
evening. In the afternoon, they had to go to the field
with lunch for the men. From time to time, the floor of
the house would need a coat of gobar (cow dung). As
you can see, the women had even lesser time for
exercise. Children were really underprivileged. They
too had to get up early to walk to school. Studies took
up quite some time. There was no T.V., let alone any
computer games, internet and so on. So the poor kids
had to spend their time on the ground outside the
house, trying to entertain themselves with some trivial
pastime like gilli danda or catch, or even just
climbing trees or splashing in the river or stream close
by. You can imagine that they hardly had any
opportunity for exercise, fitness training or physical

The other great disadvantage for our ancestors was the

lack of any proper facilities for exercise. There were no
gymnasiums, no treadmills, no walking tracks in
gardens. Now it is a breeze for the modern man or
woman to exercise. Hundreds of labour saving devices
have completely taken the drudgery out of work at
home and the office. A proliferation in the available
modes of transport and the rapid increase in their
speed has meant that getting from one place to
another has never been so easy. Therefore, the modern
man (and woman) has ample time to exercise. It is a
simple matter today for the office executive at the end
of a hectic working day to sit in his car and drive
down 10 kilometres to the park with the beautifully
laid out walking track, take a brisk walk in the fresh
and invigorating atmosphere of the garden, and then
drive back in time to catch his favourite show on T.V.
Even better, many apartment complexes have their
own gyms and other exercise facilities. It is so easy
even for a working woman to just take the lift to the 5 th
floor gym,do a good 20 minutes on the treadmill, and
get back to her home refreshed.

If you take a look at the self-help books on health

published in the last couple of decades, you will notice
that the progress of medical sciences has made
exercising less and less demanding over the years.
Health professionals have adjusted the nature and
required amount of exercise to the changing needs of
the times. In old-fashioned ways of thinking, it was
important to get at least an hour of exercise everyday.
Extensive studies have now shown that it is enough if
you are able to walk briskly for 30 minutes three days
a week. For those who are not able to do 30 minutes at
a stretch, there is convenient research that shows that
you can achieve the same results by walking briskly
for 10 minutes three times a day. Indeed, health
professionals have met head on the challenges of the
new occupations that have taken over peoples lives.
For example, phenomenal growth in the software, IT,
ITES and call centre industries has brought millions of
people into the folds of an exciting, new vocation. This
has brought with it special requirements for exercise.
After all, one cannot expect a busy and important
person like an IT professional to leave his/her air-
conditioned office to spend a frivolous hour or so
every day for mundane exercises like walking or a
gym workout. Moreover, a somewhat bothersome side
effect of such exercise is sweat, which can interfere
with crucial work.

A number of health books and advisory columns in

newspapers have devoted much space to the needs of
this group. (See for example Exercise in a Jiffy for the
Call Centre Executive or All You Need are Three Minutes a
Day at Your Desk The IT Professionals Guide to Fitness).
It is wonderful how the health experts have carefully
crafted these exercises.
Take a break after every hour. Sit upright in your
chair, neck held straight, eyes looking directly
forward. Now slowly turn your neck to your right till
you are looking fully to the right. Be careful not jerk
and do not overstretch. Hold this position, take a deep
breath, hold, exhale slowly. Repeat deep breathing
three times. Then slowly turn your neck back to the
front, and then, slowly to the left. Again, hold the
position, take a deep breath, hold, exhale slowly.
Repeat deep breathing three times. Repeat the right-
left sequence two more times.

At the next hour, take a break again. Sit upright in

your chair, neck held straight. Raise your left arm
slowly till it is held straight up. Hold the position, take
a deep breath, hold, exhale slowly. Repeat deep
breathing three times. Slowly lower your arm. Now do
the same with your right arm. Repeat for both arms
two more times. Be careful not to jerk and do not
Alternate for neck and arms every two hours. This set
of simple exercises will keep you fit and healthy.

Notice the great attention to detail and the concern for

avoiding any untoward incidents, as exemplified by
the repeated warnings not to overstretch. This shows
the special regard that our society has for the IT,
software and call centre industry and the high esteem
in which these professionals are held.

Unfortunately, since I am not an IT or call centre

professional, I am not allowed to benefit from this
exercise regime. So I decided to choose something that
it more appropriate to my down to earth occupation.
Of the several options presented by the books, I
decided to select cycling.

Cycling as an exercise is described in glowing terms

by most books. It is one of the three all-time greats all-
in-one fitness programmes known to humanity
(except for the above mentioned professions). The
other two are brisk walking and swimming.
I did think of taking up swimming at first. I visited the
nearer of the two municipal swimming pools in my
city. As I walked to the pool ready for my dip, I was
stopped short by the sight that greeted me. The pool
was a mass of floating humanity and it took me a
whole two minutes to find free vacant space where I
could let myself in. As I began to swim, I heard a
shout nay, scream - from behind. My legs had hit a
fellow swimmer behind me - hit hard, I must say, as I
was trying to swim really fast. I muttered my
apologies, and tried to move on. I did make some
progress about 5 metres, but suddenly found my
hands entangled in another persons who was trying
to move along in the same direction. Luckily, we were
still in the shallow end and could disengage without
drowning, but this was warning enough for me to
decide to keep away from the deep end. After great
effort physical and mental I did succeed in charting
a Brownian motion type course around the pool. Like
the original Brownian motion, my progress too was
due to the incessant and random shoves and pushes
from all around me, rather than any propulsion of my
own. Luckily, mathematics proves that with each
shove being of the same average intensity, the
probability that I would get pushed off into the deep
end was one in ten million, and so it was a fairly safe,
even if somewhat exhausting experience. I was dead
tired at the end of the thirty minutes that my
membership allowed for me to remain in the pool.

All in all, it did not seem too bad as an exercise

regime. Till I came home, and found three bruises, one
swelling and several aches spread out evenly all over
my body. The next day, I woke up with a running
nose and a mild fever. The doctor took one look at me
and said, Ah! Youve been swimming at the local
pool, havent you! He informed me that I need not
worry, it was only some mild infection that I had
picked up at the pool, told me to avoid the pool for a
week, charged me a fee that was just about the same as
my pool membership, and prescribed some medicines
that cost about three times as much. I decided the pool
was not for me.

I then set out to explore the lake I knew the city had,
as also the river that flowed through the town. I could
not locate the lake even though I knew I had the exact
location from the map. Indeed, from where I stood, I
could also see a tall building called Lake View
Apartments. So a lake should have been visible from
this building. Then it suddenly dawned upon me that
I was standing in the line of sight from the building.
On asking, a friendly passer-by informed me that
some years back the lake had been filled up and a
housing complex built up on it.

So I went in search of the river. As I asked around, I

was amazed to learn that what I had thought was the
city sewer was actually the river!

So you can now see why I decided to opt for cycling. I

had to buy a cycle first. After finishing the days work,
I took the cycle out on the road and started peddling
along. All of a sudden, a blast of air hit me and I saw a
large truck overtake and speed past me. The cycle
rocked from the gust of air, and even as I was trying to
keep my balance, a motorcycle zoomed up from the
left and cut across from the front to the right. It came
so close that I think I saw it burn off a small piece of
rubber from the handle guards. Then I found myself
between two cars both of which were trying to go past
me, one from the left and one from the right. Their
blinking indicators showed that the one on the right
wanted to go ahead and turn left, and the one on the
left wanted to turn to the right. For more than ten
seconds, I sweated cold sweat as my fate hung in
balance in the pincer grip of the two automobiles.
Luckily for me, a clearing materialised in the middle
of the traffic (later I discovered that traffic
management science predicts a high probability of the
formation of such empty spaces amidst traffic) and I
made good my escape. By this time, I had cycled for
about 100 metres.

However, I was determined not to give up. I bravely

struggled along, trying to dodge the traffic. As I
peddled hard, I could feel the force exerted by my
legs. I could feel the increase in the rate of my heart
beat, the enhanced blood flow. A wonderful glow
spread through my body. Then I felt my lungs
breathing faster to try and draw in more air to provide
for the increased oxygen to my toiling body cells. But
where was the oxygen? My lungs searched in vain for
it in the air congested with suspended particulate
matter, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, various
oxides of nitrogen, and other sundry items. I felt
myself choking and gasping for breath. I gave up and
stopped. I had covered another 100 metres. I got down
from the cycle and meekly walked back home,
pushing it all the way. I sold off my cycle the next day.

I then thought about the last of the three great fitness

programs walking. I did what is called a thought-
experiment, that is, you try our something, but only in
your thoughts. I thought of doing brisk walking, and
shuddered as I remembered the road on which I
cycled, and the crowded garden, possibly even more
crowded than the pool. I decided to opt out of walking
as well.

But then, technology has all the answers. An exercise

bike! I could cycle in the privacy of my home, not to
mention safety. No crowds, no traffic. And I could still
get the wonderful benefits of cycling. Whats more, I
could even cycle while watching T.V. Well, I was soon
sweating not due to cycling, but on hearing the price
of the machine! Reluctantly, I forced my thoughts
away from the fancy models with all the meters and
levers. Then I ran into a friend who had a stripped
down model that was almost like new, hardly used,
and he was willing to sell it for cheap. I jumped at the
chance and bought it. The bike was given a pride of
place in the sitting room, in front of the T.V. Well, I
underestimated my family. The kids (and the wife) did
not take kindly to my occupying the prime space in
front of the T.V. Blocking, they called it. And there
did not seem to be any other place in the house for it,
so it was pushed out to the balcony overlooking the
next building, with friendly neighbours waving out to
me, unfriendly ones staring me down, and fence
sitters merely throwing a few curious glances. At the
same time, I soon discovered that the privacy and
safety of the home came at a price. The phone was
one big interruption, but others too. Wife shouts, Can
you please open the door, I am in the bath! Okay,
jump off the bike, rush to open the door, spend ten
minutes trying to sort out the clothes and change with
the dhobi, back to the cycle. Bell rings again, neighbour
drops in. Someone left this package for you last
evening when you were away. Oh thanks. And then
you have to offer a cup of tea to him as a courtesy,
which he accepts! Confound it. And so on. Soon, I
found that the bike was in the balcony most of the
time, and I was elsewhere. Technology has its limits.

However, I found that the books have a solution for

every problem. One of my books gave me this very
important piece of information that mental activity
burns three times as many calories as physical activity.
What is exercise after all if not burning calories? So
now I do the Sudoku in three newspapers every day. I
feel superbly fit and healthy. Thank God for these
wonderful self-help books!
Turn Pages, Gain Riches
Self Help to Unlimited Wealth

For some strange reason, most people have a

fascination for money. Its hardly believable that these
pieces of paper can be so important in peoples lives.
One would almost think that if ever one fine day most
of the money in the country were to disappear, people
would drop everything and stand in long queues for
hours to get their hands on whatever is remaining and
available. But I let my imagination run amok. I dont
think any people, or a country, would be so foolish.

But even then, its true, as an old saying goes, that

Money is the root of all. So its not surprising that
almost everybody wants to get rich, and this is the
over-riding reason why most people buy self-help

And the books dont fail them. As these self-help

books show, there are several very simple and
powerful techniques to wealth.
The easiest way is to be born to millionaire or
billionaire parents. If you are already born, well, I
guess it is probably too late for this then.

Another way is to marry a millionaire. Earlier, the

technique was to find an heir / heiress to a
millionaires fortune and marry him/her. But one
needs to be wary of this custom now, because rich old
men and women have a tendency to, well, linger on,
creating insurmountable difficulties in the execution of
their wills. Meanwhile, the sons and daughters to
whom their fortune should eventually come to,
themselves grow old patiently waiting for it. Of
course, if you are already married, this does create
some difficulty in the scheme of things.

In that case, you could try another tremendously

effective technique - finding oil. The billionaire J.P.
Getty, when asked about the secret of his wealth, was
reported to have said, Some dont find oil. I did.
Even if you cant find oil, it is equally helpful if you
can find diamonds, or platinum or even iron ore.
If you are not ready to do these simple things that will
make you amazingly rich, and insist on being difficult,
then there is a bit of a problem. Yet, I do have
sympathy for you. Indeed, all of us living in todays
times deserve sympathy; this last way of getting rich
has been used up. Almost everything that could have
made one rich has been found. Oil, diamonds, gold,
silver, platinum not a single metal has been left out.
Then again, all the inventions are mostly done and
over with. The generations before us already made a
lot of money by inventing things like the steam
engine, electricity, television, plastics and so on. You
would think that they would have been a bit more
concerned about inter-generational equity and left a
few things for us to discover.

Luckily, there are a number of get-rich books that

show how ridiculously simple it is to become rich
even if you cant use the powerful techniques
discussed above.
Ways to Get Rich
Techniques to wealth advocated by self-help books
can be divided into two broad categories. The first
technique is what can be called Financial Education,
and the second one is called Mind-set or Attitude.

Financial Education, as many self-help books will

point out, is critical to making money, and more
importantly, for hanging on to the money made. In
other words, even if you can get rich without Financial
Education, you cant stay rich without it.

Financial Education means understanding the

fundamental principles of money, wealth and finance.
Another part of Financial Education involves
becoming familiar with various technical terms related
to the world of money, like loot, extortion, underhand
dealings oops, sorry, that was a slip, I meant terms
like reasonable profits, sellers market, legal loopholes,
and so on.

Now, I do understand that Financial Education sounds

like a lot of hard work. (Reminds you of studying,
even exams, doesnt it?) But whats a little bit of hard
work compared to getting really rich? And if you feel
its getting too cumbersome, you can always opt out
and choose one of the sure shot methods presented at
the beginning of this chapter.

The second category of techniques falls under having

the right Attitude. These techniques are based on the
belief that Wealth is a State of Mind. Or the Law of
Attraction, which means that you can attract money,
and a lot of it, by thinking about it. A large number of
self-help book are based on these techniques.

Let us start with this second category of techniques.

A Question of Attitude
As many self-help books will tell you, the worst kept
secret of getting rich is that its all in the mind. Think
like the rich and you will be rich. This is the sum and
substance of what is claimed as the most powerful
technique of getting rich. The best way to explain this
technique is to tell you how I first learnt it.
I was first introduced to this technique by a Self-Help
Guru in person when I attended his workshop. (My
savings were set back by about Rs. 5000, but as the
Guru explained, the cost of the workshop was not an
expense but an investment, so my net worth did not
reduce. See how important Financial Education is?
Even if you keep spending away your money,
Financial Education can show how you are as well off
as before).

About 200 people had assembled in the hall, waiting

silently, not sure of what to expect, and apprehensive
about whether they would really learn how to make
money. Then the Guru strode in. With three quick
steps, he was at the centre of the stage.

The Guru was flamboyance incarnate. He was

confidence personified. He practically radiated the
feeling of being rich. His very presence in the room
filled us with the confidence that making money was
so easy that we were going to be rich the moment we
walked out of the room. He stood there, looking
around the hall with a kind smile on his face, but not
saying a single word.

Then suddenly our eyes locked, his and mine, and he

extended out his hand, with his index finger pointing
straight at me. You sir, do you want to be rich? For
a moment I was dumbstruck. Then, pulling myself
together, I replied, somewhat tentatively, Yes yes
sir. I do want to be rich. The Guru looked down, his
face showing dejection, and then looked up again to
say, Well, you have lost the game, my boy. If you
think you want to be rich, then you are thinking that
you are not rich. As you think, so you are. But dont
lose heart, I will show you how to cultivate the right

Then he explained to us the power of thinking, of how

it was the most powerful force in the universe, and
how it would make us rich. He talked about how
thinking rich in the mind attracted riches in the real
world. Think it, believe in it, and the entire universe
will conspire to make it come true, he told us. He
made us do two simple but powerful exercises
where we fill our minds with the notion that we are
already rich. It was wonderful, this feeling.

To cut a long story short, the core of the technique, as

he explained it, was: Think like a millionaire. Think
you are a millionaire, and wham! Soon you are with
your own bungalow and your own yacht and what
not. Great, isnt it? Remember, you cannot think that
you wish to be rich, you have to think, you have to
believe, that you are already rich. Let this feeling infuse
your whole body. Let your body language be like that
of the rich. Your demeanour, your expressions, should
be those of the rich.

I, like many others, walked out of the room that day

raring to try out the technique we had just learnt.

Next day, I invited a couple of friends for dinner at a

classy (read pricey) restaurant, somewhat out of my
league. As I sat there, I filled myself with thoughts that
I was already rich. I let the feeling of I am rich
permeate my body. I actually started thinking like the
rich and doing what the rich do. I ordered food and
drinks without looking at the right side of the menu
card. While ordering wine, I recklessly added, Only
the best for us, my man. Through the dinner, I did
not give any thought to the bill (just like the rich, I am
told). When the bill came, I was nonchalant. If I think I
am rich, the universe will make sure I get the riches,
the Guru had told me. I reached for the bill and my
wallet at the same time. I read the amount, and I
expected the wallet to feel thick, but it seemed that the
universe was not doing its job. The wallet seemed, and
as it turned out was, rather thin. So I pulled out the
credit card. As I handed it over to the waiter, I crossed
my fingers, my legs and even my eyes, praying that
my limit permitted the bill to be paid. I started
mentally calculating how the bill compared with my
monthly salary. As I saw the waiter coming back to
the table, a cold sweat broke out on my forehead. But
the universe was doing at least something that it was
supposed to. The credit had been accepted, and I
signed off on the receipt.

Over the next few months, as I paid my credit card

instalments, I thought deeply about the lessons I had
learnt from the Guru. Obviously, Wealth is in the
Mind, the many self-help books and gurus could not
be wrong. But I was not doing something right. No
amount of thinking rich was helping me.

Then I came across this great website with the article,

Thinking and Still Not Rich? Learn About the Missing
Ingredient That No One Tells You About. It pointed
out some great tips, and also helped me understand
what self-help books exactly mean when they say,
think and you will be rich. So let me explain to you
how this fantastic technique really works.

Think Like the Rich Or, Its All in the Mind

There is no doubt that the most powerful message
from self-help books is that getting rich is all about
attitude. In short, you need to Think Like the Rich Do.
Only then will you be able to Do As the Rich Do. But
like I said, you need to understand what this really
means, and that is where my book is a boon to those
who thought and thought till their brains wore out,
but still found that wealth was elusive.
The most important difficulty you have to deal with in
the quest for riches is risk. The First Fundamental Fact
of Finance is that the higher the return, the greater is
the risk. (You will need to learn these and other such
principles in Financial Education). If you want higher
returns (in simple words, if you want to get rich) in
your business, you will have to bear a higher risk.
Here is where attitude becomes really important. The
biggest difference between the rich and the poor is in
how they look at risk. But risk is only a technical
phrase. In human terms, risk means fear. To manage
risk means having to manage fear.

Most ordinary people are fearful of taking risks. The

rich however take Carefully Calibrated Cautious
Chances and Confront Consequences. In other words,
they are not afraid to take risks. This is the single most
significant fact about how the rich think. For example,
a rich person would hardly hesitate to buy that 50
million dollar option on the shale oil well, whereas the
ordinary person would not even spend several lakhs
of rupees. This can spell the difference between being
enormously rich, and ending up being ordinary.
Let us take a real life example. You may have heard
some time back of the sub-prime crisis. I am sure
you must have asked yourself, what is this sub-prime?
(See how crucial financial education is?) Now sub-
prime means something that is below the prime. In
this case, it refers to the loans that banks and other
institutions were making. The credit rating of the
recipients of these loans was sub-prime, or below par.
In simple words, risky! (Not surprising, as most of
them were people like you and me.) But did these rich
banks and institutions hesitate to give these sub-prime
loans? Not at all. They went ahead without fear and
took the risk head on. Contrast this with the attitude of
an ordinary person (May be you?). If you were asked
to lend money to, say, your wifes brother for starting
a new business with this great new plan he had
developed (his 7th in the last one year)that was sure to
make a million in six months, what would you do?
Would you jump at this somewhat high risk
investment or cringe at the thought of lending money
to this good-for-nothing person an example of the
sub-prime if ever there was one? (An opinion that you
may have not yet shared with your wife, of course).

But the rich think differently. They take risks. They

have attitude. They are not afraid of taking a chance.
So the banks not only lent to these sub-primes (read
ordinary people) but prodded them into borrowing
more. And what happened when the crisis occurred?
All hell broke loose, the headlines screamed dire
consequences, the Government declared firm resolves,
and finally, hundreds of thousands of ordinary people
lost their jobs, many found their lifes savings turned
to dust, and the rich banks laughed all the way to the,
well, bank. And what about those banks and big
people who were in danger of losing some money?
Well, the Government made up their losses using
taxpayer funds.

So, the moral of the story is that those who take risks
make big money. You would do well to memorise this,
for it is the second most important component of
Think Like the Rich. Cast away your Fear. Be mentally
prepared to Take Big Risks. Got it? But wait, this is not
enough. If you learn just this much, you will sooner or
later have a crash landing, wrecking your whole
financial edifice.

Let me therefore reveal to you The Most Important

Part of Think Like the Rich Do, Do As the Rich Do.
This most important lesson is that you must take the
big risks, but with other peoples money. Look carefully at
what the banks and institutions did in the sub-prime
story as an example of this technique. I have talked
about this lesson elsewhere in the book, but it is so
crucial that it cant be repeated often enough.

Now let us turn to Financial Education.

The Power of Financial Education

Your attempt to become rich is doomed right from the
start if you dont grasp the key instruments of modern
financial systems. You may have noticed how I have
explained several important financial terms from time
to time in this chapter. Without this, you would not
have understood what self-help books teach you about
getting rich.
Understanding the financial system and its key
principles is a vast subject, so it is completely beyond
the scope of this book. (Also, I need to hold back some
content for the sequel.) Even so, in this section, I will
explain to you some important financial terms, and
also demonstrate how an understanding of such terms
and the workings of the financial system can put at
your disposal the power to amass great riches.

Consider the stark reality faced by most people who

dream of becoming rich. You have a decent salaried
job, with a steady income, but that will get you at most
a tiny corpus at the end of 25 years. You invest in
assets like a house or shares that will earn some rent or
dividend, but it will still be years before you can buy
your dream car (and by then of course, it would be an
outdated model). In other words, you earn a regular
income, month after month, but it does not seem to
add to anything great.

I am sure that you sometimes wish you had all that

money right now, at one go. Now wouldnt that be
great? You can short-circuit the long waiting list at
that snooty club and buy your membership right
away. Then you remember the story of the Goose That
Laid the Golden Eggs, and you quietly fold the
thought back into the corner of your heart.

However, if you understand the modern financial

system, well then, you can do exactly what the man
with the goose that laid the golden eggs was trying to
do get all the eggs at one go. In fact, you can actually
have your cake, and eat it too, and sell it over and
above that.

The problem is that most people dont even bother to

try and understand finance, assuming that it is too
complex. This is where self-help books are of great
help. I would particularly recommend Derivatives and
Other Money Spinners Explained without the Spin by I.
M. Turner. This book uses simple, everyday
experiences to explain supposedly complex financial
systems. Once you have understood these systems,
you can use them to make huge pots of money.
Interestingly, in the very first chapter, Turner uses the
example of the goose that laid the golden eggs to
explain how modern financial systems can be used to
get rich. I quote this section at length to show how
powerful financial education can be (quoted with the
permission of the author).

You have all heard of the story of the Goose That

Laid the Golden Eggs. A man, let us call him
Kumar, had a goose that laid a golden egg
everyday. The man was overjoyed to discover
this, and started making good money by selling
this egg. But as days passed by, the money did not
seem enough. One day, the man thought, Why
not cut open the goose and take out all the eggs at
one go? He did that, and the poor goose died,
and that was the end of the golden eggs too.

But if Kumar had lived in todays times, and

knew his finance, he would be laughing all the
way to the bank. Let us see how Kumar could
have done that, and understand various fancy
financial terms in the process, so that you too can
use them in your own lives.

Now the modern Kumar would also want to try

and have all the money at one go. But he would
not cut up his goose. Instead, he would go to Mr.
Big Money, who has a lot of money, and therefore,
wants to make even more. Kumar tells Big
Money, Look, one golden egg costs Rs. 1000. You
can buy my gooses golden eggs at just Rs. 900.
But you have to buy them all in advance. Big
Money agrees, and pays Kumar the money for all
365 eggs right away, but at the rate of only 900 per
egg. Now he gets all the eggs for the next one
year, an egg a day. The money that Kumar gets
for all the eggs he will sell in the future is called
the Net Present Value of the Future Cash Flow. In
other words, NPV is the way to get all the eggs at
one go.

But in this case, you only get Rs. 900 per egg,
because you are getting money here and right
now, and not sometime in the future. However,
what if you want the money now, and that too at
the rate of Rs. 1000 per egg? Well, here is another
method. This method is also particularly useful
when there is no Mr. Big Money to buy your
future eggs all at one go. In this method, first you
need to find a Mr. Small Money. They are easily
found everywhere, particularly those with family
name G. Reed. Now you tell Small Money that
you will sell him an egg at a future date in the
year for exactly Rs. 1050. Since the price of a
golden egg is likely to go up by then, Mr. Small
Money thinks, At that time, the egg will cost Rs.
1100, so I am going to make a cool profit. And I
dont have to pay right now. So he promises to
buy your egg in the future for Rs. 1050, and you
promise to sell it to him for that amount. This is
called Forward Trading. If you can find a Mr.
Small Money for each day of the year, you have a
Secured Future Cash Flow Stream, of Rs. 1050 per
day. (Better than Rs. 1000 per day or Rs. 900 per

Of course, that money is in the future. But you

want it right now. So what do you do? You need
to find several Mr. Little Money. Now you tell this
group, Look, I am going to sell this egg to Mr.
Small Money after two months for Rs. 1050. But I
need the money right now. So why dont I sell
you the right to take that Rs. 1050 from Small
Money? For that, you can pay me Rs. 950 right
now. And I know that any one of you may not
have that money, so 10 of you can come together
and pay me Rs. 95 each, and after two months,
you will each have the right to receive Rs. 105
from Small Money.
What have you done? You have converted your
Forward Trade into 10 shares each of one-tenth
the value of the Forward Price. These 10 shares
are often called Derivatives. (Ah! The legendary
term itself, explained at last). Then you have sold
these Derivatives at a Discount. In this manner,
you have managed to get money for your future
eggs, and a larger amount than that you would
have got from the NPV method.

But suppose one day your goose dies all of a

sudden. Then you are in a very difficult situation
as you have promised to sell all these Future
Buyers lots of eggs in the future. To prevent the
losses from such events, what you need is
Insurance. Ah! This is something we can all
understand. You pay a small Premium, so that in
case the goose dies, the Insurance Company will
pay you a large sum of money.

Unfortunately, this may not be enough to pay for

the entire lot of Future Eggs you have sold. Most
people would stop here, saying its bad luck the
goose died, take a bit of a loss, and go back to a
dull and boring middle class life.
But the real whiz kids will see opportunity in
such situations as well, and create a winning
situation even if it does not exist. These are the
elite few who understand how financial
instruments can be used powerfully to make huge
profits even in situations where others suffer a
loss. See how they would deal with the case of the
goose dying on you.

First of all, instead of 10 shares of your Forward

Trade, make 100 shares, or even better, 1000
shares. Thus, you will have a 1000 people each
holding a small part of the right to the Delivery
Price (same as the Forward Price) of the future
egg. The advantage is that if your goose dies and
you dont have a future egg to sell, at least 700 of
these will find it too much of a bother to pursue
the matter as the share is too small. The remaining
300 will find it difficult to follow it up
individually and find it even more difficult to
come together. Thus, you can insulate yourselves
from the anger of these many shareholders.

But wait, this is not the power of Derivatives. To

realise the full power, you need to take some
more innovative, and dont worry, perfectly legal
steps, because the regulators wont even
understand what you are doing.

What you do is this. Once you have your

Forward Trade in place and have your 1000
shareholders, start spreading stories that your
goose is ill and is about to die. Once this happens,
these 1000 shareholders, those who have bought
Shares of your Forward Traded Eggs will start
panicking as they know now that there will be no
egg, and hence possibly no Return on their
Investment. The prices of these shares will hit
rock bottom as they try to sell the shares to
anyone who is willing to buy them. This is when
you step in, preferably though an Agent, and buy
their shares at rock bottom prices. Then your
goose miraculously recovers. So now there will be
an egg, and the Right to the Delivery Price of the
Forward Trade of this egg is now with you. As is
the money that you had got when you had sold
this right in the first place. In this way, you would
have eaten your cake (as you got the money when
you sold the Derivatives) and can have it too,
when you buy back the Right to Forward Price.

If you think this was the last great devilish trick

(only, its not called a trick because whiz Kids on
Wall Street dont play tricks), then you are not the
King of Finance. This is the point where they
separate the boys from the men. The Smart Big
Guys will see how these financial instruments
offer you an opportunity to realise the same big
money without even having the Goose That Laid
the Golden Egg. They will realise how the modern
financial system triumphs over the traditional
methods in allowing you to make masses of
money from Golden Eggs, without even having a
goose. You cant figure it out? Well, here is the
method revealed for the first time.

For this method to work, you need a partner.

Thats good, for its nice to share your profits with
others. Now a true believer will never exhibit the
good work he is doing. So tell no one about this
partner, dont let anyone even know that he is
your partner, or even that such a partner exists.

Now, start telling everyone that you have a

goose that lays a golden egg everyday, and that
you are going to sell them through Forward
Trade, and real cheap. The market will be abuzz,
but suddenly one surprise buyer comes from
nowhere and buys your entire next years
production of eggs in a Forward Trade, offering
you a good price. No one knows the identity of
this person. Since this is your partner, you too are
not going to tell anyone, since you want to keep
your good work hidden.

Now, these eggs are never going to be produced

as the goose is non-existent, but you dont have to
worry about it. The only buyer of these eggs (your
secret partner) is not bothered and is not asking
about the eggs, and you dont have to answer to
anyone else. Now you create the Derivatives from
the Forward Sale, and sell them to thousands of
people. Then the goose falls sick. Share prices
crash. You buy them off at almost nothing. The
non-existent goose dies.

So what do you have? The goose is dead, and

you cant sell any eggs to the Mystery Buyer. But
he isnt complaining. The people who paid good
money to buy your Shares / Derivatives cant
complain because they have already sold these
back to you. Though theyve sold these at a huge
loss, they did so voluntarily, so they cant
complain about any market losses. You have a
large number of shares that are useless, but you
are not complaining. Because you also have the
thousands of rupees which all these people had
paid you to buy the shares in the first place. You
split them up with your partner and go home, or
to Hawaii or wherever such rich people go. And if
anyone asks you to show the goose, well, its dead
and buried.

See the power of modern finance? It has allowed

you to collect the worth of all the eggs at one go,
and that too without having a goose. And its all
legal. In fact, if you can make you business big
enough, say 1000 geese, and a million
shareholders, and then it crashes, you may be able
to make even more piles of money from
Government bailouts.

See how the knowledge of the financial system is an

enormously powerful tool in your hands to get rich?
In this chapter, you have learnt enough about the
system to put it into practice and start earning your
riches right away. And while you are making progress
on the road to riches, keep a look out, as my sequel
with even more Secrets of Finance Made Easy will
soon be out.
Now let us look at the other part of Financial
Education, namely, the fundamental principles of
finance. In fact, if you have read the earlier part of this
chapter with care and attention, you will have noticed
that we have already come across some of these
principles. For example, two important principles we
have previously talked about are the Higher the
Return, the Higher the Risk, and, Take Risks, But With
Other Peoples Money.

Let us now talk about another very important

principle of finance.

Asset for Rich Parent, Liability for Poor Parent

This principle is explained in detail by a book that
brings to us the wisdom of a rich parent as against the
conventional strait-jacketed thinking of a poor one.
Not only is this a great insight, but a very practical
one, not anything abstract.

This very simple, but hugely powerful principle is: To

make money, invest in assets, and not liabilities! In
other words, put your money in things that bring you
more money, and not in things that take away money
from you! Now this may seem like common sense, but
the key lies in knowing what is an asset and what is a
liability. Unfortunately, we often tend to mistake one
for the other. This is exactly where this wonderful
book comes in.

You will be surprised to learn that some of the things

that you considered investments and assets are
actually liabilities. For example, it is accepted wisdom
that buying ones own house is a great investment!
Well, no, according to the book. Simple back of the
envelope calculations show that the book is correct!
Say you spend a large sum to purchase a house. First
of all, you lose the interest you would have earned on
this money. Then, you have to spend on the
maintenance of the house, taxes and so on, which
would be another big expense. Thus, by investing in a
house, you actually end up spending money. Instead,
if you just rent one, it would cost you only the rent,
and you could still earn interest on your money. Thus,
by investing in your own house, you are losing money
every month!!
Similar calculations show that is it better to sell off
your car, put the money in the bank, and take an auto-
rickshaw or taxi to work. Uber is basing its long term
forecast on people doing such rational thinking. It is
wonderful how you can extend this logic to almost
every sphere of your life and rid yourself off your
liabilities. For example, you would do well by selling
off your fridge and kitchen equipment, save some rent
by living in a place without a kitchen, and then eat

Now of course, if you are Indian, chances are that you

are genetically programmed such that your basic
objective in life is to be settled. Which, to explain to
non-Indians, means that ASAP in life, you should get
a job (especially for men), get married, have children
mostly in that order, and buy a house, which can come
anywhere in the sequence.

So this warning that an owned house is a liability

masquerading as an asset is probably somewhat
wasted on Indians. In fact, some self-help analysts say
that such advice to consider an owned house as a
liability is true for western society (where these books
are written), but they dont know India, and their
advice is not valid for us. But this is not true at all.
Indeed, I would even say that this advice is all the
more applicable for Indians. (See Excerpt 3.1 which
explains how)

You can see from this example how important it is to

distinguish between an asset and a liability, and how
the two are not always what they seem to be.

The Asset Liability principle is only one of the many

important principles of finance and making money.
Here are some more:

1. Spend Less Than You Earn, Earn More

Than You Spend
2. Invest, Invest, Invest Even if You Have
To Invest Your Own Money
3. Invest or Perish (Variation of 2 Above)
4. Get Rid of Debt Especially Credit Card
5. Use The Power of Compounding

Now some self-help authors and experts tend to

classify these principles under the category of
Sensible Options. Unfortunately this greatly
diminishes their appeal and utility, because this word
(sensible) must immediately raise our antennae, as it
sounds suspiciously like hard work, diligence, saving
rather than spending money, and so on. And the
experts are right. A closer analysis of these sensible
options reveals many fundamental flaws, thus proving
the critics right. (It is no wonder that those using these
sensible options rarely ever become rich).

Consider the last option. Several books talk in a starry

eyed way about this power of compounding. Again,
a bit of mathematics is needed here. (See, even in
sensible things, mathematics is inevitable).
Compounding is simply the reinvestment of the
interest you receive on an investment. Thus, if you
invest Rs. 1000 at 10% for a year, at the end of the year
you would have Rs. 1100. Now, instead of taking out
the Rs. 100 you earned (so, spend less), you allow it
also to be invested at 10%, so next year you have Rs.
1100 invested, and the interest you earn will be Rs. 110
instead of Rs. 100. The power of compounding comes
when this repeats year after year.

Typically, self-help books give you examples like this:

Say you want to be a millionaire when you retire at 65,
you would need to put in only once, just Rs. 13,720 at
10% interest rate when you are 20, and viola, you will
get a million when you are 65. This is the power of
compounding, and the longer you wait, the better it
works. But then, patience is one of the key elements of
being sensible, so this waiting for 45 years should not
bother us too much.

The problem is that when you are 20, you think 40

itself is so far off that it is almost unreal. As for 65, I
dont think anyone so young can even conceptualise it.
(Remember how the Beatles, in their hit song that
talked about what would happen when one of them
became really old, could stretch their imagination to
only 64.)
If you are already 40 or more when you discover the
magic of compounding, it is likely that you would be
too old (or worse dead!) to appreciate it, though your
heirs would be forever grateful for your
thoughtfulness. Thus, the power of compounding is a
great tool to grow rich, provided it has been harnessed
by your ancestors at least two generations before you.

All in all, the path of being sensible, even bolstered by

the power of compounding, can be summed up by a
slight modification of an old saying, Sensible tareeke
mein der jaroor hai, aur andher nahin hogi kehe nahin sakte.

The Last Weapon

Tried everything and still not rich? Tried the easy
techniques, tried working the system, desperately
tried even the sensible methods? Frustrated,
disheartened, dejected? Well take heart, for here is the
last weapon which wont ever fail you.

There are plenty of self-help books that tell you how to

get rich. Then there are many others which tell you
how to be successful, how to be a great salesperson,
how to be happy, how to make pals and persuade
others. Now think about this for a moment why are
there separate books for getting rich, and getting all
the other things? Could it be, could it just be that
getting rich does not necessarily translate to success,
happiness and friendships?

This is the special insight from the knowledge of the

centuries. It is my careful study of some ancient self-
help books that has revealed this powerful secret. You
can remind yourself of it over and over again. You can
share it with your wife. You can mention it with an air
of nonchalance to your friends at parties, making sure
that some of the rich are within earshot. This
knowledge will bring you great comfort and solace,
particularly when the get- rich books do not work for

And with that smug smile on your face, you can go

about your life knowing that being rich aint
Excerpt 3.1 Is Your House an Asset or a Liability
The Indian Story

The story of Shymal M. (name changed on request)

and D. Datta points us to the answer.

Shymal was a bright student in college, and after

graduating in Arts, he finished his MBA and joined an
MNC (Multi National Company). As he rose up the
ranks, he made his first major financial decision (no,
not marriage). He decided to buy a house. His
calculations were flawless. His job required him to be
posted at new places every few years. The company
gave him an additional House Rent Allowance (HRA).
He bought a house in Baroda, where he eventually
planned to live after retirement. He gave the house on
rent to Datta, and paid the EMIs from the rent.
Meanwhile, he lived in the houses paid for by his
company, through the HRA. His was the story of the
smart Indian. He also saved diligently in PPF, LIC and
As he approached his retirement, he requested his
company to post him to Baroda so that he could start
settling in in the city. His request was granted. But
then came the kahani mein twist (A twist in the tale).
His tenant, who had been living for many years in his
house, had naturally become attached to it. He refused
to move out. And Shymal had no place to go to. After
much cajoling, requesting, and pleading, the tenant
finally agreed to move. As a token of appreciation for
this gesture, Shymal paid his tenant several lakh
rupees, drawn by cashing his PPF, LIC and MFs.

So poor Shymal, at the end of his working life was left

with a 20 year old house in a somewhat sad condition
and little money. Datta the tenant, was left with a tidy
sum of money at the end of these very same years, in
addition to his own savings of course.

We see that the very valuable lesson that an important

get rich book tells us that an owned house really is
not an asset, but a liability is true also in India. How
universal are the messages of love, brotherhood and
getting rich!
Have Your Time and Save it Too
Self Help for Time Management

Can you recollect what is probably the most famous

equation in the world? The one which showed the
equivalence between two of the most fundamental
commodities in the universe? Yes, you are right. This
most well-known equation is the one that shows how
two of the most important quantities in the universe
are one and the same, namely Time is Money! (Those
of you who thought we were talking about an obscure
scientific-mathematical formula given by a somewhat
less obscure scientist called Albert Einstein which
links energy and mass in the universe and is
something like E=mc2, should get their heads out of
dense scientific facts and come back to real life.)

Time is indeed money, and every person who wants to

make self-improvement central to his or her goals in
life must understand the critical importance of time.
Unfortunately, not many societies have understood
this, especially in India.
I had the chance to spend a few years in a rural and
semi-urban area in central India. Now this community
had absolutely no value for time. They seemed to
think that there were only three parts to a working
day morning, afternoon and evening. So if I wanted
to set up a meeting with someone, I would ask them
What time is convenient to you?, and he would say,
Lets meet in the morning. And I would ask What
time in the morning? and the reply would be I told
you, morning. I will come. Not just appointments,
but all parts of life ran according to this time table.

Just as the day was divided into only three parts, the
calendar was also divided into imprecise slices of a
few days. So if I needed something done, and asked
Kab hoga? (When will this be done?), the reply
would invariably be Kuch din mein ho jayega (It will
be done in a few days.)

The more formal services like buses and the post office
were supposed to be better in this regard, but reflected
the same lack of any value for time. For example, a bus
that started from the bus stop at one end of the town
would slowly make its way across to the other end
before it got on to the highway. Between these two
points, it would stop when people wanted to get on (at
any point where it was flagged), when people who
had forgotten to take along essential necessities of life
requested the bus driver to stop for a moment near a
shop as they picked up these things (these necessities
consisted usually of gutka, mava, or paan), or when the
conductor wanted to pick up his lunch box from his
house that was on the way. If this affected the time it
took to reach the destination, well, you guessed it, no
one was counting.

When I would run late for appointments (reaching in

the afternoon for a morning meeting, mostly due to
the buses as described above), I would feel very guilty,
as the other person would have been kept waiting.
When I would apologise, he would wonder why. I
would ask him - what did you do while waiting? And
he would have been chatting with the tea-shop owner
or his sundry customers, or just sitting and mulling
over nothing. In general, people did not seem to know
what to do with their time, and so would end up
mostly sitting together, whiling away valuable time in
talking about nothing in particular.

Clearly, a backward community like this was bleeding

resources, for time as the well-known equation tells
us, is money.

I could only contrast this with my friends in Mumbai,

Suresh and Sushma. They had it all laid out. Get up at
10 minutes past 6. Have tea by 6.30, put on the cooker
and wake up the son at 6.45. Get him ready to go to
school by 7.20 as the pickup van came at 7.25.
Meanwhile, my friend and his wife would also
complete the cooking (7.45), get ready (8.05), have
breakfast (8.20), and leave the house by 8.25. They had
calculated that it took them 12 minutes to reach the
station so they would reach there by 8.37, and be there
well in time to catch the 8.40 train. They even had 3
minutes as a buffer in case things went wrong, or if
they did not, then to catch up with others while
waiting on the platform. A similar time-table awaited
their arrival from the office. After they returned home
in the evening, they had taken pains to set aside
quality time with the family (17 minutes over the cup
of tea to be had when both reached home, 35 minutes
over dinner, 30 minutes with the kid for homework)
and for leisure (from 1 to 2 hours, depending on the
programme schedule on TV). Boy, did they know the
value of time.

However, many people who understand the value of

time seem to have great difficulty in managing it. It
may be because they know that time is so precious
that they are concerned with every minute and
second. How often have we heard the lament I just
dont know where my time goes. Or I just dont
seem to have time to do this (or that). Or, I wonder
how she/he finds the time to do so many things, I cant
even finish this (or that).

Well, if you are afflicted with these concerns, you can

rest and relax, as there are a number of books that tell
you how to get the most out of your time.
I Just Dont Know Where my Time Goes
This very question carries the answer to your time
management woes, though you might not realise it.
You cant manage your time precisely because you
dont know where it goes. So the solution is simple,
and in fact, is one of the first steps of any solid time
management programme prescribed by good books
prepare a record of how you spend your time.

This means noting down every activity you undertake,

and how much time you take to carry it out. The
easiest way of doing this is to carry a small pocket-
sized notepad, pen, and watch with you, and you are
ready to begin. Of course, if you are tech-savvy, then
you can replace all these three with your smartphone
(which will also allow you to listen to music, take
photographs, play games, surf the internet, and, in
case of some of the more fancy models even make
phone calls). You are now ready to start.

As you get up, reach directly for your notepad and

make an entry 6.10 Got up. Then keep track with
your watch and enter every activity brush, bath, tea,
newspaper, commute to office, work and so on. Now, I
do understand that you may find it weird in the
beginning, and others might find it even more so! I am
sure your boss will be somewhat puzzled, when, on
his summoning, you enter his room, sit on the chair
opposite to him and just as he is about to start, hold up
your palm and request him to wait for a second. Then
you carefully pull out your notepad (or your smart
phone), look at your watch, and make an entry:
Meeting with the boss, Begin 10.25. Then, putting
away the pad, you look at your boss and tell him, Yes
please. A similar ritual at the end may result in
similar puzzlement. But dont worry, he will soon get
used to it. If he ever asks about it, you can explain
what you are doing. I am sure that this will greatly
increase his respect for you as an employee who is
actually trying to do something about wastage of time.
If the boss is a good manager, he may even latch on to
the idea and get his whole team on to it. It would be
great then to have the whole office walking around
with notepads in pockets, pulling them out the
moment anyone meets anyone else, and scribbling
away the time in them. Naturally, since everyone
would be doing it, it would no longer seem so weird.

Of course, at home, it would be different. The wife and

kids would naturally wonder what you were up to, as
every time they wanted to talk or play or do
something with you, you interrupted them to flash out
your notepad and pen. It is therefore very important
to take your family into confidence about what you
are doing. Otherwise, it could lead to
misunderstandings and complications. You will need
the full support of your family in this endeavour, so
you need to explain it to them properly. Even if the
missus mutters something like What a sheer waste of
time! Why dont you fix the leaking tap instead?,
dont lose heart. Even if the son whispers sotto voce
that you should at least not resort to your notings
when his friends come home, your unkempt beard is
already embarrassment enough, you can think of it as
just some good natured grumbling from someone who
has not fully realised the import of what you are doing
but still wants to support you. As you can see, getting
the family on board is very important, and once you
have done this things will be much easier. Of course,
you will need to be careful about Tommy (the dog),
who may think that the notepad as you pull it out in
front of him is just one more of the chewy toys.

With the boss at work and the family at home fully

backing you, it will be smooth sailing, and you can go
about recording you activity log (yes, thats the
technical term for it).

Before I describe how you should make use of this log,

there is a caution that you must keep in mind. Your
activity record has the potential to create some
difficult situations if it falls into wrong hands (like the
wife, for example). Thus, you may claim that it took
you well over two hours and visits to three hardware
stores, of which one kept you waiting for close to 40
minutes, before you got the exact screw and washer
you needed to repair the leaking tap at home.
However, your notepad could reveal that it was all
over in 10 minutes at the hardware store, and the
remaining 1 hour and 50 minutes were spent with the
boys cooling off with a drink. A notepad forgotten
carelessly on the table at the office canteen could
announce that you played PacMan non-stop for 1 hour
and 10 minutes, breaking your own record of last
week. (It would also let out that this was done
between 10.30 am and 11.40 am, when your boss
blissfully thought you were working on the Burman
and Co. matter, which he was told was delayed as a
virus corrupted the files.) There could be even more
dangerous secrets that the notepad could let out.

There are several ways to avoid this. First of all, you

must be most careful about where you keep the
notepad. It is best to keep it on your person at all
times, and check regularly that it is not lost. Also, you
may mark some entries only as ************** or some
other code, say ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^, so that even if the
pad gets into someone elses hands, they wont be able
to know about sensitive activities like ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^.

Needless to say, at times, both of these methods can be

difficult keeping the pad away from someone, and
hiding behind a code. For example, when the wife
who now fully appreciates the value of the exercise
you are carrying out asks you at the end of every day
to hand in your notepad for inspection, you can hardly
refuse. Moreover, any ************** will immediately
grab attention, and questions will be first directed to
that activity. To avoid such problems, the self-help
book Making Activity Logs Work for You has a most
elegant solution maintain two sets of notepads. One,
in which you note the actual things you do (and here
too, use of coded entries ************** is advised), and
the second which you can show to others. Naturally,
for the latter you will have to have a set of some nice
dummy activities. Some suggestions include waiting
for the bus (30 minutes), car tyre punctured (40
minutes), reading War and Peace (2 hours) and so on.
Note that these are activities which do not need to be
corroborated by others, which is what the dummy
activities in your duplicate pad better be!

All this may take some time, but unless you invest
time, you wont be able to manage or save time. Just
like money! But then, this should not be surprising, for
we know that Time is Money.
Now that you are trained in preparing your activity
record, do this for at least a week or ten days. Once
you have the record, you may find it most convenient
to enter it into a Worksheet, and categorise the various
activities (such as work, leisure, waste, etc). Make
sure that the categories do not overlap (e.g. if you
think work is a waste, then dont have two different
categories for them).

This summary worksheet can offer you immensely

valuable insights into how you use your time. You will
be amazed to see how much time you are wasting
doing, mundane or boring things. You will also gain
an understanding of how you spend your time outside
the office. The sheet will help you identify the low
value, low utility tasks that eat into your quality time
(e.g., feigning interest while listening with a polite and
blank face for 2 hours to your mother-in-law).

This powerful technique enables you to take charge of

your life, be the master and move from being
controlled to taking control. But you may well ask -
what does one do once these time guzzlers have been
identified? How does one stop wasting time and allot
time to productive and value-added activities? If one
knew how to take control for example, how to avoid
reading the hundred or so emails those come into the
Inbox every day then one wont be reading a book
on time management.

You are right. This technique does not tell you how to
stop wasting time but is a fundamental prerequisite
for doing so. Only when you see where you are
spending your time, can you start allocating time to
the priorities and not to trivial things that eat away
your valuable time. Once you do this, you are already
half way home on getting your time management

So let us now look at one of the most important tools

that will help you set your priorities right the Time
Management Quadrilateral.

The Time Management Quadrilateral

One of the most wonderful ways to manage time is the
Time Management Quadrilateral (TMQ). (As any
reader familiar with self-help books will know,
geometric figures are the pillars of good self-help
books, and no book worth its salt would be without at
least one of them. Figures are among the most
valuable aids in self-help. These include, apart from
the TMQ, The Star of Life (Five Points to Make Your Life
Shine), Slope of Hope (Sliding from Despair into
Optimism), the Parabola of Joy - oops, that is by P G
Wodehouse in Leave it to Psmith. However, there are
many others.)

Let us come back to the TMQ. The TMQ, as the name

indicates, is a quadrilateral. No, dont reach for the
dictionary all it means is a figure with four sides. A
square is a quadrilateral, so is a rectangle. But a TMQ
is a more than just a quadrilateral it is a quad-
quadrilateral. That is, it is four quadrilaterals in one,
making a bigger quadrilateral. After all, powerful
tools can be quite complex. The development of a
TMQ is shown below.
A simple quadrilateral

A Primary TMQ
In a standard TMQ for example, as described by the
pioneering Seven Practices of Very Efficient Persons, the
four quads represent four categories of activities.
Some activities are urgent, and others are not so
urgent. Let us put these labels at the top of the main
quad. Tasks can also be important and not important.
Let us label this on the side of the main quad. Now the
TMQ will look like this, and is ready for use.

Non-Urgent Urgent


Important QUAD 3 QUAD 4

If you look carefully, you will see that each Quad
represents a different kind of demand on your time.
Urgent activities require immediate attention. Quad 4
represents crises that are important to respond to and
demand quick attention for example, if the washer
on a tap suddenly gives way and it starts gushing
water. Quad 3 generally include long term goals (I
will learn painting, or even I will repair the leaking

Thus, the TMQ helps you focus on activities that yield

value essentially those in Quad 3 and 4, and help
you understand those that are a drain on the time. But
the power of TMQ is multiplied many times once you
link it to your activity log.

Take the activity log that you have prepared for

yourself and extract a list of activities from it for
example, reading the newspaper, commuting to work,
having meals, etc.

Now consider each of these activities one by one. Is it

important, and is it urgent? Then it will go into Quad
4. Similarly, non-urgent and non-important activities
will go into Quad 1. You get the picture. Once you
have classified all your activities into the four quads,
you can see where you are. Naturally, the goal is to
shift as much of your time from Quad 1 and Quad 2 to
Quad 3 and Quad 4.

If you find that the activities that take up the

maximum time (see your activity log) are in Quad 3,
then you are a master at time management. If you see
that many are in Quad 2, then you are having too
many crises in your life. You need to see a therapist.
And if most of your activities are in Quad 1, then you
are either wasting too much time, or are a non-stop
player of Farmville or Second Life.

However, there is a major flaw in the TMQ as

presented in self-help books. The classification of
activities into important and non-important can lead
to misplaced priorities in life, and a shift to activities
that lead to stress and time wastage rather than
Consider the Quad 1. In a classic TMQ, Quad 1 is the
time guzzler and activities in it need to be completely
eliminated. On the other hand, if you are a champion,
blue-ribbon-holder Farmville player, chances are that
you will be spending considerable time on your
Farm. The TMQ will put all this time in Quad 1. Or, if
you are online and your friends pop up to chat, the
TMQ will put this activity in Quad 2 as urgent (a
popped up chat window requires urgent response),
but non-important. So you can see that the TMQ can
mess up your life altogether.

To deal with this situation, one needs a little tweak.

The classification of activities into important and non-
important needs to go. After all, the question is -
important to whom? Completing the Arora & Arora file
by Tuesday evening, no matter how late, is possibly
important for your boss. But is it important for you?
To address such situations, I propose an alternative
classification of enjoyable and non-enjoyable. This
completely transforms the TMQ and its utility. Now it
will look like this:
The Transformed TMQ

Non-Urgent Urgent


Enjoyable QUAD 3 QUAD 4

The difference is obvious. Your wonderful efforts on

Farmville are now in the Quad 3, and Chat shifts into
Quad 4. In this manner, your time management goals
become consistent with your values in life.

Great, isnt it?

The To Do Lists The Core of Time Management
We now come to the core of any time management
strategy the To Do List. It is amazing how so few
people have the habit of listing down their tasks for
the day, week or month.

Most people think of the To Do list as simply a list of

tasks to be carried out. While this is conceptually true,
in reality, it is much more complex. In fact, the To Do
list is an extremely powerful and well evolved
technique of time management. We will look at this
method in detail.

The To Do list at its core is a list of the things you need

to do and can be for the day, for the week or even for a
month. The basic premise of the To Do list is that
human memory is weak. Research carried out at the
MIT (Mahabaleshwar Institute of Technology)
Department of Bio-Engineering by Chaterjee, Paul and
Rawal in 1997 demonstrated that the human brain is
not capable of remembering more than 10 things at a
time. Since 6 of them include routine things like
messaging the heart to beat, reminding the lungs to
breathe and so on, this leaves only 4 slots for such
important things like digging out the balance sheet
figures for the boss, paying the phone bill, picking up
the clothes from the laundry, mailing the subscription
cheque to the club, and the wifes birthday. (Oh no,
this is the fifth one, so it is most likely to be forgotten).
The research also showed that if two people were
living together as partners, then there was 95%
likelihood that the things forgotten by one would be
remembered by the other. The point is that since the
brain is capable of remembering only a few things, we
need a better way of keeping track of the things we
have to do. This is the scientific basis for the To Do list.
Of course, To Do lists were already in vogue before
this research was carried out, but the research further
established the importance of the tool. (In a way its
similar to the discovery of oxygen. We were breathing
it well before its discovery, but now we have a
scientific basis for doing it.)

To start your list, begin by listing out all the things

you need to do. Make it as detailed as possible so that
you dont leave anything out. It is best to prepare a list
for the week, and then extract out of it a list for every
day. If some tasks are big, break them down into
smaller sub-tasks. For example, if you had been the
President of America in 2003, your list would read
something like this.

A. Slash Income tax

B. Reform Medicare
C. Change Regime in Iraq
D. Cut Air Pollution from Power Plants
. etc.

But some of these entries would be further broken

down into smaller tasks. For example, the entry on
Change Regime in Iraq could look like:

C. Change Regime in Iraq

1. Find WMD in Iraq
2. Try Again
3. Try Once Again
4. Keep Trying
5. Ask the British to announce that WMD
have been found
6. Keep trying to find WMD in Iraq
7. Launch air attack on Iraq anyway
8. Push ground troops
9. Ask them to find WMD in Iraq
10. Ask them to keep trying
11. Try and capture Saddam
12. Keep trying to find WMD
13. Take control of the army, strategic
installations and administration
14. Effect regime change by replacing Iraqi oil
companies with American and British
15. Keep trying to find WMDs

See how breaking down a big task into several smaller

ones helps to plan it better and make possible carrying
out an otherwise difficult task?

Once you have the list prepared, the next important

thing is to prioritise the tasks. This is the crux of
managing your time well. After all, some tasks are
really very important and some are not so important,
but the time available is limited. Some self-help books
advocate a simple A and B classification for
prioritisation, but others find this too limiting and
suggest using a more nuanced and detailed scheme,
labelling tasks from A, B, C all the way to F. This
makes it possible to handle a variety of tasks.

A scheme of prioritisation allows you to place the

most important tasks at the top of the To Do list. It
allows you to allocate your time to the tasks that are
likely to bring in the best results. To see for yourself
this immense power of prioritisation, let us come back
to the example of the To Do list of the President, in
particular the sub-tasks of task C, namely Change
Regime in Iraq. Now with a scheme in which A
represents the highest priority and F the lowest,
clearly sub-tasks 1, 2, 3, 15 etc. are not those you want
to waste precious time on, and hence they are an
obvious F. Tasks 13 and 14 are definitely an A. In fact,
14 would even rate an AA. Others like 7, 8 can be a B,
11 again is definitely an A. With each task assigned a
priority, the list would look something like this:
C. Change Regime in Iraq
1. Find WMD in Iraq Priority F
2. Try Again Priority F
3. Try Once Again Priority F
4. Keep Trying Priority F
5. Ask the British to
announce that WMD
have been found Priority C
6. Keep trying to find
WMD in Iraq Priority F
7. Launch air attack
on Iraq anyway Priority B
8. Push ground troops Priority B
9. Ask them to find
WMD in Iraq Priority F
10. Ask them to keep
trying Priority F
11. Try and capture
Saddam Priority A
12. Keep trying to
find WMD Priority F
13. Take control of the
army, strategic
and administration Priority A
14. Effect regime change
by replacing Iraq
oil companies with
American and
British companies Priority AA
15. Keep trying to
find WMDs Priority F

The Prioritised To Do list allows you to see at a glance

which are the tasks that you really need to do, and
which should be the first demand on your time. This
unleashes the power of the To Do list.

Several self-help and time management gurus, often

using the power of modern technology, have added
other innovations to this Vanilla To Do List to make it
into an extremely powerful tool to plan and manage
your time. These include sequencing of tasks, colour-
coding, multiple lists (e.g. one for office, one for
home), cross-linking between multiple lists of one-self,
cross-linking between ones own list and others lists
(e.g. with the list of spouse), two way linkage between
the To Do lists and your facebook page, twitter
account, email account to allow auto-update of
activities, link to your amazon account and bank
accounts to allow auto ordering and auto payments

There are amazing Apps and software available to

manage your To Do lists, some of which are hosted on
the cloud to give you a seamless experience of the To
Do lists across all your devices.

Some companies are also offering optimisation

services, where you can upload your categorised tasks
on their website and their amazing software can come
back with a sequencing and prioritisation of the tasks
to ensure least time spent and highest efficiency of

Now, I do understand that some people find

technology somewhat intimidating. But this does not
mean that they have to be deprived of this wonderful
tool. For people like this, there are a set of products
including daily, weekly and monthly planners, smart
binders, planner folios, organisers, deluxe organisers
(bound in beautiful real black or brown leather), To
Do List FridgeStickOns, specially designed Calendars,
all of them with a set of pens (three different inks),
highlighters (four different colours) and pencils
(colours optional).

The level of commercialisation is proof that To Do lists

are a great tool and have arrived.

So now, go ahead and download these great Apps,

step out and buy these wonderful support products,
and you are on your way to managing time with the
wonderful Colour-Coded, Sequenced, Prioritised To
Do Lists.

Some Caution
When To Do lists emerged as such powerful tools and
took the self-help world by storm, some disgruntled
elements (that is, those who had overlooked including
this wonderful tool in their books), started spreading
rumours that these lists were ineffective, and even
counterproductive. Now, most of this is purely sour
grapes, but as an independent expert, I have to admit
that some of the criticism is valid.

One of the most common problems is that many

people get confused when a list has several tasks with
the same sequencing, that is, tasks that need to be
done at the same time. People are quite perplexed and
ask how this is possible. Well, we explain how it can
be done in Except 4.1 - an age old practice that now
also has a modern name Multi-Tasking.

Some people feel that these To Do lists are too


But the bigger, more serious problem and by far the

most common problem with the To Do Lists is that
some people often get completely overwhelmed on
seeing their To Do List. Apparently, they are not even
aware that there are all these tasks piled up for them
to do, list comes as a rude wake-up call.
There have been several cases reported of people
going into a state of shock or being paralysed into total
inaction when they see the long list of tasks. Such
people have been found staring blankly for hours at
the To Do list in a kind of frozen stupor. In rare cases,
To Do lists have also been known to have triggered off
heart attacks.

To address this, my book provides the revolutionary

new technique that allows you to not only benefit fully
from the amazing power of To Do Lists without side
effects like intimidation and stress, but also to go
through the tasks far less time and effort than you can
imagine. This unique technique is not offered to you
by any other self-help book. It is called the Laundry
Pile Technique (Patent Pending). What is so
interesting about this technique is that it is useful not
only in managing To Do lists, but is applicable to a
wide range of other problems, as we shall see.

The Laundry Pile Technique (LPT) was developed at

the prestigious, globally famous Indian Institute of
Technology (IIT), Powai, Mumbai (at that time,
Bombay). The IIT is so prestigious that many of its
brilliant innovations and discoveries have often taken
place outside the classrooms, labs and research
centres. In fact, the LPT that we are talking about was
discovered in the student hostel by three exceptionally
talented undergraduate students. Many great
discoveries that changed the trajectory of human
history have happened entirely accidentally (for
instance, the discovery that eating an apple can get
you thrown out of paradise). The discovery of the LPT
ranks among such accidental discoveries that have
had a far reaching influence on human civilisation.
The genius of the three students was not in the
discovery itself, but in the fact that they recognised its
importance, its relevance to other areas of life, and that
they were able to transform it from the LPP, the
Laundry Pile Principle, into the Laundry Pile Technique.

The three students, namely Manoj, Milind, and Yours

Truly, like many of their colleagues, found the task of
washing clothes in the hostels a real drudgery, and
secretly thought it somewhat unnecessary. However,
unlike the others who gave in to pressures and
washed their clothes every third day, these three were
able to prioritise their time better, and so always put
off the washing for a few days later. However, they
would carefully put their used clothes in a corner in
their rooms, and more clothes would be added to the
top of the pile as the days went by. Now, as is natural
in such circumstances, it would happen that on some
days, they would open the cupboard to dress for class,
and find to their dismay that it was empty. And that
all their clothes were in the pile in the corner. Such
emergencies were met mostly by the most convenient
method of bunking class. But on some occasions, such
options were not available, or involved heavy costs
like missing a test. It is during one such desperate
occasion, when there did not seem to be any other
option, that one of them reached out to the bottom of
the pile and pulled out the dress placed there a couple
of weeks back. And to his great surprise, he
discovered that it was almost as good as washed!
Moreover, being packed down at the bottom of the
pile by the weight of the clothes above it, it was also
well ironed at least in parts. Soon, this serendipitous
finding was honed into a fine technique by the three
friends. They now decided against washing clothes as
a deliberate choice, and instead started placing used
clothes in a corner, piling them up as they were used.
When all clothes were in the pile, one just started
using them again starting at the bottom. They
discovered that this technique had an 86% yield index.
(This being a technical term, it needs some
explanation. This means that in a cycle, only 14% of
the clothes needed to be actually washed. The rest
were as good by the action of the Laundry Pile).

The three friends did not stop there. Being the

technologists that they were, they had a gut feeling
that this phenomenon must be universal in nature.
They experimented with several other applications.
And they found that this was indeed true. One of their
earliest experiments was with task lists. Like many
others, these friends also maintained a list of things to
be done. As a part of this experiment, they transferred
the task list on to a series of small cards, writing each
task on a card. Then they made a pile of these cards,
and left them for a week in the corner. When the pile
was picked up after seven days, presto, it was found
that over 80% of the tasks were no longer relevant, and
did not need to be done. This, of course, is equivalent
to doing them. A task saved is as good as a task done.
(Like money saved is money earned.)

We wont go into the many wonderful variations of

the LPT as developed by these three friends, but will
come back to our To Do List.

After many sophisticated experiments, the application

of the LPT to To Do lists has now been well
understood and perfected. All you have to do is to
prepare your To Do List, and then put it away for a
week. At the end of this period, 82% of the tasks
would be as good as done as they would no longer be
required. In fact, this revolutionary technique works
with another completely unrelated time guzzler too
yes, it is the perfect way to handle emails. All you
have to do is to create a folder called To Reply, start
placing in this folder the incoming mails that you
want to respond to, and open it after a week. You will
be amazed to see that 89% (yes, for emails the Yield
Index is 89%) of the mails would be as good as done.

Thus, using the power of the To Do List (with

prioritisation, sub-tasking, colour-coding etc.)
combined with the LPT will dramatically reduce your
time pressures and help you manage your time much
better. And to end with some good news, the three
friends are currently working on an LPT application
for To Do Lists that will increase the Yield Index to
98% - yes, you read it right 98%. With this, you will
virtually not have to do anything, leaving you with
time to do everything. Till this breakthrough,
however, you can still enjoy having plenty of time
with 82% of the tasks being taken care of.

Excerpt 4.1: Save Time by Multi-Tasking

Confusion can arise when several tasks in a To Do list
have the same sequence number. This can happen
because some tasks need to be done at the same time.
This is called multi-tasking, and is one of the great
time savers ever discovered. The logic is very simple
do several things at once and you will do three things
in the time needed to do one! Check your mail and
reply to it even as you talk on the phone. Complete
you phone calls as you drive. Meetings and
conferences are the best occasions to multi-task as you
can get so many things done while others are talking.
In particular, they are the best places for catching up
on your sleep, a task you cant multi-task with most
other tasks.

Some self-help books are trying to play spoilsport by

saying that multi-tasking is counterproductive and
inefficient, but let me tell you, they are completely
wrong. Indeed, scientific experiments have shown that
our DNA is hard wired for multi-tasking. Researchers
from the Bhavivian Institute of Human Behavioural
Psychology carried out a multi-country study in 2006.
They took 1289 subjects in 32 countries, and placed
them in front of computers connected to the internet.
Then, over a span of one hour, each of them was made
to receive and make 5 phone calls. They found that
over 95% of the subjects continued to work on the
internet automatically and compulsively, even though
they had been told that they should not do so when
receiving or making phone calls.

Women are seen to be particularly adept at multi-

tasking. They seem to be doing so many things all at
once that anthropologists now believe that evolution
has bred multi-tasking into women. But this is a myth.
No doubt, women are good multi-taskers, but so are
men. In fact, men may be better because they are often
multi-tasking while giving the impression of doing
one thing. For example, you will be surprised at the
skill with which a man who is listening with utmost
attention to his wife describing the difficult situation
of her uncle is simultaneously planning for
tomorrows night out with the boys, is at the same
time preparing a good excuse for his absence, and also
detailing arrangements that will corroborate his
excuse in case the wife wants to check on him. Truly,
its not women or men, its the entire human race that
has evolved with great multi-tasking abilities.
Refrigerators for Inuit, Heaters for
Sales Wisdom from Self-Help Books

William Shakespeare is reported to have said All the

worlds a stage. In fact, Shakespeare is reported to
have said so many things that at one time there was a
feeling among literary circles that there was nothing
more left to write as Shakespeare had already done it
all. But scholars point out that old Bill was somewhat
overrated. For example, Dr. Sunil Richarzen of the
University of Briskwhish has used this very quote
from As You Like It mentioned above, to show how
Shakespeare often missed the crucial point and was
less than accurate. Dr. Richarzen writes, The world
may be a stage for some, but certainly not for
everyone. However, if Shakespeare had got Jacques to
say that the entire worlds a market, then he would be
writing a universal truth, something that would hold
for every person, and for every interaction in the
Indeed, the importance of marketing skills cannot be
stated in a better way. Sometimes people
(mis)understand the terms sales and marketing in a
very narrow manner, restricting the interpretation to
mean the selling of some goods or services. However,
in real life, almost all transactions and interactions are
attempts to sell or market something, even if it is not
material, and not in exchange for money. When you
are trying to convince your spouse to switch from the
family drama channel on TV to the football match, you
are trying to sell her your preference. When you are
trying to get a job, you are selling yourself. When you
tell a newspaper that the Gulf of Mexico is a very big
ocean, you are trying to sell to the public your idea
that the oil you are pouring into it is tiny in relation to
the total amount of water.

This is why sales and marketing self-help books are so

important they are not just about improving yourself
at business and work, but have the potential to
transform your entire life. So please, all of you who
may have been thinking of skipping this chapter
because you thought it was not of relevance to your
life, you are urged to keep reading.

There are literally hundreds of self-help books,

websites and other resources on this topic. However, I
must caution you that there is almost a vertical divide
in the world of sales and marketing self-help books,
between two broad schools of thought. One school, let
us call it the old school, believes that a salesperson
should be able to help the customer fulfil his / her
needs. Such a salesperson will be the most effective.
The other school pooh-poohs this notion. They say
that anyone can sell to those in need thats hardly an
effective sales or marketing achievement. The real
challenge is selling something that is not needed by
the customer, as in the apocryphal story of selling
refrigerators to the Inuit, or in the more real world, of
selling fizzy cola drinks to, well, almost anyone. These
two schools have also led to the two categories of
selling and marketing the Selling of the First Type,
and the Selling of the Second Type. The global
economy clearly indicates the overwhelming
dominance of the second type. Yet, I warn you that
taking the first type lightly would be at your own

The Fundamentals
With this short introduction, let us now turn to the
basics of marketing and sales, which can completely
transform your effectiveness in persuading people to
buy. We shall see that these tremendously powerful
techniques will help you become a super-salesperson,
so that you can sell whatever you want to in a matter
of a few minutes.

First, and I dare say most important of all, you must

familiarise yourself with some of the most significant
and I cant emphasise this enough some of the most
significant words in the realm of selling and
marketing. These words are honesty, integrity,
credibility, service, courtesy, fairness, value for
money, and a few others. (A full list of these words
can be ordered from my office at merely Rs. 2999)
Look at these words carefully, understand the
concepts they stand for, the values they represent.
Memorise them, write them down in your note book,
and learn them by heart. Get prepared to recite them
even if you are woken up from sleep.

You get the picture, these words are extremely

valuable. They are like diamonds of great worth and
merit, but rare. In fact, we can call them the Diamond
Words of selling and marketing. Because of this, the
Basic Rules of Sales and Marketing are also called the
Diamond Rules. These principles are based on the
fundamental characteristics of diamonds.

As responsible members of the sales and marketing

fraternity, it is your first duty to maintain the value of
these Diamond Words. As anyone who knows her
economic theory will tell you, the law of demand and
supply is fundamental to all transactions. If a
commodity is in surplus, its value will go down, while
if a commodity is in short supply, its value will shoot

So the first rule of good marketing, the First Diamond

Rule, is to use these Diamond Words sparingly; we
dont want their value to erode because of excessive
usage. So go slow on the honesty, integrity, service, be
really stingy about courtesy and value for money, and
you will secure a place among the honourables of sales
and marketing.

Even on the rare occasion when you feel the need to

use the Diamond Words, keep in mind the Second
Diamond Rule. According to this principle, grand and
exalted diamonds are nothing but carbon, the same as
the more humble graphite or the lowly soot. While the
carbon atoms in diamonds have been rearranged to
make them dazzle, they are really just black soot
inside. So dont be shy of using all the dark stuff, the
dirty stuff.

The Third and last of the Diamond Rules is Display

Them, Put Them Back. This comes from the fact that
the most common use to which diamonds are put to is
to display them. Those who have diamonds, especially
high value, good quality diamonds, rarely do anything
else with them. They are only displayed, and then
promptly retuned back to the lockers. Displaying is
not only the main use of diamonds, it is also the main
purpose. So those who have diamonds will most
certainly display them. People need to know that you
have diamonds, that you have really valuable
diamonds. So you strut around with them, make sure
everyone notices you have them, and put them away

The same principle applies to all the Diamond Words

of honesty, integrity, service, and so on in sales and
marketing. You need to show that you have these, but
you shouldnt use them. Show them, and put them
away. In actual transactions, use soot after all, its the
same thing.

Internalising the Diamond Rules is the first essential

step of moving towards becoming a super-
salesperson. these fundamentals create the foundation
and equip you to make use of all the other skills and
powerful techniques that the self-help books teach
The Old School of Sales and Marketing Selling of
the First Type
Let us now look at the Old School of Sales and
Marketing in detail, so that you can be a tremendously
successful marketer. As we have seen, this school
believes that a good salesperson is one who helps the
customer fulfil his needs. A good salesperson is a
support and guide for the customer. Now this is
rubbished by the mainstream sales and marketing
community which say that while it is important to
meet the needs of the customer, it is hardly a great
achievement if you are selling what the customer
anyway desperately wants.

Now that does sound logical, doesnt it? But they are
mistaken. As a lot of marketers have discovered to
their shock logic doesnt always work in this field.

It is not always easy to sell something that meets the

genuine, even burning need of a customer. Let us look
at one example, in the spirit of interpreting the words
sales and marketing broadly rather than narrowly
restricting them to the business and commercial
world. One of the most intense need felt by hundreds
of thousands of people from all walks of life is for the
honest politician.

As everyone knows, this is a product that is greatly

in demand, but widely perceived as not easily
available in the market. So it should be a sellers
market. Yet, attempts to sell an honest politician have
mostly met with failure. The history of elections is
littered with crash landings, i.e. huge defeats of any
number of honest politicians.

Given all the difficulties of selling to meet a genuine

need, let us move to the easier, far more widely
prevalent type of selling, i.e. selling things not needed
by the customer.

The Selling of the Second Type

Surveys as early as 1920 by researchers at MIIT and
Harward found that over 97% of the things sold
worldwide fall in the second category of selling.
Subsequent research by others has indicated this
figure to be a conservative estimate. This estimate
however is not without its critics. This issue is so
fundamental to the theoretical foundation of sales and
marketing that we shall spend a few minutes here
looking into the details, even if you are raring to go
straight to the techniques that will empower you on
your way to become a super-salesman (or
saleswoman). Warning complex scientific analysis
follows! If you are logically challenged, you may go
straight to the conclusion presented at the end, but
you will miss all the fun that scientists have.

Those who do not agree that the majority of things

sold are actually not needed, question the very
research methodology used to arrive at this
conclusion. The researchers at Harward who carried
out the first study used a very simple method. They
looked at the earliest recorded human (pre)history to
study how early human societies lived, what they ate,
drank, the things they used, and so on. From this
study, they concluded that these things were sufficient
for living. Thus, anything other than the things used
by the early human civilisations clearly fell in the
category of not needed.
Critics vehemently challenge this notion of need,
saying that it is grossly mistaken. They point out that
this method misses out the basic and essential
necessities of life such as electricity, cola drinks,
lipstick, burgers, fries, nuclear bombs, internet and
others without which human life is impossible. They
argue that early societies did not need these things
only because these things did not exist then.

This academic debate is extremely important for us,

because it leads us to the first, and in many ways, the
most important principle of selling of the second type.
But before I reveal this principle, I must point out that
this is one of the most closely held, zealously guarded
secrets of the marketing world. No self-help book will
let you in on it. My book is the first one to disclose it
for the benefit of the public at large. And to
understand its full power, you must first understand
the Pseudo or the Faux First Principle.

The Pseudo First Principle (let us call it PFP in short) is

what the highly popular self-help books present as the
First Principle of Marketing. Books that tell you how
to sell more, make a sale in 60 seconds, call it the
foundation of any attempt to sell.

The PFP is stated in many different forms, but its basic

statement is that to be a successful salesperson, you
have to understand the needs of the customer, and
you have to help them meet these needs. This is
presented as the most important condition for
achieving success.

Now, this sounds, and in fact is really important, so

why do I call it the pseudo first principle? The reason is
that this principle presents one of the most important
dilemmas of marketing. Some theoretical analysts call
it the First Dilemma. Some even refer to it as the First
Paradox of marketing. This is what the dilemma is: It
is important to help meet the needs of the customers,
but having seen the findings of the Harward study,
you understand how limiting the PFP can be, as there
are very few real needs that people have. Thus, the
PFP can be self-defeating.
To get around this, I have discovered the Real First
Principle of marketing. This is: The most important
principle of the second type of sales and marketing is
that no one should know that it is of the second type.
Got it? Or are you still confused?

Well, let me explain. You know that you cant make

too many sales if you cater only to the needs of the
people. So you go for the Second Type of Selling that
is, sell what people dont need. However, it is
important for people to feel that you are meeting their
needs (hence the significance of the Pseudo First
Principle). So, you never let anyone know
particularly the customer that you are selling what's
not needed. Everyone should see your sales as being
of the first type. This is the most important First
Principle of Marketing.

But herein lies an irony. If you acknowledge this as the

First Principle, then your secret will be out. So, the real
First Principle is that the Pseudo First Principle must
be always seen as the Only First Principle so that the
first principle of good marketing is that you are
helping people meet their needs, and the Real First
Principle, alas, must always remain the Secret First

Got it? In short, sell what people dont need, but make
them feel that you are selling what they need.

This in fact brings us to the Second Principle of Sales

and Marketing, and that is: The key to being a good
salesperson is to make the customer feel good about
buying what you are selling.

Now this principle is really so important that some

self-help books are even ready to call it the first
principle. However, we feel that it needs to be called
the second principle simply because it makes the first
principle work. To explain, if you can get a person to
feel good about what she/he is buying, then you need
not worry about selling them something they dont
need. The Second Principle helps make the selling of
the Second Type ethical, because the most important
ethic is to make people feel good.
The Second Principle is especially useful to deal with
selling of the non-material type. If you sell someone
an aerated soft drink, sure, it will make him feel nice.
If you sell someone an Audi R8, he will feel even nicer.
So of course this principle is useful in the usual
commercial sales environment. But it is far more
important in the non-material kinds of sales where
sometimes it is the only way that you are able to make
the sale at all. Let us go back to an example we
discussed earlier. Your wife is watching a soap (say a
Saas-Bahu serial) on TV, and its time for the crucial
football match. (After all, your local club has never
reached the quarter finals of the District
Championships). How will you sell the idea of letting
you watch the match to your wife? You could try a
commercial transaction, say barter. For example, I
will let you watch your serial tomorrow in the
afternoon when I am in the office. Or, Let me watch
the match, I will wash the dishes next time we have
guests at our house. Now the first kind of deal may
not cut much ice as it may be recognised for the non-
offer it is. The second involves the risk that she may
actually remember this next time guests come visiting.
In fact, such a risk will be there in any barter
arrangement. It is in such cases that the Second
Principle is very important. For instance, what if you
are able to make your wife feel good about letting you
watch the match?

Consider this scenario: As you are both sitting in front

of the TV, you tell her about how tough a day you
have had in the office. Today was the deadline for a
major project, the boss deciding to be extra irritable as
well, and as if this were not enough, two of your
colleagues were absent, so that you had thrice the
work load. Now, all you needed was to unwind a bit,
but it was Ok, she could watch what she liked on TV
anyway. At this point, your wife would start sharing
how, coincidentally, it has been a bad day for her too,
what with an extra demanding customer at the
boutique she works at, and then your son being rather
difficult and not being ready to sit down for home
work. Now, you can sneeze or blow your nose, loudly,
slouch down a lit bit more into the sofa, weakly thrust
a hand out and ask her (pretending not to have heard
what she is saying), Will you just check if I have a
slight fever? When she checks and responds in the
negative, you reply that yes, youre just tired, but
anyway, youll just go and clean up your cupboard
which you have been meaning to do for the last week.
In the meanwhile, you say, your wife can watch that
Saas-Bahu serial of hers.

By this time, the wife in all probability is reeling so

much under multiple pangs of guilt and concern, that
she forgets to remind you that it has not been only one
week, but over four weeks since you promised to clean
the cupboard. She forgets to tell you that you had not
been meaning to clean up the cupboard, but had
promised to do so with great reluctance only after two
major fights between the two of you. Forgetting all of
this, she gets up, brings a pillow and pops it under
your head, shouts at the son to stop making noise, and
turning to you with genuine concern, says, You know
dear, you really need some relaxation. Why dont you
watch the match on TV and take it easy today? The
cupboard can wait another day. I will get you a nice
hot cup of coffee. And she also feels a nice, warm
glow inside!
Do you now see the power of the Second Principle? In
fact, the institution of marriage is possibly the biggest
and most clever use of the Second Principle of Sales
and Marketing, from the point of view of men. It
institutionalises the Second Principle such that men
are able to sell whatever ideas they want to their
wives, who not only do their bidding, but also do it
happily and feel good about it.

It is important to understand that the Second

Principle, like all fundamental principles of sales and
marketing, is equally relevant to business and market
situations, in fact, to any situation which demands
selling something.

Now we come to the Third Principle of Sales and

Marketing. In many ways, this is the most important
of all the principles. Stated briefly, this principle says:
Every salesman / saleswoman should keep in mind
that at the other end is not just a customer or a
prospect, but a human being. This means that he or
she can be fooled, tricked, misled, taken for a ride,
frightened, and / or made into a sucker.

You can immediately see the immense power of the

Third Principle. It can help you overcome situations
that might be difficult to tackle using the first two
principles. This principle has been extensively used by
some of the largest, most successful corporates, and
even the most powerful countries. Some analysts even
go so far as to suggest that their success and power is
derived from the use of the Third Principle.

And now we come to the last principle of sales and

marketing. The utility of this principle is highly
contested by experts. Some suggest that the adoption
of this principle is not at all necessary to be successful
at selling, and refuse to recognise it as a basic tenet.
Others suggest that it can be useful in certain
circumstances. There is broad agreement, however,
that if at all it is to be used, it is a principle of the last
resort. It should be used only when the first three have
not been able to yield much success. Among its
drawbacks is that following this principle can often
become too costly, require too much effort, sometimes
rendering the product uncompetitive.

This principle, stated in short, is: For being successful

at selling, you must have a good product that delivers
value for money to the customer.

Now you can see how limiting and demanding this

principle is. After all, it is so much more difficult to
make a good product than a bad one, so why the
insistence on the former? In spite of the obvious
difficulties, some purists insist on following this
principle. However, many self-help books point out
that this principle rightfully belongs to the First Type
of Selling and has little use in the Second Type. Since
the Second Type commands an overwhelming share of
global sales (of every kind, commercial as well as non-
commercial), this principle is mostly irrelevant, even
counter-productive. As for the purists who press for
this principle, it appears to be a case of sour grapes, as
they have not been able to achieve success in the
Second Type of selling.
The Enhancers
Once you understand and start applying these
fundamental principles, nothing can stop you from
super success in selling. However, there are a number
of subsidiary techniques and methods that can help
you sell better and make more money. They are
mentioned in various self-help books, and I have
compiled some of the most powerful ones here for

As the name suggests, these are techniques that can

enhance your sales either by getting more from each
transaction, or helping you get more transactions.

One powerful technique is what is popularly called

freebies. In this method, you offer discounts on the
price, or give something else with the main product
that is completely free. When the freebies are given to
someone other than the customer to whom the
product is sold, they are called commissions. When
the commissions are given secretly, they are called
secret commissions or bribes.
Another important enhancer is to design your product
so that it induces the customer to buy additional
things attached to the main product. This is also
colloquially known as the Would you like fries with
that method. Modern marketing has taken this to new
heights with a concept called accessories. In this
concept, sales of the associated items are often much
higher than the original product. The pitch for
associated selling can often be subtle (Would you like
fries with that?), but nowadays, the brazen has
become trendy. (Those who bought this
book/DVD/diamond necklace/aircraft carrier also

However, no matter how aggressively one pushes

additional buying, it suffers from one major drawback
the decision is still in the hands of the buyer and it is
voluntary. He or she may not choose to buy the
additional stuff.

A good way to beat this is what self-help books call

the Expert Model. The Expert Model enhances the
power of the enhancers. Consider the following
(hypothetical) conversation:

Ms. Kamakshi goes to the doctor with a pain in the

stomach. She is sure it is because of the
overindulgence in bhel two days back. Still, it is always
wise to consult a doctor. So off she goes to see Dr.
Mathur. (All names have been changed on request)

Ms K. Doctor, you know I have this pain in the

stomach since yesterday.
Dr. M Hmmm. Lets see. (Goes through the regular
examinations.) Nothing to worry about. Probably just
something you ate. I am prescribing these tablets for a
week. But you know, to be on the safe side, it may be
good to get a sonography done. Sometimes one can
get such a pain due to gallbladder stones. What you
Ms K (laughs nervously): Whatever you say, doctor,
you are the expert.
Dr. M Okay, here. (Hands over the prescription and
a note for the sonography lab) Get this done and show
me the results on Monday.
Ms K Doctor, this lab is a little far away. Can I get it
done at Ganesh Labs which is closer to my house?
Dr. M Of course, of course. But you know, once or
twice I have seen that Ganesh Labs had not done the
tests properly and I had to send the patient to repeat
the tests. Of course, you can get it done there, I dont
think it is a problem which occurs often. But you
know, sometimes it is better to be safe than sorry.
What do you think?
Ms K You are right doctor. After all you know the
Dr. M So see you next week. Oh, by the way, hows
your husband? You know, at his age, he should get a
regular check up every year.
Ms K Hes fine, except that lately he has been
complaining that he cant sleep. (Does not tell him that
this is because he has been working late and watching
late night movies, accompanied by bingeing).
Dr. M Well, then you know, it may be advisable to
get a check-up done even if his annual check-up is not
due. Why dont you ask him to come with you on
Ms K You are right doctor. He wont listen to me, but
if I tell him that you have said so, he will not be able to

Can you see the power of the Expert Model? Observe

carefully the key words in this transaction: You are
the expert, You know the best, If you tell him, he
will not refuse. Take a note of these words. If you are
able to transform your product and transactions so
that your customers have to use such words, you will
soon become the master of associated selling.

As you can see, this technique comes naturally as a

part of several professions. Another example is that of
a car mechanic. (I am afraid, sir, that its not just the
oil that needs changing. The pinion of the cam thrust
bearing of the under drive needs to be replaced.
Should I do it, sir? It will be about Rs. 5000. Do you
think it is absolutely necessary? Well, sir, the car
wont run without it. Okay, I guess you are the
expert.) However, you need not be disappointed if
you are not in a naturally expert business. You can
use this technique in other businesses if you
understand that you dont necessarily have to be an
expert, you only have to ensure the essence of the
Expert Model, that is, ensure that your suggestion for
buying something (or for some additional buying)
should be unquestioningly accepted by the customer.
That such a model can be deployed in virtually any
profession is best exemplified by D.V. Corleone, who
showed that one did not have to be an expert to offer
suggestions which the customer would find very
very difficult to ignore. In fact, he was so good at this
strategy that it almost became his signature line: I'm
going to make him an offer he can't refuse.
Chill Pill
Self Help Lessons in Stress Busting

As my doctor tells me, stress is possibly the single

most important factor in human health mental,
physical and emotional. My great-grandmother told
us the same thing 50 years back, but since she did not
have impressive degrees and did not charge
ridiculously high fees from us, we just ignored her.
Now, with stress being at the core of multi-billion
dollar businesses, we all accept its importance.

In spite of this or may be because of it - the topic is

greatly misunderstood. Luckily, there are excellent
books that help us understand the truth and dispel the
many misconceptions regarding what stress is and
how to handle it. We will begin our chapter with this
very theme of the myths about stress.
The First Myth about Stress
The first, very widespread and mistaken belief is
about the nature of stress itself. Most people think that
stress is when you feel bad about something, when
something unpleasant happens to you, when
something that you dont want happens, or something
that you want doesnt. But that is not what stress is all
about. As the best self-help books tell us, stress is not
when something unpleasant happens, but rather,
when you feel that you cant do anything about it.

Now, if you have a neighbour who plays loud music

every night, thats just unpleasant. But you get
stressed out only when your repeated pleas that the
volume be turned down are greeted with an
aggressive oh, take a chill pill man, go home, and
the police no longer take your calls seriously thinking
that you are some kind of a nut who believes that
dealing with loud music is more important for the
police than catching thieves and terrorists. You are
now at a complete loss. You feel like going and
banging on your neighbours door, only, he wont
hear it. Every beat of the (loud) music hammers
against your ears, and you want to scream (which too
is of no use because your neighbour is not going to
hear that either). You try to concentrate on your book,
valiantly trying to ignore the sound (yes, yes, loud
sound) in the background, but it creeps up behind
you, engulfs your mind, and you find that you have
read the same sentence at least ten times, but still
have no idea what its saying. You slam the book
down (a sound that will also not be audible to your
neighbour). You froth (metaphorically), grind your
teeth (actually), and just sit in your chair in utter
helplessness. In your agony, you suddenly realise that
while you suffer in so many ways, your neighbour,
blissfully unmindful of your suffering, is rocking to
the loud beats of the music, soaking in its pleasure as
if he were in heaven. And your distress reaches a new
high. You simmer, smoulder, and burn one moment.
And the next, your shoulders slump, and
despondency hits you. You oscillate between rage and
helplessness. You lose all energy and enthusiasm. That
is stress.
Consider a slightly different scenario now. You
neighbour is playing loud music at night. You go over
to his house fuming and ring the doorbell. A cheerful
man opens the door, and a pleasant voice greets you.
You look inside and see that hes having a party. Yes,
how can I help you? the man asks, shouting to be
heard in the din, but pleasantly all the same. You
begin, I am Shridhar, your neighbour and You
are interrupted mid-sentence as the pleasant man
grabs you by the arm and pulls you in, saying Oh!
Come in, come in. We are having a small party, join
us, and as you vigorously shake your head and
mouth a no, no, the man continues Well then, at
least have a beer and a glass is thrust into your hand,
and you are virtually pushed onto the sofa. You sink
into cushioned comfort and start sipping the beer
without even thinking about what youre doing, left
somewhat bewildered by the rush of events, when the
pleasant man introduces himself and asks again, Is
there something I can do for you? You hesitantly
mumble a few unconnected words, You see the
music a little disturbed The pleasant man now
shouts, You guys, turn off the music please, and
there is a sudden silence as the revellers comply. Then,
Ah, Mr. Shridhar, I am really sorry that our little
party and the music have disturbed you. Please
forgive me. You see, its just that we like to get
together a bit on Wednesdays to let our hair down,
you know, we have a day off on Thursday, and
sometimes we meet on Friday for a little while. Its just
harmless fun, you know, and we dont want to disturb
you. So we will do without the music if you say so.
Have some more beer. (This as he sees that your glass
is almost empty. Someone promptly fills it up.) But I
just wanted to say (the mans voice is even more
pleasant now), if you dont mind, just for a few hours,
if you can bear it for a little while, if we can have the
music And if at any time you think its disturbing
you, this is my number (thrusts a card into your
hands). Just call me, and we will turn it off. Your
neighbour now smiles heartily, and you think, maybe
its okay, you can bear the music for a couple of hours.
Let them enjoy themselves. You take their leave and
return home.
The same music booms at the same volume, but as you
snuggle in you chair to read your book, with the
visiting card reassuringly placed on the table next to
you, you find that the sound does not disturb you so
much anymore. And soon you are lost in the book.

You can see now that stress is not about something

unpleasant happening to you, but about your
helplessness to do anything about it.

Understanding this myth also leads us towards the

most important way to tackle stress. Now, most
ordinary self-help books will tell you that the best way
to deal with stress is to remove the cause of stress.
However, since most of us cant do without spouses,
children, parents, relatives, bosses, co-workers,
subordinates, salespersons, dogs, cars, teachers,
students, clients, the weather, governments,
neighbours, etc., this method of tackling stress
becomes somewhat impractical.

Fortunately, now that I have revealed to you one of

the hidden secrets of understanding stress, you know
that there is no need to get rid of your family, boss,
clients, and neighbours. Stress is created by not being
able to do anything about things. The real answer is to
take charge, to be in control.

The Second Myth about Stress

Let us now look at the second big misconception about
stress. With your doctor, advisor, therapist, favourite
internet blog, newspaper health column, spiritual
guru, friends, spouse, friends spouses, spouses
friends all screaming at you that stress is terrible, you
have probably started believing it. You are not the
only one. As a survey quoted by the bestselling Seven
Myths About Stress That You Need to Get Worked Up
About reveals, an overwhelming 97% of people
interviewed across 21 countries believe in fact, know
that stress is bad. But sadly, they are mistaken,
terribly mistaken. This is the second big myth about
stress that stress is always bad for you. Of course,
some stress is bad, but like cholesterol, liquor, coffee
and bosses, stress also comes in two kinds the bad
and the good kind. Understand, accept and
internalise this, for it is one of the keys to deal with

Handling Stress in Three Smart Steps The Second

Myth Shows the Way
With these two myths shattered, the most obvious,
and indeed the most powerful way of managing stress
is revealed. This most potent method is best described
by the incredibly powerful but little known book
Handling Stress in Three Smart Steps.

The first step is called Divide and Rule. To carry out

this step, you identify the two kinds of stress, and
separate the good stress from the bad. As you can see,
this can effectively win you half the battle by dividing
up the territory. But how does one distinguish
between the two kinds of stress? This is quite tricky. In
terms of bodily responses, the two types of stress often
create similar reactions a dry mouth, sweaty palms, a
racing pulse, an anxious mind). This is where the Three
Smart Steps book provides a remarkably simple but
highly effective solution. It paraphrases the difference
between the good and bad stress in a one pithy
sentence, a sentence I believe presents the core insight
for handling stress: Bad stress is a trauma, good
stress is a challenge. Based on this nugget of wisdom,
the book urges us to perform a small linguistic task.
When faced with any stressful situation, it asks us to
complete the sentence This [name the stressful
situation or stress agent] is a [trauma/challenge, or
synonym]. This simple exercise can help you separate
the two kinds of stress. For example, if you say that
The boss is giving me impossible tasks, and this is
causing me great distress, or that My wife keeps
nagging me to cut down smoking and this is causing
me great irritation, then your stress in these
situations is bad stress. However, if you say, I must
cross my top score of 10,000 in PacMan. Its a
challenge!, then clearly this stress is good for you. See
how easy it is?

However, the Method does not end here. The power of

the Method lies not in merely separating the good
stress from the bad. Its real strength comes from the
next two steps, namely Convert, and Tackle. Once you
have identified the good and the bad stress, Convert
the Bad into Good. Some self-help books have
wrongly called this strategy Dont worry about the
good stress; and remember its all good stress. This is
a highly misleading statement and can be downright
harmful. All stress is not good stress, and if you live in
this blissful delusion, you could get knocked down.
The correct way to explain this strategy is You dont
need to worry about the good stress; and all bad stress
can be converted to good stress. The key is to
understand that all bad stress needs to be converted to
good stress; it is not by itself good stress.

To do this, go back to linguistics again. Start

describing every stressful situation using the word
challenge. Telling yourself that the tasks given by the
boss are a challenge allows you to look at the
stressful situation in the office in an entirely new light.
Of course, you need to keep these descriptions to
yourself, else you could run into difficulties as you
talk about how your boss is a challenge, wife is a
challenge, neighbour is a challenge, etc. etc.
Now be warned that merely describing something as a
challenge is not going to make the stress go away. This
is a necessary step, but not sufficient. Why is this step
important? As they say, all things begin in the mind,
and this step helps create the right mental attitude
about bad stress. This affects an attitudinal shift in the
mental picture that you carry of the stress, which
changes the overall perspective with which you
approach the stressful situation. As numerous self-
help books tell you, if you can picture it in your mind,
then you can create it in reality (remember the great
book The Power of Optimistic Thinking). Stress is
equated with anxiety, trauma and distress. Challenges
are equated with difficulties that can be overcome
with a resultant feeling of triumph and
accomplishment. Thus, turning a stressful situation
into a challenge promises positive rewards and
becomes a great sub-conscious motivator to tackle

Of course, you still need to do something about your

stress, which is the last of the Three Smart Steps
Tackle. What you have to do to tackle different
stresses sorry, challenges depends on the specific
situations and their stress agents. This is the reason
you have several different self-help books to address
different circumstances. I have no hesitation in
recommending to you the excellent series brought out
by the same publishers who published Handling Stress
in Three Smart Steps. This series is the Challenges! series,
with titles like Boss Challenges!, Child Challenges!,
Teenage Child Challenges!, Wife Challenges!, Second Wife
Challenges! and so on. These books present some
fascinating and powerful techniques to handle various
stressful situations.

Just as an example, let us look at two important

techniques from Boss Challenges!

Tackling An Example of the Boss Challenge

Consider a very common stressful situation between a
boss and an employee where the boss is driving the
employee crazy by dumping loads of work on him,
including many meaningless tasks and some
impossible ones. Surveys show that close to 69% of
employees have faced this situation at some point, and
for around 37%, this is a chronic cause of stress. Most
employees have been putting up with such situations
stoically on the face of it, but complaining about the
boss at the water cooler to their colleagues, at home
to the wife, and during evening walks to the dog. And
all the while, they continue to suffer great stress.

The first step in tackling this stress is to Convert it into

a challenge, or good stress. Once the boss dumping
work is seen as a challenge, the Stress-ee is in the right
mental frame to proceed to the next step, that is,
Tackle. Please ensure that you understand and
remember technical terms like Stress Agent (the boss)
and Stress-ee (usually you).

The book talks about two techniques to Tackle the

challenge, the Stubborn Mule technique and the
Judo technique. The first technique, as its name
suggests, tells you to resist the boss stubbornly. In the
above example, this would mean simply disregarding
any work that the boss gives you. Accept the work,
and then just sit on it. When the boss asks you
whether the work has been done, you either make up
some excuse saying that you will soon turn it in, or
simply say that its not done. As the work piles up, the
boss becomes angry, then furious and then nasty. It is
of utmost importance to keep the appearance (at least)
of being absolutely unperturbed by his reactions, and
stubbornly refuse to do the work. In about 80% of
cases, this turns the tables on the boss, and it is he who
now frets and fumes and gets stressed, while the
employee (erstwhile Stress-ee) is more and more at
peace. In about 72% of cases, the boss breaks down in
less than ten days, and starts negotiating. Depending
on the bargaining skills of the employee, new rules of
operation can be established lowering the work to
even 40% of earlier levels. This technique is so
effective that cases have been documented where the
boss has been reduced to tears.

In a few cases, this technique is likely to backfire, and

consequences can range from mere reprimand to even
being fired. However, the benefits of success outweigh
these small risks. For those who want to have a back-
up option, the book suggests a variant, which is called
the Smart Stubborn Mule technique. In this
technique, the employee actually does much of the
work assigned to him, at least the most important
tasks. However, he does not let the boss know this,
and answers evasively to give the boss the impression
that he is not doing any work. If the boss tries to fire
the employee, the matter goes to the higher ups. At
this point, the employee promptly produces the work
done, showing him in good light, and making the boss
look like an idiot.

Another technique in dealing with the Boss Challenge

is the Judo technique, named after the modern
Japanese martial art form. The technique is based on
the central principle of Judo of using the strength of
the opponent to beat him. In this method, the
employee cheerfully accepts whatever work is being
given to him, and goes about doing it diligently and in
a most public and visible manner. He makes sure
everyone notices him doing the work. However, the
work itself may be done at a slow pace. He makes it a
point to stay back after office hours, loudly
announcing that he needs to complete his work. He
starts staying in the office till absurd hours like 1 or 2
am. He orders food from the pub, as it is the only
place open at that hour. He upsets the security
procedures by going out and coming back in at odd
hours, but as it is for work, no one can object. He calls
up the boss at home late at night to ask for
clarifications and talks at length on the phone because
he really needs to understand the issue in detail. He
arrives at the office before anyone else, and starts
pestering the boss for explanations and instructions as
soon as the boss makes his appearance. He explains he
cannot execute the work properly till he understands
exactly how the boss wants the work to be done. The
aim is to engage with at least 50% of the bosss time in
the office, and a fair bit of his time at home. The
employee takes up the meaningless tasks first, and
leaves the important ones for the last. All the while, he
is extremely polite, pleasant and smiling. Experiments
have shown that while it is labour intensive, this
technique is far more powerful than the Stubborn
Mule, and is sure to drive the boss crazy. As the days
go by the boss starts getting irritated, and the more
sunny the disposition of the employee, the angrier the
boss becomes. The breakdown can come as early as a
week, and the results are long lasting and even
permanent. A mere request with a sweet smile such as
Could you leave me your key to the office, boss, as I
will need to stay in late to complete this work you are
asking me to do? can scare the boss off again for

This illustration will shows the great utility of the

Challenges! series of books and other similar ones, and
more generally, the power of the Three Smart Steps
approach to handle stress.

Smart readers will also notice that the last of the three
steps is nothing but transforming a situation where
you have no control to one where you have direct
control. This will remind readers about the first myth
that stress is not about unpleasant situations, but
rather about situations in which you have no control.

These are indeed very powerful techniques to

overcome stress. But the smart (and stressed) reader
will notice that these need time to work. Often it will
take days for these techniques to yield results. What
does one do during the several days it may take for
the above methods to work? Does one have to bear the
stress and all its accompanying impacts till longer
term solutions work out?

Dealing with Stress in the Short Term

The answer is an emphatic no, and you can take heart
that there are numerous ways in which you can
handle stress at the immediate level. Several books
ranging from the easy to understand, no frills Nineteen
Easy Ways to Cope with Stress to the somewhat more
esoteric sounding The Sine Curve of Joy, Stress and Joy
explain in detail these mechanisms to cope with stress
in the short term. Let us now look at some of the most
popular methods of dealing with stress here and now.

Deep Breathing: This is one of the simplest, and yet

astoundingly powerful method of tackling stress in the
instant. It is based on the principle that the body and
mind are inextricably connected. Stress, as you know
throws the body completely out of gear, raising pulse
rates, forcing fast and shallow breathing, pushing the
adrenalin glands to pour out hormones and so on. But
we can consciously will our body to go back to its
normal state, and if we do that the mind will also
follow. The best way to do this is through the breath.
As ancient yogic practises tells us, the breath is the
most important way of controlling the body, and
indeed, it is the breath that forms the all important
link between the body, the mind and the soul. Control
the breath, and you can master all three.

This is how this technique works. When you feel the

stress levels rising in your body, take a moment out
from whatever you are doing. Sit down quietly, close
your eyes, and start breathing deeply, slowly and
regularly Even though it may be difficult at first. Now
heres the secret. It is physically impossible for stress
to be present in the body simultaneously with deep,
slow and regular breathing. So if you can achieve the
latter, you will find the former melting away. And
secret part 2 stress cannot survive in the mind if it
does not find an echo in the body. This technique is so
powerful, so relaxing that people have been known to
have fallen asleep or gone into a trance when
executing it.
But there is a serious limitation to this technique.
Unfortunately, this powerful technique cannot be used
in some situations where it is most required. For
example, if your boss has called you into his office,
and is screaming at you for your foolishness that led to
the loss of the new account (when you know that it
was actually the bosss fault), when the spit is flying
out of his mouth all around you, it is difficult to close
your eyes and start breathing deeply. Or, if you are
crossing the road, and a maniac driving as if he was in
the last lap of a race seconds from the finish, breaks
through the red light and bears down on you, deep
breathing is not going to help much. There you need
to use another popular technique called Run, or its
advanced version Run for Your Life. But in most other
situations, the Deep Breathing technique is a boon. For
example, if your 12 year old son asks you for an
expensive PSP for his 13th birthday, and Can I also get
Basic Instinct Part I, II and III to go with it,, this
technique not only allows you to overcome the spike
of severe stress and the sudden sensation of gagging,
it also spares you the trouble of an answer.
Body Relaxation Techniques (BRT): These are the more
comprehensive versions of the Deep Breathing
Technique. Instead of simple deep breathing, these
techniques additionally require the relaxation of the
entire body. Because of their very nature, these
techniques suffer from even more severe limitations of
where they can be used. But they are tailor made for
certain situations, situations which experts describe as
Passively Stressed. Passively stressed situations are
those where the subject (the Stress-ee, which in our
case is You) does not have to do anything, or cant do
anything. In other words, the stress-ee is expected to
do nothing, except just receive the stress. Consider
for example a student appearing for an exam. She
settles down and opens the question paper with
trembling hands and an anxious mind, and a chill
spreads through her body. Her worst expectations
have come true. She does not know the answers to any
of the questions. The choice is to get up and leave, and
her parents will know immediately how she has done
in the exam. Or she can stay for the full three hours,
and postpone that fateful encounter till the results are
out a month later. Naturally, she chooses the latter
option which allows her to buy time. But sitting three
hours in an exam hall with a paper full of questions
you cant solve is a very stressful occasion in ones life.
It is also a good example of a Passively Stressed
situation, where Body Relaxation Techniques are very
useful. Now what she needs to do is to sit comfortably,
and start relaxing her body slowly till it is in a state of
complete relaxation. She will soon feel the stress
melting away. A feeling of peace will envelop her. Of
course, it will not help her solve the question paper,
and the moment she thinks of the paper, she may find
stress returning again. Another round of BRT will then
be needed.

This illustrates both the value but also a major

drawback of most short-term techniques. They do give
you some immediate relief from stress, but as they
dont tackle the underlying causes, stress can recur.
For that, you need techniques that operate at a more
fundamental level, like those described earlier. In this
case of our student, a fundamental technique that
would attack the very root cause of her stress is a
powerful method called STUDY (an acronym for See
Textbooks for Umpteen Days in the Year).

Anger Management Techniques: Anger is at once a

major cause of stress as well as one of its most severe
manifestations. Anger management is so important
that is it seen by most self-help experts as an
independent field in itself. However, since anger and
stress are often inseparable, some of the techniques of
anger management are very useful for handling stress,
especially for short term relief from stress. Therefore
we look at them in this section.

Count Till Ten: This is an age old technique for

managing anger. The utility of this technique has been
proven in countless number of cases over generations,
and hence it has acquired a status equivalent to that of
Grandmas Remedy. Counting up to ten has stopped
people from throwing things in fits of anger, and has
saved innumerable cups and plates and other sundry
things not to mention friendships and marriages
from being broken. In general, the USP of Counting
Till Ten is not that it removes the cause of anger, but
that it moderates the fury, tempers the intensity, and
thus helps prevent any unintended, rash actions taken
in fits of rage.

An interesting, question here is why ten? Why not

count till fifteen, or five? Why only ten? Self-help
books have advanced different explanations. The now
out of print How History Teaches Us Anger Control says
that this technique was invented by the ancient
Babylonians. While their number system was a
sexagesimal one, (that is Base 60), they had symbols
for only one and ten. Counting till one was hardly
good enough, so they decided to count till ten. The
practise then continued. Other experts disagree. The
famous B.L. Sharma, author of A Guide to Hidden Self-
Help Techniques in Indias Ancient Traditions, links it to
the Ramayana. In the epic, it is depicted that Ravan is
invincible in battle and no one can kill him, not even
the great Ram. The secret of his invincibility is said to
be in his navel, and hence when enemy warriors aim
arrows at his head, they cannot kill him. Sharma
effectively busts this myth. The real answer, he says,
lay in the ten heads of Ravan. As rival warriors aimed
at Ravan, they could not but help mentally count his
heads as they tried to choose which one to aim at. As
they counted from one to ten, they inexplicably
seemed to lose any anger and rage at Ravan, and
hence did not shoot their arrows. This was wrongly
interpreted by the ignorant locals into a belief that
Ravan had some magical powers because of which he
could not be killed by arrows aimed at his head. In
reality, it was the law of Count Till Ten in operation.
Thus, Sharma proves that the law of Count Till Ten is
a universal law whose operation seems to derive from
the fundamental nature of the universe itself, from the
basic quantum laws of physics that govern the world.
Thus, he says, the rule of counting till ten requires no
explanation. Just as there is no reason why other
universal constants are what they are - the
gravitational constant is 6.67300 10-11 m3 kg-1 s-2
and the speed of light is 299 792 458 m/s the
universal anger control constant is ten.

It is interesting that support for Sharmas thesis based

on Indias ancient traditions comes from a most
unlikely source, a source that represents the acme of
modernity and technological and scientific
sophistication NASA. Sharma predicts that if the law
that counting from one to ten stops one from blowing
up is a universal law, then a natural corollary is that
counting the other way should actually end in a blast.
This is validated by NASA when it uses this very
principle for the lift-off of its rockets and shuttles into
the atmosphere, as is seen in many of the live
broadcasts of its launches.

This is the reason why the law of Count Till Ten is so

powerful. It derives its power from the structure of the
universe itself.

No wonder it is so successful. But like in the case of a

popular government, there are spoilsports who dont
like this success, and argue that this method is over-
rated, even wrong.

They argue thus: Research has shown that those who

count till ten before doing anything when angry have
79% less chances of doing something they would
regret later.
However, other research has shown that if you count
till ten when angry, you have a 21% chance of missing
out on doing something that you always wanted to do
but were afraid of doing during your more controlled
moments. For example, a survey by Business Now
found that out of 157 middle level managers
interviewed, 100 had at some point of time in the
preceding six months wanted to tell their bosses what
is what. However, only 33 were able to do so, and all
of these 33 did so when they were angry. An
interesting finding of the study was that none of these
33 had done any counting during the incident in

This research led to the emergence of an entirely new

school of anger management, the Dont Count Till
Ten school, or as it is more popularly known, the
Just Throw It school.

This school of anger management believes that it is

better to throw things, run riot, or do whatever you
want in your fits of anger rather than cool down and
behave in a subdued manner. These experts feel that
by counting till ten, you are only suppressing your
anger and not really getting rid of it. This leads to its
accumulation inside you, with resultant high blood
pressure, stress, and other related side effects. And
when the pent up anger bursts out, it is so bad that
you cant count even till five. This school believes that
it is better to have several small fits of anger and break
little things like plates, rather than allow the anger to
simmer deep inside till it erupts and you end up
breaking bigger things like marriages.

This brings us to the tricky question of which of these

approaches should one choose. For this, we have a
wonderfully simple and elegant answer from that
doyen of self-help, Justin DSouza himself. In his
bestseller Everything You Always Wanted to Know About
Self-Help But Were Afraid to Ask First Edition (the
second revised edition published after the advent of
the internet is now available under the new title
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Self-Help
But Cannot Find on Google), DSouza has an answer for
the dilemma of whether to use the Count Till Ten
approach or the Just Throw It approach. His advice is
very pragmatic and balanced. He says that it is not an
either/or solution. Both methods can be useful
depending on the situation. His advice on which
technique to use when: Use the Just Throw It method
when dealing with someone who cannot throw it
back. For others, Count Till Ten.

See the Funny Side: This is another very powerful

technique to handle anger and stress. Like other short
term techniques, it offers immediate relief, but does
not actual get rid of the anger or stress itself. Anger is
sometimes said to be a hopeless attempt to magically
resolve impossible situations. Anger rarely succeeds in
doing so, but humour often provides that magic, if not
to resolve the impossible situation, at least to help
diffuse the mess arising out of the attempt to resolve
the impossible situation. Imagine a Maniac Monday.
The boss has just taken you to task, shouting at you
and abusing you as you have botched up a very
important job. You feel rising anger as you had a fight
with your wife on the weekend because you cancelled
the visit to her mothers house to be able to finish this
job. She has gone alone to your mother-in-laws place
and has not returned yet. She is not answering your
calls. Due to her absence, you have to feed the cat all
by yourself in the morning, and miss your bus. You
then have to walk back all the way home so that you
can drive to the office in your car. You are late by
twenty minutes, and by then the boss has already
called for you twice. As you reach for your
handkerchief, you see that in the rush, you have
forgotten it. But you find that the house key is sitting
snugly in your pocket instead. This logically implies
that you have forgotten to leave it under the doormat
for the bai to come in to clean. This not only means
that you will have a round of cleaning to do when you
get back home, but also means that Billa, the cat, will
not have been fed. Billa is a fussy cat, and when
hungry, has the habit of attacking pillows and sofas
and anything soft that can be torn by his sharp claws.
He does this to attract attention, and keeps on doing it
till he gets it. Today, he is not likely to get any
attention before 6.30 pm. Meanwhile, as you were late
to the office, you missed your morning tea. As your
boss asks you about the important job you were to
finish over the weekend, you are thinking of wife,
Billa, key and tea, in that order. The Boss and the job
are a poor fifth in the line of thoughts jostling for
priority in your mind space. That is the time when the
Boss starts all the shouting (another example of
attention seeking behaviour) about how badly the job
has been done, and what can be done now. Naturally,
a situation made for anger. As you are not one of those
given to Count Till Ten and you find the wife, Billa,
the key and tea spinning madly in your head, you
blurt out, Why, I guess you will have to do it yourself
now. The Boss is stunned and rendered speechless
for a few seconds. (Important part of any strategy to
address Anger/Stress, as you need to buy time.) In the
deathly silence that follows, you realise that this is
good-bye time for sure. In comes humour to rescue.
Thinking on your feet, you assume a crestfallen and
dejected expression, and say, I mean, now that I am
sure to be sacked as you feel I have really messed up
this work, I guess you will have to do the work
yourself. Thats what I meant. It will now be another
load on your already overburdened shoulders. The
boss relaxes a bit now. He probably realises that you
are right, if you go, he will have to do it himself. He
perhaps also realises that he would do a worse job of
it, and would have no one to blame. Better to get
someone else to slog and also take the blame, he
decides, and manages to smile weakly. Okay, I guess
everyone is entitled to some mistakes. But be careful,
you are reaching close to the limits of your quota
And a Ha Ha forced out with some effort. His smile
is perceptible now, and with a gentle, avuncular pat
on the back, he says, Try and make the corrections I
have suggested, and get back to me as soon as
possible. You walk out of the room with your job,
and ego, both intact.

This example highlights some important aspects of

using humour and seeing the funny side. But be very
clear, you have to see your own humorous side, not
that of the other person who is causing you stress. Else
you are doomed to fail.

Heres another example. You are having your weekly

fight with your spouse. This week, she is explaining
to you why she cant take it easy, because you had
promised to take care of things when she had invited
over her friends for her monthly book club meeting
and suddenly your boisterous friends (no dear, they
were not shouting, yes Milind talks a little loudly, but
not shouting) turned up to watch the match on your
large screen TV and completely ruined, yes, I mean
it, completely ruined her get-together and no, we
couldnt do any reading even though we had closed
the door and I had to get up twice when the doorbell
rang even though you had promised to attend to it
and I cant believe that you did not hear it.

And But dear, just now you yourself said that they
were shouting so how do you think I could have heard
the doorbell, and they just turned up unexpectedly
and how could I turn them away when they were
already here, and yes, I agree by mistake I had told
them yesterday that it would be great to watch the
match together on the large screen TV at our house,
and since you were having your little kitty party (It is
not a kitty party, it is our Book Reading Clubs
monthly meeting), yes yes, thats what I meant, since
you were having your little meeting, you would be in
the lounge downstairs and we would be in the
upstairs TV room, and you would not I mean we
would not disturb you. You get the drift. As the
conversation goes on along these lines, with emotions
flaring, your voices getting louder, and accompanied
by increasingly graphic movements of the arms, you
notice that when your wife is angry, the tip of her nose
turns red and sort of bobs up and down. Just like the
Angry Ogre in the first story in Fairy Tales from
Fairyland that she reads aloud to your son every night.
(Why cant you read him the story once in while? is
a question you have always considered to be a
rhetorical one that needs no answer.) You picture the
Angry Ogre, now with your wifes face, with his red
nose tip bobbing up and down, and you just cant help
laughing out loudly.

This, as all Self Help books will tell you, is a

completely wrong way of Seeing the Funny Side.

There are many more ideas and techniques offered by

self-help books for managing stress. For example,
there is Unstress by Delegation (hiring people to
whom you can delegate your stress), Role Reversal
(Transform Yourself from Stress-ee to Stress Agent)
and Mediation-Meditation-Medication. However,
these are advanced techniques, used only for the most
intractable cases, and require experts to administer

For most of your needs, the methods we have

explored in this chapter will suffice, both for the long
term and short term management of stress. So dont
bother about the advanced methods (in other words,
dont get stressed that you dont know these advanced
techniques), just get down to using the ones I have
taught you and enjoy a peaceful, serene, stress-free
Success at the Workplace
Self Help Guidance for Managing the
Unmanagables People

As more than half of our waking hours are spent in the

office (which is not the same as saying that half of our
time in the office is spent being awake, as some people
are wont to believe), success at the office is very
important. Success at work is not just about excelling
at what one does as an individual. It is also about
managing other people and their work, managing
systems, and getting the best out of others. Luckily for
us, there are hundreds of self-help books dealing with
all these aspects.

In this chapter we shall look at some of the most

powerful techniques and programmes to help you
succeed at the office, at managing people and putting
processes in place.
Motivation The Big M
If there is one thing that qualifies as the big M of the
business world (next only to the real big M, Money), it
is motivation.

The great challenge for any manager is to keep his or

her team motivated to perform and deliver. This is
even more so when it has to be achieved with small
doses of the real big M. More often than not, the
hapless manager is called upon to deliver high levels
of the big M (motivation) with frugal (read stingy) use
of the real big M. The difficulties increase because
motivation is really an umbrella term covering many
things. For example, a team cannot be motivated
unless it is also happy and satisfied. Thus, motivating
people requires a gamut of psychological, emotional
and material incentives and objectives. No wonder
many middle-level managers get seriously stuck while
doing this. But the books are a great help, as always.

The Quickest Way to Motivation

Self-help books tell us about several important ways to
build staff motivation. According to the books, the
most important principle in motivation is to lead by
example. To motivate people to work with drive and
passion, you as a manager must bring that drive and
passion to your own work. You must be the first one
to reach the office, and the last one to leave. You
appearance, body language, speech, expressions
everything must convey enthusiasm, energy and zeal.

You will find that this enthusiasm is contagious. As

you interact with the team through the day, you will
infect them with zest. You will find that team
members too pass on this zest to others. Soon, the
whole office will be abuzz and vibrant with

As you can see, self-help books have very cleverly

reduced the problem of motivating 300 people to that
of motivating one person namely you. See the power
of this revolutionary technique? In one stroke, your
problem has been reduced many fold.

Of course, this approach does create some

complications. It requires that you get up early. It
requires that you reach the office on time. It requires
that you keep smiling even when some of the
uncrowned-kings-and-queens-of-incompetence from
your staff bungle up the simplest of things. What is the
use of being a manager and boss if you have to do all
these things? Clearly, there has to be a better way of
motivating your subordinates. Indeed, there is. Its
called incentives.

Motivation by Incentives
Now people believe the most important incentive is
money. A popular saying is often offered by some self-
help books: If you pay peanuts, you will get
monkeys. Unfortunately, they dont tell us the second
part of this proverb, that chances are high that even if
you pay by the bagful, you will still mostly get
monkeys, for the simple reason that monkeys
dominate the herd out there. As most people are not
aware of this second part, companies offer high
salaries to their staff. But this is not good enough, for
with the salary now fixed, there is little incentive for
the worker not to goof off. So companies invented
bonuses. This worked for some time, till management
discovered that bonuses were too good to be left for
the staff, and started appropriating all of them. Then
came ESOPs, which worked well, but only till the IT
bubble burst and people lost lakhs of rupees worth of
incentives as the share values turned to dust. Of
course, when the ESOPs worked well, companies
found that the staff did not, as they were secure in the
knowledge that if kicked out, they could sell the
shares and live a comfortable life. Because of all these
problems, monetary incentives as a method of
motivating employees has been greatly discredited,
and these are now reserved for the top management.

The other problem with monetary incentives is that

even if they do spur the individual to do better, they
also tend to increase competition between colleagues,
thus tearing apart the cohesion of the team.

Now, as anyone who has read even one self-help book

understands, if there is anything more important than
efficiency at work, then it is team spirit. Bonding,
camaraderie, synergy different words, but all mean
that your people have to work together. It is no
wonder then, that techniques to create bonding and
team spirit are critical to motivation.

Building Team Spirit

Nothing builds camaraderie better than playing
together. Its well-known that an office that plays
together stays together. Many organisations have
introduced facilities for their employees to play games
like table tennis, carrom, snakes and ladders, etc. in
the office. These games have tremendous potential to
build motivation among staff members. An employee,
weary from a few hours of hard work, can get up from
her table, walk into the sports room, and play a quick
and vigorous game of table tennis. This refreshes her
spirit, makes her mind alert and body energetic. As
the exercise releases the feel-good hormones, she feels
good. Going back to her desk, she is motivated and
raring to get going, to produce another burst of great

The other advantage of introducing such modern

games like table tennis in the office is that they
facilitate much better playing of the traditional office
games like flirt with your colleague, goof off
together and the ever popular bitch about your boss.
These games, as most self-help books remind us, are
wonderful at creating a good work environment for
your employees.

Of course, the internet is now playing spoilsport and

has created headaches for motivation managers. Most
employees can now play games on the internet
without leaving their tables, including the new ones
like table tennis, newer ones like Grand Theft Auto,
Call of Duty, and Pokemon, and traditional ones like
Flirt. While this may partly address the issue of
creating a good work environment and making the
employee happy, it does create hurdles in building
team spirit.

One thing you as a manager can do is to remove

internet access from the employees computers so that
they have no choice but to come to the games room.
This way, you can force them into exciting things, and
get them motivated. However, companies that have
tried this have found an overwhelming number of
staff members falling prey to the Email Withdrawal
Syndrome (EWS). The employee affected by EWS
suffers from listlessness, loss of a sense of purpose,
sudden restlessness, a sharp decline in attention span,
and fingers twitching and making strange motions as
if typing on a keyboard or moving along a touch
screen. The onset of this syndrome typically begins
within three to four minutes of discovering that one is
not able to access email. Symptoms can become severe
within an hour if not treated, though the patient rarely
requires hospitalisation. Treatment essentially
consists of restoring email access at the earliest. Once
treatment begins, recovery is very fast, almost

Apart from the dangers of EWS, managers should also

be aware that staff members who have earlier suffered
from EWS normally carry with them emergency relief
supplies. The earlier forms of these emergency
supplies were often known as BB (BlackBerry is the
long form, named after the company that made them).
These were not so much of a problem as the employee
was not able to play games on them, but if emergency
relief is carried in the form of SP (Smartphone), then
turning off the internet on the employees computer
will not help much.

You can see that technology has made it really difficult

to motivate people, and self-help books are hopelessly
behind the times.

Another way to overcome this problem is to take the

employees out on short or long trips outside the office.
This can greatly help build team spirit. If such trips are
carried out on working days, it can contribute greatly
to the spirit and energy of the group. But if these
outing are held on weekends or holidays, though the
spirit of the employees may be high, they could
become a source of demotivation for their families.
Some organisations also include employees families
in such trips. Keep in mind, however, that in such
cases, some of the traditional games may not be
possible (e.g. Flirt).

The best approach is that the management should

organise such trips outside the office, and engage a
good organisation to conduct an outbound leadership
and team-building programme. These activities are
great for building team spirit, because people learn to
humour the management as they are put through
team building and leadership games. Being forced
together in this awkward situation as a group, they
quickly develop empathy and understanding, which is
of course the key to team spirit.

However, the manager who is not able to navigate

through all these problems to create incentives, to
build team spirit and a fun working environment
should not despair. One of the most powerful
techniques of motivating people goes beyond all this.

Higher Purpose, Larger Picture

As many books will tell you, human beings work not
for money, but are driven by a bigger calling, and
strive to work for a higher purpose in life. The books
also misguide us about other things, but we will talk
right now about this elusive higher purpose.
The job of a good manager is to elevate the daily
mundane tasks that his or her staff performs to the
level of such a higher purpose. One of the most
important ways to do this is to make the employees
aware of the bigger picture, and bring out the larger
significance of their task. There is this story that has a
central place in many a self-help books, a story full of
pathos and real world drama, of a labourer who is
laying bricks to construct a wall. In spite of the hard
work and tedium of the task, the worker is smiling,
humming a song loudly as he goes about his work in a
spirited manner. A passer-by, obviously impressed,
asks the labourer how he is so happy doing this rather
boring work of laying bricks to build a wall. (Clearly,
the passer-by must have been a manager of some sort
as the look of amazement on his face tells us.) The
worker replies, I am not laying a wall, I am building a
hospital to bring health to my community. Ah! So
touching and so inspiring. This is the power of
presenting the bigger picture. It allows the most
ordinary worker to feel that he or she is part of a
greater purpose. It inspires employees, motivates
them, and can sometimes even help them forget how
pitifully low they are being paid.

As a manager, if you can master this art of

communicating the higher task to your staff, you have
almost succeeded in your goal of motivating people.
Moreover, making employees believe that they are
part of a broader, common endeavour builds team
spirit, and creates a larger purpose.

So the hospital sweeper is not just cleaning the wards,

but is curing people, and bringing health, cheer and
happiness to families. The assembly line worker who
stitches sleeves onto partly sewn shirts day in and day
out is helping people dress for work, for parties, for
outings with friends and families, and thus bringing
fun and joy to their lives. The manager who can
master this approach will bring enthusiasm and
vigour into the most mundane of jobs.

This is one of the most powerful motivation

techniques that the books teach you. What the books
dont tell you are the pitfalls. So the ordinary manager
who reads only ordinary self-help books will motivate
some people, but end up demotivating others. That is
why you are lucky you are reading my book. Powerful
as this technique is, there are some dangers, which we
will now see.

The first is the CIM syndrome. Consider the worker in

our previous example who stitches sleeves onto shirts.
For her, it may be a pleasure to make sure that each
sleeve is stitched properly. She must match the
patterns on the sleeve and shirt. After all, you cant
just place the sleeve any which way you want. The
stripes have to merge. The petals of the floral patterns
have to match. The lines have to maintain continuity.
Each shirt and sleeve is a product of meticulous
craftswomanship. She is beaming with pride as she
inspects every shirt with sleeves stitched on perfectly.
There is an inner glow of deep satisfaction at one more
task done well. Suddenly our enthusiastic manager
(you!) walks up to her and says, Look lady, dont
think you are stitching sleeves onto shirts. Oh, anyone
could do that. You are not even making shirts. Just
forget that you are putting sleeves on shirts. Dont
look at your work as an individual. Think of yourself
as a part of the team. Think of the five other people in
this factory who cut the cloth, stitch the shirt, prepare
the lapel, stitch the buttons and cut the sleeves, who
work on the job before it comes to you. Think of
yourself as a part of the team which, after your work
on the shirt is complete, irons it, folds it, packs it up
and transports it to shops. Dont get lost in your one
small task. Instead, always remember that as a team
you are all helping people dress up for occasions that
they value meetings, parties, weddings. Understand
that you are a part of this greater effort. Whoops, in
one stroke, you have punctured the balloon and let out
all the air. The chest swollen with pride suddenly
deflates and the shoulders droop. She is no longer the
individual craftsperson. She is just a Cog in the
Machine. The smile vanishes, the enthusiasm drops,
and boredom sets in. She is just a small part of a much
larger enterprise, carrying out tedious, repetitive tasks.
This is the classic CIM (Cog in the Machine)
There is another situation when the Larger Picture
technique is even more of a no-no. There are certain
situations where not only must this technique be
eschewed, but the larger picture must be positively
hidden, and the significance of the task masked. In
fact, here, the real motivation technique would be the
Narrow Focus. Consider Mr John Smith, working on a
machine part. He is testing various steel springs to see
which work well in the switches that his section of the
factory is manufacturing. The function of the spring is
to control the pressure with which the switch can be
turned on.

The spring has to be of just the right rigidity, so that

the switch can be pressed on with exactly the right
pressure. It should not require more than the desired
pressure to put the switch on. And pressure less than
this should not allow it to be turned on. Our John
Smith is happy testing out various springs, their
stiffness and how they perform in the switch. Like the
seamstress in the previous example, he is beaming and
all the rest. But does he know the larger picture? Does
he know that the switch he is so lovingly making will
fit into a land mine? That the mine is designed so that
it will not go off if a small animal walks over it (low
pressure), but will blast away to smithereens any
human being that will trigger it? (Just the right
pressure). Poor JS if he knew the significance of his
task, he would be devastated, and go into a state of
permanent depression. His hands would be weighed
down with these thoughts as he wearily tests various
springs. Who knows, he may even start using stiffer
springs so as to hike up the pressure so that the mine
will not be triggered off by anyone but an extra obese
human. Now, you wont want him to do that, would
you? You would soon lose all your customers who
wont be too happy seeing people merrily walking
over their land mines!

In short, there are times when keeping the larger

picture hidden is a more powerful form of motivation
than projecting the larger picture.

Now you know one of the most powerful techniques

of motivation, and as long as you know when to say
Wonderful, dont forget that you are not just building
a wall, but erecting a hospital to bring health to the
community, and when to say Great work on the
springs John, keep focussed on those nice springs,
you are on your way to becoming a master of the
Larger Picture Technique.

Another Look at Work Time

The average office employee often feels unmotivated
because he feels he has no control over his life. He is
driven by the office clock, by the whims of the boss,
and by the relentless demands of unending work. This
makes him irritable and inefficient. As office work eats
into his time, his home life suffers, again making him
inefficient and irritable. Getting a good Work-Home
Balance is a critical part of motivation. (Note that some
management books use the more popular term Work-
Life Balance, but as this lets the cat out of the bag that
work is not a part of life, it can be a big impediment in
creating motivation. Hence, we use the less accurate,
but more convenient term, Work-Home Balance).

One of the most wonderful innovations to tackle staff

dissatisfaction with their Work-Home balance is flexi-
time. A study conducted by Severn and Peters in
London, Paris and Brussels found that introduction of
flexi-time improved the morale of employees by over
37%. Women, who have to juggle the roles of a
homemaker and an income provider, were
particularly happy.

Another great advance has been the shortening of the

working week. Earlier, people had a six day, eight
hours a day week, that is, they were working 48 hours
a week. Extensive studies in Europe showed that a 40
hour, 5 day week delivered the same work output,
while enormously increasing staff satisfaction.

It is generally believed that these innovations were the

products of European social scientists, labour
economists and progressive corporations,
subsequently captured by western self-help
management books. However, this is a gross
misconception. Like many other wonderful things,
these ideas owe their roots to India. (A list of the many
wonderful things which were first invented or thought
of in India can easily be made available on request.
Such a list has been put together by this author from
the many emails, Facebook posts and Whats App
messages highlighting the great things about India,
circulated mostly by non-resident Indians.) It is very
important to understand the evolution and genesis of
these techniques, because only then can they be
implemented in their true spirit, achieving maximum
utility and effectiveness.

Long before the Europeans even thought of the

revolutionary systems of flexi-time and a short
working week, government offices in India were busy
perfecting these methods. Let us take the case of flexi-
timings. It was government offices in India that started
encouraging employees to come to work whenever
they wanted, to which staff responded enthusiastically
as well. The post office would open at 10 am, but staff
could walk in anytime they wanted, 11 am, sometimes
even noon. Some even came in after lunch, but since
that comes under the category of shortening the
working week, we will look at it under that head.
Taking the principle further, government offices
abolished the idea of fixed tea and lunch breaks. Staff
could take breaks as per their convenience. Since
having tea or lunch together was critical to
maintaining camaraderie, employees were forced to
take additional breaks when their colleagues took
lunch/tea breaks, even if they had already had their
own. But employees put up with this without much

Related to this was another important advance in

working conditions that evolved in government offices
in India. Even before Europeans conceptualised the
five day, 40 hour work week, government employees
in India had put in practice the three day, 15 hour
week. This was smartly combined with the notion of
flexibility, so these 3 days and 15 hours could be
spread over the week by the employees according to
their convenience. One important technique mastered
by government offices is popularly known as the long
weekend. A long weekend is when any public holiday
falls on Monday (or Friday), and taking off on Friday
(or Monday) allows a four day long mini-vacation for
the staff. This is normal. The real innovation by
government offices was the realisation that the same
principle could be used even when a holiday fell on
Wednesday. It is to their credit that they did not let
trivialities like Monday and Tuesday not being
holidays interfere with the execution of this concept.

Another unique contribution of the government staff

in actualising the 3 day, 15 hour week is the signing
the register concept. In this technique, signing the
office attendance register automatically added 8 hours
to the employees hours worked in the week. For ease
of administration, it was arranged that all calculations
of salary, leave, and bonuses would be based on this
register so that overburdened government machinery
would not have to be bothered with trivial and
distracting details like actual attendance. But this new
technique did have its teething problems. It created a
major inconvenience for the staff that had to spend
valuable hours to come in just to sign the register. A
simple but brilliant modification of the concept
however soon took care of the problem. The need to
sign the register daily was done away with, and
people could sign the register at one go for the whole
week (or more).
While the innovations of flexi-time and shorter
working hours brought in great improvement in
working conditions, there were still some important
issues that kept cropping up, creating frustration and
dissatisfaction among government employees. To
address this, government offices introduced the
important concept of work-home flexibility, in
particular, allowing people to do their private chores
during working hours. After all, there are several
important demands on an employees time where the
timings are not in their control. Children have to
dropped at and picked up from school, electricity and
phone bills have to be paid, weddings attended, ill
relatives in the hospital taken care of, in-laws dropped
at or picked up from the station, morning papers read,
important information exchanged with colleagues,
and so on. Not being able to fulfil these important
responsibilities was creating mental anguish and
preventing the staff from concentrating on work.
Therefore, government offices allowed their
employees the flexibility to do these tasks during
working hours.
These important innovations made government
employees among the most contended, and with very
high morale. Indeed, government jobs are among the
most sought after in the country.

Now that you have understood the origins and the

context of these innovations of flexi-time and shorter
work week, you can make better use of the self-help
books to develop and implement these ideas at your
workplace in a far more effective manner.

Working from Home

As the books will teach you, modern technologies like
the internet have tremendously enhanced the utility of
these ideas, expanding their range and depth. The
most obvious next stage of the flexi-time and short
work week is the Work from Home concept (The
flexi-place equivalent of flexi-time).

The internet has now allowed hundreds of companies

to free thousands of their staff members from the daily
drudgery of trudging to the office in the morning and
rushing back after office hours. This has avoided
consumption of millions of litres of petrol and diesel,
contributed to preventing climate change, helped
decongest traffic and saved the companies lakhs of
rupees in office infrastructure and running costs. Of
course, while the internet had made possible the
widespread implementation of this technique, it
should be pointed out that the credit for its innovation
still goes to Indian government departments. The
concept of Work from Home was first introduced by
the Indian governments health and medical services.
These medical services (run by the states) operate
networks of hospitals, staffed by doctors hired by the
government. The doctors of these hospitals started the
Work from Home programme. Many of them now
see patients exclusively at home. A recent survey
showed that close to 63% of the doctors availed of this
facility either fully or partially, testifying to its

However, it should be acknowledged that without the

internet, it would not have been possible to extend the
benefits of this idea to a large number of people from
other vocations.

As more and more companies put in place a Work

from Home programme, some problems are surfacing
as well. Most self-help books do not talk about these
problems, and their partial knowledge can lead to lot
of problems for the manager. It is only here in my
book that you will find exclusive information about all
the serious drawbacks in these programmes. This does
not mean that you should abandon them, but rather
that you should be cautious when you implement
such new techniques.

One of the problems that the Work from Home

programme faces is the numerous complaints from
men that their wives have wrongly understood the
programme as Work at Home. The men complain
that they get overloaded with a range of requests at
home, such as check that all the work has been done
when the bai leaves, pick up the child from day-
care, and will you please make tea and bhajiyas for
my friends when they come over in the afternoon for
our kitty party?. It is strange how the concept of flexi-
time allowing one to do other tasks during work
hours that is so popular in the office, becomes so
unpopular when combined with the Work from
Home concept.

On the other hand, women complain that if men are

not even going to do these little things, they may as
well go to the office, at least the house wont be a mess
by the evening. The men echo the first part of this
sentiment, that if they are to do all these chores at
home, they may as well go to the office.

Thus, a Work from Home programme needs to be

handled with tact and sensitivity.

Another issue of caution concerns the flexi-time and

shorter work week techniques. When the pioneering
flexi-time programme of the Indian governments
described above was analysed by management
researchers, they found that it sharply boosted
employee morale. However, consumers, customers
and citizens found it difficult to understand this
programme and its value. They were narrow-minded
about it, and passed mean remarks when officers and
staff were not available just exactly when they wanted
to meet them.

In general, management self-help books are stumped

by this problem. Most just keep mum about it,
thinking that the problem will sort itself out. Some
even go so far as to suggest that the customer must be
the focus, and if flexi-time and other employee benefit
programmes displease customers, they should be
discontinued. (The programmes, not the customers!)

But I have a solution out of this impasse. The first

thing to realise is that it is difficult to keep everyone
happy. As managers, you will see that extreme
suggestions like those above will not benefit anyone.
Customers need to understand that unless the
employees are happy, they will not deliver good
service. So what you need to do as a manager is to
couple every flexi-time, short work week programme
with a Customer Education Programme that tells them
about the benefits of such programmes. You must
ensure that every single customer is reached in as
many ways as possible through leaflets, sign boards
in the office, tele-callers, messages printed on bills,
pop-ups on company website SMSes, etc. These
messages should convey that some staff may not be
available when they are wanted by customers, but this
makes for better service as A Happy Employee is a
good Service Provider. In fact, more such slogans
could be coined and displayed prominently in the
office, for instance, A Happy Employee is Worth the
Wait. You could also keep stacks of magazines and
books in the waiting area, with the slogans Learn
While You Wait and We Value Your Time, Use It to
Add Value to Your Life in bold letters across the

Lastly, the clinching argument the government office

innovations of flexi-time and flexi-place are entirely
based on modern science. As anyone with even an
elementary school education knows, the basis of all
modern science is quantum physics. It is quantum
physics that has made possible all the wonderful
discoveries like computers, cell phones, TV, nuclear
bombs and the Big Bang Theory. Few realise, however,
that the flexi-time and flexi-place management
techniques are also gifts of quantum physics. In fact,
quantum mechanics requires that employees will not
necessarily be found when and where you want them.

As everyone knows, quantum physics says that it is

impossible and scientifically wrong to talk of the exact
position of any particle. You cannot ever know the
exact location of a particle, you can only talk about the
probability of it being at a particular place. Take the
case of the electron. You cannot say that it is at a
particular place in the atom. You can only say that
there is a particular probability of it being found in a
particular place in the atom. Now, if this is the case for
a particle, then wont the same apply to a government
employee, who, after all is nothing but a collection of
particles? Thus, quantum physics tells you that you
cannot expect the person to be at a particular place (his
table) during a particular time period (the so called
office timings). You can only say that there is a
probability of finding him there. As any school
student knows, when something is probable, that
means it may happen, or not. So if you dont find the
government employee at his place, well, its just the
may not happen part of the probability. (Those more
technically inclined will understand this as the
collapse of the probability function to zero). In fact, if
in an atom the number of electrons is small, the
probability of finding them is clustered near the
centre. But when there are more electrons, then some
of them have a higher probability of being away from
the centre. (Technically minded people will recognise
the s, p, d and f orbital shapes). The same principle
applies to government employees (naturally). With
many employees, the chances that several of them
would be found away from the office are higher.

Thus, it is clear that the techniques of flexi-time and

flexi-place are firmly rooted in modern scientific

Go to the People Now

With all these wonderful techniques, many of them
based on the most sophisticated principles of modern
quantum mechanics, you have now mastered some of
the most important and fundamental ways to motivate
and inspire employees. With these techniques under
your belt, you can now confidently stride into the
office, ready to take on and manage your team and
deliver success at workplace. You are now on your
way to be a successful manager.
How I Lost It
Self Help Advice for Diet and Weight

Mark Twain is reported to have said that it is very

easy to give up smoking. Why, I have done it many
times myself. Its the same with losing weight so
many people keep doing it so many times. You may
therefore wonder why there should be so many self-
help books dealing with losing weight and diet
control. If you are in the silent suffering minority of
those who want to gain weight, you are a bit unlucky,
as you only have the occasional Gain Weight without
Weight Training and the once best-selling but now out-
of-print Ten Foods to Make You Gain Weight.

Incidentally, there is an interesting story about why

this book went out of print. Since books like Five Super
Foods to Help you Lose Weight and Eleven Items to Eat
Your Way into Your Swimsuit became huge hits, people
realised that if there are only a few foods that will
reduce your weight, then the rest can be eaten to put it
on. If you wanted to increase your weight, and
purchased a copy of Ten Foods to Make You Gain
Weight, you would have to hunt for these ten items.
But if you bought Five Super Foods to Help You Lose
Weight, all you had to do is to avoid these five, and eat
any of the rest. Soon, there was hardly any demand for
the former book, and it went out of print.

An observant reader would ask why the reverse did

not happen. We will deal with this question in the
sequel to this book. Or, hey, if you are so smart, figure
out the answer yourself!

So, as I was saying, there are literally hundreds of

books on how to reduce and lose weight. No wonder,
so many people are losing weight so many times.
However, it is difficult to wade through the plethora
of books, and multitude of suggestions in them, many
of which are contradictory. Moreover, you will notice
that almost everybody has advice to offer on losing
weight. How can one make sense of this babble of
voices, each supremely confident while ridiculing the
others? Thats exactly where I come in. I will help you
cut through all the noise and claims and counter-
claims, and understand the truth behind the large
number of methods to lose weight, so that you can
make an informed choice.

Read on, and you are on your way to squeeze no,

slide into your swimsuit from college days.

The first word that pops up when we think of weight
loss is you guessed it diet. Diets confront us with
grim and glum visions of eating cucumbers and
carrots for breakfast, lunch and dinner, day after day,
so that the thin watery soup and dry bread sticks that
come as a bonus on Sundays appear as a lavish spread
in comparison. No wonder diet is a four letter word.

Added to this gloomy scenario is the vision of

labouring for endless hours on the treadmill or
trudging along on brisk walks every day for that
mandatory burning of calories. The picture is
completed by a stubbornly unmoving (literally) needle
of the weighing machine.
However, as self-help books will tell you, and as the
promoters of many modern diets promise, dieting no
longer needs to be so dull, dreary and boring. In fact,
they often tell you that dieting in this manner is
positively bad for your health and you may even end
up gaining weight. Dieting in the past (lets call it the
Traditional Dieting Methods or TDM for short,
tedium, get it?) may have been all so punishing and
boring, but in the modern day (Modern Advanced
Diets, or MAD for short), it is exciting and enjoyable.
Self-help books have helped explode many of the
myths of old-style dieting, alerted us to its dangers
and presented us with fun options to lose weight. So
let us now look at these myths and dangers and also at
the new methods of dieting.

The Myths of TDM Dieting

The biggest myth related to the old methods of dieting
is that the traditional diets help to lose weight. They
dont, say a host of experts and proponents of New
Wave Diets. (NWD for short. Remember these
acronyms, for the Dieting World is full of them, and
you need to know them really well if you dont want
to look stupid in discussions at parties). As self-help
books explain, there are several scientifically proven
reasons why the TDM method of dieting does not

TDM diets are based on poor science, as they were

devised at a time when human society was not so
scientifically advanced. Man had not yet been to the
moon, the atom bomb had not been invented and
exploded, and other wonderful techniques like
cosmetic surgery were still in their infancy. Most
important, computers had not been invented, so
human societies were greatly handicapped. Thus,
TDM diets were a product of an age of limited
scientific knowledge.

Moreover, remember that any technique or method is

not only a function of science and technology. It is also
moulded by societal values. The thinking at the time
when TDM evolved was that it is the lot of human
beings to suffer (and more so if you are a woman). So
it would have been ethically wrong, even sinful, if the
dieting methods were enjoyable. They had to be
boring, arduous and punishing. As women were
mostly supposed to lose weight (men began to be
concerned about losing weight much later on), it fitted
well with the notion that it was even more the fate of
women to suffer.

Thus, we can see TDM as a product of its time. The

result was not only Tedium, but also a highly
unscientific system. Unfortunately, the system got so
well established that generations of human beings
continued to suffer the pains of this dieting method in
the fond belief that they were following the best
system to lose weight. (This is a well-known
sociological and anthropological phenomenon where
things that are a pain in the neck somehow not only
survive, but entrench themselves deeply. Bureaucratic
red tape is a well-studied example). It was only with
the advent of the great self-help books that the
fallacious science behind TDM began to be exposed.
Old myths were busted and a whole new approach to
dieting evolved. Let us now examine the unscientific
basis of TDM diets as exposed by the modern scientific
understanding of the human body and advanced
medical knowledge.

The first of the eye-opening revelations came in early

1970s, when a big multi-university research involving
seven top universities in the US and Europe
discovered that 91% of the women pursuing the TDM
diet (known colloquially in Europe as The Double C
carrot and cucumber Diet) did not lose weight. Of
course, this fact was already known to these frustrated
women, to their partners (who had to bear the ire of
the women as they vented their frustration), to their
children (who had to perforce partake of the Double C
to the exclusion of their favourite foods), to their
friends (who talked endlessly about it with one
another as they all went through similar experiences),
to their local grocer (who was given elaborate
explanations about why the fattening creamy and
sugary items were not being purchased in this visit to
the shop), to the random customers at the grocer (as
discussions with the grocer were always at high
volumes), to the pet cats and dogs (as husbands and
partners only pretended to listen to these womens
woes, and pets were far more receptive), to the potted
plants (as some women talked to the plants to make
them grow better, albeit, on listening to this topic a fair
number of them are said to have wilted), to the literate
public at large (as the agony aunt columns of local
popular magazines invariably carried the miserable
tales of some or the other sufferer), to the illiterate (as
their friends read out the agony aunt columns to
them), to the priests (as women confessed to having
eaten some of the forbidden foods the diet was
anyway not working), to the hairdresser (who was a
sounding board and a switch board for all local
gossip) and to several others. In short, everyone knew
that this TDM diet was not working except of course,
these scientists from the top seven universities. Now it
was not their fault. You see, scientists cannot know
anything unless they have a nice fat grant from some
agency that gets its money from taxpayers like you
and me, which they use to buy nice fancy machines
and stuff, and go around asking people things, and
then they know.
Thus, in the early 1970s, scientists from the seven
universities found that 91% of the women following
the TDM diet did not lose weight. Then they stopped
knowing further as the grant ran out. Then they got
another nice big one (theres plenty of them if you
know who to ask, sometimes big corporates will also
give you a lot if you say nice things), and they
discovered the first important reason why TDM diets
dont work.

The fact is that the human body is superlative at

adapting itself to changed circumstances. When you
eat only carrots and cucumbers, the body apprehends
starvation ahead (the body is so much smarter than
us!) and simply switches to a lower basal metabolic
rate. You eat less calories, you burn less. Balance, as it
was earlier! When you push it by trying to do more
exercise, you only end up losing water as the body
fiercely protects its store of fat and carbohydrates. So
now you know why you sweat so much when you
exercise during a diet. And of course, you feel dead
tired as you have much fewer calories to burn even as
you push the burn rate by exercising. Still you feel a
pyrrhic sense of victory as the scale shows a couple of
kilos less. Then you go and drink lots of water (one of
the few things allowed to you) and the kilos are back
again. Water out, kilos down, water in, kilos up. The
result - what is popularly known as the Yo-Yo diet,
with tiredness and frustration following suit.

The second important reason why the TDM diets

dont work can be explained in one word Craving.
Craving, as the dictionary defines it, is an intense
desire for something. One of the first effects of the
traditional diet is the development of intense and
persistent cravings for all the foods you are avoiding
sugar, chocolates, fried stuff and so on. This is
interpreted as a weakness or a lack of will power, and
the dieter ends up chastising himself, strongly
seconded by the spouse. However, extensive studies
have shown that it is the not the dieter who is at fault,
but rather, it is evolution. Evolution has forged the
human body into a formidable machine. In prehistoric
days, we did not have nutritionists, health guides,
doctors, mothers, and spouses to tell us what to eat for
a healthy life and a lean body. So human beings
evolved and developed cravings. If the human body
needed a particular nutrient, the body would develop
pangs of intense craving, and the individual simply
responded to the craving and obtained the necessary
food. This evolutionary response is still present in us

When you go on a diet, your body naturally stops

getting several vital nutrients. And then it starts
screaming I want this, I want that. This response
manifests as craving. TDM diets told you to resist this
craving. As we have seen, it was a product of a time
that told you that anything good and enjoyable must
be wrong. (To be fair to our ancestors, they were not
the only ones. Our generation has carried on with this
habit: witness how we cant stand our kids enjoying
the nice fun games they play on the computers where
buxom, barely dressed women and heavily armed
impossibly muscular guys go on shooting sprees firing
off bullets, rockets, missiles and other such things all
around hoping that the law of averages helps them to
hit some of the enemies. We tell our kids that the
games are gory, violent and bad. )
Well, our ancestors also felt that anything enjoyable
must be bad, more so if you were dieting. Hence,
cravings had to be suppressed. Thus would begin a
battle royal the body desperately shouting for some
proper food, for gods sake and the mind valiantly
fighting it with sensible thoughts. The natural effect
was a feeling of weakness, tiredness, listlessness and
so on. Thus, the TDM diets failed because they directly
contradicted the evolutionary mechanisms deeply
rooted in human genes.

These scientific truths came out and the times

changed. The era of suffering came to an end and the
hedonistic age began. Diets were revised to take into
consideration the new age philosophy. Self-help
books, nutrition experts, diet gurus, all began to ask
you to throw away the Double C diets. Eat all you
want, eat right, eat healthy, no exercise, listen to your
body these emerged as the slogans of the Modern
Advanced Diets (MAD, another acronym that I hope
you havent forgotten). There has been a proliferation
of such diets now, and once again self-help books help
us to understand these diets and choose the best one
for us. We now look at some of these revolutionary
new diets.

The Three Characteristics of MAD Diets

Before we look at specific MAD diets, we must first try
and understand what qualifies a diet as a MAD. This
is important because there are some die-hard fans of
the TDM diet who refuse to listen to the scientific
evidence against it. These people have cleverly tried to
push TDM diets in disguised versions with new
names. Lest we mistake these for the new MAD diets,
it is important for to have some core criteria to help
weed these out.

The first criteria is that if a diet tells you not to eat

sugar, sweet stuff, cakes, red meat, pastries, fried food,
etc. then it is a TDM diet, no matter how much it may
pretend to be a modern one. No self-respecting
modern food regulating programme will put such
arbitrary and anti-evolutionary restrictions on you. On
the contrary, for us to even take a second look at it, the
modern diet must promise to let us eat at least a
moderate amount of these goodies. This is critical to
prevent craving - one of the most important flaws with
the TDM.

Secondly, a good modern diet must not force you into

any unnecessary exercises that end up making you
sweaty or make you miss your favourite TV show.
Any diet that requires you to work out endlessly is
cheating. After all, if you are burning calories, then
you can eat more of them, so why would diet control
be required? Moreover, evolutionary theory shows
that the human body is programmed to conserve, not
burn calories. This is so easy to understand that even
scientists have recognised it without needing any big
grants. In prehistoric times, food was difficult to
obtain, so it was a precious commodity. One did not
eat lunch, depleting the valuable store of gathered
food, only to mindlessly burn it away in the evening
doing sits ups or callisthenics. The energy from food
had to be reserved for essential body functions and for
other necessary things like running away from wild
animals. To enforce this behaviour, human genes have
evolved in a way that discourages aimless exercise
and encourages saving energy. We share this
behavioural pattern with many other animals. (Have
you ever seen a lion or a tiger jumping up and down
in the air waving his limbs doing drills, or going for
his evening brisk walk?)

No wonder studies show that 93.9% of the population

enjoys sprawling in front of the TV to watch their
favourite show, rather than go for a jog or walk the
treadmill. Naturally, evolution can never ensure that
100% of the population has the same genes, which
accounts for the rest of the 6.1%, the insane ones you
can see running in the park at unearthly hours like 6
am, or the neighbour who is always trying to brag
about how she does 2 hours of workout every day, not
realising that she is going against the grain of
evolution. Actually, human civilisation (rather, let us
say Governments) wont allow it, else these 6.1%
would sooner or later have been wiped out as natural
selection eliminated them for the more appropriate
genes of the 93.9%. However, they do remain in our
midst, reminding us that the human race is not
entirely the smartest one on the planet.
The third, and possibly the most important test of a
truly modern diet, is that it should not make us feel
guilty at any point of time. There is a scientific basis to
this the mind-body relationship. Modern science has
now taught us that the mind influences the body in
ways and to an extent hitherto not even thought of. A
diet that not only makes the body suffer, but keeps the
mind feeling guilty all the time (for thinking of all
those chocolate laden, icing topped deserts, or for the
leftover crumbs of the delicious cream cake that you
had quickly popped into your mouth when no one
was looking) is a no-brainer. Thus, an important
principle of the modern diet is to keep the mind at
peace, happy, and guilt free. Therefore, these diets will
tell you that you can eat your occasional cake, fries,
cheeseburgers and down a coke. They will emphasise
that if you are invited to a party, you need not refuse
or spend all your time in the corner furthest from the
food table. They allow you to eat at parties. And even
if you spell eat as b-i-n-g-e, they rush to inform you
that on no account should you feel guilty.
Now that we have understood these key defining
characteristics of the Modern Advanced Diet (MAD),
let us look at some of the more popular ones promoted
by self-help books and websites.

The Eat Right Diet

This is based on the principle of a balanced diet.
This principle in modern terms roughly translates
to you must eat everything, for that is the only way
you will achieve balance. Thus, it meets the first
criteria of a modern diet, in that it encourages you to
eat all kinds of food.

Naturally, to have a balance, you need things in

proportion. Hence it is not surprising that the key
word in a Balanced Diet is Proportion. As anyone with
basic school education knows, food consists of seven
fundamental elements carbohydrates, proteins, fats,
vitamins, minerals, water and chocolate. A Balanced
Diet will define the proportions of the first five for
your food intake, will allow unlimited quantities of
the sixth, and tacitly look the other way when it comes
to the seventh. Some nutrition experts (Pintu, age 7
and Pummy, age 5 to name a couple), compare the
seventh to a Joker in the game of Rummy. As you will
remember, a Joker is used as a wild card, being able to
substitute for any card in this game. Similarly, these
and other such experts argue that chocolate can
replace any of the key components of food except to
some extent water. These findings are currently under
further research by the scientific community.

There are several variations of the Balanced Diet. They

vary mainly in their approach to what proportions of
the various ingredients should be used. Depending of
this, they are labelled as High Protein Diet, High Carb
Diet, Low Fat Diet, etc. Let us consider a typical
Balanced Diet. Normally, each Balanced Diet has its
own book. The first thing that any Balanced Diet will
tell you is that all the other diets are rubbish. If our
Balanced Diet is a high protein, low to medium carb,
low fat diet, it will spend about 10 pages on telling
you how a high carb and medium protein diet not
only does not work for you but also adversely affects
your health. It will then explain to you the details of
the human metabolic system, in particular how the
body really needs more protein than was earlier
believed, i.e. how when the protein content in your
diet exceeds 27%, then the carmanium glands will
release higher levels of the 2-bis-3-trans-sucrobenodyl
enzyme, which increases the metabolic rate. Thus, you
may be sitting in front of your TV watching your
favourite soap, but your body will be busy burning
calories. (This phrase You may be sitting watching
TV but your body will be busy burning calories is a
popular one with most experts and almost all diet self-
help books will say this at some point.) Of course, as
you are eating less carb, guess what the body will
burn up? (If you say protein you are terribly wrong
and get zero marks.) It will burn up fat!

The book will also take pains to point out how if the
protein level goes below 27% (as it will in the rival
diets), then the carmanium glands will slow down the
secretion of the above mentioned tongue-twister
enzyme, and instead, the blastadian bodies present in
the lining of the stomach will react by increasing the
absorption of carbohydrates and sugars (as these are
high in the diet), so not only will you end up eating
more calories but also absorbing more of them, and
presto, you will put on weight.Such friendly sparring
between various diets and their respective self-help
books adds spice and zest to what can otherwise be a
somewhat boring process of wading through tomes
choosing the right diet for oneself.

Once many pages of the book are devoted to

demolishing the rival diets, the book will move on to
presenting its solution to lose weight. The suggested
food intake would be typically something like this:

Breakfast should be heavy and contain about 40%

protein, 30% carbohydrates and 20% fats. It is
advisable to avoid trans-fats and use higher levels of
monounsaturated fats.

Lunch should be light, with 50% protein, 10% fat, 10%

carbohydrates, while the rest should be water, in the
form of high water content vegetables and fruits like
Dinner should be light with similar proportions as

You can have a snack in between, but make sure it is

80% protein at least.

Once these clear directions are stated, it is a matter of

just implementing this diet for the suggested period of
eight or ten weeks. That is simplicity itself. Imagine,
you are making a breakfast of eggs and toast with
butter. With two eggs, two table spoons of butter to
fry them, and three slices of bread with two more table
spoons of butter for spreading on them, it is quite easy
to calculate the proportions. Open any decent book on
food constituents (the kind used by those doing a PhD
on nutrition) and you will find that eggs are about
57% protein, 27% carb and the rest is fat. The book will
also tell you that bread contains 39% carb, 21% protein
and the rest fat. The butter is purely fat. You need to
now calculate the total quantity of the butter, bread
and eggs (keep a kitchen scale and a calculator handy
in the kitchen, or better still, just enter all of it into a
spreadsheet) and it is simple to work out the
percentage of protein in the total meal. You will need
to juggle a bit to make sure that the protein comes out
to 40%, carbs 30% and fats 20% as recommended for
breakfast. You will also need to keep a sharp eye on
the family as they sit for breakfast. A rap on the
knuckle will be in order as hubby reaches out for the
fourth toast. Dont upset the carefully calibrated
balance, you must tell him. Or, if he insists on the
fourth toast, you can quickly push 0.413 parts of egg to
bring the balance back to the recommended one. A
little bit of vigilance will go a long way in making the
diet successful.

The book, the scales and the calculator will also help
you plan lunch and dinner, and similar watchfulness
at the table will ensure that these meals too are a
success. Dont worry, this is easier than it sounds. The
first few days are the most difficult in any diet and this
is not an exception. However, by the end of the first
week, you will find that you know by heart the
proportions of fats, proteins and carbs in most
common foods, and will be able to juggle around
quantities, do the maths mentally and dish out
balanced meals.

However, if you are mathematically challenged, self-

help books have an answer to this problem as well.
Most Balanced Diet books will also give you sample
menus, or even give you ready menus for the whole
week, which you can then repeat. Thus, the author
will do painstaking calculations and offer you
prepared balanced menus for breakfast, lunch, and
dinner for Monday through Sunday. This makes it
quite simple for you now.

For example, lunch on Thursday for one person would

be rice (121 g), dal (73 g) with tadka (3 g of oil or 1.7 g
of ghee), brinjal (eggplant) bhaji (39.89 g brinjal, 3 g oil
for tadka) and dahi (28 g). Wonderful, all laid out in
the greatest detail, no thinking required. Truly,
Dieting for Dummies.

Of course, some caution is indicated, as the book

points out in the footnote. If you use basmati rice, then
you need to use only 103 g and not 121. If you use
Indrayani variety, you need to use 137 g. You can
download the list from the books website. Similarly, if
the dahi is made from skimmed milk, then you need 32
g, but if it is from whole milk then you need only 21 g.

Also, the quantities for other ingredients will vary

according to the variety, source and so on. All you
need to do is to make sure you ask your grocer and
vegetable vendor about the variety of the produce,
where it was grown (regional differences can be
significant for the same variety), and how it was
grown, more specifically, what fertilisers were used
(different fertilisers can led to different contents for the
same variety). Once you have all this information for
all the ingredients, you can go ahead and cook the
meal that the Ready Menus conveniently suggest.
How easy.

Thus, the Balanced Diet is simple to implement, yet a

powerful and effective means of dieting. The only
drawback with this diet is that since it is so
scientifically worked out, so well-calibrated to achieve
the right balance of nutrients, and so finely tuned to
the intricacies of the bodys metabolism, any change in
the proportions can hugely impact its results. For
example, if you use 123 g of rice instead of the 121 g
recommended, you change the protein-carb ratio by
3%. A few more such mistakes in the week and you
will end up gaining weight. Thus, the balanced diet is
conceptually simple, easy to use, and with the added
menus for you to cook your meals, it will be a breeze.

Strangely, many people have complained about this

diet being somewhat complicated and difficult to
follow. As there are a lot of people out there who still
have not tried the conventional Balanced Diet
(described above), many self-help books still continue
to offer this version, and it retains its popularity. But
others have quickly sensed that there is a huge market
of those who are discontented with the conventional
Balanced Diet. Self-help books have responded by
offering the Balanced Diet in other versions that
eliminate the perceived complexities. One such
version is the Food Pyramid Diet, which we will look
at now.
The Food Pyramid
The Food Pyramid Diet is the McDonalds equivalent
of the Balanced Diet.

Have you ever been to a strange country where you

dont know the language, and cant order anything
decent, for Gods sake? It happened to me in Japan.
During several maddening visits to Japanese
restaurants, I ended up ordering the owner of the
restaurant, the band, and taxes extra. Not my fault,
all were on the menu card. I was frustrated and
hungry, till I found a McDonalds with its familiar and
reassuring golden arches. And even though
everything was still written in Japanese, I had no
problem ordering what I wanted. This was because of
the revolutionary technique perfected by McDonalds -
Visual Ordering. Often known as Point and Order, it is
better than Ordering for Dummies. A poster with
pictures of the menu items on it and numbers for each
one in large big fonts, does the trick. All I had to do
was walk up to the Japanese teenager at the counter,
say Number 3, and gesture with three figures to
ensure that he understood me. Thankfully (or perhaps
its part of the careful design), there are no more than
10 items on the menu. Oh, what simplicity! What a
stroke of genius!

The Food Pyramid is to the Balanced Diet what the

McDonalds poster is to the restaurant menu. That is
also why it is so popular with all self-help books. If
you just google the Food Pyramid, you will see its
power. So what exactly is the Food Pyramid? As self-
help books will tell you, it shows the constituents of a
healthy diet visually as a pyramid, with the pictures of
different food items located at various levels of the
pyramid for ease of understanding. The location on
the pyramid shows how much of each is to be eaten.

The cereals are at the bottom (meaning these are to be

eaten in the largest quantities), fruit and vegetable at
the second level, milk, meat, poultry etc. at the third
level, and fats, oils, and sweets at the top of the
pyramid, meaning that these are to be taken in the
least quantities. As you can see, the pyramid has the
two most powerful plus-points of the Balanced Diet,
namely, that you are allowed to eat all kinds of food,
and second, the key word, Proportion. The proportion
of various foods is indicated by the tapering width of
the pyramid, so that you need not bother about
various bulky scientific reference books, calculators,

Now the Food Pyramid has been around for many

years. People took to it because it challenged the
traditional diets by emphasising that there are no
banned foods. Everything is allowed, but locate it in
the pyramid and see how much of it to eat.

However, what made it really wildly popular was a

masterstroke that was first delivered by the well-
known dietician Dr. Lokesh Sharma. In fact, this
version has become so popular that many books call it
Dr. Sharmas Food Pyramid Diet.

Lokesh Sharma, apart from being a dietician, was also

a mathematician. In fact, the doctor against his name
is for a PhD in mathematics. It was mathematics that
allowed him to see the real meaning of the food
pyramid and liberate the modern dieter from the
tyranny of the diet. Till Dr. Sharma came along, people
would look at the food pyramid and eat a lot of cereal,
a little less of fruit and veggies, even less milk and
meat, and the smallest portions of sweets and fats. But
Dr. Lokesh, in a brilliant insight, pointed out that the
pyramid did not present any absolute quantities, but
rather was an indication of the proportions. This
brilliant insight simply inverted the approach to the
pyramid. Dr. Sharma pointed out that you could start
by eating all the sweets and fried stuff you want.
Then, to ensure a healthy diet, all you needed to do
was eat a little more of meat and milk and poultry,
even more of vegetables and fruits, and lots more of
cereal. With a stroke of genius, Dr. Sharma
transformed the Food Pyramid Diet from a restricting
one into one that allowed people to eat as much as
they wanted of their favourite food. In order to eat
healthy, they just had to eat proportionately higher
quantities of the foods in other parts of the pyramid in
the required ratios. As you can guess, this diet has
gained immense popularity all over the world.
In spite of the immense success of the Balanced Diet
and the Food Pyramid Diet (especially Dr. Sharmas
Food Pyramid Diet), there are many who remain
dissatisfied. They find some or the other problem with
these diets, and complain that they are not able to lose
weight. Now the world is full of such people who
always whine about nice things and about how the
things that work for most people dont work for them.
Its just like people who complain about McDonalds.

Still, sensing a business opportunity in this discontent

with the Balanced Diet, diet and weight loss experts
have suggested many other types of diets. There are
many such diets, but they are all known by a common
generic name Fabulously Advanced Diets, or FADs.
Let us now look at some of these FADs.

Dr. Muralis AMD

This diet was invented by the brilliant scientist Dr.
Murali. Dr. Murali was a professor of image
processing and computer graphics, and his room was
adjacent to Dr. Dudleys lab. Dr. Dudley studied
prehistoric human communities, and he had a nice
collection of bones and skeletons of prehistoric human
beings from all over the world. Dr. Dudley had
requested Dr. Murali to help him reconstruct the face
and bodies of these long dead people with the help of
the skeletons. In the process, Dr. Murali made a
startling discovery that none of these prehistoric
men and women had been fat or overweight. If this
was the case, why, modern men and women could
also become slim and slender if they ate exactly what
the prehistoric humans ate. Thus was born the famous
AMD or the Adi Manav Diet.

Dr. Murali followed up his brilliant discovery with

three years of hard work, researching the prehistoric
diet, testing it and reworking it, till he had perfected
his AMD. Then he wrote the super bestseller Dieting is
History No, Its Prehistory: The Ancient Way to Stay
Slim and Trim.

The basic principle of this diet, as described above, is

derived from the scientific fact that the prehistoric
human being was a master at controlling weight. Also,
in evolutionary terms, the human body is still adapted
to eating what our ancestors were eating, so a
prehistoric diet would be the best suited in terms of
proper digestion and good health.

The key was to try and reconstruct the diet of our

prehistoric ancestors. Dr. Murali studied the bones
and skeletons from Dr. Dudleys lab. He subjected
them to a series of chemical and radiological analysis,
and found very high concentrations of calcium. Thus,
it was obvious that the prehistoric human was eating a
lot of calcium, which means milk, milk products and
calcium tablets. Not surprisingly, these form one of the
main constituents of the AMD. Beyond this aspect,
however, there was little that the bones revealed. One
useful insight was that the teeth showed no signs of
cavities, so it seems that the prehistoric human was
not eating too many sweets. Thus, the AMD
recommends that sweets be eaten in very small
quantities. (Keep in mind that like all modern diets,
this diet also allows people to eat everything, so that
people are not put off).
After analysing the bones, Dr. Murali decided to study
the environment in which these prehistoric human
beings lived. He went to Africa, to Mesopotamia, to
the Indus Valley. However, these places did not offer
him any clues. Only at one site in Egypt did he find
some useful information. There he found some
chocolate wrappers in the cave where the skeletons
had been found. This was an indication that
prehistoric human beings did eat chocolate, though
from the number of wrappers and the number of
skeletons discovered, it was clear that they did so in
moderation. Thus, the AMD diet recommends that
you eat some chocolate, but not too much.

At this point however, Dr. Murali reached a dead end.

There were no further clues that the skeletons or their
environment could offer. However, the scientist in Dr.
Murali knew that when there is nothing more that can
be understood from primary data, it is time to look at
the secondary sources. So he then turned his attention
to another source that offered a huge treasure trove of
information about the lives of prehistoric men and
women movies dealing with prehistoric times. As
anyone who has seen these films will tell you, they
vividly portray the lives of human beings who lived
ten to twenty thousand years ago. Dr. Murali studied
films like 10,000 BC, The Caveman, Teenage Cavegirl, Adi
Manav (Hindi) and several others. With this detailed
study, he put together the prehistoric humans diet
and released his bestseller book.

As the adi manav was a hunter-gatherer, fruits are an

important component of Dr. Muralis diet. The diet
also recommends eating a lot of meat and grains.
There is some debate whether fire had been
discovered by then, so the AMD has two versions, one
which recommends eating everything raw, and one
where meat and grains are cooked.

The Adi Manav diet has been quite successful, though

some people complain that they have not got good
results. Some have even said that they put on weight
after following the diet.

It does appear that in spite of its popularity in some

circles, the AMD has had some problems. One expert
has pointed out that while the adi manav did eat kilos
and kilos of fruit and meat everyday, the fruit was
obtained after walking miles to find the trees, and
jumping up to pluck the fruit. The meat was obtained
by running behind animals who had other thoughts
about supplying the meat. Unfortunately, the AMD
does not recommend this method of obtaining these
food items; it is content with you visiting the local
supermarket. If people had followed the traditional
way of obtaining fruits and vegetables, then they may
not have put on weight, the expert critic added.
However, Dr. Murali has reacted sharply to this point
of view, saying that there is enough scientific evidence
to indicate that not all prehistoric humans obtained
food in this manner. Immense diversity has been the
hallmark of human civilisation, and this was true of
even prehistoric times. He alludes to the findings of
detailed studies of the lifestyle of prehistoric human
communities, including among others, the Flintstones.
He believes that it is simply jealousy that has led these
experts to try and demean his method. About those for
whom the diet did not work, Dr. Murali feels that they
may not have followed it properly. He says his
helpline which offers personalised services is available
to anyone who wants assistance with the diet (only
$50 for 10 minutes), and so far no one has called up to
say that they have put on weight.

The sales of his book, the continuing telecast of his

show, its high TRP ratings, are all testimony that the
Adi Manav Diet is still popular.

The Colour Diet

This is not actually one diet, but several different diets
of one class. The characteristic feature of these diets is
that while they do put restrictions on what you can eat
so that there are some banned foods they do not
limit the quantity at all. The USP of this category of
diets is that it is very easy to remember what to eat
and what not to eat. In these diets, what is permitted
and what is disallowed is determined by the colour of
the food.

One of the most well-known of these diets is the No

White diet. (The word well-known is used
deliberately here. While surveys have revealed that
this diet seems to be known to a large number of
people, a very few who have actually practised it have
been identified so far.)

As one of the famous advocates of this diet Dr. V. Wee

describes it, five white food items are taboo. You can
eat almost anything else in whatever quantities you
fancy, but whites other than these five should also be
eaten in moderation. The five banned white items are
(1) Rice (2) Sugar (3) Milk (4) Salt and (5) Butter.

When this diet first made its appearance in the 1980s,

it was very popular, and hundreds, if not thousands of
people swore by it. However, in more recent years,
success seems to have eluded it. One reason could be
the emergence of substitutes like brown rice, brown
sugar and golden butter. As these were not restricted
by the No White diet, one could claim to follow it even
while eating large quantities of rice, butter and sugar.

Another diet from this category is the Colourful

Diet. Its proponents claim that this is a health diet,
but many people lost weight when they followed it, so
it is found in many self-help books under weight loss
diets. The secret of the Colourful Diet is, well, to have
lots of colour in what you eat. Books on this diet will
advise you to include tomatoes (red), carrots (orange),
lettuce (greens) and so on in large quantities. The more
colourful your plate looks, the better it is. At one point
of time, this diet had developed such a huge and loyal
fan following that it had been raised almost to an art
form. There were professionals who prepared
different types of layouts for dishes along the lines of
an Ikebana expert arranging a flower pot. Society
ladies would hold Colourful Diet parties in which they
would display their (or their favourite professionals)
creations. Connoisseurs endlessly debated the balance
of colours for example, whether the Japanese violet
cabbage was a trifle too strong to go with the delicate
yellow of the Italian tangerine - just as wine lovers
would discuss vineyards and years. Some
psychologists even put forward a theory that the
pattern of colours you chose to put on your daily plate
reflected your personality (and personality disorders),
and evolved procedures for readings based on it. As
you can see, a virtual science and art form arose
around this diet (and needless to add, big business
opportunities), making it really popular. Some
spoilsports did try to put a damper on all the
enthusiasm, saying that only 30% of those following
this diet lost weight, but the criticism was promptly
brushed aside by ardent fans who often planned their
weekends around such diets. This diet thus offers
great health benefits, promises to help you lose
weight, and also offers a host of entertainment

However, you need to be cautious about how you

choose your colours. People are reported to have piled
up red meat, yellow butter (conveniently interpreting
golden as yellow), green cheese and a host of colourful
mithais like gulab jamun, pista barfi and so on. This
apparently has not helped them lose weight, and
experts admit that the colour diet may have some

Another problem is that it is a difficult diet for the

colour blind to follow, so it cannot be considered a
universal diet.
The Eat As Much You Want Diet
This is a dieters dream diet to be able to eat as much
as one wants. This diet is a scientific diet and is based
on the basic principles of the human digestive system.
Like any other part of the human body, the digestive
system itself requires energy. You need to chew food
(energy spent), swallow it and push it down to the
stomach (more energy used up), churn it there and
move it onward into the intestine (more energy
dissipated) well, you get the picture. Thus, in
digesting anything we eat, we actually use up a lot of
energy that is, to use dieting terminology, we burn
calories. Wow! Imagine that, burning calories just
sitting around and eating! However, the food that we
eat itself contains calories, so we gain some, but to
gain these, we lose some. Scientist have derived a very
important parameter from this called the Calorie
Balance. This is the difference between the calorie that
a food contains (more accurately, and we need to be
accurate, this is a scientific method - the calories that
the body can extract from the food) and the calories
that are spent by the body in digesting the food. A
food item which requires more calories for its
digestion than what the body can gain from it is called
a Net Negative Calorie Balance (NNCB) food. If you
eat these NNCB foods, you actually end up losing
calories and hence weight - even as you eat. And the
more you eat the more weight you lose. Isnt this

Thus, the scientifically developed Eat As Much As

You Want diet consists of eating large quantities in
fact, there is no limit, you are urged to eat as much as
you can of the NNBC food. This diet become quite
popular in several circles as one could virtually gorge
oneself. It is an almost ideal diet. I say almost because
this diet has only one possible drawback, and you may
want to keep it in mind before you choose this diet.
This drawback is the foods that are NNBC. These
include some great stuff like tomatoes, celery, lettuce,
cucumber, onion, watermelon, puffed rice (murmura)
etc., but virtually most of the other food stuff is out of
the NNBC range. This is why some experts have
likened this to the traditional Double C diet, though
strictly speaking carrots cannot be a part of this diet as
they are mildly positive in their calorie balance.

No Nonsense Diet
The No Nonsense Diet is not so much a diet by itself
as it is a method of implementing a diet. It is short for
I will not tolerate any such nonsense. How any diet
is implemented can make or break the diet, so it is
worth considering this method here. This method
needs two persons, one of whom is to follow the diet,
and one who is not to. Typically, this is a husband-
wife couple. To understand this method, let us assume
for a moment that the husband is on a diet and the
wife is not. The method normally comes into play after
a few days of the diet, when the frustrated husband
tentatively asks the wife if he can eat just one piece of
that cake, only for today, wont even think of it
again for the next seven days, please. The wife can
either fall for the pleading look in his eyes and give in
thus destroying the diet, for this is the thin end of the
wedge, and the husband knows that if she falls for it
once, she will be game again and again. Or, the wife
can look squarely into his eyes, purse her lips firmly,
and tell him in a stern voice I will not tolerate any
such nonsense. As he wilts under her unyielding and
unsympathetic gaze, the diet is on its way to sure
success. As this factor has led to the success of many a
diets, it has commonly (and erroneously) been thought
of as a Diet in itself. Of course, this is not correct, but it
remains a very useful method important to the success
of any diet.

Anyone implementing this method needs to keep in

mind one concern with this method. This is called the
Rebound Effect, or more mildly, the Learning Curve.
Let me explain. The husband (or whoever is at the
receiving end of the No Nonsense dialogue)
eventually learns how effective it is, and turns it
around on the deliverer herself. In our example, the
husband turns the same method around onto the wife.
This is how it usually will happen. The wife, basking
in the glory of her success at confining the husband to
the miseries of carrot-cucumber-celery for more than
ten days, grows somewhat over confident, and
bringing him his daily dinner of one slice of dry bread
and a bowl of thin cabbage soup, also brings for
herself a plate laden with two parathas, dripping in
ghee, with a nice helping of butter on the side, and a
bowl with two large kala jamun. As the delicious
aroma of hot parathas fills the air, the frustrations
building up over the last ten days breach the bund, so
to say, and he gets up, leans over to the wife, looks her
straight in the eye, and in a voice full of authority and
command, says I will not tolerate any such
nonsense. And he pulls her plate towards himself,
firmly pushes his plate in front of her, and with
deliberate and measured movements, breaks off a big
piece of the paratha, uses it to pick up a large chunk of
the butter and puts it into his mouth in a gesture of
victory. Rebound Effect established, diet ended.

I can write about at least another ten very important

diets, but we still have many other topics to deal with,
so I will stop here now. I am sure you will agree that
this chapter has met the limited aim of bringing to
your notice a range of many different and excellent
diets that you can choose from, thus establishing the
truth of what Mark Twain might have almost said, It
is so easy to lose weight, why, I have done it so many
The Six Secrets of Super Satisfaction

Using self-help books, you have earned piles of

money. You have gained great success at work. You
are a winner! You are now the envy of the
neighbourhood. Yet, you are not happy. You feel a
sense of emptiness within, a hollow that gnaws at you.
While your friends and family admire you, you feel
your life is meaningless.

Dont be surprised, for you have finally discovered

what can only be called the wisdom of the ages.
Money cant buy happiness you must have heard
this often, but you are now experiencing it. Well, let
me tell you that neither can success, or love, or even
the so many of the other things believed to be sure
shot sources of happiness, like ones selfie being liked
by 1000 plus on facebook.
Success does not Bring Satisfaction
It is time for some of these myths to be shattered. Take
money and happiness. Now if it was true that money
brought happiness, then wouldnt the 100 richest
persons in the world be the happiest 100? The truth is
that out of these 100, at the most only one is happy.
This is the one who is the richest. All the others are
terribly frustrated or angry or simply miserable. Why?
Because they are so close and yet are not number 1!
And our Number 1? He or she is always looking over
his/her shoulder, tense that one of the others will
overtake him/her anytime. He spends nights tossing
and turning in his bed worried whether he will still be
Number 1 when he wakes up. Every now and then,
she looks at the ticker and the scrolling stock prices,
mentally calculating and re-calculating her net worth
as the prices shift. Hardly the picture of someone who
is happy.

The truth is that money and success are cases of the

Mirage Effect, analysed so competently and eloquently
by Dr.Barry Harris in his classic It is Never as Good as
Anticipated the Mirage Effect in Money and Success. So
long as you do not have the money, the success, the
relationships, you think this is the way to happiness.
But when you get it all, you are hit by the Mirage
Effect, which tells you that being rich and successful
cant make you happy.

In other words, with money, success etc. you have

reached the limits of what ordinary self-help books
can get you.

The point missed by most books is that till 40 years of

age, a man (and increasingly, woman) is single-
mindedly pursuing money and success. Then he (or
she) starts going after significance. It is only after one
attains significance that one starts looking for

At first, happiness does not matter because you feel

you will get happiness when you get success. So you
wait for what psychologists call deferred
gratification. When success is at the doorstep, you
realise that it is not enough, you need significance.
And when you have that too? Then you understand
that it does not bring satisfaction.

So I ask you - success, significance, satisfaction - why

not short circuit this long process? Why not just aim
straight for satisfaction, the most important goal of
them all?

The Fundamental Truths of Satisfaction

So let us look at the fundamental truths about
satisfaction and happiness.

The first of these truths is that nice as success and

money and relationships can be, one has to work very
hard, and for many long years for them. Thus, even if
these things could bring satisfaction, you would have
to wait half a lifetime for it.

The second eternal truth is that true satisfaction has

little to do with success, money, relationships, etc. Yes,
this is so important that I would like to repeat it (and it
helps that I get paid per word, so here it is) true
satisfaction has little to do with success, money, and
relationships. Indeed, satisfaction is quite separate
from success, from money, from love. (Thats another
few words to my account).

The third, and universal truth, is that unlike the other

things for which you have to work long and hard,
satisfaction lies in the small and easy things of life. It is
a myth that one has to work hard for happiness.

What are these small things of life that bring

satisfaction? A flower that one sees on the path, a cup
of steaming hot tea in the morning, warm sunshine on
a chilly day the list could go on. You will find these
lists on posters with panoramic pictures of stunning
landscapes or of misty mountains. You will find these
lists in the page fillers at the ends of articles in Readers
Digest. You will find them in circulating emails,
Whats App chats and Facebook posts.

The point is that real satisfaction is in your reach -

even if you are not yet successful, dont have money,
and are alone. I am sure you have your own list of nice
little things that bring you satisfaction. So do go ahead
and enjoy these small wonders of life, for they are
truly worthwhile.

But be warned dont get taken in by these pseudo-


Dont Settle for Satisfaction Aim for Super

Most people stop at these nice little things and feel
satisfied. But this is a false end. It is only for those who
have small aspirations in life. If you are you are
ambitious, if you dream big, want to live it large, then
dont settle for satisfaction. Aim for Super Satisfaction.
And how will you do it? With the help of my Six
Secrets of Super Satisfaction.

These are secrets that no self-help book will tell you

about, because these transcend all such books. These
secrets consist of wisdom distilled by me from my
years of extensive study of human behaviour and
psychology. Practise these well, integrate them into
your daily life, and feel the satisfaction soaring! So
here they are, the unique, Six Secrets of Super
Satisfaction revealed for the first time.

Secret One: Take the Moral High Ground

There is no better way to a sense of super satisfaction
than to feel morally superior. It is only when you
experience it that you can understand the deep sense
of fulfilment it brings. To achieve this, it is not
necessary that you have to be good. This is so
important that I want to repeat it. Achieving a sense of
moral superiority does not require you to be actually
good that would make life kind of boring. You need
not be virtuous in every aspect. What you need is just
one, or at most two areas where you can exhibit this
righteousness. Take care though that you are
conscientious about things which others around you
are not.

Being a non-smoker is one the best techniques to

achieve this. Imagine that your friends are planning a
New Year bash at one of the happening restaurants
and you are also invited to join. Everyone is eagerly
looking forward to a great night of partying and
letting their hair down for this one evening. Drinks,
eats, and merry-making are on the cards. Just as your
somewhat boisterous party enters the restaurant, you
quickly move ahead of everyone else, and to the
bowing maitre dhotel, you say loudly, Non-smoking
seating for us please. You pretend to ignore the
groans of your friends and the group settles down.
There is a glum silence at the table. Finally, one of
your friends says, Cmon, why cant we have a
smoking table? You reply, I believe it is important
that we are respectful of others right to breathe clean
air. We need to value the right of others to a healthy
atmosphere. The conversation then ensues as follows:

Friend: But you were a chain smoker?

You: Yes, and I realised my mistake. I had the
courage to admit it, and the will power to control
Friend: But you know that I smoke only this one
evening in the whole year!
You: Even one is bad enough. Let me tell you, thats
how it starts with the I will have just one. In fact,
real strength is in being able to resist it this one time
when you feel the craving.
Friend: Oh dont be a spoilsport.
You: Look, I am not a prude, and I dont want to
impose myself on all of you. But I think it is important
for me to stick to my principles. I suggest that the rest
of you can move to the smoking section, and I will
stay at this table.

Reluctantly, if somewhat downcast, your friends

decide to stay with you. Can you feel the power of
moral righteousness? Can you see the inner glow of
satisfaction that comes from being on the high moral

An important thing to remember about this technique

is that you must ensure that your friends, family and
colleagues are aware of your high moral standards.
You must remind them from time to time. Thats
central to this method. For example, if you are
accompanying your friend who is doing some grocery
shopping, it is important to stop her as she picks up
her favourite shampoo and say, I never buy that
shampoo; I believe it is tested on animals.

Picture a situation where you are at a small get-

together at a friends place. As you chat, your host
brings out coffee for all of you. The cups are handed
out, and when your turn comes, you ask, Which
brand of coffee is this? Your host replies, XYZ
brand. Oh! you exclaim, putting back the cup. I
am sorry, but I do not drink this brand as its coffee is
produced in Latin America on fields created by cutting
down rainforests and displacing indigenous
communities. Thank you though. You sit back with a
smug expression on your face. Meanwhile, you host is
nonplussed, and fellow guests, some of whom are
already sipping their coffee, squirm uncomfortably.
Make sure that you keep apologising profusely,
referring again and again to the rainforests and
indigenous people, and saying repeatedly that it is
okay for the rest to continue with their coffee, that you
understand that everyone cannot take a stand, but that
you simply cant be a party to such offensive,
environmentally destructive practices. Add once in a
while that you believe that you need to do your part to
save the world, even if it means foregoing certain

This example highlights the fact that this technique

yields the best results when you show yourself to be
not just holy, but Holier than Thou.

The key is to identify some simple things about which

you can be morally superior, for it is important that it
should not be too difficult. If you cant, my website offers a list you
can download for a nominal payment of a thousand
rupees. Happy self-righteousness!

Secret Two: Be Bitchy

This amazing technique not only allows you to feel
superior (hence drawing on Super-Secret One), but
also has a wonderfully cathartic effect. In simple
words, being bitchy means making malicious
comments, snide remarks, spiteful statements about
another person. These persons are most likely to be
those whom others consider more
successful/beautiful/popular than you (but you of
course know they are not). The thrust of your remarks
normally should be that their
success/beauty/popularity is not real or has been
obtained by means that are undesirable to say the least
(which you know of course is true).

This is not difficult to practise. You need to have at

least one person to bitch about, and one person to
share in this bitching session. You can choose from a
fairly wide range of topics. For example, you can sit
with your neighbour from the top-floor apartment,
and talk in hushed tones about the new occupant of
the ground floor flat, the single woman who does not
seem to understand the notion of decent hours. You
know, she came back at 2 am last night! Arey, I
know, this was the third time in a week that she has
come so late. And you know, every time a different
person has dropped her off.

This example may sound strange to some of my

younger readers, but readers over 70 will understand
it well (I have to write for all age groups, you see).
Younger readers may mistake these as statements of
admiration. This highlights the fact that this technique
is age-sensitive and that you need to form
homogenous groups for this activity. Younger readers
can talk about how the aunty living on the top floor is
definitely on Botox.

Remarks about appearance, personality traits, choice

of clothes, boyfriends, girlfriends are all particularly
useful. He is so ughh! Can you imagine, a purple
shirt! It is even worse than his usual yellows and

Or, God, with a face like that, I would never be able

to use a mirror! I just cant understand what the girls
see in him. This last example indicates a caution that
must be kept in mind. It is important that these
statements be accompanied by vehement denials that
any of them have been prompted by envy or jealousy.
So the above conversation would have to end with
something like Not that I care.
An important thing about this technique is that it is
totally class-neutral. You can share nasty remarks
about someone over a Rs. 700 per peg whisky or you
can do it over a Rs. 5 Cutting Chai. The cost of the
drink has no effect on the sharpness of the remark or
the extent of catharsis offered, which is entirely a
matter of your own creativity, and the resourcefulness
of your partner. On a good day, with both partners in
particularly foul moods, you can create a wonderful
jugalbandi, with each remark and its response rising
higher and higher on the scale of meanness and
spitefulness. The heights scaled on such occasions can
leave you breathless.

While this technique is best suited for two people at a

time, there are important group variations. One of the
more interesting practices of this technique is the
informal bitching one-upmanship competition at a
party. In this method, the group at a party settles
down with a nice drink or two, and then carefully
selects a subject (target). It is important that the
selected person is (dis)agreeable to everyone, else
there can be some embarrassing moments. If it is
difficult to find one single person that everyone can
bitch about with equal earnestness, you could even
select two, taking care that none of the people present
are close to the selected subjects. Once the target is
selected, the remarks can start pouring out. It
normally takes someone with experience to start the
ball rolling, but once everyone gets into the spirit of
the game, (aided possibly by some real spirit), just
watch the flow! A good competition can ensue, with
everyone vying to come up with the meanest and
sharpest remarks. Though I have not heard of winners
being formally declared, the uncrowned bitch-kings
and bitch-queens become fairly obvious as the game
proceeds. This group exercise results in wonderful
synergy, multiplying the therapeutic effect of the
usual two-person session. Moreover, it brings (secret)
admiration to the informal winners, increasing their
chances of being invited to the next party. And for
those just beginning to learn this technique, it offers
wonderful gems to add to their collections of bitchy
remarks, which they can use later in their own
personal sessions.
A word of caution here. As you become an expert in
this technique, you will be tempted to use it with more
and more people. The high of Super Satisfaction that
you get with this method makes it considerably
addictive in nature, and often you will begin noticing
withdrawal symptoms if the technique is not used for
some time. This can lead you to become somewhat
careless and find subjects beyond the usual ones. If
this crosses a threshold, it can create serious problems,
as all the people you know would eventually be
subjects, and you would have no partners left.
Remember that this technique requires both a target to
bitch about and a partner with whom you share the
spiteful remarks. Experts recommend that you limit
your targets to two as an optimum figure.

Those with a taste for adventure and who thrive on

adrenaline stimulating situations, can also try another
version of this method. In this version, called The
Double Edged Sword, you partner with A to bitch
about B, and then partner with B to bitch about A. This
version requires considerable skill and experience but
the returns are well worth it. The thrill of avoiding
being discovered, the skilfully played balancing
games, all create a piquant situation that can amplify
greatly the release offered by this technique. Note,
however, that this method is not for the timid or weak-

Indeed, some people are too afraid to even use the

normal bitching technique. For them, there is also a
milder version, which in popular language is called
gossip. This more or less harmless version does not
offer the same release of tension and deep satisfaction
as the original technique, but it does allow the fearful,
anxious person to feel that he too has been able to say
something bold, and does bring a about some sort of a
pseudo relief.

Secret Three: Wallow in Self-Pity

There is nothing as deeply pleasurable as wallowing
in self-pity, my friend Robin used to say. Indeed, I
have found this to be so universally valid that I have
included it in the Six Secrets of Super Satisfaction.
Self-Pity, if used properly, is a wonderful technique in
affording immense gratification. Its power lies in the
feeling of being wronged by the world in general and
specific persons and circumstances in particular. Its
effectiveness derives from allowing you to dismiss
your dead-end position in life and overcoming your
failures by saying, I dont care, what difference does
it make anyway.

The fundamental element in this technique is of

course, choosing something that you can pity yourself
about. This choice has to be affected with great care
and diligence. Sometimes, the conditions for self-pity
are not obviously present, but dont allow such minor
facts to stop you. In such circumstances, these
situations of self-pity need to be created or cultivated.
Two things are crucial to remember when selecting
your cause of self-pity. One, the condition should not
be really serious or grave. Thus, having an incurable
disease or living in abject penury is a total no-no. Such
problems are the cause for real pity, and a real screw
up of your life. You certainly dont want that. The
second thing and this is really important the
condition should be such that there is no way in which
you can be blamed for it. It is necessary that the blame
can be unambiguously placed on someone else. After
all, if you are yourself to blame for a condition, then
you can hardly pity yourself, can you?

The source of blame is a useful point to begin when

selecting your condition of self-pity. Often,
determining the source of blame self-selects the
condition of self-pity.

Parents are an obvious and good choice. Why did my

parents have to have obesity genes? Now I have
inherited them and am so overweight that my whole
life is in a mess.

You can even stretch it to something like Why were

my parents so poor? This has really screwed up my
life. What you really mean is Why were my parents
not obnoxiously rich, so that I would have inherited a
readymade business empire or industry? Instead, I am
forced to labour away at this stupid job to earn a
living, while all those rich guys jet-set around the
world, and have parties on their big yachts without
having to do anything. It is really unfair.
In general, parents are good targets for many
complaints, about your looks, bringing you up in a
small town, favouring your siblings, and so on.

Children are another great source of self-pity. Really,

one would think that he would behave slightly better,
considering all that I do for him. All my time goes
for the children. I have no time for anything else now.
It is years since I have last gone out for a party. I
have no life of my own. I dont remember when I last
did something that I wanted to do.

While children and parents can provide reasonable

good causes for self-pity, by far the best are spouses. It
is somewhat ironic, of course, since in most cases the
spouse has been our choice. So in a way, we ourselves
are to blame for the condition. However, in an
interesting twist, this makes for enhancing the effect of
the condition for self-pity. Now, along with the
normal wallowing that it affords, you can add And to
think that I brought it upon myself. The impact is
The traits, habits, doings, undoings, commissions,
omissions of spouses provide a rich mine of causes for
self-pity. However, choose judiciously from these and
dont go overboard, for otherwise people may be
tempted to ask you If it is so bad, why do you want
keep living with him or her? (Did you say: Come to
think of it, why indeed? In that case you need to refer
to the bestselling Ten Steps to Living Happily Ever After).
But let us leave that aside and come back to self-pity.

Oh, I know he loves me, but I just wish he wouldnt

snore so much! I cant even tell anyone, for no one
would believe it, but I havent had a proper nights
sleep in the 13 years since our marriage! I am so tired
the whole day. I just cant do anything worthwhile
since I am always so drowsy and sluggish. I have had
to give up my job, and even my music lessons.

I just dont have a life at home. Shes always too tired

to go out anywhere, and if we do, she is so sleepy and
drowsy that its hardly worth spending time there. My
social life is in ruins because of this.
I just dont know what to do with her obsession with
herbal health foods. It has completely ruined my life.
My constitution has never been able to adjust to the
never-ending stream of new and different herbal
concoctions. Every week, it is an upset tummy, or
stomach cramps, or gases. I just cant concentrate on
work. It is no wonder that I havent been promoted in
the last seven years. How can I even begin to explain
this to the boss?

You can spend hours luxuriating in such wonderful

thoughts, reminding yourself of how unfair life has
been to you, the injustice compounded by the fact that
you cant even tell anyone about it! You can tell
yourself that others may think you are lazy, or a
failure, or always grumpy, but if only they knew the
real reasons, they would understand that it is not your
fault at all.

In understanding the practice of this technique, you

should also understand its biggest risk. The biggest
threat to this technique comes from Honesty.
Excessive obsession with being honest to oneself is
highly detrimental to achieving proper results from
Self-Pity. Even low doses of honesty can effectively kill
off the benefits of Self-Pity. In general too, Honesty is
risky business so I would advise you to keep away
from such regressive practises.

Secret Four: Create Sympathy

This is closely related to Self-Pity, but with a very
important and critical difference that makes it a
distinct technique with its own wonderful results. In
the Self-Pity technique, the important thing is to
convincingly obtain pity from oneself. It works only
when you are genuinely convinced about the cause. In
the case of Sympathy, you want understanding and
consideration from others. So it is important to
convince (only) others. As you can imagine, this
makes Sympathy easier to practise than Self-Pity.

In the case of Self-Pity, the causes and the conditions

are such that you would normally not share them with
others. Indeed, the power of the technique lies in it
being an intensely personal and private experience.
Sympathy, on the other hand, needs to be actively
sought from others.

There are many suitable items that can be used to get

Sympathy. It can be unfortunate circumstances at
work (such bad luck his company shut down), at
home (car got stolen, insurance had lapsed) and
so on. But by far the best is illness. Note, however, that
this should not be some really serious illness, for that
would be rather rough on you. What you need is to
create some nice, obscure, uncommon affliction that
has no real physical discomfort. This can then be very

Imagine that you are at a party, and when the deserts

are brought out, you tell the host, somewhat sadly,
that you will have only one helping of ice cream,
thank you, and that too a small one. Then you add,
quietly, You know, my doctor has suggested that I be
careful. In 99.99% of the cases, this successfully draws
out the question, Oh! What is the matter? Well, I
suffer from this adiposes accumulatisis, you know. This
once again will prompt the query, What is this?
Never seem to have heard of it. Now can you see the
advantage of having an obscure disease? If you had
said malaria, or influenza, that would have effectively
been the end of the conversation, and little sympathy
would have resulted. (Ah! All you need is a dose of
quinine and you will be running about in a couple of
days.) But this unknown disease allows you to grab
the undisturbed attention of everyone for the next half
an hour. You can now launch safely into your own sob

I know, very few people have heard of this. My

doctor says that this is one of those rare diseases
which affect only one in ten million people. Oh dear,
how unfortunate! You can then get into the details of
the disease, with gory descriptions of how various
parts of the anatomy could be affected (You know,
there is no pain or any other symptom, but my doctor
says that if I am not careful, it could affect the
octopolymus Sorry, what is that? Oh! You know,
the tiny whatchamacallit near the liver), how you had
to undergo so many tests, see more than ten doctors
and now have to have a check-up every now and then.
This should ensure you a fair bit of sympathy. Once
you have had a first round of sympathy, you can move
on to, I guess I have to just accept it. But I have to be
really careful as there is no particular medicine
available for this disease. I have to watch my diet, not
go out in the sun, not exert myself There are so
many restrictions, that I now keep a small notebook
because I cant even remember them all. You end
with a nice hollow, cheerless laugh at your own rather
tragic joke. This ensures another round of sympathy,
and you are easily excused from clearing the hall and
helping to wash the dishes.

One of the risks in this method is the possibility of

running into someone claiming the same affliction. But
note that this risk is also borne by the other person
equally, and mutual self-interest would dictate that
you both find your own separate groups to gather
sympathy. The inherent difficulty with such diseases
is of course that they cannot be cured overnight
making way for you to get something else. But this
risk is quite small, so it need not stop you from
making full use of this technique.
The only real danger in this technique is if one of the
members of your regular group of acquaintances and
associates happens to be a doctor. Then you better
quickly shift to something else. Under the
circumstances, I would advise that you talk of a series
of problems and hardships following in quick
succession. You could start with how you are being
threatened by a gangster who wants you to sell your
land cheaply, go on to how the Income Tax
department is harassing you, then come to some
stupid pedestrian who ran in front of your car and so
you are now forced to go to court every week where in
spite of all the evidence the idiot judge has got it into
her head that somehow it has all been your fault, and
so on. Petty nuisances - the courier fellow losing your
important parcel, mother-in-law coming home to stay
for a month, the family dog eating the sons
homework, and the school principal calling you as he
disbelieved your note of explanation can garnish the
potpourri of major troubles. This has the advantage of
taking care of the professions of most of your
associates. It also marks you as that poor man he
has such bad luck all the time. This brings you
additional sympathy. Indeed, a synergy is at work
here - the sympathy gained for a series of unlucky
incidents taken together is greater than the sum of the
sympathies gained for each of these individual

As you can see, there are a number of benefits to be

gained from this technique. It allows you to
legitimately claim higher than your share of attention
from those around you. It allows you to skip various
mundane chores without even asking to be excused. It
will make people go out of their way to help you.
Most important, you need not worry too much if you
happen to be less than perfect at doing jobs at home or
the office, for people will look at this with Sympathy
and say, It okay, just let him be. You know, poor
chap, he..

Secret Five: Cultivate a Personal Habit

One of the best methods to achieve Super Satisfaction
is to cultivate a personal habit. Some people have a
habit of taking a cold water bath early in the morning
throughout the year, even in the coldest of winters.
This allows them the great satisfaction of telling
everyone about it. This satisfaction, as they will swear
by, is well worth the cold baths.

But there are other personal habits which give

satisfaction by themselves, even if you are not able to
tell others about them. These are the habits which can
give you Super Satisfaction as against mere

Consider this particular habit. It enjoys vast

popularity. It is a habit that allows you to sit back,
detach from the world, and be completely with
yourself. It takes you into deep reflective relaxation.
No, no, its not meditation, that is too superficial. What
I am referring to is the glorious joy and fulfilment of
exploring the olfactory orifice with the digits. Only the
one who has experienced it can understand what it
means. Everyone who has cultivated the habit will
testify to the Super Satisfaction afforded by it. What is
most important is that for this method, you are not
dependent on anyone else, and it is available at your
disposal anytime you want it.

It is particularly useful on long and boring train and

bus journeys where there is little else one can do.
Fellow passengers may wince, but dont let such small
things bother you.

This is only an example. There are several such

unmentionable habits, like well, I guess I will not
mention them.

Technology has greatly expanded the options

available for this technique. One habit which gives
enormous joy to most people is to listen to music. Till
some years back, this was severely limited by
technology and hence could only provide
satisfaction, not Super Satisfaction. You could listen to
a record player, but could hardly carry it around. You
could take with you a transistor radio, but it would
not always play the station you wanted everywhere,
and then again, the station was not available 24x7.
Then came the Walkman and it seemed to
revolutionise listening to music. But it was not
enough. You still had to lug around a bagful of
cassettes. And then then came the iPod. This
definitely was the revolution, you will say. But I am
afraid not. The iPod had a serious limitation,
particular for Indians. You see, you had to listen to the
iPod through earphones. Now, Indians are very health
conscious, and they understand quite well the dangers
of listening to loud music through earphones for long
durations. Thus, Indians have always preferred the
safe and healthy habit of listening to music without
headphones. That is why the iPod never really became
popular with the aam janta.

This is where technology has evolved to help the

masses. Soon after the iPod came the mobile phones
with music capabilities. And the masses went wild
with joy. Now, not only could all of them carry and
listen to their favourite music everywhere they went,
but they could do it without any risk to their health, to
their hearing. They could hear the music without the
need for earphones. Thus, technology has helped
thousands to achieve Super Satisfaction. You can see
them everywhere in trains, in buses, at airports,
playing loud music on their cell phones these little
miracles of technology.

Secret Six: The Most Powerful of the Six Secrets of

Super Satisfaction
The Sixth Secret is the most powerful of the Six Secrets
of Super Satisfaction. Indeed, it is probably the most
powerful, and the least known, secret of the entire
science of self-help. Yet, this secret is simplicity itself.
It is so simple, that it is mind-blowing. It is so
powerful that it will be the only one secret that you
will ever need. And yes, I am about to reveal this
secret to you as a special bonus for buying my book.

It is the first time ever in the history of self-help that

this secret is being revealed. So hold your breath, and
be prepared to read as the greatest principle of self-
help is made public. Here it is.

The Sixth Secret of Super Satisfaction and the

Greatest Secret of Self-Help Science is that there is
no secret! There is no secret of satisfaction, of super
satisfaction, of happiness. There is no technique, no
method to achieve fulfilment. There is none, because
none is needed.

This is because, in life, the default setting, the factory

setting, is happiness. Satisfaction is the norm, lack of it
is the aberration. You dont have to do anything
particular to be happy. On the contrary, you have to
do something to be unhappy. Happiness is what the
lazy man (or woman) is rewarded with. You have to
work hard to achieve unhappiness, you have to labour
to be dissatisfied.

Maybe thats not entirely accurate. Yes, indeed there

are situations in life that are very difficult.

If you are wanting for food, clothing or shelter, thats

serious. But if you are reading this book then you are
mostly likely well taken care of in those aspects. If
your liberty is under threat, that will need something
more than a self-help book.
If you do not have good health, thats a problem. Then
you need to see a medical practitioner, a doctor, a
healer. Not a self-help book.

And if you have lost a loved one, it is really bad. I

understand. I have been there. Then you need friends,
family, love and time.

Except for these few things, you really should have no

reason to complain about life. Everything else is
mostly trivia, so dont get stressed out about it, dont
complain, dont let it occupy your life. Take it in your
stride, deal with it, give it a few minutes of your life,
and spend the rest doing the things that really matter.

That, my dears, is the simple Sixth Secret of Super

Satisfaction, and I am sure, the only one that you
will really ever need.

I would like to acknowledge Ajit Gaunekar,

Aniruddha Ketkar, Milind Sohoni, Milind Vartak,
Nandini Oza, Narendra Damle, Neeta Despande,
Nitin Shimpi, Prashant Bhagdikar and Vishakha
Vartak for their comments on the manuscript of this
book and their support and encouragement.

I would also like to acknowledge Neeta Deshpande for

copy-editing the manuscript.

I would like to acknowledge the following for the use

of their photos taken from Wikimedia Commons.
These photos have been adapted and used for the

Winfried Bruenken (Amrum), for Lion

(Panthera leo), Blaauwbosch Game Reserve,
Eastern Cape, Southafrica

Jonas Bergsten, for Three toothbrushes,

photo taken in Sweden
ProjectDK, for Toothbrush in Nature