Sunday, May 14, 2017

An Easy Guide to Men’s Wardrobe Maintenance

Properly maintained clothes always look better than neglected expensive clothing. Sadly the idea of ironing, brushing, and repairing clothes is a foreign concept to many Indian men. Well-made garments can last for decades, and trust me protecting your wardrobe costs much less than buying replacement clothing every few years. This blog is all about the care required to maintain your clothing and footwear for decades.

Organize Your Closet
The wardrobe is not a piece of furniture, but a tool to organize your clothes. The key to deal with limited space is rotating clothing. If you are not going to wear something for next few months, fold it, pack it and store it. As a thumb rule, maintain at least half inch space between garments for airflow and ease of selection. You can arrange clothes by colours; organize them by category or hang them according to days too.

Get them cleaned
Notice a stain on your shirt? Spot clean at home against sending it to the dry cleaner (unless something is strictly dry-cleanable). Each garment has a set life span and dry cleaning unnecessarily shortens its life. Let the garment sit in a small tub of water for a few minutes and apply a right amount of detergent to spot clean. Beware of overdoing it though. In spring, when you plan on storing your woolens, wash them first. If you suspect any moth infestation, send them to the dry cleaners to get them cleaned. Clean the area where the clothing has been kept with an anti-bacterial spray.

wardrobe management

Know How to Iron Clothes
Although non-iron fabrics are quite popular, they fail to appeal as much as freshly pressed ones. Iron pressed clothes not only look sharp, but they also add to the complete package of a well-dressed man.
Read the clothing labels and symbols before you put your clothes to iron test. Once iron is ready, turn your clothes inside out. Start with the collar and cuffs on a shirt; in case of the trousers, begin with the waistband. Start at a low temperature, and then go higher with cotton. As for wool, never let the iron touch the wool. Use a layer of cotton instead. Don’t forget to ensure that the base of the iron is clean.

Brush your Suits and Trousers
Proper wardrobe maintenance requires discipline. All it takes is 30 seconds. Use a clean double-sided brush to clean your clothes after each wearing. Brushing your trousers or suit jacket after each wear is an excellent practice to remove the dirt and food bits that attract insects. A clothing brush also takes care of dried up stains.

What else you need?
Apart from a double-sided brush, there are a few other must-haves that can be used as an arsenal for men’s wardrobe maintenance.
Wire hangers can permanently damage your clothing, especially woolen. Spend a little extra and purchase Wooden Hangers.
If you want to get more than a couple years out of your leather shoes, Wooden Shoe Tree is a mandatory purchase. They preserve the shape of the shoe and prevent the leather from premature cracking.
A Fabric Shaver sounds like a boring investment, but trust me, it’s definitely worth it. Ignore anyone who tells you to use a razor to remove lint; it can be too aggressive and might accidentally tear your favorite shirt.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Is pain the locus of great art?

If I hadn't watched Greta Garbo’s “Leave me alone” scene from movie Grand Hotel (1932), I would have never written this. On that cheery sunny day, Garbo left me longing to know more about her personal life. For some weird reasons, it was almost impossible to believe that she was a happy woman off-screen. The more I learnt about her, the more I found her lonely and struggling for peace. This was the day when I wondered for the first time- “Is there any truth to this stereotype?” Is pain the ultimate source from which great art emerges? Does it inspire artists who introduce new styles, ideas or creative directions? Now and then, I heard suicidal stories of many artists (Virginia Woolf being one of them). But my curious mind doubted always.

I looked at studies. Surprisingly, many studies showed a higher rate of suffering among artists compared to the general population. In fact, there were evidences too to show that children with bipolar disorder are disproportionately creative. I must admit, these studies took me by surprise, yet I had to talk to few painters, musicians and writers for re-assurance.

Perhaps, for some artists who struggle with deeply rooted chronic mental conditions, the choice to be happy may not be easy. For instance, one visual artist (name not revealed) was grateful for his depression. In fact, he stopped taking medication a few years ago because he wasn't able to feel anything while he was on them. According to him, the pills didn't make him feel happier; but muted his joy.

Artists who experience intense emotions are believed to have access to powerful tools. In a manner, it’s true. You can’t fully identify with love unless you get your heart broken. You can’t write a tragedy until you experienced it or at least observed it. Since art explores new ways of seeing the world, it makes sense that artists can fixate on feelings more than the average person.

One of such famous artists is Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. After an accident in teenage, Frida’s spine injuries left her with multiple operations and miscarriages. She poured her lifelong suffering on canvas in stark, disturbing and even bloody images. For her, turning pain into art was the essence of empowerment. But, it doesn't mean that one has to starve for the pain to become a true artist. Salma Hayek who portrayed the artist in the movie Frida (2002) says, “For me, the most important thing is that she decided not to be a victim. She was a woman who had a lot of pain in her life, but that didn't stop her from having this wonderful love affair with life.”

Let’s see what studies say. The majority of people suffering from a mood disorder do not possess strong imagination, and most accomplished artists do not suffer from recurring mood swings. It seems that diseases can sometimes enhance or otherwise contribute to creativity in some people. Clearly, pain doesn't inspire anything in us but hardens our souls, makes us immune to tragedy. Creativity, on the contrary, provides a way to structure or re-frame pain. Since pain doesn't show up on a body scan, many chronic pain sufferers turn to art in an effort to depict their pain.

I think today is a perfect day to stop talking about the role of pain in great creations as I know some will self-inflict suffering to master their art. Pain, suffering, emptiness, and loneliness are the important part of the human experience. Sorrow makes us want to contract and withdraw, not expand and excel. Creating great art depends on our capacity to stay emotionally balanced, not tortured. Pain may create beautiful art. But, this does not make pain beautiful.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Is Science overtaking the Art of Selling?

There has been a constant debate whether a good salesman is born or made. There are steady discussions whether selling is an art or science. Some would argue that a good salesman is more scientific in his approach while others would say that he is more artistic. What if both arguments are correct? What if he could be artistic one day and scientific on another day?

I will introduce two styles here: one - Opportunity Focused and another Relationship Focused. The opportunity-focused interaction is where the salesperson uses the science of selling (process driven) to create competitive advantage. Relational-focused selling leverages the salesperson’s ability to establish a connection with the client to win the sale, mostly driven by the art of selling (the art of conviction). The truth is that a good salesman recognizes and uses both these styles. He may be more comfortable with one over the other, yet he uses both in different degrees to suit the moment.

science of selling

Just like a painter understands that there are specific strokes of different brushes and paints that produce a desired effect on canvas, an experienced salesperson also needs different tools and methods without which his art won’t go beyond his imaginings.

There are strong evidence behind this claim as major CRM Systems, marketing automation platforms and metric driven coaching have grown significantly over the past few years. This makes some believe that the social aspect of selling may soon be greatly reduced. This is rather supported by a research by Gartner, which found that, by 2020, up to 85% of customers will manage their relationships with a services provider without a human interaction. And, why should you believe this? As per a research, leads are 391% more likely to convert if they are called within one minute of interest expressed.

While metric based performance coaching and automation are vital to optimize sales, it doesn’t lead us to make a point that Selling is a science all alone. The value of the art of selling cannot be underestimated – let’s face it; at the end of the day, people want to buy from real people, not machines. Selling will never lose that human element, yet still, organizations can foster an empowering and engaging culture that also uses a metric driven technological tool such as CRM.
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