On Competition

I believe keeping an eye on the competition is a good idea. Keeping track of competition makes you aware of what is the new normal; it helps one to gauge current trends. If your product experience deviates from the prevailing standards, it might be time for a re-think.

When a behemoth does something well regularly, they create an impression that that is the new normal. Customers start expecting the same experience from everyone in the field. For example, Amazon keeps upping the ante in e-commerce. If you are a small boutique e-commerce firm, and if you are not close to the Amazon experience, you might be leaving a lot on the table.

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Most of the new age enterprise SAAS tools have user experience on par with consumer applications. Earlier, enterprise tools used to be leaps and bounds behind their consumer counterparts. After using these new-age tools, products from some of the established behemoths look and feel clunky. Using them feels like being teleported to an earlier era. If you are an entrenched behemoth, you can get this wake-up call only if you regularly scan your competition, be it big or small.

Eyeing competition also matters when it comes to feature selection. For example, in Slack, you can edit a message after sending. I have hardly seen anyone modifying messages in Slack post sending. Usually, one sends a new message suffixing an * indicating it is an edit of a previous message. Why? We have been conditioned by popular chat applications not to alter chat messages once we hit the send button. None of the popular consumer chat applications have this feature. If you are bucking the trend – first, you should know of this; second, you should figure out how to educate your users to use the nonintuitive feature.

Incumbents also set standards when it comes to UI patterns. If Facebook shows error messages with a red background, you can be sure that most of the world’s population associates a pop-up with a red background as an error. It makes sense for you too to follow this.

I am not advocating aping the competition blindly.

Keeping track of the competition is essential to:
1. Know what is the new normal.
2. Know what might become the new normal.
3. Gauge how far off you are from the status quo.

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Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Zen and the Art of Mind Tricks

All of us wish to be in a state of zen. We desire to be cheerful and have a positive frame of mind. We aspire to be clean of bad habits. We want to calm our monkey mind and experience a higher conscious.

Let alone achieving these, we find it tough to start.

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Below are mind tricks which help.

Timeout

Whenever you have an urge to do something you have resolved not to, do not give in instantly. Have a timeout after which you decide.

You have decided to go on a diet. An enticing scoop of ice cream is in front of you. Instead of immediately succumbing to your impulse, count till sixty. After that, decide whether you still want to gulp that scoop. In most cases, the urge would have died by then.

Reframe

Reframe unpleasant events in an empathetic manner; this nudges us from a feeling of angst to compassion.

We all go through bad experiences in life. Someone cuts us in traffic; a sales representative is rude to us. Whenever you have frustration creeping in due to things outside your control, reframe the situation.

The person who cut us in traffic is in a personal emergency and is trying to get somewhere. The salesperson, who was rude to us, is going through a terrible phase in her life.

Reframing a situation put us in a humane mode which drives away antagonistic thoughts.

Detach

Detach yourself from a frame of mind you do not wish to be in and observe your thoughts as a third party.

You want to meditate. You are not able to calm your monkey brain. Do not self-berate. Observe your fleeting thoughts as a third person. Do not curse your inability to control your mind. Watch the rise and ebb of ideas — the simple act of detaching and observing helps to calm the mind.

None of these tricks are my creation; I have summarized them in my own words. I have seen these repeated in various forms by experts in the field of psychology, wellness, and spiritualism.

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Photo by Faye Cornish on Unsplash