Q and A for 411 to 419— Quotidian — 420

(Transcript of video originally posted on 19 Sep 2022)

Raj:- Namaste! Four Hundred and Twenty! Yet another “tenth” episode where we get into a conversation, we read some of your comments, we answer some of your questions, and basically, connect with you! Today, we have Mahesh, he teaches at Zoho Schools of Learning, and he is a senior developer who works with me at Zoho Corp. Welcome, thank you for agreeing to host this event, Mahesh. In fact… guess what happened?!

I had messaged all my regular viewers who were friends in Whatsapp, “Are you in Chennai? Do you want to help me by cohosting Quotidian 420?” Some of them thought that I was addressing them specifically and felt elated… some felt concerned too.. Sorry, this was a group message. But one person…

This guy..! He asked me, “All that is okay, thanks, but, .. Why me? Why specifically for 420?!” Well, let me give you the answer now! “I thought we would be friends for life, you would work with us hand in hand, that we would work long and hard, and become truly exceptional, reach great heights, .. but.. then.. you pulled a 420 on us..! You left us, moved to a different city, and perhaps that is why we chose you..?!? (Jus’kiddin!)” You know this guy, don’t you! (Bleeeep!) Ha ha! Alright, let’s get started! Over to you, Mahesh!

Mahesh:- Thank you, Raj! Thank you for the nice words! It is my pleasure to be a part of this amazing series. Without further ado, let’s read out the comments! Comment from The Illusion of Life, Q 411, Suthar Son says “The last closing thought was very nice, I liked it!” This was the comment about the connection between art and life…

Raj:- Oh.. The Bertolt Brecht quote.. Ok.. Art should not just be a mirror, reflecting life.. It should be the hammer that sculpts.. Kamal Hassan has talked about this too. During a recent interview after the roaring success of the Vikram movie, Kamal says, “Observe Malayalam cinema.. Observe their culture. They seem to have identified a particular style of movie making and story telling.. There is a lot for us to learn from them. It doesn’t mean Kerala culture is different from Tamil Nadu culture, and that is why it works like that. NO! It is the movie that is probably sculpting Kerala culture. That is a beautiful angle he gives us!

Mahesh:- Okay, that’s interesting! Next, Hari Ram says, “Nice definition on one’s life, quoting with Disney’s 12 principles,.. but if the cartoon behind the screen is in color, it wud be more highlighted…”

Raj:- Ha… ha.. I understand what you are telling us, thanks, while we were postprocessing, we had the video dim out a bit because of technical reasons.. But.., we saw 12 amazing animation principles.. and, we had picked up a few life lessons from it.. while we are talking about such high philosophy.., if you are going to wish that the cartoon had been in full color..? Well, you know how it sounds like? It sounds like you are saying, “I would have read the Bible if the cover of it had been showing Jesus… It is a black-colored book, and that’s why I didn’t read the Bible!” Take what’s inside. Don’t judge a book by its cover! Probably that’s where we get that idiom from!

Mahesh:- One more request from one of your viewers.. “One request: Any Tamil books connecting the Quotidian topics?”

Raj:- Yes, I saw that comment too. You are asking me to recommend Tamil books for you to read and probably connect with Quotidian topics.. I haven’t read much in Tamil. Only in recent years, I have been scratching the surface. I am NOT the right person to actually find out what book to read in Tamil literature next.. Let me do this for you. I will ask my friends. I will try to get the answer for your question and supply it in the next “Tenth” episode. But.., actually, I would also like to tell you something more important. I want you to look beyond language.. If you want to learn something properly, you need to stretch beyond a specific culture or a specific language. You need to read about what they say about this concept in other cultures and other languages. Only then will you get a broadminded understanding. About religion? About God? If you are going to stick to books in a single language, rooted in a single culture, I don’t think you can get a full understanding of … anything at all! So, if you really want to understand a subject, learn about it from multiple dimensions, multiple angles, two/three different languages, three/four different cultures.. that would be my recommendation.

Mahesh:- Thank you, Raj! I am sure many of your viewers will be looking forward to your Tamil book suggestions…

Raj:- Tamil book suggestions…! You tell me, if you know of any!

Mahesh:- Moving on to the next Quotidian, Build.. Make..! Q 412, Sumitra Palanisamy says, “Awesome oneliner, do not ever use quitting as a negotiating weapon!”

Raj:- Yeah, yes, yes.. Do not use quitting as a negotiating weapon.. “If you won’t give me this salary, if you don’t give me this hike, if you don’t give me this position, if you don’t send me onsite to the United States, .. I am gonna quit!” Never do this.. Similarly, another little tidbit of advice, Sumitra, I hope you are listening in too.. If a manager or a senior person or somebody from HR approaches you immediately after learning that you have decided to quit, and starts saying stuff like, “If you stay back, we will give you this role, we will give you this raise, we will give you that project you had been asking for for quite long”, even then, please do not accept that from them! That also is valid.. What do you say?!

Mahesh:- Yes, Raj, sure! Okay, the next Quotidian, Doting over dots.. Q 413. Smartjeev says, “Loved this sir.. Glad that you’re delivering your thoughts in mixed mode switching between Tamil and English.. fortunate that Tamil is a big bold connecting dot between us..!”

Raj:- Oh, okay. Thank you. It really makes me happy to see you thinking like that. When I started this I wasn’t sure if I should do it in one language.. Many people sent me feedback too. That if I had done this in English, it would reach a wider audience, etc.. But, these half-baked Tamil folk… like me, like you, who know Tamil, who know that language better than they do any other, but that doesn’t mean they understand pure classic unadulterated Tamil either! But, we want something that is conversational, we occasionally include some simple English sentences, but predominantly conveying the hard concepts in Tamil.. That is the sweet spot we are aiming for! And I hope I am reaching that.. over time! Thank you for your support!

Mahesh:- Neil Neero also says, as a comment to the same video, “In Veritasium’s last video, he spoke about the same thing you spoke about chess players..!”

Raj:- Oh.. Okay.. The thing that differentiates a genius chess player from a beginner? Well. I didn’t copy the idea after watching the Veritasium video.. Yes, I have seen so many videos from so many places, I have read books, I have come up with my own connections, and it is highly likely that… if a person as famous as Veritasium, a global celebrity, if he talks about this same topic, well, I am only happy and honoured! I am thrilled beyond belief that somebody like Veritasium is also talking about this concept, because it is an important concept, it breaks a myth! It clarifies that Viswanathan Anand is not a memory-maestro! His memory is all about context! He remembers chess! That doesn’t mean he will remember his wife’s birthday! That concept..! Thank you!

Mahesh:- This is from the next Quotidian — 414! Learn, Unlearn, and Relearn! Arunkumar Jothilal adds, “Kattrukkol, Agatru, Meendum Katrukkol”!

Raj:- Very beautiful..! Kattru! Agattru! That is beautiful wordplay! Thanks a lot! We had used Padi, Marupadi, with a Maru in between! Kattru, Agattru! Very nice!

Mahesh:- Sankaran wants to know, “What font type you are using. And, how to bring that wavy border to images and arrows. Don’t ask me to Google”, he says, “I would love first hand information from you!”

Raj:- Thank you. This is a presentation software called Keynote. This is from Apple themselves. I use a specific “wavy border format” from the options there. The font names, I have mentioned them here for you.. But, again, focus on the content. Not on the specific font. In fact, if you notice, the first hundred / hundred and fifty Quotidians, I used some other font, and then the hundred or so, I have decided to use some other font.. The presentation should be secondary. Focus on the message. Not on the messenger. Or the packaging!

Mahesh:- A comment from the Should Or Must Quotidian — Q 415. Sumitra Palanisamy, in fact, not only her, I noticed a few other comments too, they are very fond of the “Ada Chee Poviyaa!” pronunciation you had introduced.

Raj:- Oh, okay! Fear of the unknown.. Fear of failure.. Wasn’t that the thing? I had given you a wrong pronunciation on purpose… As if I were chasing it away. I think you need to know the original, though. I don’t want to be blamed for teaching the wrong pronunciation, after all! Aty-ki-fobia, is the original. But I thought if you remembered it differently, your motivation and willpower will go up! Aty-ki-fobia is the right one!

Mahesh:- Comments from the next Quotidian. 416 — Elegantly Simple! Arul Kumar says, “Every school MUST need a math teacher like you!”

Raj:- Oh, …

Mahesh:- The one where you talked about the Pythagoras theorem and all that..

Raj:- Hmm. Ok, Thank you. Thanks for that thought. It is indeed an honour.. And at the same time, I feel humbled to hear this. I have a request to all Maths teachers. And also to people who will be evaluating people so they would become Maths teachers. The BEAUTY of Mathematics. Teach them how to enjoy that BEAUTY! To be in awe about it. That is enough. If you can just teach that, the child will learn mathematics. It is not the harder concepts in mathematics that are hard to teach. It is the simpler concepts in mathematics, whose beauty, whose hidden beauty, is hard to teach. If you focus on that, how everything in mathematics, even seemingly unrelated concepts and principles, they are related in a .. in a universal manner, if you can somehow teach that to them, if you can join with them in appreciating this beauty, they will take the next step, of digging further and getting at the treasure. That is what we need to focus on!

Mahesh:- Yes. True words, Raj! Sumitra Palanisamy also adds, “Simple is elegant, Simple is beautiful, Earlier your Quotidians were max 10 mins, nowadays 21 mins. And this Quotidian is 15 mins, which is simple, elegant, perfect!”

Raj:- Ha… Okay, I get what you are trying to convey indirectly.. Attention span is dropping, but the video length is growing.. That is what you are threatening to convey! I understand… A famous person once quipped… “If you want me to give you a two-hour presentation, I am ready today. If you want only a five-minute speech, it will take me two weeks to prepare!” (Mark Twain) True words.. For, the hardest job is to convey something briefly, with import, focus, and concentration. Without being circumlocutory about it! Come to the point! Cut to the chase! That is a whole art by itself! Perhaps we can learn that from Thiruvalluvar! So, I don’t know when I am going to reach there.. I hope we will reach there soon. Till then, please watch my videos till the end! Thank you!

Mahesh:- Comments from Active Listening — Quotidian 417. Karthee Vidya says, “Thank you so much Raj. Such a lovely video. So much of learning. The final Ted video views comparison is so beautiful. Looks like all 11 types have an advantage and a disadvantage. So, what kind of listener should we be? Or, should we be a different listener in different scenarios or to different people? Some thoughts on it will be useful. Thank you!”

Raj:- The book pretty much says the same thing.. We are not here to tell you that there is one right type of listening. It is not as if there is one type with no flaws at all.. If you use any of those without understanding the scenario and context, it won’t work out.. Just like in cricket. Defensive strokes ALWAYS is wrong, just as Chris-Gayle-Sixers ALWAYS is a recipe for disaster! You need to play depending on the ball that comes at you. Play it to its merit. Similarly, these eleven types, they are your toolkit. And there are two reasons why you should know what those types are. One:- If somebody is talking to you, and while you are listening, observe yourself. Oh my God, I am becoming an empathetic listener, I am becoming an interrupting listener, I have to change… you start telling yourself, pull yourself back, shake yourself awake, so you can be a neutral listener again. Two:- When YOU are talking, and when somebody who is listening seems to behave oddly, … you can tell yourself, “Oh, this guy is probably that kind of a listener, let us cut him some slack..” and you can forgive him. So, did you LISTEN to me now?!

Mahesh:- Thank you, Raj. I am sure many of us would have found this useful. Also, it should take a little bit of effort from our side. We are aware of those eleven types. Now, we have to do a bit of homework ourselves, and then be a better listener. I am sure your future videos will have a better listening span! Vanitha takes a spin on the same kind of question. Insightful.. What kind of listener am I if I keep thinking on what to reply to them so that they don’t feel like, “She didn’t react to what I said, guess she is not listening to me!”…

Raj:- Well, we did see that quote from Stephen Covey. This guy isn’t listening to me.. He is just bothered about what to speak next, how to fill the silent-gap perfectly, that has been his focus.. How are they going to answer to me next.. People, they have to understand, they have to receive and understand. And that is the focus people must have, says Stephen Covey. “She didn’t react to what I said, guess she is not listening to me” — Why does that thought even arise? We are assuming that person is one of eleven.. Unfortunately, that person happens to be something else among the eleven.. What are you going to do!

Mahesh:- The Biggest Risk. Quotidian 418. A couple of comments from that. Lakshman K says, “Thank you sir, thought-provoking. Indecision is the biggest risk. Risk takers or doers are often judged after the risk. When a riot succeeded, they call it a revolution but when a revolution fails, they will judge it as a riot!”

Raj:- Correct. And, not just that, if you remember the Sepoy Mutiny — the English version used that phrase. But, if you look at our Indian History, the same event is referred to as the First War for Independence! So, it is not just a riot that is successful that gets called a revolution… It is also in the eyes of the beholder, don’t you think?

Mahesh:- Davos says, “You cannot be two-minded, once you have decided to do something.. This is the question that everyone should ask to themselves while taking a risk. One more question that you can ask yourself is, “You can risk being wrong.. or you can be boring!”

Raj:- That’s a beautiful quote.. We always have two choices. You can take a risk, it might go wrong too, but it gives you the opportunity to place yourself in a platform. The other, … We encountered a poem titled “The Man in the Arena” — in Quotidian 029. So, you could be the man not in the arena. The man in the stands. Watching. Eating popcorn. Commenting about MS Dhoni’s runout. So, you can take that plunge, and risk, and suffer if you go wrong and win if you go right, or, you can say this game is not for me, I will just watch. That’s a challenge. And, if you watch, you are boring! Nobody remembers the 40,000 people who were sitting around MS Dhoni when he got run out. But we remember MS Dhoni! You gotta decide for yourselves! What do you say, Mahesh?

Mahesh:- Sure, Raj! Thank you Raj, we are done with the comments!

Raj:- Oh, thank you then! That brings us to the end of four hundred and twenty! This 420, 420, chaar sou bees, .. has been getting a bad rap.. That it is associated with cheating, cunningness, dishonesty. 420 can be a good number too! I hope you have got that feeling from this video. Meet you again, at 421! Thank you, bye bye!

Mahesh:- Thank you!



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Rajendran Dandapani

Rajendran Dandapani


Business Solutions Evangelist at Zoho Corp. President at The Zoho Schools Of Learning.