Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dhirubhaism Part 2

Dhirubhaism No 2: Be a safety net for your team.

There used to be a time when Mudra was the target of some extremely vicious propaganda by its peers, when on an almost daily basis its business ethics were put on trial.

But one day, during a particularly nasty spell, he gently asked A G Krishnamurthy [founder Chairman and Managing Director of Mudra Communications] if he needed any help in combating it. That did it. That was all the help that Krishnamurthy needed.

"By letting us know that he was always aware of the trials we underwent and that he was by our side through it all, he gave us the courage we never knew we had" says Krishnamurthy.

7 Life Lessons I Learned Playing Halo

PickTheBrain put together this list of 7 things that can help you succeed in the video game Halo. It can apply to other areas of life too, which I found interesting. Enjoy.


1. Hesitation is death (Jo Dar Gaya Woh Mar Gaya) - In Halo, nothing will get you cracked on the back of the skull faster than hesitation. The same is true in real life. If you waste time worrying about what your competitors are doing, you’ll never succeed. Sure, if you take a chance you might get burned, but you need to accept that risk and make a move. If you fail, learn from the experience and try again. Success comes from being aggressive and actively seeking opportunities.

2. Success requires experience - Obviously natural skill contributes to Halo success, but what really makes a solid player is experience. If you jump into a game without understanding the geography of the map or the capabilities of the various weapons, you won’t stand a chance against an equally skilled player who does. The lesson here is that to acquire an expertise, you need to put in the time to learn the basics. If you don’t know the medium you’re working in, you’ll be strategically disadvantaged.

3. You can’t win without teamwork – In team Halo matches, the ability of players to work together is more important than individual skill. A group of solo artists working against a unified team will constantly be isolated and overwhelmed. To be successful you need to sacrifice personal glory to watch your buddy’s back. Once you can get past ego and start to cooperate with others there will be more success for everyone.

4. Anticipation is the key to victory – The key to making a sweet kill in Halo is knowing what your opponent is going to do before he does. This comes from experience and pattern recognition. When you can anticipate, you can place yourself in the ideal position to bury your competitors before they have the time to adjust.

5. Leverage your strengths – The world of Halo is extremely diverse. Between the numerous weapon strengths, ranges, and combinations, there is an infinite number of ways to make a kill. Different playing styles lend themselves to different strategies. You’ll be much more successful if you can recognize your personal strengths and put yourself in a position to capitalize on them while hiding your weaknesses.

6. Winning comes in streaks – Anyone who’s played much Halo has experienced streaks. One day you’re dead on, killing everyone in sight. The next, you’re getting dominated and can’t seem to find a rhythm. Streaks are part of any high functioning activity. Some days you just can’t concentrate a well as others. The lesson here is that you need to recognize your streaks so you can weather the bad ones and make the most of the good ones.

7. The Devil’s in the details – To the untrained eye, a Halo match looks like a bunch of maniacs running around shooting. In truth, it’s a precise ballet of intelligent players reacting to each other and the environment. The difference between life and death can be as small as the angle of a grenade toss or the decision to reload. The same is true in real life. You need to pay attention to all the tiny details that contribute to success or failure.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dhirubhaism Part 1

Dhirubhai Ambani, founder of the Reliance Industries, was no ordinary leader. He was a man who gave management a whole new "ism".

There is a new "ism" that I've been meaning to add to the vast world of words for quite a while now. Because, without exaggeration, it's a word for which no synonym can do full justice: "Dhirubhaism".

Inspired by the truly phenomenal Dhirubhai H Ambani, it denotes a characteristic, tendency or syndrome as demonstrated by its inspirer. Dhirubhai, on his part, had he been around, would have laughed heartily and declared, "Small men like me don't inspire big words!"

There you have it - now that is a classic Dhirubhaism, the tendency to disregard one's own invaluable contribution to society as significant.

I'm sure everyone who knew Dhirubhai well will have his or her own little anecdote that illustrates his unique personality. He was a person whose heart and head both worked at peak efficiency levels, all the time. And that resulted in a truly unique and remarkable work philosophy, which is what I would like to define as Dhirubhaism.

Dhirubhaism No 1: Roll up your sleeves and help.

You and your team share the same DNA.

Reliance, during Vimal's heady days had organized a fashion show at the Convention Hall, at Ashoka Hotel in New Delhi.

As usual, every seat in the hall was taken, and there were an equal number of impatient guests outside, waiting to be seated. I was of course completely besieged, trying to handle the ensuing confusion, chaos and protests, when to my amazement and relief, I saw Dhirubhai at the door trying to pacify the guests.

Dhirubhai at that time was already a name to reckon with and a VIP himself, but that did not stop him from rolling up his sleeves and diving in to rescue a situation that had gone out of control. Most bosses in his place would have driven up in their swank cars at the last moment and given the manager a piece of their minds. Not Dhirubhai.

When things went wrong, he was the first person to sense that the circumstances would have been beyond his team's control, rather than it being a slip on their part, as he trusted their capabilities implicitly. His first instinct was always to join his men in putting out the fire and not crucifying them for it. Sounds too good a boss to be true, doesn't he? But then, that was Dhirubhai.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Social Media Marketing: results and vulnerabilty

I often see companies deciding on what they are doing before articulating what results they want to achieve.

They would save much time and money by identifying their desired outcomes first.

Not: We want to blog. Rather: In order to get invited to speak at more conferences, we are our asking our executives to blog.
Not: We are building a custom widget. Rather: To drive organic search results, we are building a custom widget.
Not: We are opening a twitter account. Rather: In order to find a new channel for product feedback, we are opening a twitter account.

Naming why you are doing something changes your approach to it.

Take a company that is ready to open a Twitter account to accomplish one of the points below:

  • Find a new sales channel
  • Help customers with questions about their product
  • Understand if Twitter is a viable place to advertise
  • Recruit employees
  • Create strategic partnerships

The strategy a company would use to achieve one of these points differs from the one you would use for the others.

Next time you are identifying a new strategy, articulate the result you would like to achieve.

Even the most cutting edge strategies tend to support clear business objectives.

Barry [CMO of BestBuy] makes many excellent points which offer a different perspective on the above, suggesting that while clear goals are important they should not prevent companies from experimenting.

Here’s my favorite quote from that interview:

“I think when you make yourself vulnerable, which is what I think you have to do to be interesting in the social media space, you gotta be interesting you gotta be vulnerable, you gotta be human, you gotta say things that a person would say, and I think that’s a very different approach from what companies have traditionally taken for the last 100 years.”

Can you make yourself vulnerable in a results driven environment?

Does the relentless pursuit for results preclude the risks associated with vulnerability?

40 Tips for Better Life

1.Take a 10-30 minutes walk every day. And while you walk, smile.

2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.

3. Sleep for 7 hours.

4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.

5. Play more games.

6. Read more books than you did in 2008.

7. Make time to practice meditation, yoga, and prayer. They provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.

8. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.

9. Dream more while you are awake.

10. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.

11. Drink plenty of water.

12. Try to make at least three people smile each day.

13. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.

14. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.

15. Don't have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.

16. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.

17. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.

18.. Smile and laugh more.

19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.

20. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

21. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

22.. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.

23. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.. Don't compare your partner with others.

24. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

25. Forgive everyone for everything.

26.. What other people think of you is none of your business.

27. GOD ! heals everything.

28. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

29. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will.
Stay in touch.

30. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

31. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

32. The best is yet to come.

33. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

34. Do the right thing!

35. Call your family often.

36. Your inner most is always happy. So be happy.

37. Each day give something good to others.

38. Don't over do. Keep your limits.

39. When you awake alive in the morning, thank GOD for it.

40. Please share this with everyone you care about.

Digital Media & Web 2.0: Trends To Watch in 2009

One of the strongest drivers today—is creating new forms of communication, causing drastic market shifts, seeing massive innovation and opening up endless opportunities for entrepreneurs to both develop and take advantage of the technology.

Web Apps

Web apps are hot. But what does this really mean for entrepreneurs? Three things:

1. Lots of room for start-ups: The barriers to entry are low, but the way to stand out is by “solving a real customer problem,” says Michael Mace, principal at Rubicon Consulting. If a web app solves the user’s problem, he or she won’t hesitate to use it over traditional software.

2. Existing software companies beware: Because web apps replace the functions of traditional software programs sans occupied disk space,many PC users may decide to switch. So Rubicon advises adopting web app technologies and practices ASAP.

3. New tools for growing businesses: The myriad business tools in web app form, such as video, accounting, CRM and so on, can help businesses be more efficient, says Mace, saving them money and making various information accessible anytime, anywhere.

Mobile Apps

As more and more people rely on their mobile phones and the web moves to wireless, the mobile apps industry is growing by epic proportions. And the exciting part for entrepreneurs wanting to dial into this hot industry:

Millions in investment money is flying around.

• Apple and Google have launched third-party mobile app markets. Microsoft will release its version next year.

• The technology is only going to get better. “Mobile is a fresh canvas,” says Jim Brady, 51, founder of Earthcomber, a mobile app that combines mapping and user interest data.

Online Video

Folks, it’s not just about YouTube anymore: Growing businesses must use video. Business websites with video directly translate to increased traffic, says Benjamin Wayne, founder and CEO of Fliqz, a provider of plug-and-play video solutions.“You unlock markets you never had access to.”

There are lots of opportunities for start-ups, especially in the niches, says Wayne. But he warns that it’s very expensive and better suited for venture-backed businesses.

Mark Gray, 38, and Michael Hoydich, 37, saw a niche opportunity and launched San Francisco-based Unknown Vector Inc. last year. Their product is uvLayer, an interactive presentation layer for watching, organizing and sharing videos.Gray, who expects to have 1 million uvLayer users by next year, believes current video host sites are constrained and not user-focused, so he sees lots of room for innovation. Online video must deliver instant gratification to the user, says Gray, “allowing them to get [it] when and where they want.”


In the blogosphere, the opportunity for entrepreneurs lies more in the implementation of blogs than in starting a blog-related business. “People are thirsty for knowledge and want their voices to be heard,” says Karen Jackie, a blogging expert and principal at Content Robot. com, and starting a blog “is an easy way for small businesses to tell their story and [let customers join] the conversation.” Leveraging this powerful tool requires ongoing commitment, but blogging will become easier with evolving technology, multi-author efforts and mergers with social networks. Blog-powered websites will phase out the lonely, static corporate website.

Web 2.0 Consulting

If your Web 2.0 geek-speak is sub par, then maybe you should hire a knowledgeable outside party. But if you live for all that is Web 2.0, then actually being that knowledgeable outside party could be a profitable venture. That’s what Laurie Lohner, 40, did when she startedWi5 Connect with Rico Celis, 31, last year. “Everyone in the business community is scratching their heads,” she says. “They know things are important, but don’t know what it means for their business.”Her Provo, Utah-based firm helps clients employ Web 2.0 tools. Says Lohner, who projects 2008 sales of nearly $5million,“The companies that are going to succeed in the next three to five years are those that embrace Web 2.0’s power.”

Sunday, December 28, 2008

What's Your Humor Style?

Are you a joker? A teaser? A clown? How you deploy your sense of humor says a lot about how you relate to others and to yourself.

In today's personality stakes, nothing is more highly valued than a sense of humor. We seek it out in others and are proud to claim it in ourselves, perhaps even more than good looks or intelligence. If someone has a great sense of humor, we reason, it means that they are happy, socially confident and have a healthy perspective on life.

This attitude would have surprised the ancient Greeks, who believed humor to be essentially aggressive. And in fact, our admiration for the comedically gifted is relatively new, and not very well-founded, says Rod Martin, a psychologist at the University of Western Ontario who studies the way people use humor. Being funny isn't necessarily an indicator of good social skills and well-being, his research has shown—it may just as likely be a sign of personality flaws.

He has found that humor is a double-edged sword. It can forge better relationships and help you cope with life, or it can be corrosive, eating away at self-esteem and antagonizing others. "It's a form of communication, like speech, and we all use it differently," says Martin. We use bonding humor to enhance our social connections—but we also may wield it as a way of excluding or rejecting an outsider. Likewise, put-down humor can at times be an adaptive, healthy response: Employees suffering under a vindictive boss will often make the office more bearable by secretly ridiculing their tyrant.

Though humor is essentially social, how you use it says a lot about your sense of self. Those who use self-defeating humor, making fun of themselves for the enjoyment of others, tend to maintain that hostility toward themselves even when alone. Similarly, those who are able to view the world with amused tolerance are often equally forgiving of their own shortcomings.

Put-Down Humor

This aggressive type of humor is used to criticize and manipulate others through teasing, sarcasm and ridicule. When it's aimed against politicians by the likes of Ann Coulter, it's hilarious and mostly harmless. But in the real world, it has a sharper impact. Put-down humor, such as telling friends an embarrassing story about another friend, is a socially acceptable way to deploy aggression and make others look bad so you look good.

When challenged on their teasing, the put-down joker often turns to the "just kidding" defense, allowing the aggressor to avoid responsibility even as the barb bites. Martin has found no evidence that those who rely on this type of humor are any less well-adjusted. But it does take a toll on personal relationships.

Bonding Humor

People who use bonding humor are fun to have around; they say amusing things, tell jokes, engage in witty banter and generally lighten the mood. These are the people who give humor a good name. They're perceived as warm, down-to-earth and kind, good at reducing the tension in uncomfortable situations and able to laugh at their own faults.

Talk show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres embraces her audience by sharing good-natured, relatable humor. Her basic message: We're alike, we find the same things funny and we're all in this together.

Nonetheless, bonding humor can have a dark side. After all, a feeling of inclusion can be made sweeter by knowing that someone else is on the outs. J.F.K. and his brothers would often invite a hated acquaintance to vacation with them; they'd be polite to his face, but behind his back, the brothers would unite in deriding the hapless guest.

Hate-Me Humor

In this style of humor, you are the butt of the joke for the amusement of others. Often deployed by people eager to ingratiate themselves, it's the familiar clown or "fat guy" playfulness that we loved in John Belushi and Chris Farley—both of whom suffered for their success. A small dose of it is charming, but a little goes a long way: Routinely offering yourself up to be humiliated erodes your self-respect, fostering depression and anxiety. It also can backfire by making other people feel uncomfortable, finds Nicholas Kuiper of the University of Western Ontario. He proposes that it may remind others of their own tendency toward self-criticism.

Farley, who died at age 33 from an overdose, had a streak of self-loathing. "Chris chose the immediate pleasure he got in pleasing others over the long-term cost to himself," his brother wrote after his death. The bottom line: Excelling at this style of humor may lead to party invitations but can ultimately exact a high price.

Laughing At Life

When we admire someone who "doesn't take himself too seriously," this is the temperament we're talking about. More than just a way of relating to other people, it's a prism that colors the world in rosier shades. Someone with this outlook deploys humor to cope with challenges, taking a step back and laughing at the absurdities of everyday life. The Onion is a repository of this benign good humor. The columnist Dave Barry has perfected it with quips like this: "Fishing is boring, unless you catch an actual fish, and then it is disgusting."

Studies that link a sense of humor to good health are probably measuring this phenomenon; when you have a wry perspective, it's hard to remain anxious or hostile for long. Martin calls it "self-enhancing humor," because you don't need other people to entertain you—if something peculiar or annoying happens, you're perfectly capable of laughing at it on your own.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

SMEs turn to wireless networks

Small and medium Indian Enterprises (SME) are moving towards wireless networking in their offices to minimise costs.

Many small businesses, which rely on computers and small office networks, are now investing in creating a wireless high speed data network for their office PCs, including laptop and desktop computers, which have traditionally been connected to the internet through data cards or to office networks by cable.

SMEs are a fast growing market that will continue to experience accelerated growth in the emerging countries of Asia-Pacific. This new interest has been noted by companies such as Intel and Dell, who are pushing notebooks, or very small and energy efficient laptops and servers that are easy to set up in wireless environments.

Dell has launched range of server products for SMEs looking to build a networked server environment to enhance productivity, flexibility and security, said Sameer Garde, Country Manager, Dell India.

Intel is planning to bring in more products, including those based on their new Atom processor, to address the SME market. Intel is the world’s largest maker of computer processors.

These new processors have native support for Wi-Fi and are capable of siginificantly cutting down on cost, said Prakash Bagri, director marketing, Intel South Asia. That is attractive for SME clients.

“Small businesses are definitely shifting towards creating small wireless networks at office. There is major interest among such players for Wi-Fi enabled workplaces as it helps in savings,” said Dhananjay Ganjoo, vice-president, enterprise, Nortel Networks.

7 Business Planning Fundamentals

October was an inflection point. Till a few months ago, India's economy was projected to show healthy growth (7.75%-8%)during 2008-2009. Corporate investment and funding plans were on track. Firms were implementing plans for aggressive growth withing India and overseas. The constraints were largely on the capacity/supply side, not on the resources or demand. The financial tremors in the US were expected to have little impact within India.

By end-November, the picture changed dramatically. After the financial shocks in October, it is clear that the world is facing an unparalleled crisis. Estimates for India's GDP growth have been repeatedly downgraded -- from 6.5% to 7% for 2008-2009 and from 5.5% to 6.5% for 2009-2010. Demand is slowing. Funds have become scarce. There is a substantial down-side risk in 2009-2010. An upturn in growth is expected only in 2010-2011.

Fine. So what do we do about it? Specifically, what do we as business owners, managers, and entrepreneurs, do about it? I see this question and good and bad answers everywhere, so for this post I’ll stick to my expertise, which is business planning.

Let’s review how we go back to the fundamentals of business planning. What exactly are the fundamentals?

  1. It’s the planning, not just the plan. That’s critical and we all see it now as sudden unexpected changes — the black swan — blow our plans up. No worry, business plans are always wrong, so it’s always been the planning process that makes them worthwhile. Planning means plan and review, revise, and correct, and review and revise and correct again. Watch how the assumptions change. This is absolutely fundamental to planning.

  2. Shorten the cycle. You’re using planning to steer your business now, and the road is curvy and bumpy and unpredictable, so you pay closer attention and concentrate more carefully. Review your numbers frequently. Watch for changes, surprises, and the unexpected. It’s about early warnings. Watch the short-term closely. Use your planning as an early warning system.

  3. Sharpen the focus. Narrow it down. Make sure you’re close to your best customers. Sharpen the marketing message, and review where it’s going and how. Avoid wasted resources.

  4. Watch the cash flow. As the kids would say, “no duh.” But even if it’s obvious, I can’t leave it out of the fundamentals. Please remember that profits aren’t cash, and watch for changes in the cash cycle, like your business customers waiting longer to pay their bills. A business-to-business company needs extra financing worth a month of sales for every 30 days longer that customers hold off their payments.

  5. Watch the metrics. Remember, you’re looking for early warning systems. Obviously sales, costs, and expenses are metrics, but measure wherever you can, and watch for changes. Phone calls in and out? Time per call? Presentations? Inquiries? Metrics work for early warning.

  6. Your business plan is always wrong, but vital. See point number 1.

  7. Your business plan is never done. See point number 1.
Many firms are wondering whether and how to prepare their business plans as the next fiscal year approaches. The solution lies in customizing the planning process to address the challenges the firm faces. Rather than ask whether business planning is relevant now, firms should determine how to make this process work best for them. The resulting plan can then form an indispensable enabler in tiding over the turbulent period that lies ahead.

While Detroit Slept


As I think about our bailing out Detroit, I can’t help but reflect on what, in my view, is the most important rule of business in today’s integrated and digitized global market, where knowledge and innovation tools are so widely distributed. It’s this:
Whatever can be done, will be done. The only question is will it be done by you or to you. Just don’t think it won’t be done. If you have an idea in Detroit or Tennessee, promise me that you’ll pursue it, because someone in Denmark or Tel Aviv will do so a second later.

Why do I bring this up? Because someone in the mobility business in Denmark and Tel Aviv is already developing a real-world alternative to Detroit’s business model. I don’t know if this alternative to gasoline-powered cars will work, but I do know that it can be done — and Detroit isn’t doing it. And therefore it will be done, and eventually, I bet, it will be done profitably.

And when it is, our bailout of Detroit will be remembered as the equivalent of pouring billions of dollars of taxpayer money into the mail-order-catalogue business on the eve of the birth of eBay. It will be remembered as pouring billions of dollars into the CD music business on the eve of the birth of the iPod and iTunes. It will be remembered as pouring billions of dollars into a book-store chain on the eve of the birth of and the Kindle. It will be remembered as pouring billions of dollars into improving typewriters on the eve of the birth of the PC and the Internet.

What business model am I talking about? It is Shai Agassi’s electric car network company, called Better Place. Just last week, the company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., announced a partnership with the state of Hawaii to road test its business plan there after already inking similar deals with Israel, Australia, the San Francisco Bay area and, yes, Denmark.

The Better Place electric car charging system involves generating electrons from as much renewable energy — such as wind and solar — as possible and then feeding those clean electrons into a national electric car charging infrastructure. This consists of electricity charging spots with plug-in outlets — the first pilots were opened in Israel this week — plus battery-exchange stations all over the respective country. The whole system is then coordinated by a service control center that integrates and does the billing.

Under the Better Place model, consumers can either buy or lease an electric car from the French automaker Renault or Japanese companies like Nissan (General Motors snubbed Agassi) and then buy miles on their electric car batteries from Better Place the way you now buy an Apple cellphone and the minutes from AT&T. That way Better Place, or any car company that partners with it, benefits from each mile you drive. G.M. sells cars. Better Place is selling mobility miles.

The first Renault and Nissan electric cars are scheduled to hit Denmark and Israel in 2011, when the whole system should be up and running. On Tuesday, Japan’s Ministry of Environment invited Better Place to join the first government-led electric car project along with Honda, Mitsubishi and Subaru. Better Place was the only foreign company invited to participate, working with Japan’s leading auto companies, to build a battery swap station for electric cars in Yokohama, the Detroit of Japan.

What I find exciting about Better Place is that it is building a car company off the new industrial platform of the 21st century, not the one from the 20th — the exact same way that Steve Jobs did to overturn the music business. What did Apple understand first? One, that today’s technology platform would allow anyone with a computer to record music. Two, that the Internet and MP3 players would allow anyone to transfer music in digital form to anyone else. You wouldn’t need CDs or record companies anymore. Apple simply took all those innovations and integrated them into a single music-generating, purchasing and listening system that completely disrupted the music business.

What Agassi, the founder of Better Place, is saying is that there is a new way to generate mobility, not just music, using the same platform. It just takes the right kind of auto battery — the iPod in this story — and the right kind of national plug-in network — the iTunes store — to make the business model work for electric cars at six cents a mile. The average American is paying today around 12 cents a mile for gasoline transportation, which also adds to global warming and strengthens petro-dictators.

Do not expect this innovation to come out of Detroit. Remember, in 1908, the Ford Model-T got better mileage — 25 miles per gallon — than many Ford, G.M. and Chrysler models made in 2008. But don’t be surprised when it comes out of somewhere else. It can be done. It will be done. If we miss the chance to win the race for Car 2.0 because we keep mindlessly bailing out Car 1.0, there will be no one to blame more than Detroit’s new shareholders: we the taxpayers.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Snockles - Indian Based Mobile Social Network or say Twitter

Snockles, a mobile social messaging service based in India has launched it public Beta version this week in India and UK, Snockles lets its users to send messages to all contacts at once through internet as well as from mobile phones. Snockles is much like Twitter, and in its own words is a message that you post on your own Snockline (a.k.a. message board) which is broadcast to all the people who are tracking you. Similarly, you receive Snockles from people whom you are tracking. Snockles can also be sent and received via SMS after you register your mobile phone to it.

Snockle service is free of cost, all the message that received via Snockles are free of cost though charges will apply but from respective users’ mobile network service providers, when you send messages. In an analogy to Twitter it has ‘Track‘ phenomena what is known as ‘Follow‘ in Twitter which gets his/ her updates through the Web and SMS once you track that person as per settings.

Snockles is currently being funded by Web Spiders, an Indian based firm providing RIA development services, the firm has seperate service of snockles for business and corporate sector known as Enterprise Snockles, which provide on-demand social software to achieve level of collaboration and networking in business and corporate sector level.

Snockle will be available soon to Australia, Singapore, South Africa and few European countries through UK gateway.

India can hurt Pakistan without waging war

Shaunak S Agarkhedkar

Barack Obama, president-elect of the United States of America, ran a brilliant campaign built around the message of "hope and change". Aided in part by a thin resume that lacked the baggage of controversial positions, by a largely sympathetic media, and by a financial crisis that derailed his rival's campaign, Obama won the election.

Obama's vague campaign message about "hope and change," coupled with his emphasis on "judgment" rather than solid policy positions on critical issues, permitted millions of people to project their own expectations and ideas of "hope" and "change" onto Obama, and identify with him. The only concrete and lasting position he took was to continuously attack George W Bush's policies, especially the Iraq war.

Most of Obama's positions on other issues changed, sometimes more than once, between the Democratic primaries where he had to please the "liberal left" and the general elections where he shifted swiftly towards the center on most important subjects. Overall Obama came across as a pragmatist who would not shy away from dialogue with anyone, regardless of their ideological positions.

This was, for the voters, a refreshing change after Bush's 'with us or against us' attitude and seems to have won him many an independent vote. Obama's thin resume and his vague, almost nebulous campaign message have now raised questions about the policies he will implement once he assumes office. Questions about his position on Pakistan and India have elicited significant interest following his statement of intent on Kashmir which was hastily taken back by his transition team after the election.

The bedrock for Obama's candidacy and hence his entire campaign was his opposition to the Iraq war, the one position he stuck to throughout, and used very effectively to differentiate himself from Hillary Clinton in the primaries and John McCain in the general election. He characterized the Iraq war as 'a war waged without a clear rationale, based more on ideology and politics than fact or reason,' and sought to contrast it with the Afghanistan war which he made a focus of his foreign policy, saying he would make it the central front in the war against terror if elected. Obama emphasized that he would prosecute the Afghanistan war more vigorously by pulling troops out of Iraq and putting them in Afghanistan.

After becoming the Democrat nominee in June, he took an aggressive position on Afghanistan in an attempt to blunt McCain's perceived advantage on national security. The issue of cross-border terrorism from within Pakistan's north-western territories gave him the opportunity to demonstrate "hawkishness" and strength on national security and thus reduce its relevance as an election topic. Obama repeatedly proclaimed that as President, he would approve cross-border raids and attacks into Pakistan in order to destroy Al Qaeda. Expectedly this position was received with much hostility in Pakistan which saw it as a challenge to its sovereignty, and put the Pakistan government in a tight spot by bringing to the fore the issue of cross-border American raids on Pakistani soil.

Alternative supply routes?

Meanwhile in the Caucasus the Russo-Georgian conflict over South Ossetia and Abkhazia caused a chilling of the already cold Russo-American relations. A resurgent Russia, high on oil imports and its dominance of Europe's energy supplies, did not seem to have any qualms taking on and smashing an American ally. Caught in a war on two fronts and a rapidly degenerating financial crisis, the US was unable to do much and demonstrated its lack of leverage over Russia. The post-conflict bellicose posturing by both Russia and the US involving ballistic and anti-ballistic missiles near the Ukraine-Russia border has hardened attitudes on both sides.

Iran continues its quest towards acquiring nuclear weapons. Multilateral attempts made by the US to stop it do not show signs of succeeding. Russia and China, primarily, have continued to block punitive sanctions that may cause severe pain to the Iranian economy.

With Obama set to assume office in January, speculation is rife that Israel may pre-emptively strike at Iran's nuclear facilities before Bush hands over office to Obama. Iran-Israel relations look unlikely to improve. In case conflict breaks out, the US will be forced to aggressively side with its ally, Israel. Therefore Iran-US relations do not show signs of a recovery.

The Global War on Terror, characterised as a rational war by Obama, and as a barometer for his competence on national security, is not headed for a conclusion one way or another anytime soon. To continue this war the US needs access to Afghanistan through Iran, Russia (and other central Asian republics), China or Pakistan. Iran is unlikely to provide access and the US may not wish to provide the regime in Teheran any leverage associated with such an arrangement. Furthermore, if Israel does indeed pre-emptively strike Iran's nuclear facilities, there is a high probability of war breaking out and the US risks getting dragged into the war to support Israel.

Russia is flexing its muscles in Europe and is opposing the US and NATO through words and actions. The US doesn't have much leverage against it and does not possess the diplomatic or military resources to effectively threaten and keep Russia in check. Seeking access through Russia would require the US to make several concessions, possibly related to former Soviet republics in Europe. It is doubtful if an Obama administration would possess the political capital to make such concessions without appearing weak.

The US could try to supply its war effort in Afghanistan through China. The Afghan-China border is only 76 km long, and a supply effort through it would be complicated by the terrain (the Pamir mountains), the small border, and proximity to Pakistan's northern regions which could be leveraged by the Taliban in Pakistan to disrupt supplies. Moreover, such an arrangement with China would be far less desirable to the US given the security dynamics at play between the two countries.

The TINA (There Is No Alternative) factor

For the US, Pakistan represents its best chance for continuing the Afghan war and successfully prosecuting it. With its economy on the brink of failure, the civilian government in Pakistan understands the need for continuing the existing arrangement with the US. Obama's statements on cross-border raids, however, have resulted in quite a bit of domestic pressure on the Pakistan government. It will try and extract as many concessions as they can from the US in order to maintain the status quo with respect to supply lines into Afghanistan and a continuation of its crackdown on radical Islam within its own fold. The recent attacks on NATO supply lines in Pakistan may have been intended to remind the US of Pakistan's indispensability to the GWOT in Afghanistan. Obama will have to ensure that the Pakistan government remains stable and an ally because it represents his best chance at appearing strong on national security, which has been a problem for Democrats since Jimmy Carter fumbled on Iran.

Though Pakistan is ruled by a civilian government, its powers are severely limited by the Pakistan Army which has long been the de-facto ruler of Pakistan. The army controls the Inter-Services Intelligence. Despite recent moves by the government to reign in the ISI by having it report to the ministry of interior, which was revoked, the nascent civilian government's control over the army is tenuous at best and illusory at worst. The army controls a number of corporate enterprises that range from private security firms and bakeries, farms, schools, to insurance companies, cement and cereal manufacturing plants. It is estimated that they control more than 10 percent of Pakistan's GDP. Profits from these enterprises are understood to be funneled back into the army through various channels, giving the army a degree of financial autonomy from the civilian government. Its leverage over the civilian government is as great as it was in the past when civilian governments explicitly served at the pleasure of the Pakistani Army.

The Pakistani Army derives its moral legitimacy as the real leadership and cream of Pakistani society by portraying itself as the bulwark of Pakistani defence against a larger and supposedly hostile India. The army retains its stranglehold over the government and society by maintaining this opinion in the popular mindset through the manipulation of the media and events. Of all the constituents of Pakistani society, the army has the least incentive to see a normalization of relations with India and a cessation of hostilities of the regular and irregular kind.

It is in their interests to keep India hostile by repeatedly provoking it through low intensity warfare. This has nothing to do with the Kashmir issue which is merely a rallying cry, an excuse to motivate jihadi groups and get them to do the army's bidding.

A negative incentive is needed

The need for India to provide the Pakistani State and people with a negative incentive for their support of terror is obvious. The Pakistani Army plays on these fears to maintain its moral, mental and physical base among the people. Unless the army is provided with sufficiently strong negative incentives, it is unlikely to back away from its support to terrorist organisations. Following the terror attacks on Mumbai, Pakistan adopted a belligerent attitude towards India's demands and used the threat of Indian retaliation as an excuse to redeploy troops from its Afghan border, where they were engaged in fratricidal operations against the Taliban, to its eastern border with India.

The Pakistani Army has always been unwilling to act against the Taliban, and this unwillingness was intensified after a series of high-profile losses in the NWFP, and especially in the Swat valley, where hundreds of Pakistani soldiers are believed to have deserted. Any bellicose pronouncements or moves by India play into its hands by giving it an excuse to reduce its involvement in the unpopular GWOT. Such pronouncements also have the effect of shoring up domestic support for the army and undermining the authority of the civilian government even further.

The United States is unlikely to accept any let-up in Pakistan's efforts on its western border, and this gives the Pakistanis a strong hedge against India. The US does not seem likely to permit India to attack Pakistan overtly for fear of diluting its own GWOT. The US sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to India and Pakistan to soothe tempers is a step in this direction. Bush is not facing re-election. Bush doesn't have much time left to prove anything.

Obama, in less than a month, will be a first-term president considered by an overwhelming majority of his electorate to be soft on national security. Grappling with an immensely complex economic crisis from day one of his term, he will be desperate to prove his national security credentials and having framed the GWOT as a referendum on his credentials, his administration will do everything possible to continue to prosecute the war.

This has direct implications for India since it reduces the options available. The US will not allow India to get away with overt offensive action against Pakistan. An India contemplating military action against Pakistan must also contend with Pakistan's patrons in China. The Chinese have invested a lot of time, effort and money into making Pakistan an effective counter to India in South Asia. Even if India manages to convince the US that attacking Pakistan is an imperative for the GWOT, China is unlikely to let the dynamic duo of democracy steamroll their favourite client state. And yet India must act. Unless the power centres in Pakistan feel pain, they will continue their support for terrorist activities against India.

India's best options lie on the covert and economic sides of the spectrum. Instead of sabre-rattling and threatening Pakistan, thus allowing Pakistan to demonstrate how hopelessly dependent the US is on them, India would do well to investigate every option at its disposal for hurting Pakistan without appearing to do so.

Dreams of attacking Pakistan, even of surgical strikes against terror camps inside Pakistan, are just that -- pipe dreams. The State should deal in realism and should work within the constraints imposed by external and internal conditions instead of pleading for help from other States. Considering that the Pakistani Army controls more than 10 percent of the economy and receives profits from their corporations, moves designed to hurt Pakistan's economy and specifically the enterprises owned and operated by the army would go a long way in demonstrating that India is unwilling to let herself be bled.

Covert operations designed to hurt those involved in nurturing terrorist organisations would suitably complement the economic measures taken to isolate the corporations owned by the Pakistani Army. India could also investigate the possibility of providing covert aid to the people of Baluchistan who have demonstrated time and again that there is no love lost between them and the Pakistan government.

Till date India has mostly played defence in the face of repeated escalation. Being defensive has meant that all the destructive actions as well as countermeasures employed have been on Indian soil and have worked against Indian citizens. This has never hurt Pakistan the nation and the power centres within it. If India wishes to be successful in controlling and reducing both the intensity and frequency of terrorist activities directed against it, it must go on the offensive and take the fight to Pakistani soil and the breeding grounds of terror.

A closer inspection reveals that India possesses a number of options of hurting the power centres in Pakistan without actually appearing to do so. Whether the Indian government pursues these measures is debatable and depends on a number of factors. It is certain, however, that a business as usual attitude will only embolden the radical elements within Pakistani society and allow the Pakistani power centres to leverage even more irregular assets to provoke and destabilise India.

An alumnus of IIT-Kharagpur, Shaunak Agarkhedkar works as a strategy consultant with a multinational

The Two Most Important Management Secrets: The Pygmalion and Galatea Effects

By Susan M. Heathfield

The Pygmalion Effect: The Power of the Supervisor's Expectations

our expectations of people and their expectations of themselves are the key factors in how well people perform at work. Known as the Pygmalion effect and the Galatea effect, respectively, the power of expectations cannot be overestimated. These are the fundamental principles you can apply to performance expectations and potential performance improvement at work.

You can summarize the Pygmalion effect, often known as the power of expectations, by considering:

a) Every supervisor has expectations of the people who report to him.

b) Supervisors communicate these expectations consciously or unconsciously.

c) People pick up on, or consciously or unconsciously read, these expectations from their supervisor.

d) People perform in ways that are consistent with the expectations they have picked up on from the supervisor.

The Pygmalion effect was described by J. Sterling Livingston in the September/October, 1988 Harvard Business Review. "The way managers treat their subordinates is subtly influenced by what they expect of them," Livingston said in his article, Pygmalion in Management.

The Pygmalion effect enables staff to excel in response to the manager's message that they are capable of success and expected to succeed. The Pygmalion effect can also undermine staff performance when the subtle communication from the manager tells them the opposite. These cues are often subtle. As an example, the supervisor fails to praise a staff person's performance as frequently as he praises others. The supervisor talks less to a particular employee.

Livingston went on to say about the supervisor, "If he is unskilled, he leaves scars on the careers of the young men (and women), cuts deeply into their self-esteem and distorts their image of themselves as human beings. But if he is skillful and has high expectations of his subordinates, their self-confidence will grow, their capabilities will develop and their productivity will be high. More often than he realizes, the manager is Pygmalion."

Can you imagine how performance will improve if your supervisors communicate positive thoughts about people to people? If the supervisor actually believes that every employee has the ability to make a positive contribution at work, the telegraphing of that message, either consciously or unconsciously, will positively affect employee performance.

And, the effect of the supervisor gets even better than this. When the supervisor holds positive expectations about people, she helps individuals improve their self-concept and thus, self-esteem. People believe they can succeed and contribute and their performance rises to the level of their own expectations.

The Galatea Effect:The Power of Self-expectations

Even more powerful than the Pygmalion effect, the Galatea effect is a compelling factor in employee performance. The manager who can assist employees to believe in themselves and in their efficacy, has harnessed a powerful performance improvement tool.

I'm sure you've heard of the words, "self-fulfilling prophecy." Applied as the Galatea effect, these words mean that the individual's opinion about his ability and his self-expectations about his performance largely determine his performance. If an employee thinks she can succeed, she will likely succeed. Consequently, any actions the supervisor can take that increase the employee's feelings of positive self-worth, will help the employee's performance improve.

I don't mean to over-simplify this concept. Many other factors also contribute to the level of an employee's performance including your company culture, the employee's life experiences, education, family support and relationships with coworkers. However, positive supervision is one of the key factors that keeps good employees on the job.

These are ways in which you can encourage positive, powerful self-expectations in employees.

a) Provide opportunities for the employee to experience increasingly challenging assignments. Make sure she succeeds at each level before moving forward.

b) Enable the employee to participate in potentially successful projects that bring continuous improvement to the workplace.

c) Provide one-to-one coaching with the employee. This coaching should emphasize improving what the employee does well rather than focusing on the employee's weaknesses.

d) Provide developmental opportunities that reflect what the employee is interested in learning.

e) Assign a successful senior employee to play a developmental mentoring role with the employee.

f) Hold frequent, positive verbal interactions with the employee and communicate consistently your firm belief in the employee's ability to perform the job. Keep feedback positive and developmental where possible.

g) Make sure the employee is receiving consistent messages from other supervisory personnel. How you speak to others about employees powerfully molds their opinions.

h) Project your sincere commitment to the employee's success and ongoing development.

Harness the power of the employee's self-expectations to ensure powerful, productive, improving, successful work performance.


Personality factors are extremely important in organizational settings. Often the 'wrong' personality proves disastrous and causes undesirable tensions and worries in organizations. The cost of such tensions and worries are enormous when interpreted from the point of view of employee-employer relations, peer relations and superior-subordinate relations. Sometimes, personality difficulties are the root cause of organizational conflicts and often lead to turnover and job dissatisfaction.

Personality and Its Determinants

Personality does not mean that a person has charm, a smiling face, or a positive attitude towards life. Gordon Allport defined personality as the dynamic organization within an individual of those psycho-physical systems that determine his unique adjustments to his environment. Personality, in essence, refers to the sum total of ways in which an individual reacts and interacts with others. This is most often described in terms of measurable personality traits that a person exhibits.

Personality is the result of both heredity and environmental factors and is moderated by the situational conditions.

i) Heredity: Heredity refers to those factors that were determined at conception. Factors such as physical appearance, temperament, energy level, and biological rhythms are the characteristics, which are generally influenced by one’s parents, i.e. one’s biological, physiological, and inherent psychological make up. The Heredity Approach believes that personality of an individual is the molecular structure of the genes, located in the chromosomes.

ii) Environment: Among the various factors, culture plays an important role in the formation of personality, i.e. the early conditioning, and the norms among the family, friends, and social groups. With the socialization process experienced in groups, personality does get altered over time.

iii) Situation: Though an individual’s personality is generally stable and consistent, it does change in different situations. Different demands in different situations bring forth different aspects of one’s personality. Personality patterns should, therefore, be not looked at in isolation.

The relationship of all these three factors affects the formation and development of personality. Physiological inheritance is entirely an internal contribution. Group and the culture are the early environmental factors that affect the formation of our behavior at later stages. Family atmosphere and social setting encountered during early stages of life and also the education are the important factors that influence the formation of personality at the initial stages. Whatever a child learns at this stage invariably lasts throughout one’s life. Peer groups or primary affiliations at work and social activities normally shape our personality in the later part of our life.

The relationship of all these three factors affects the formation and development of personality. Physiological inheritance is entirely an internal contribution. Group and the culture are the early environmental factors that affect the formation of our behavior at later stages. Family atmosphere and social setting encountered during early stages of life and also the education are the important factors that influence the formation of personality at the initial stages. Whatever a child learns at this stage invariably lasts throughout one’s life. Peer groups or primary affiliations at work and social activities normally shape our personality in the later part of our life.

Personality Types

Personality typing is a tool with many uses. It is especially notable for its use in the areas of growth and self-development. It is used as a tool for discovery, rather than as a method for putting people into boxes, or as an excuse for behavior. The sixteen personality types that are used are based on the well-known research of Carl Jung, Katharine C. Briggs, and Isabel Briggs Myers.

The theory of personality types, as it stands to-day, contends that

i) An individual is either primarily Extroverted or Introverted
ii) An individual is either primarily Sensing or Intuitive
iii) An individual is either primarily Thinking or Feeling
iv) An individual is either primarily Judging or Perceiving

The possible combination of these preferences form 16 different personality types. This does not mean that all (or even most) individuals will fall strictly into one category or another.

The theory of personality types contends that each of us has a natural preference which falls into one category or the other in each of the four areas indicated above, and that our native personality type indicates how we are likely to deal with different situations that life presents, and in which environments we are most comfortable.

The Four Preferences

The four preferences or the four pairs of dimensions, viz. Extroversion and introversion, Sensing and Intuition, Thinking and Feeling, and Judging and Perceiving are present to some degree in all people.

i) Extroversion and Introversion: There is a world inside ourselves, and a world outside ourselves. When we are dealing with the world outside of our self, we are “extroverting”. When we are inside our own minds, we are “introverting”. Persons more introverted than extroverted tend to make decisions somewhat independently of constraints and prodding from the situation, culture, people, or things around them. They may dislike being interrupted while working and may tend to forget names and faces.

Extroverted persons are attuned to the culture, people, and things around them, endeavoring to make decisions congruent with demands and expectations. The extrovert is outgoing, socially free, interested in variety and in working with people. The extrovert may become impatient with long, slow tasks and does not mind being interrupted by people.

ii) Sensing and Intuition: This preference refers to how we gather information. There are two distinct ways of perceiving the data that we gather. The “Sensing” preference absorbs data in a literal, concrete fashion. The “Intuitive” preference generates abstract possibilities from information that is gathered. We all use both Sensing and Intuition in our lives, but to different degrees of effectiveness and with different levels of comfort.

The intuitive person prefers possibilities, theories, gestalts, the overall, invention, and the new, and becomes bored with nitty-gritty details, the concrete and actual, and facts unrelated to concepts. The intuitive person thinks and discusses in spontaneous leaps of intuition that may leave out or neglect details. Problem solving comes easily for this individual although there may be a tendency to make errors of fact.

The sensing type person prefers the concrete, real, factual, structured, tangible, here and now, becoming impatient with theory and the abstract, mistrusting intuition. The sensing type person thinks in careful, detail-by-detail accuracy, remembering real facts, making few errors of fact, but possibly missing a conception of the overall.

iii) Thinking and Feeling: People have the capability to make decisions based on two very different sets of criteria – Thinking and Feeling. When someone makes a decision that is based on logic and reason, they are operating in Thinking mode. When someone makes a decision that is based on their value system, or what he or she believes to be right, they are operating in Feeling mode. We all use both modes for making decisions, but we put more trust into one mode or the other.

The feeler makes judgments about life, people, occurrences, and things based on empathy, warmth, and personal values. As a consequence, feelers are more interested in people and feelings than in impersonal logic, analysis, and things, and in conciliation and harmony more than in being on top or achieving impersonal goals. The feeler gets along well with people in general.

The thinker makes judgments about life, people, occurrences, and things based on logic, analysis, and evidence, avoiding the irrationality of making decisions based on feelings and values. As a result, the thinker is more interested in logic, analysis, and verifiable conclusions than in empathy, values, and personal warmth. The thinker may step on others’ feelings and needs without realizing it, neglecting to take into consideration the value of others.

iv) Judging and Perceiving: Judging and Perceiving preferences, within the context of personality types, refer to our attitude towards the external world, and how we live our lives on a day-to-day basis.

The perceiver is a gatherer, always wanting to know more before deciding, holding off decisions and judgments. As a consequence, the perceiver is open, flexible, adaptive, non-judgmental, able to see and appreciate all sides of issues, always welcoming new perspectives and new information about issues. However, perceivers are also difficult to pin down and may be indecisive and noncommittal, becoming involved in so many tasks that do not reach closure that they may become frustrated at times. Even when they finish tasks, perceivers will tend to look back at them and wonder whether they are satisfactory or could have been done another way. The perceiver wishes to roll with life rather than change it.

The judger is decisive, firm, and sure, setting goals and sticking to them. The judger wants to close books, make decisions, and get on to the next project. When a project does not yet have closure, judgers will leave it behind and go on to new tasks and not look back.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Various Personal Styles

Possible Strengths Possible Weaknesses
Independent Misunderstands the external
Works alone Avoids others
Reflects Loses opportunities to act
Works with ideas Is misunderstood by others
Is careful of generalizations Needs quiet to work
Is careful before acting Dislikes being interrupted
Understands the external Has less independence
Interacts with others Does not work without people
Is open Needs change, variety
Acts, does Is impulsive
Well understood Is impatient with routine
Sees possibilities Is inattentive to detail, precision
Sees gestalts Is inattentive to the actual and practical
Imagines, intuits Is impatient with the tedious
Works out new ideas Leaves things out in leaps of logic
Works with the complicated Loses sight of the here- and – now
Solves novel problems Jumps to conclusions
Attends to detail Does not see possibilities
Is practical Loses the overall in details
Has memory of detail, fact Mistrusts intuition
Works with tedious detail Does not work out the new
Is patient Is frustrated with the complicated
Is careful, systematic Prefers not to imagine future
Considers others’ feelings Is not guided by logic
Understands needs, values Is not objective
Is interested in conciliation Is less organized
Demonstrates feeling Is uncritical, overly accepting
Persuades, arouses Bases justice on feelings
Is logical, analytical Does not notice people’s feelings
Is objective Misunderstands others’ values
Is organized Is uninterested in conciliation
Has critical ability Does not show feelings
Is just Shows less mercy
Stands firm Is uninterested in persuading
Compromises Is indecisive
Sees all sides of issues Does not plan
Is flexible, adaptable Has no order
Remains open for changes Does not control circumstances
Decides based on all data Is easily distracted from tasks
Is not judgmental Does not finish projects
Decides Is unyielding, stubborn
Plans Is inflexible, inadaptable
Orders Decides with insufficient data
Controls Is judgmental
Makes quick decisions Is controlled by task or plans
Remains with a task Wishes not to interrupt work


Learning about our personality type helps us to understand why certain areas in life come easily to us, and others are more of a struggle. Generally, people who have the same strengths in the dimensions will seem to “click”, whereas who have different strengths in the dimensions will not see eye-to-eye on many things. People will normally gravitate toward others who have similar strengths and weaknesses. People’s values, beliefs, decisions, and actions will be greatly influenced by all four of the stronger dimensions in their typology. Although a person’s typology cannot be changed to its opposite, each person can learn to strengthen the weaker dimensions to some extent and to develop personal life strategies to overcome problems that result from the weaknesses.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

FDA warns against some diet pills sold on the Web

WASHINGTON (AP) — If you're looking for a little help shedding extra pounds after the holidays, the government is warning you to stay away from nearly 30 weight-loss products that contain unlisted and possibly dangerous ingredients.

The pills are advertised as "natural" fat busters and have intriguing names like Imelda Perfect Slim and Zhen de Shou. Some are touted as new versions of "ancient remedies" from Asia.

They may promise an easy fix to weight problems, but the Food and Drug Administration on Monday said the concoctions contain unlisted ingredients, including high doses of a powerful anti-obesity drug, as well as a suspected carcinogen.

"When consumers are buying these products online, we're telling them that if it sounds too good to be true, it is likely to be too good to be true," said Michael Levy, an FDA lawyer who works on enforcement issues.

FDA lab testing found 28 dietary supplements that could land unsuspecting users in the emergency room. Most of the diet pills appear to be coming from China. They are mainly sold on the Internet.

Nearly all of the pills contain sibutramine, a powerful appetite suppressant that's a chemical cousin of amphetamines. It can cause heart attacks, strokes and heart palpitations, especially in people with a history of high blood pressure or heart problems.

Sibutramine is also the chemical ingredient in the prescription drug Meridia, which is used to treat obesity. But FDA testing found that some of the diet pills contain nearly three times the recommended daily dose.

Several of the pills contain phenolphthalein, a chemical long used as a laxative, but which is now being withdrawn from the market because of cancer risks.

None of the supplements lists the dangerous ingredients on the label. "Consumers have no way of knowing that these products contain powerful drugs that can cause serious health consequences," said Dr. Janet Woodcock, head of the FDA's drug evaluation center.

The FDA is considering criminal charges against some of the companies, because they have not responded to requests for recalls.

The products are:

Fatloss Slimming, 2 Day Diet, 3x Slimming Power, 5x Imelda Perfect Slimming, 3 Day Diet Japan Lingzhi, 24 Hours Diet, 7 Diet Day/Night Formula, 7 Day Herbal Slim, 8 Factor Diet, 999 Fitness Essence, Extrim Plus and GMP.


Imelda Perfect Slim, Lida DaiDaihua, Miaozi Slim Capsules, Perfect Slim, Perfect Slim 5x, Phyto Shape, ProSlim Plus, Royal Slimming Formula, Slim 3 in 1, Slim Express 360, Slimtech, Somotrin, Superslim, TripleSlim, Zhen de Shou, Venom Hyperdrive 3.0