A good product from Dialog Axiata – WIFI Portable Router


For quite a sometime I was struggling without a proper internet facility at home. Initially I had around 4 connections from two service providers but it was not very useful to me.  Since I’m an iPhone user, I was searching for a wifi connection to my house.   During a workshop last month I came to know that Dialog is offering a portable wifi connection. Then I thought of calling the customer care to find more about the product details. Unfortunately I didn’t find time to call them and I forgot about it totally. Until last week I was using other pre paid internet option from other provider. Suddenly in the midst of a training programme I got a call from a Dialog representative asking whether I’m interested in their product. I told them that I’m looking for an internet solution to my home, and then the representative promised me that he will be visiting my office for further discussion. As promised he met me at my office and explained the solution. I was impressed with the product and decided to go for the connection. It is a very convenient product and wherever you go you can carry it with you. It suits for all outing solutions such as trips, parties etc etc  and you can carry this wifi router and access to internet. It’s a very worthy investment for me. If you want to get a connection quickly contact the below person. I like his customer service (quick and polite)

Kapil (National Sales Officer) – 0777332392

Loyalty Marketing – A Practical Outlook

Epitom Consulting, which has rapidly established themselves as a leader in conducting diverse Workshops and Training sessions, providing invaluable lessons to the corporate sector, has yet again offered a valuable lesson to decision makers, in providing an insight into the validity of Loyalty Marketing and how best to retain your customer base, in a 3 hour session scheduled to be held on the 17th of November at 5.30 pm at the Galle Face Hotel.

At an age, where Marketers are resorting to every strategy possible, to “retain” the customer by offering incentives and trying to outbid their competitors, yet without a thought to improving their products or services, they fail to realise that their strategies are short lived.

What is loyalty in marketing parlance? “This presentation strives to illustrate the traditional concepts of “Loyalty Marketing” and why these strategies alone prove inadequate to retain the customer in the long term,” said Ragulan, Founder / Director of Epitom Consulting. “It focuses on a more personalised approach showing how to retain the customer by establishing a relationship, rather than simply achieve a sale,” he further added.

Epitom has added yet another veteran in the industry to his already impressive panel of “Trainers”, and proudly introduces Mr. Ajit F. Perera, who counts over 45 years of experience and is a Snr. Marketer and CEO. He has acquired a wealth of knowledge and “Hands On” technical experience in respect of a vast & diverse range of products ranging from Telecommunications Equipment to Industrial and Electronic Equipment, Electrical Equipment, Computers, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Equipment, Hardware, Consumer Products inclusive of domestic appliances, Office Equipment, & Engineering Tools, LPG equipment etc. enabling him to effectively market his product range. As a result, he is able to relate to, and guide participants in a wide area of disciplines.

This thought provoking session is aimed at helping participants differentiate between short term loyalty strategies currently adopted by many organisations, and formulate new strategies mixing the old with the new, which will help retain the customer in the long term.
An interactive session, it will encourage the participants to contribute their input of how they interpret the topic which would then be discussed on each area where Ajit will elaborate his thinking on the issues raised. This will enable the participants to directly relate to the issues, and analyse the validity of the new solutions presented.

For more details please visit http://www.workshop.epitom.org.

If you live each day as if it were your last, someday you’ll be right

“If you live each day as if it were your last, someday you’ll be right.”

It’s a year since we lost Simbutu. We miss him every single day. We miss the sound of his barking, We miss his greeting, We miss seeing his happy face. We miss him more than we could ever say.

But what comforts me is that the memory of Simbutu still lives on. And I want to make his memory something that will live on forever and bring positivity, hope and courage into the lives of others just as it has for ourselves.

This pandemic situation gave me the required time and opportunity to draft the memories of Simbutu in the most meaningful way. I can’t wait to share his story with all of you as a book.

A book for all pet lovers that gives life lessons from Simbutu’s point of view, a loving and loyal dog’s point of view! He will tell us how fortunate we are to be humans and how we can make our lives more exciting and empowering.

Though he is not with us physically, he has given us a purpose to create a Pet Community www.simbutu.com / Simbutu which now brings pet lovers, pet parents and animal lovers together.

Here is the story of his last day on the earth, exactly one year back, a story I have narrated from his point of view.




It’s been a few weeks now since Covid-19 has taken Sri Lanka by storm and shaken our tiny island to its core. The virus has left us rightfully worried, panicked and the daily patterns we were so accustomed to in shambles. To top it off, most areas across the island are experiencing curfews and lockdowns, disrupting all the norms that we once took for granted.

Everything sure does look bleak and dreary, what with shops and restaurants closed, schools closed, workplaces shut down and with no prospect of a nice family dinner out or a fun shopping spree. With people stuck at home, governments confused at what to do next and economies crashing, the future doesn’t look too rosy.

But wait a minute, haven’t we learnt that with every calamity that comes, there’s a lesson to be learnt and goodness to be seen? Yes, even with this Covid 19 pandemic sweeping across the globe, there is a sunny side to things and we have to learn to see it .

This Coronavirus has forced all of us, the rich, the poor, the affluent and the needy to stay at home, stay indoors and stay safe. It did feel like a holiday for the first few days, a welcome respite from the daily grind of life. But as the days go by and the future looking increasingly uncertain, staying at home is becoming difficult with every passing hour.

But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.

If there’s one thing that this tiny virus has taught us, it is learning to take pleasure in the small things in our everyday life – the things we so often took for granted and the things we always overlooked. It has taught us – or rather – forced us to look and really focus at the normal aspects of life that we ignored for so long.

Every cloud does have a silver lining and I’m beginning to understand its true implications now. Take, for example, the government orders for workplaces and offices to close down and for whomsoever it is possible to work from home, to continue to do so. The time off my hectic work schedule has given me ample opportunities and the freedom of mind to make new plans for my business and also brainstorm innovative ideas for my company. I wouldn’t have been able devote time for this if I didn’t have the time I now enjoy away from work.

Staying home without work doesn’t mean being unproductive at all. We live in a day and age where there are countless possibilities so you need to grab hold and make the most out of it. If the circumstances allow you, work digitally, stay connected with your workplace and your colleagues online and you’ll see what a refreshing change it is to work from home. After all, you’re in a place where you can be at your element and let all those creative juices flow. And that’s precisely how the team at Epitom is working from home at the moment. We may not be connected physically at a workplace, but we are very much digitally connected, thanks to technology so we’re covering pretty much the same workload in a safer and more efficient manner.

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Image: The Pick a Book and Epitom Team, staying indoors, staying safe, staying connected and successfully managing to continue to take the company forward. 

With so much time on my hands, I was also able to get some much needed reading done too. Reading has always been a passion of mine but with work commitments, I wasn’t able to read as much as I would have liked to. Although I always made sure I made the time to squeeze in a book or two with my busy timetable, this curfew situation has given me ample time to read three great books and I have four more lined up on my to-be-read list which I’m really looking forward to.

Plus, with more time on my hands now, I’m finding reading even more enjoyable and more therapeutic than usual. Afterall, reading is the one thing that gives you a sense of escapism during these trying times at home.

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Image: Reading makes sure you fill in those long hours with something that is refreshingly beneficial for both mind and body. 

Speaking of books and reading, Pick A Book is still up and running, albeit in a different mode. Our PAB members together with our new Indian club members are staying connected online, discovering new books, discussing the books read and generally enjoying being part of an amazing book club and reveling in the joy that only literature can bring.

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Image – Session for PAB members in India and Sri Lanka

Another hobby of mine has been rekindled with staying at home during the curfew. Though I’ve always made time for some gardening with my busy schedule, I’ve more time on my hands now to thoroughly enjoy getting my hands in the soil. I’ve found that my gardening sessions these days have been more therapeutic and I’m finding immense joy working with nature. 

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Image: There’s no better way than giving back to Mother Nature, repairing the damage we’ve unconsciously caused by doing our part, even if it’s something as small as doing a bit of gardening. 

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Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my dogs. I enjoy the time bonding with them and pet lovers know how much joy, happiness and fulfillment pets can bring. Plus, there’s no denying the fact that my dogs are overjoyed that I get to spend quality time with them, and the way their eyes light up when they see me makes it all the more worthwhile. Usually, I’m home only after eight and I come all tired and drained out, meaning my dogs didn’t get to spend time with me as much as they or I would like to. Now, with extra time on my hands, I get to spend quality time with my pets – something that both my dogs and I desperately wanted.

Image: Me enjoying the extra time I’ve with my dogs. There are few things that are more rewarding than bonding with your pets. 

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Then, I’ve ticked one more thing off my to-do-list – an all-important one and that is getting back in shape. I’ve got my treadmill all up and working and have a workout schedule in place. We all know how important it is to keep ourselves fit and with me staying at home now, I’m starting to make simple workouts a habit of mine so that once everything is back and running again, I’ll still find time to keep doing my workouts. You don’t need expensive equipment to get fit. Simply going for a walk around your garden, or following a simple workout routine even without any equipment is going to do you a lot of good in the long run.

Image: There’s no better time than now to get into the habit of working out, staying fit and giving your body the care and attention it needs.

I’ve also started honing my mediocre cooking skills. Who knew that cooking could be this fun! I’ve been experimenting with my culinary skills and found that it’s actually quite fun whipping up a dish. Cooking is definitely one thing that I’m going to continue doing once everything is back to normal.

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Another thing this time off work and curfew has given me is the chance to further work on my first book. With more time on my hands, my mind refreshed and with newer perspectives, there’s a great deal of new information on my book. Within the given time period I have written more than 30 pages. Likewise, if you have always had a dream to work on a book or project, then this free time that you have in your hands right now is a treasure that you simply cannot waste. Use this time wisely; you’ll thank yourself later for it.

While it’s true that the worry of where this pandemic will lead to is there, it’s also true that this virus has taught us the value of enjoying the small things in life. There’s really no need to moan about how bored you are or how sitting about listlessly at home is frustrating when there are so many ways you can be productive. There’s no use in sitting around moping at home for things that we have no control over. Instead take this time off and see it as a gold mine from God – a chance for us to live our life truly. Be it gardening, reading or completing some project you’ve always put off, this is the time for you to get going. Use this opportunity to the best of your ability and you’ll notice how productive you can be.

It took a tiny, microscopic virus to bring us to our knees and then lift our heads and see what life truly meant, to learn to enjoy the small, simple things and to value family and friends. It taught us what compassion is, what humanity is. It took a virus to bind our feet and keep us home and truly value the time we spend with our family and to show us where our connections lie. It took a pandemic for us to realize that we have been treating this earth with contempt and it’s time now to learn to heal it and treat it with respect.

So, instead of taking this as a trial, take it as an opportunity to plan. Stay safe, follow the rules and stay indoors, plan the future, and, God willing, we can make it out of this together, having learnt some things that have truly added value and meaning to our lives.

My takeaway from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why – Chapter 8- Emergence of Trust

When we need to recruit someone, we run a newspaper advertisement or an online post mentioning the list of expected qualifications, skills, and other details and expect all the best candidates to apply and join the company. We never recruit people who believe in what we believe in. Sometimes we think we hire passionate people, but the question is whether they are passionate about what we are passionate about? Whether they believe what we believe in?

The best example is the Endurance story when Ernest Schakthelton recruited his 24 men who believed in what he believed in. His advertisement did not say “men needed for an expedition, minimum of five years experience, must know how to hoist the mainsail” etc. It did not even mention “Come and work for a great captain.”

Instead, it went like this.

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A leader might have a great vision, but having the right set of people who believe what the leader believes makes wonders! That’s how any organization can become successful.

This helped me put a lot of things into perspective – Simon Sinek illustrates a very interesting ‘golden circle’ in which he explains why some leaders and companies are capable of inspiring their employees while others cannot. At the very heart of this circle is the question why followed by how and what. This made me understand that while almost every company or leader has a very clear understanding of what they do and how they do it, a lot of people don’t place much value on why they do it.

“People don’t buy what you dothey buy why you do it.

The ‘why’ of why you’re doing something defines success. If you can find an answer to that, it’ll push you towards setting your goals and executing them more effectively. As a leader who influences others, you need to get to the bottom of why you do what you do. This also made me understand the value of communicating with candidates on a more deeper level. And this is precisely why I always ensure that I recruit people who are genuinely interested and passionate in the field they are looking to work in.

For example, whenever I work on recruiting cadidates for Pick A Book, I always put forward the question of whether the candidate is a reader. The reason I do that is because I personally feel that you need to feel connected to the cause you are working for. What is the point of working for an organization that is all about reading when you yourself haven’t picked a book in years. If this happens to be the case, then even the qualifications the candidates bring to the table becomes irrelevant to me.

It is the very same concept I apply when recruiting candidates for Simbutu which is my pet information platform. Since Simbutu is all about pets, the employees I hire should be pet owners or passionate pet lovers themselves. Because as an employee, if you don’t feel connected to the work you are expending time in, then it wouldn’t hold any value to you and if it doesn’t hold any value to you, then you wouldn’t be dedicated in doing what you’re doing.

As Simon Sinek rightfully said to ‘Start with Why’, thanks to this invaluable principle, I can proudly say that I have the best possible teams that are totally dedicated to the platforms they are working in. Since they are passionate about the cause themselves, I can see how it has translated into more efficient results, improved efforts and overall success.

Thank you Simon Sinek for your absolutely amazing tips in your inspiring bestseller!

Suggested Read

  1. Start with why
  2. Find your why

Not everyone right around you.. How to avoid toxic environment?

“People inspire you, or they drain you—pick them wisely.” – Hans F. Hansen

Do you know that old saying about frogs pulling down other frogs to escape a pot of boiling water? As dramatic as this is, this scenario is so true in our lives as well. No matter who you are, there will always be a few people who will try to put you down, make you drown in negativity and force you to doubt yourself. This is what you call ‘toxic people’ and a common rule to go by is to avoid such people whenever and wherever possible.

The quality of your life will always depend on the people you interact with on an everyday basis. Some of them positively influence you while some others can intensify your stress levels and shoot you with negative vibes. According to research from the Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany, it has been concluded that being exposed to stimuli that cause negative emotions can trigger a huge stress response is this is precisely what happens when you’re around toxic people.

Talking about toxic people, who are they and how do you know if you’re surrounded by them? Read the below signs to see if you have toxic people in your life and if that happens to be the case, then carry on reading to know how to deal with such people.

How to recognize toxic people

  1. They cause you to be emotionally affected by their drama and no matter what the situation is, they leave a very negative influence on you when talking about people, situations, etc.
  2. You hate being around them and feel as though you’re stressed around their presence.
  3. You feel insecure and lack self confidence around them.
  4. You feel utterly exhausted when you’re around them or feel angry after your interaction with them
  5. You find yourself in a recurring cycle of trying to fix, rescue or care for them.

So, what can a toxic person do?

  1. They speak negatively about people all the time
  2. They will probably bad mouth about you to others
  3. They will criticize you in front of others
  4. They will play no role in your success
  5. They will trigger your mind against other people
  6. They will expend all their energy in complaining

Phew, these people are a handful, aren’t they? Which brings us to the grand and most important question –

How to avoid and deal with toxic people?

  1. Do not expect them to change – Toxic people are usually motivated by they own complex problems and they generally don’t care about how their behaviour affects others. So, expecting them to change is easier said than done. You can’t force toxic people to change and when you accept the fact that they are not willing to change, it becomes easier on you to let them go.
  2. Maintain boundaries – Toxic people have the power to drain you emotionally by constantly making you feel insecure, leading you to compromise and please them. This can be extremely exhausting and intolerable so when you start sensing anything like this, enforce some personal mental boundaries for yourself so you don’t end up draining unwanted energy on them.
  3. Don’t allow yourself to be pulled into crises – Toxic people can make it seems as though they need you when they find themselves in a crisis.They could even deliberately create drama to attract attention and manipulate others so keep this in mind. Don’t allow yourself to be pulled into their crises.
  4. Focus on the solution – Toxic people will make you feel angry, confused and sad but if you focus on this, you would end up being miserable yourself. Rather, turn your attention to clearing up the emotional challenges you’re facing without dwelling too much over it.
  5. Your weaknesses and difficulties should be yours alone – A toxic person can exploit your flaws and use it against you. You can avoid this from happening by learning to accept your weaknesses and by committing yourself to self-improvement. This way, even when a toxic person tries to highlight your flaws, you wouldn’t be manipulated by it.
  6. Know how to resist – When they feel ignored, toxic people will end up throwing tantrums. When this happens, don’t give in but remind yourself to resist as this will teach them that their old tactics will no longer work with you.
  7. Be wise in choosing your battles – Fights with toxic people requires tons of time and energy. It’s easy to be instigated but choose your battles wisely and save your energy and focus on building relationships that are genuinely healthy for you.
  8. Surround yourself with positive people – Removing toxic people from your life can be painful if they happen to be people you care about in some way. So to allow you to cope with that, be sure to build relationships with those who make you feel loved, happy and safe.

Likability is the art of business networking

Life is all about the relationships that we build with those around us, be it on a personal or business level. This relationship is what helps develop or weaken our network with others. A quote sums this up perfectly – “Our net worth depends not in the wealth we have but the network we have” – and there’s a lot to learn from this. If you reflect on this, it’s easy to understand that networking is basically the way we forge new relationships and finally, it comes down to liking someone or making them like you.

Similarly, business networking is all about cultivating and nurturing relationships. The goal isn’t to connect with others for short term results; rather, the focus should be to build trust and attain mutual benefits through stable, long-term relationships.

From what I have learned, there is a golden rule when it comes to networking and this is in the way you interact with others during any networking event. In such a gathering, try to recognize what people tend to like, identify the characteristics and specialties of the people you meet and learn more about those around you by observing them. While likeability differs from person to person, the basic rule remains pretty much the same. If you want to become a smart networker, then you should make people like you. It’s just that simple.

Or is it?

There are some basic aspects of likeability that can be condensed into a few observations and I’ll be discussing them here:

To be authentic, you have to be focus on simplicity. 

You can never get people to like you if you aren’t true to yourself. If you want to be likeable, you should be genuine and treat people with the same attitude. Learn to help people and approach them without any biases. While everyone will obviously have their own attitudes, beliefs and ideologies, be sure to maintain your own authenticity. Don’t try to be what you’re not – just be who you are.

“The beauty of the law of authenticity is in its simplicity: Don’t try, just be”.

If you can’t be authentic, don’t be there

We have all faced situations where we just had to go to an event although we genuinely didn’t want to. So if you find yourself in a similar spot, then it’s better that you skip such events where you fell you can’t be authentic. A person’s authenticity will become visible when you make choices that you want to or not when you make forced choices. Being genuine is the only way to build meaningful relationships with others.

Consistency and confidence in communication

Let’s face it – talking to something who is fake just makes you want to walk out of the conversation and this is true to everyone. When the body language is not in sync with the words, then it’s hard for others to listen to you. As far as networking is concerned, there are three aspects which will make you more likeable to others. This is also known as the three Vs:

  1. Verbal – The choice of words
  2. Vocal – The tone of your voice
  3. Visual – Your body language

Always remembers these three Vs whenever you’re communicating with anyone. Maintain the same message across your words, tone and body language and this will make you a more genuine individual inside out.

Psychologists have backed this up too. Albert Mehrabian, a psychologist says that a person will like another individual based on 7% verbal, 38% vocal and 55% visual. This naturally means that your choice of words will have no effect if your speech is not backed up with a pleasing tone and body language.

The bottom line is that ‘It’s not in what you say but in howyou say it’.

Being curious is good and asking questions helps maintain good conversations 

Picking up a conversation with a total stranger can be frightful for many people. Even when the silence might feel deafening, we avoid talking if we don’t know what to talk or out of fear of saying something stupid. So if you don’t know what to say but want to break the ice, then show some genuine curiosity about another person in a healthy way.

Asking something about his/her interests, hobbies, likes and so on is a wonderful way to get started on a conversation. However, bear in mind that the effectiveness of your conversation will depend largely on the type of questions you ask. There are two ways of asking:

  1. Asking open ended questions
  2. Asking probing questions

Open ended questions are a great way of starting a conversation. For example, if you’re attending a training program, you could simply ask the person sitting beside you, “Hey, how did you get to know about this program?” This will encourage the other person to give you a response and build a conversation.

On the other hand, if you ask the person sitting next to you, “Did you get to know about this event on the newspapers?”, then he/she would simply say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ and that would be the end of it. So if you want to hold a conversation, stick to asking open ended questions.

As far as probing questions are concerned, this makes for great follow-ups to the questions you have asked previously. This falls into three categories:

  1. Clarifying questions. For example, “Do you mean….?”
  2. Rational questions. For example, “I’m curious as to why you think that ….?”
  3. Expansion probes. For example, “Please elaborate….

You see, curiosity may have killed the cat, but I can tell it never killed a conversation!

Good conversation is about being a good listener

When speaking about having a conversation, we tend to think about what we should talk most the time. But did you know that having good listening skills can enhance conversations too? As far as business networking is concerned, there are three levels of listening:

  1. Inward listening- This is the basic level of listening where you listen to what the other person says and relate that to your own experience. For instance, if a person tells you, “I love Indian food”, you may answer “Me too!” or “I actually prefer Chinese”.
  2. Outward listening- This is where you relate what you hear to what you know about that particular subject. For example, if someone tells you “I love Indian food”, you could respond by saying, “That’s interesting. Why do you like it? Did you go to any good Indian place recently?” This way, you can hold a prolonged conversation and get to know about the other person’s likes, interests and perspectives.
  3. Intuitive listening- This focuses on not only the words but also the tone, voice, body language and even the energy. When someone tells you that he/she loves Indian food, you could reply in an enthusiastic or genuinely curious way by saying, “You really seem to love it! Thinking of maybe visiting India to try more of their awesome food?

Elaborate on similarities

As social beings, we humans are naturally comforted by what we know and finding similar subjects of interest to talk about will make your partner more comfortable with you. This will enhance their likeability and increase their comfort level with you. This way, the conversation flows without any difficulty.