Shadow Side of Leadership…

A Great Book by Lolly Daskal

by Jesse Lyn Stoner 

Once you’ve been in a leadership role for awhile, you develop a leadership style;that is comfortable. You begin to relax in that role, feeling you are at the top of the learning curve and confident that you know how to be a leader.

Beware! This is the slipperiest spot on the slope. You can get lulled into a complacency that will eventually be your undoing.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Lolly Daskal, executive coach and author of the new book The Leadership Gap. According to Lolly, “A problem that all high performers face sooner or later is that what once worked to propel their rise stops working. The very same traits that once worked for them start to work against them.”

When you overuse a strength, you tap into its shadow. – Lolly Daskal

Carl Jung is famous for formulating the concept of the shadow, the aspects of our personality we hold in the darkness of our unconscious. Our shadows are what we refuse to acknowledge about ourselves – the parts of ourselves we’re not proud of, the thoughts and feelings we don’t want others to know about . . . that we ourselves don’t want to know about.

“Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less [aware of it he is], the blacker and denser it is.” (Carl Jung, Wikipedia)

Unexamined and unacknowledged, your shadow exerts unconscious control over your thoughts, emotions, choices, and actions. “It forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions,” according to Jung. “That which we do not bring to consciousness appears in our lives as fate.”

Your Shadow Side of Leadership

“All of us try to do good work. We don’t show up at work and say we want to be deceivers or manipulators,” says Lolly Daskal. What happens is our shadow gets triggered, often without even realizing it. Our shadows make us feel unworthy, and we take action to cover them up.

According to Jung, often we project the problems we created through our shadow outward onto others, blaming them for the very thing we are responsible for.

Unmask your shadows to take away their power over you. – Lolly Daskal

According to Lolly Daskal, “our shadows mask our greatness and don’t allow us to stand in the light.”

Embracing your shadows can be a huge relief. You don’t have to pretend to always know the answer, or always be competent, or always be compassionate, or always be happy. You can stop propping up whatever false image you are trying to project.

You can acknowledge your “darker” side without being afraid of it. It doesn’t mean you will start acting out your dark side. Just because you have a feeling or a desire, doesn’t mean you need to take action on it. Adults have the ability to make rational decisions about what they will say or do.

Begin by acknowledging the parts of your personality you want to hide or keep secret. When you begin to feel fear, shame, or unworthiness, don’t push those feelings away immediately. Take a moment to consider what they are keeping you from seeing, thinking or doing.

When you acknowledge your shadows, you become more humane, more approachable, and more connected.

You are better prepared to grapple with the reality that life is not “all or nothing.” You end up with true humility.

. . . These are the key ingredients to being a truly great leader.

This post is inspired by my friend and colleague Lolly Daskal’s brillant new book The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness. Lolly explains the seven archetypes of leadership and the risk to greatness that lurks in the shadow of each. And she provides real-life examples of leaders who embody these archetypes. I read it, I love it, I recommend it!

Visit www.LollyDaskal.com to learn more about Lolly and her work. You can order a copy of The Leadership Gap at Amazon or anywhere books are sold.

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Wipro sacks at least 600 employees after performance appraisal

Wipro has shown the door to about 600 employees, while speculation was rife that the number could go as high as 2,000.

The country’s third largest software services firm Wipro is learnt to have fired hundreds of employees as part of its annual “performance appraisal”.

According to sources, Wipro has shown the door to about 600 employees, while speculation was rife that the number could go as high as 2,000.

At the end of December 2016, the Bengaluru-based company had over 1.79 lakh employees.

When contacted, Wipro said it undertakes a “rigorous performance appraisal process” on a regular basis to align its workforce with business objectives, strategic priorities of the company, and client requirements.

“The performance appraisal may also lead to the separation of some employees from the company and these numbers vary from year to year,” it added.

The company, however, did not comment on the number of employees that have been asked to leave.

Wipro said its comprehensive performance evaluation process includes mentoring, re-training and upskilling of employees. The company is scheduled to report its fourth quarter and full-year numbers on April 25.

The development comes at a time when Indian IT companies are facing an uncertain environment given the curbs being proposed on worker visa norms by various countries like the US, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

These companies use temporary work visas to send employees to work on client sites.

With visa programmes in these countries becoming more rigorous, Indian IT companies are likely to face challenges in movement of labour as well as a spike in operational costs.

Indian IT companies get over 60% of their revenues from the North American market, about 20 per cent from Europe and the remaining from other economies.

Besides, higher adoption of technologies like automation and artificial intelligence is also reducing the need to have a large number of employees at client site.

Beware of Loan Sharks!!

Kiran was worrying about affording New Honda Activa she wished to present for her two young girls, Aarti 16 and Aashi 15. She was 30,000 short when she spotted an advert in her local paper for unsecured loans and believing it was a legitimate company who could help tide her over, she decided to call the number.

A man answered, and told her he would be able to lend her 30K, but it would need to be secured on something. He came to her home and took her passport, explaining that this would be returned once she had repaid in full. He explained that she would need to repay with 10% interest on outstanding and a part of Principal amount per month. She never knew that 7.5% compound interest would be applied on unpaid interest if it is not paid monthly.

She knew this was steep but she was desperate and believed she would be able to pay back within a few months with her wages from working in a shop. Three months later, Kiran fell ill and was unable to work. As a result of this she defaulted on a couple of payments. She was resting at home with her young daughters when the loan shark barged in with two other men, demanding to know why she hadn’t paid. They pulled electrical items out of her living room, claiming the loan was secured against these.

Kiran was terrified, “There was nowhere to go. I wasn’t even safe in my own house. I was screaming, crying, pleading with him not take my stuff. To think that my girls had to see that…” A few days later she received a note from the loan shark through her door, to tell her that an extra Rs. 5000 had been added to the debt for the ‘bailiff’ visit. From that point onwards, she paid the loan shark religiously, retaining the post office slips as proof of payment. However the loan shark still appeared at her door alleging that she’d missed payments. He would turn up late at night and on one occasion Kiran had to hide as he tried to climb in through her kitchen window. For every visit he would add an extra charge of Rs. 3000 to Rs. 6000. This continued for 5 years, with Kiran paying back around Rs. 2,52,000 on the loan of Rs. 30,000. No, you are not reading a fiction, it is a big bad reality that Money Lenders operate, and lend money to needy at 10 to 20% interest, which becomes endless cycle of torment for borrower.

What is a loan shark?

Loan sharks are illegal money lenders operating without authorisation from the ASSOCHAM. By lending without a licence they’re committing a serious criminal offence, and should be avoided at all costs. Loan sharks often charge an extremely high rate of interest, and use intimidation or threats of violence to pressure their ‘customers’ into paying up. They usually target struggling families; the unemployed, single mothers, or people with limited ways of obtaining money when they need it.

Why are loan sharks a bad idea?

Aside from being dangerous, loan sharks can be very cunning, knowing exactly what to say in order to win a person’s trust. They can seem friendly and charming at first, often introducing themselvesas ‘a friend of a friend’ who heard you were struggling. They can be hazy with the details, glossing over things such as the interest they’ll expect or the lack of paperwork they’re carrying. It can be tempting to fall for a loan shark’s Good Samaritan act, but don’t. That charm will disappear overnight.

Today, all the banks are offering Personal Loans, Vehicle Loans at very nominal rate of interest i.e. 8.5% P.A. So, you must choose a bank for your purpose rather than giving a token to lender in terms of rob you regularily.
(Author is an Export Entrepreneur)

Does Winner take all the World?

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—by Shabab Khan


September, 2014, after investing in a ride-sharing company called Sidecar, Richard Branson declared that it was “early days and, like a lot of other commodity businesses, there is room for innovators on great customer experiences.” He added that he was not putting his money into a “winner-takes-all market.”

Lots of ride-sharing companies, he was arguing, would survive and thrive. Yesterday, though, a mere fifteen months later, Sidecar’s co-founder and chief executive, Sunil Paul, announced that the company is turning off its ignition. As someone who has felt, first-hand, the agony of shuttering the doors of his startup, I feel Paul’s pain. But I want to focus on what Branson, a self-made billionaire, who is more often right than wrong, said about ride-sharing not brings “winner-takes-all” market. What Branson says is generally true for companies that sell analog products, such as packaged goods or soda, or analog services, such as air travel.

Coke isn’t going to drive Pepsi out of business, and Toyota isn’t going to eliminate Honda. But in today’s Internet-always-on world, that maxim increasingly doesn’t hold true. Most competition in Silicon Valley now heads toward there being one monopolistic winner. And that is why it is hard not to see that, right now, the only competition that matters in ride-sharing is between the two largest companies: Uber and Lyft.

In the course of nearly two decades of closely following (and writing about) Silicon Valley, I have seen products and markets go through three distinct phases. The first is when there is a new idea, product, service, or technology dreamed up by a clever person or group of people. For a brief while, that idea becomes popular, which leads to the emergence of dozens of imitators, funded in part by the venture community. Most of these companies die. When the dust settles, there are one or two or three players left standing. Rarely do you end up with true competition.

In 1998, when Google was born, search was a competitive market with one clear leader, Yahoo, which had identified the need for a Web directory. Others, such as Infoseek, Lycos, and Excite, were falling behind. So the only way to beat Yahoo’s old, directory-style search was to do something different. That’s exactly what the Google co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, did. They correctly identified that the Web was going to grow exponentially, in size, scope, and usage. It would need a new, faster, simpler search engine that would update as quickly as the Web itself. And they would make it super fast—the faster you received results when you typed in a query, the more likely you were to search again. It was a perfect behavior for a world that was going slowly from dial-up Internet to always-on broadband connections. Of course, to make this happen, they would need to build and own their own infrastructure, from networks to data centers to servers.

As Google started to grow, its new, more algorithmic approach to search attracted new competitors— Simpli, Dogpile, Northern Light, and Direct Hit are some of the doomed companies that came out around that time. Another was a company called Power set, which ended up getting acquired by Microsoft and eventually became a core part of what is now Microsoft Bing, which currently runs a distant second in the search-engine sweepstakes.

Looking back, Google’s success came from the fortuitous timing of being born at the cusp of the broadband age. But it also came about because of the new reality of the Internet: a lot of services were going to be algorithmic, and owning your own infrastructure would be a key advantage. The infrastructure— networks, storage, and computers— allowed Google to crawl the Web and rank the results cheaply. As Google got more money, it built better infrastructure, which allowed the company to serve up results more and more quickly, in the process training of people to use Google whenever they wanted to search. The more people searched, the more data they gave Google to make its index better, smarter, faster, and, eventually, more personal.

In short: as Google got bigger, it got better, which made it bigger still. Google is a winner that has taken it all.

This loop of algorithms, infrastructure, and data is potent. Add what are called network effects to the mix, and you start to see virtual monopolies emerge almost overnight. A network effect occurs when the value of a product or service goes up with the number of people using it. The Ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe called it Metcalfe’s Law. Telephone services, eBay, and Skype are good examples of the network effects at work. The more people who are on Skype, the more people you can call, and thus the more likely it is that someone will join. While in the early days of networks, growth was limited by slowness and cost at numerous points— expensive telephone connections, computers that crashed, browsers that didn’t work—the rise of the smartphone has essentially changed all that.

Facebook, which historically was one of the main beneficiaries of network effects (a social network becomes more valuable to you as more of your friends join it) has grown from two hundred million users to 1.2 billion in the past seven years, as phones have become the primary devices we use to get online. And that’s not the only way that Facebook has created a near monopoly in social networking. In the past decade, it has ramped up spending on new data centers, hired a lot more engineers, and turned its news feed into a powerful algorithm. The more we use it, the more data we give the company, and the more it is able to control where we turn our attention.

The company has more than a billion users around the world, and it has figured out how to become a dominant source of our mobile addiction. Facebook, thanks to this loop of algorithms, infrastructure, money,and data, is a winner-takes-all company.

Twitter is a distant second in the social web, about a fourth of the size of its rival down Highway 101. And now Uber is building this tight loop of algorithms, infrastructure, and data, too. In June, 2014, in a column for Fast Company magazine, I pointed out that Google and Uber aren’t very different. Broadband was Google’s sun god; the smartphone is Uber’s.

If serving up instant search results was Google’s goal, then Uber’s is to reduce the time to curb, or how long it takes for you to open an app, order a car, and have it arrive. The faster the car gets there, the less likely you are to think about Lyft or Flywheel or anyone else. So far, it’s become pretty fast, which is why you probably never thought about Sidecar.

Uber has also learned from Facebook: raise a lot of money and use it as a competitive advantage. Because Uber has raised about twelve billion dollars from investors, it has been able to flood markets around the world with Ubers. The more Ubers on the road, the more people are likely to use them. The faster they arrive to pick us up, the more we will forget about other modes of transportation. And the more we use them, the more data we give to Uber, which can then tweak their algorithms to optimize fleet usage and traffic routes. You start to see why food delivery and courier services are now part of Uber’s recent experiments. What was, at one time, an idea for an app to hail limousines for party-goers is now a company that is reimagining all kinds of transportation.

Meanwhile, Amazon has run away with online retail, leaving everyone else to fight over scraps. Microsoft, even today, controls the office-productivity business. Eight years into the smartphone boom, Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS are the two dominant players, and even in chips it is still Intel and some others. There are two companies that dominate the public cloud— Amazon, followed by Microsoft’s Azure. Google’s G.C.E. is a distant third.

There are some competitive markets, such as mobile payments, where Square, PayPal, Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay, and Walmart Pay are some of the bigger players. But, if I were a betting person, I’d wager that this, too, will become a battle between two or three companies. Perhaps that is why it isn’t a surprise that Sidecar is part of the growing shakeout in the ride-sharing industry. We have seen companies such as RidePal and Leap Transit go under already. And we will see more failures on this road to transportation reinvention— after all, this is part of the technology cycle.

Google, Facebook, and, perhaps, Uber are indicators of something bigger: in our connected age, data, infrastructure, and algorithms give companies a distinct advantage. With all due respect to Branson, it is a winner-takes-all world.

SRK Inspired IIM Alumni ‘be a Dilwale’

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He sang, he delivered his signature wittiest dialogue and he, the Badshah colored every hard-nosed corporate honcho at the IIM Bangalore’s first-ever alumni meet — IIMBUE’s Leadership Summit — in Bengaluru on Friday.

— Shabab Khan

Shah Rukh Khan, the King of Bollywood, did what he does best and entertained the houseful audience with his brand of leadership lessons in his trademark style and sense of humour.

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Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson, Board of Governors, IIMB, hands over a memento to Shah Rukh Khan at IIMBUE – IIMB Alumni Leadership Summit.

He began his talk on creative leadership with a popular joke that alluded to the street smartness that the learned audience may have missed out in their quest for knowledge.

Here are nine points from Shah Rukh Khan’s talk that touched upon his life lessons that managers could do well to take to the boardrooms:

Leaders are able to assimilate their experiences in order to reframe the world around them in their own terms. They use the very structure of life to dismantle it. They are not afraid to question, to imagine, to dream, and most importantly to believe.

They are also not afraid to act, even if their actions may not result in success— Being a public figure, my actions are constantly questioned, reviewed, and distorted. I get it all but whenever I feel thwarted I sing this song, “hum to acting karega, duniya se nahi darega…” so do not stop to act. Action is everything. Dreaming is not enough. You need to dismantle the old, the frameworks that are laid out before you, the ideas that you cling to, the ones that hold you back and prevent you from growing. It is by disassembling your fears of failing and losing not just things, but people and positions, your jobs and most of all change that, that you can be truly creative.

I meet many successful people in the world of business and while their ideas are very clear, the way they speak of them is oddly dispassionate. The madness and passion are missing— I get the sad impression that business often becomes numerical… it is only about millions and targets. It is so goal driven that there is a stark loss of inspiration from it. I think the emphasis on organisational goals and efficiencies has clouded the poetry of creating. It is difficult for me to relate to this starkness. I feel it lacks life. Creation cannot be a managerial concept, it has to be an ‘imaginarial’ concept.To lead means to inspire.

You cannot inspire people mechanically or through statistics or numbers unless they are stock brokers or bankers (with due respect). Inspiration is an emotional construct… to make people believe in anything whether it is a product or an idea or even you yourself, you need to connect the ability to imagine and dream. You cannot create within a box… it is an open process, one that is welcoming and even wild at times.

I have never set goals. I have never set out to earn a particular amount, or to count the crores at the box office, or compare my work with another. In fact, I would go as far to say quantifiable goals are indeed illusions, and the only reality is actually hard work. Making the mistake of believing that your dreams will take flight without having to flap madly at those wings is silly. Every single moment requires diligence. Life remains ordinary if you are unable to sustain the capacity to work hard on your dreams.

Leadership implies being prepared for disaster also. And it will hit you. It could come as a failure maybe or taking someone away you love. So what will you do about it? Wallow in self-pity? I do that often. But I do it in my huge golden bathroom between the jacuzzi and the steam room. I shed huge tears of self-pity but when I walk out wearing my limited edition cologne that helps. I am ready to embrace disaster. So little bit of crying and wallowing is ok. But the thing to understand is you have to accept it. Change your perspective, do a handstand and rebuild yourself that is what leadership is about.

A perfect life, according to me, is a farce. There is no perfect life. Actually, there is nothing more beautiful than the imperfections of life. In my trade, life serves as a fertile ground for innovation and ideas. We use its imperfections every moment. In fact, there is nothing that allows us to live better than trouble, so why not embrace it. And while we are embracing let’s embrace destiny too, and in my case, I’ll embrace Kajol, Madhuri, and Alia too. And guys whichever company you join or create you will not get these perks, so ha ha.Destiny isn’t what it’s rolled out to be either. Accidents happen. I am a living example of accidents — movie star/entrepreneur/speaker at IIM gathering. I wanted to be a sportsman. I hurt my back but did not have the resources to get proper treatment. So I joined a theatre group to overcome my sadness. My father died suddenly and we were evicted from our rented house and mother went looking for a smaller house. The property dealer’s father-in-law was making a TV serial, ‘Fauji’.

My mother sent me to him and I got the part of Abhimanyu Singh and things got haywire from there. Incidentally, we never took the house from the dealer.

Destiny plays a part, yes. No one can teach us either how to fight it or chase it. Just like a disaster, it will come your way. But if you don’t have the courage to ride its waves when it comes it will toss you right on the beach and all you will be left with is a sunset of a tired and weary life. So keep your eyes open for life’s magic.

Unless you live by the heart, unless you are a Dilwale none of this will translate into a splendor that life is capable of unfolding before you. The mind is the seed of creativity, the heart is the soil. The seed cannot grow without an open heart. To take everyone together with as much goodwill for them as you have for yourself is the basis of all creative endeavour, of all real success, of all happiness, and true leadership.



(Author is an Export Entrepreneur, Journalist, and Social Activist)

Input Credit: Dipti Nair, Bangalore

Elitism Has Now Nowhere to Hide!!

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Shabab Khan| Delhi | Special Edition | Friday, Dec 12, 2015


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“. . . Odd-Even Rotation is, though not a successful formula we can, yet, give it a try. Just make sure traffic police do not encash even oddities. . . ”

I am very proud of the Indian elite. We may largely fail at everything else, but we are world-beaters in terms of self-pitying outrage.

First: a word about the “elite”. You, sir or madam, are a member of the elite. Please do not call yourself middle class. By no logical, ethical or mathematical principle can the top few percentiles of a country in terms of income call itself middle class. If you still try and do so, you are being dishonest.

Yes, if the Delhi government’s odd-even car regulation affects you, then you’re certainly a member of the elite. Only 10-11 per cent of Delhi, the richest state in India, drives to work in a car or van, according to the 2011 Census. Let’s just put that out there.

Second, on the facts: first, Delhi has the worst air in the world. We know this, as also the fact that poor air quality spikes in wintertime.

Second, in spite of rampant disinformation that number plate-based road rationing “has not worked anywhere”, pretty much everywhere it has been tried as a temporary measure has shown a 17-20 per cent drop in pollution.

Third, in spite of more rampant disinformation that cars don’t really count towards pollution in Delhi, most reliable independent studies show they do – between 50 and 80 per cent.

And yet Delhi’s elite is terrified at the prospect of having a spot of car trouble for a fortnight just in order to live a little longer thanks to cleaner air. It is outrageous to ask us to live for seven days like the other 90 per cent of our fellow-citizens! Outrageous to suggest we walk or take a cycle-rickshaw to a crowded metro station, like the real middle class! Tyrannical to make us pay a few hundred rupees for a taxi during a public health emergency!

Only the Indian elite would rather not breathe than be ordinary.

What deep cultural neuroses underline this panic at dealing with regular people’s realities? I can’t help thinking that our cultural attitude to public transport mirrors our attitude to public spaces, and arises from the same space. An odd characteristic of India is the startling contrast between its particularly pure private and domestic spaces – and its completely uncared-for public spaces.

Why is this? Perhaps because we have one of the most fragmented societies in the world, and always have half; solidarity, under these circumstances, is particularly difficult to build. And a certain degree of solidarity is essential for anything “public” to be effective – public goods, public spaces, public transport, public discourse.

In this case, we have a particularly amusing problem. The elite can secede from dug-up pavement, from sewage in drinking water, from litter-strewn public parks, from inadequate policing. But it cannot secede from murderous air.

Or can it? Certainly, one truly extraordinary statement of our cultural biases is that most people seem more willing to pay thousands of rupees for air purifiers for every room than to deal with road rationing for a few weeks. If the electricity goes off, no worries! The diesel gen-set will kick in, spewing more fumes into the air. This is my right; and it is a problem only for those with neither air purifiers nor electricity.

Some have claimed that it isn’t fair to talk about elitism in this context. After all, the concerns being expressed are just the same as anyone would have about commuting – the safety, the crowds, the difficulty. This is, in many ways, the most puzzling argument yet. It seems almost painfully clear that expecting money and status would insulate you from the problems that everyone else faces is the very definition of elitism.

Cultural biases blind you to data. It means that nobody is interested in the undeniable facts that I laid out above – that road rationing has been shown to work, that car commuters are a tiny upper crust, that cars are undeniably responsible for Delhi pollution. Similarly, cultural biases against solidarity means that nobody was interested in the undeniable fact that far more people benefited from a working bus rapid transit system than were hurt. Studies of commuters at the time showed that between 80 to 90 per cent of them approved of the BRT corridor; but the noise that the 10 per cent creates is too loud and privileged for the others to be heard.

There are other debates, too, where cultural biases against solidarity blind us to facts or logic; for example, the idea that a “creamy layer” of reserved-quota applicants take coveted college seats away from general-class applicants. When economists examined the question rigorously, they found quota applicants offered seats in the engineering entrance exam they studied had, in fact, family incomes much lower – 60 per cent of – the family income of those general-category students who would otherwise have been admitted. Creamy indeed.

Nor is this blindness a Delhi problem. It’s an India problem. Of the world’s 20 most polluted towns, 13 are in India. And most of the others are in Pakistan and Bangladesh, a moving reminder of our common cultural characteristics.

But this doesn’t matter. Our ñwhiny “middle class” would rather have sewage in their water, cancer in their air and death on their roads than ever accept that they share the earth they walk on with other, lesser breeds of human.


Twitter: @khantastix
Instagram: @iamshababkhan
toiskvns@gmail.com



(Author is an Export Entrepreneur, Journalist, and Social Activist)
Twitter: @Khantastix

Maths Before Buying a TV Set…

TV SET: Buyer’s Guide

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“. . . to buy a smart TV Set you need to understand which set is most suitable for you. . .”

— Shabab Khan
toiskvns@gmail.com

With the advent of HD, 4K, Wireless Connectivity HDMI Ports you don’t wanna go out, now for a TV, get out a tape measure and do some quick calculations before you head to the store. And count the number of gadgets you’ll want to connect to your screen.

Buying a TV is no longer just choosing how big a screen you want.

Here are some big decisions you’ll face:

HD OR 4K?
There’s an emerging picture standard that offers four times the pixels of today’s high definition. It’s known as ultra-high definition , or 4K. But do you need it?

Measure the distance between your couch and the spot for your new TV. If you’re sitting far away, a regular HD set will be just fine – for $100 to $200 less.

The farther away you sit, the less the extra pixels matter, as your eyes won’t notice the difference. Conversely, the bigger the screen you have, the worse the resolution will be, and you’ll notice that more when you’re closer up.

How good is good enough?
A rough rule of thumb: You should sit back a little more than 1.5 times the diagonal length of the screen for TVs with full HD, also known as 1080p. So if a screen is 48 inches, or 4 feet, that’s 6 feet back. For 4K, it’s one to one, or 4 feet for that same screen. If your couch is 7 feet back, having 4K isn’t worth it because you won’t be able to tell the difference anyway. But it might if your couch is 4 or 5 feet back.

The calculation isn’t that easy, but we’ve created this online tool to help you: Calcu Caro

Also consider how little 4K content there is. A few streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon and M-Go, offer some 4K content, and a standard for 4K Blu-ray discs is coming together this year. But 4K broadcasts are potentially years away. Buying a 4K TV now is mostly about being ready for the future.

You also have to consider whether you’ll be sitting so close to a big screen that you’ll have to move your head to look left or right. Jim Willcox, senior editor at Consumer Reports, says the ideal viewing width is about 30 to 40 degrees. Our online tool will warn you if you are too close and might want a smaller screen instead.

HDMI PORTS:
The more the merrier. TVs will have at least two, but I recommend three or four. If you pay for cable or satellite TV, you’ll need one for your set-top box, then one more for a streaming device or Blu-ray player. If you want to add a game console or sound bar, you see how quickly they can fill up.

Switches that let you connect multiple HDMI devices sell for $9 to $30, but that could mean another remote control to fiddle with, or getting up to press a button. Better to get extra ports with your TV.

SMART TV/WI-FI:
Many TVs come with Wi-Fi connectivity and apps from major services like Netflix and Hulu. Using this for streaming will save you an HDMI port.
But stand-alone streaming devices have more features. If voice control is your thing, for instance, go for more ports to plug in your Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or other device. Some TVs have voice control, but Apple’s Siri will be better at recognizing your voice because it gets fine-tuned through millions of interactions on smartphones.

If you plan to use a smart TV for streaming, consider the type of Wi-Fi it comes with. The best right now is 802.11ac, which can deliver several gigabits per second of data. You’ll want the best, especially for 4K video.

REFRESH RATE:
Manufacturers fudge how fast images are refreshed on screen with technologies called “AquoMotion” or “Motionflow” that show “effective” refresh rates. These help smooth out fast-action scenes that might otherwise look stuttered or blurry. It’s largely a matter of taste and personal sensitivity. The minimum native refresh rate you’ll see these days is 60 frames per second, or 60Hz. The most is around 120 Hz.

Steve Kindig, senior editor at electronics retailer Crutchfield.com, says that even though 60 frames per second is the highest that will come from Blu-ray discs or video games, higher rates on a TV will still cut down on blur. Either the TV’s processor will interpolate frames between each actual frame, or the backlight will blink, reducing the stutter. He says to play down effective refresh rates that are wildly higher than the native, though “it’s not totally bunk because they are doing something.”

Consumer Reports rates specific models with blur tests, but doesn’t generalize about brands or numbers.

OTHER SCREEN FEATURES:
Curved screens just look cool sitting on a stand, and some people say it cuts down on reflective glare, according to Kindig. They’re about $200 more than non-curved screens and mostly made by Samsung. But he says they don’t look good mounted on a wall.

Organic light-emitting diode screens are pricey, but will give you true blacks and better color representation because each pixel illuminates on its own. Regular, LCD screens require a backlight, which can wash out the colors a bit. If you’re willing to pay for OLED, you’ll likely get every other goodie thrown in besides 4K.

More expensive sets might also offer 3-D. “Active” glasses require batteries, which add to the weight and trouble of wearing them, but will offer better resolution. “Passive” glasses, like the ones you get in movie theaters, will suffice for those few times you want to settle in for a 3-D movie, likely on disc. Content is still limited.

So, here it was technicalities, sellers usually don’t tell you for they want you to buy a set they get better profit margin on. Its up to you now to let them befool you or simply stay smart by questioning like you have just read above.


©Author is an Export Entrepreneur, Journalist and Social Activist.
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