Posted in Questions by Harsha on November 29, 2007

Why are SO many people searching for “fire experiments” and then coming to my blog?

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Name Experiment – 2

Posted in New, Roadtrip by Harsha on November 28, 2007

This is always an interesting experiment for me. To address someone by name and see the reaction. We all lead fairly anonymous lives already, so a little recognition seems to go a long way. And it did seem to go so for Dante.

Dante is a bellboy we met while staying at the Hilton in the Historic District in Savannah, GA on our recent road trip. We checked in at around 9pm after a 6 hour drive from Atlanta. As we pulled up to the curb, no one came out immediately to greet us (I’m going to review each place we stayed in later posts).

Then this guy walks out of the hotel pretty casually, has a “yeah, whatever” look and demeanor about him. In a lazy tone, he asked if we’re checking in, the room number and if we wanted to self park or use his services – all short and I-don’t-care-for-your-reply type of questions. Believe me, after a long drive, the last thing you want is someone (who works in the hospitality business) to not care. My wife was livid, but I kept my cool as usual. I tried a couple of jokes with him, no luck. I handed off the keys to him with a tip, and checked in at the front desk. He was doing double duty as the valet and bellboy so he brought our luggage upstairs (with the same attitude at the door).

As he was exiting the hotel room after dropping off our luggage, I walked out with him and asked him for his name. Then I tipped him again and thanked him for helping us. I can tell you, I sensed an instant change in his attitude. Not that he was jumping for joy but it was the tipping point and it was clearly visible to me.

Next day, in the morning as we went down to have him pull our car out, guess what happens? I get a warm handshake from him and cheerfully says, “Let me get your car out for you Mr. Raghavan”. This is after a grueling 8 hour night shift – if you’ve never worked at night, then you will never know how lousy and horrible one feels the next morning.

This experiment is the most interesting and rewarding of experiments that I run. The pay off is instant and usually, exactly opposite of the initial treatment. Sure, I could have made a scene, complained to the manager at the desk only to make his already tough life more miserable. Yet, I took a minute out to empathize, assumed he was doing a good job and tipped him. However, the flip side is it might enforce his broken view of the world even more and not help at all. But that is a risk, I am willing to take. 9 out of 10 times, it goes my way. I am willing to pay that “1 time fee” for the happiness I get 9 other times.

This is a relevant lesson in all walks of business and life. If you want to get your way with someone, then I believe that this is the only route. Either that or you’ve got mafia backing. It does not matter to me if Dante remains positive after he serves me, selfishly I say because I have no control over that aspect of his life. I can only control how he decides to deal with me. Nothing else.

I personally like to deal with a tough situation without blowing my top, because I’ve found that I am paralyzed when I get angry (read my post on Cortisol) and am ineffective. My fight or flight instinct is mostly flight (relevant today as calmly dealing with the situation). We can get our way either by being a total jerk or by being empathetic – I choose the latter. True, there may be cases when the person needs a good dose, but then again, who are we to judge someone else, when that is reserved for their last day on earth? It may also be the case that the person is just a “bad” person (is that even possible?) and nothing can be done about them. I feel that we jump to this conclusion at the very first hint of an initial attitude like Dante’s and the reality is totally different when compared to your view of that person.

To be honest, I am still learning how to execute this experiment perfectly. Most times, I find myself not making eye-contact when I say the server’s name. It is an ongoing process that needs sharpening on my end. But I love this experiment dearly and don’t even think that I will grow weary of it’s results. It is also one of the very first experiments I ran.


Retirement Experiment

Posted in New, Roadtrip by Harsha on November 27, 2007

How do you plan to spend the golden years? Do you have the energy, passion and interest in setting up a bed-and-breakfast inn? Are you (in)sane enough to move out of your home of 30 some years and start anew in a different city?

I’m talking about a couple we met on our road trip. I am back home now after a fun and exhilarating experience traveling and traveling down south.

Patti Pizinger and her husband own the Trinkle Mansion Bed and Breakfast. It is a stunning investment made by a couple seeking to move into the golden years of retirement. They took a run down (nevertheless historical building) and turned it into an opulent, magnificent, grandiose and palatial inn. It pained me to hear that they did everything (with help, obviously) and I’d estimate that they’ve sunk close to $1m in decorations and furniture and at least a $1-$2m on the renovations.


They are like a startup company. Crazy, yet extremely passionate about their retirement dream. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Patti and living in her beautiful home for a night and could not help wonder, what drives a person to such great lengths? Do I have something in my head that I am so passionate about? Clearly, it is her dream to run this place and I can’t speak for her husband since we did not meet him. But when she was describing the place, you could see the excitement in her eyes. They gleamed when she told us the details of the reconstruction.


The vision she had about this place is interesting because she took it from a rundown building that house two attorneys and a couple of apartments


Check out the “Adel” (which is where Patti and her husband are from in Iowa). The pictures are EXACTLY how you will find the room. In fact, the rooms are more beautiful in person. Read more here. Pictures courtesy of

New Blog Experiment

Posted in New by Harsha on October 27, 2007

It is not like I got bored with Typepad. But as you know, status quo is unacceptable to me! My wife has been (struggling) with WordPress for her two blogs My Truth and Ode2Food and there are some interesting features here compared to Typepad. Plus, Typepad charges $4.95 with very rudimentary blog stats and WordPress is so much better.

Some older posts have their format all funky with differing font sizes and unjustified alignment and I apologize for that problem. Going forward, all my fonts will look as good as this one.

Happy blogging!

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