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Posts from — September 2009

Is your health covered? Think again…

The last week has been quite a ride. What with Che getting admitted to be operated for stones, Cuckoo needing to fed 4 times a day and work, I didn’t have time for even a breath. But this post isn’t about my sleepless nights; it’s about making sure you’re covered with company health insurance and trusting the company you work for. This is our story…

We rushed Che after 4 hours of excruciating pain to Apollo ER. A few rounds of painkillers later he was sober enough to discuss further action with his doctor. The doctor recommended surgery; they’d use laser to powder the stones and try to remove whole if possible for analysis. Che was asked to get admitted immediately and they planned to schedule surgery the next day. As the paperwork started we called his company to check on his insurance details. (I am not naming the company or insurance in this post, just in case they think up something to sue me but if you want to know please ask.)

We were given the policy number and told total cover was for 4 lakh. Just before the HR guy hung up he mentioned a limit of Rs.20,000/- for kidney stones. We went ahead and gave this info to the hospital who said it was fine as most insurance companies have small pre-approval limits. As the paperwork was getting sorted we got to know that the OT was not available the next day so they would operate on that day itself. This sounded great as it meant less stay at the hospital so we closed on the paperwork and prepared for surgery. (I shuttled between home to feed and walk Cuckoo and the hospital).

Che was taken into the OT at 6pm and the operation went way beyond the expected 1 ½ hour until almost 9pm. That had me worried for a while until I was told that they had started 45min late. The operation went well and 2 stones were removed, 2 powdered and 2 left to come out on their own. (He had 6 – 2 in each kidney and 2 in the urethra – largest being 6mm and smallest 2mm) He was moved to his room by 12 and I got back home at 1am. (We didn’t stay over as he was in the general ward thanks to hospital running packed).

The next day the doctor came by at about 10:30am and we started discharge procedure. The paperwork was faxed over at 12 noon and the chase started. We started calling the insurance company and checking on progress every 1 hour. At about 3:30pm we called his company to ask them to put some pressure. To our surprise we were told we would be paid only Rs.18,000/- (insurance pays only 80%). When asked they said it’s a capping or limit set. We asked how they thought it possible that an operation, any operation can be done in 20,000. To this we were told that we should have found a hospital that would have done in it in that much. (That means we only could have gone to a Govt. hospital).

So now the company helping us was out; friends said not to worry as it’s the insurance companies call at the end; but then the insurance company declined it 4:30pm. We then approached the hospital to see if they could speak to the insurance company and help us out. The hospital guys checked and came back with an explanation. The insurance company would not pay and nothing could be done. It wasn’t their fault. The company Che worked for had wanted to cut down on premiums hence they had struck a deal with the insurance company and capped or limited payouts for almost everything. This meant low premium. So on paper when joining Che was told he had a 4 lakh cover but in small print is insurance was worth small change. His company had short-changed him; something supremely unethical I think especially since it concerns life.

Anyway the bill exceeded a lakh and Apollo hospital gave us a discount. The insurance company paid 18K and we paid the rest. A big lesson learnt.

This is our story and the reason we wanted to share it is to tell you to please check on your company provided insurance policies. Check the fine print and question it well before you ever need to use it. Don’t assume that you are fully covered and for safety get a personal health insurance too. If you belong to an Indian company double check for tricks. In recession MNC are less likely to cheat employees but then again don’t take my word for it. Check!

Photo Credit: Cartoon Stock

September 29, 2009   No Comments

Using Twitter for promotion – Part 2: How to engage and interest tweeple with your tweets

Tweeple In my last post on How Twitter is like a Newspaper we talked about choosing a target audience for your promotion and researching their needs and wants. But, just posting what they want isn’t enough. It is important to build variety, connect with tweeple, not spam and balance your tweets along with promoting yourself.

Variety

Don’t limit yourself to what you are doing or your area of work, look at how you can build-in variety. For e.g. Apart from tweeting about what Outdoor Corporate Training you are doing, your tweets can be about –

1. tips on outdoor activities
2. your learning from your programs
3. latest developments in your field
4. quotes on the outdoors and training
5. humor based on outdoors
6. good blog posts
7. recommend others who are good in the field

These are some examples but you should not limit yourself to them either. Look at all that your audience would be interested in; and remember that they would also have varied interests.

Connect

Don’t be a robot and just post headings and links. Share information about yourself and what you are doing; but in an interesting manner. People may not be interested in knowing what training session you are doing but they sure would like to know how you overcame a certain challenge.

Follow and watch what tweeple talk about. Reply and start conversations with people. Make your presence felt but tweet meaningfully not just because you have to say something.

Search on twitter with keywords related to your field of expertise and help tweeple out with answers and suggestions.

If you find an interesting tweet or information, retweet it. Passing on information helps your followers and also builds a connection with the person who posted the original tweet. E.g.

RT @devakishor The best tutorial/guide as to how we can use Linkedin http://bit.ly/okko7

Use the ‘@’ symbol not only to reply but to also draw attention and connect. (Read my post on ‘How to use the ‘@’ on twitter to your best advantage’)

Use hashtags to help people find your tweets. Hashtags are just like tags on blogs only add inline to your tweet. To create a hashtag simply place the ‘#’ symbol before a relevant word. E.g. #outdoor

For finding relevant hashtags being used in your field search hashtags.org or what the hashtag ?! – both are hashtag directories.

Use the #FollowFriday hashtag to recommend people. When suggesting people remember to include the reason for recommending them.

Watch your twitter stream for questions or someone asking for help. If you know someone who can help or answer the question make sure to recommend them. Connecting people is a great way to network.

Spam

No one likes to listen to only one person talk in a discussion room. Hence remember tweet but don’t overdo it. If your tweets clog your followers timelines there is a high probability they will unfollow you. I personally think you should tweet between 10-30 times in a day and no more.

If your tweet is not relevant to everyone and just one person – DM (Direct Message) them as there is no point in telling the world about it.

Balance

The last but most important point to remember is to balance your tweets. A good mix of information, answers, replies, retweets and promotion will keep your followers happy and bring you more followers.

I recommend only one promotional tweet in every 10 tweets and about 5-7 retweets in a day. The rest of your tweets can be a mix of information and replies.

How do you twitter? Please share your best practices in comments. Thanks.

September 22, 2009   2 Comments

Using Twitter for promotion – Part 1: Imagine Twitter to be a newspaper…

Twitter's like newspaper It’s not about what you are doing or what you want… Promotion done right is about what your audience wants and needs.

A couple of days earlier a friend asked me how he could use twitter to promote himself and his work. Our long discussion motivated me to write a series about twitter and how to use it right. With no further delay, here’s the first…

Imagine a newspaper. It has headlines, news pieces, editorial, advertisements, etc. All of this gets divided into local, regional, national and international. Another way it gets split is politics, entertainment, sports, finance, etc. There are a lot of sub-divisions in one newspaper.

If you walked down your street in the morning you would see different newspapers lying at your neighbours doorsteps. There are a large variety of newspapers available and people choose their paper based on the kind of news and reporting they are interested in.

Do you see how twitter is like a newspaper? – Its has 140 character headlines with links to more, a variety of tweets depending on the persons interest, self and other advertising and followers who can choose tweeple to follow depending on interest.

So how does a newspaper decide what news they would run and how they would report it? And how do you think they could increase their readership? Newspapers choose news based on the areas they have experts in and what their audience wants. But if they want to increase their viewership they first need to look into what kind of readers they want. After deciding the target audience they need to find out what their new audience wants and deliver.

Twitter works similarly; if you want more followers you need to first list out the kind of audience you want for yourself and your work. Then research the interests of your audience using a tool like Twitter Search to understand their needs.

Now that you know what information to provide to capture interest and give people a reason to follow you, remember that too much information can also turn people off. So my next topic in this series is how much to tweet and how to balance it.

So what do you relate twitter to?

Photo Credit: Xeni

September 15, 2009   3 Comments

Cuckoo: Puppy Power – Training our Puppy

cuckooWe adopted a puppy two weeks ago and from then on it’s been quite eventful and fun. The very first day she jumped of the balcony (we live on the 1st floor), thankfully into the arms of our apartment security guard. We had decided to name her Silk Smitha (after a regional actress) but after the jump we changed her name to Cuckoo – The Bird Brain.

Having a round cute fur-ball of a puppy at home is fun but it’s also frustrating with the increase in chores. Cleaning up after her was not easy in the first week but we have finally managed to have her almost potty trained. A good night’s uninterrupted sleep is yet to happen as we still wake up to her chewing our hands, feet or faces. Her chewing maybe fun for her as she’s teething but it is pretty painful when you feel her teeth on your flesh.

Ok am going to stop complaining because all said and done I love her. So why the post you ask? Well, these issues must be sorted, so I started doing some research and here are some helpful websites and videos I found. So, this post is to help all other puppy people :)

DogTrainingClassroom.Com – A comprehensive site that covers almost all questions you have. Its has good detailed information on how to train, training mistakes, behaviour problems, potty training, obedience training, games, etc. They also have a newsletter and recommend some books.

I found Melanie McLeroy’s videos and tried them. They are really helpful so here are a few I watched –
Teach Your Puppy their Name – This is an important start point and a good video.
Train Your Puppy Not to Bite
How to Housebreak Your Puppy
Train Your Puppy to Come
Teach Your Puppy to Stay
Teach Your Puppy to Walk on a Leash: Part 1
Teach Your Puppy to Walk on a Leash: Part 2
How to Crate Train Your Puppy

For more videos search YouTube for How to Train Puppies and Melanie McLeroy.

Am off to try out some of these tips. Do you have any tips for me…

Photo credit: Chenthil

September 3, 2009   2 Comments