English with Dehati Madam

Ownership and accountability is an oft repeated corporate mantra. Recently came across this story in the TOI that embodies these principles. Not set in corporate corridors, it’s the story of 29 year old Yashoda Lodhi, a Youtuber with nearly 2.9 lakh subscribers and 2.6 crore views.

Her USP: Teaching spoken English

Her Background: A resident of Sirathu Kaushambi in rural Uttar Pradesh. Broken education till class 12, married to a daily wage earner, who was robbed temporarily of his earning capacity by an accident, family saddled with a bank loan that paid for her husband’s medical care.

Her Skills: No English speaking that a city private school would hire her for

Her earnings today: Rs. 25,000 a month (which is a large sum in her village)

How she did it:
A great sense of branding. Embracing her social reality and using it as a pull, she calls her YouTube channel “EnglishwithdehatiMadam ”.

Madam has a key understanding of pedagogic fundamentals. Her videos have titles like “how to create an English speaking environment ”, “is grammar important?”, mistake-having a fear of making mistakes. Often her lessons are from a slice of life-conversation between 2 neighbours.

Her journey:
She started with the channels on desi cooking, embroidery and decoration. None worked out. Next, she spent hours on the Internet learning about content creation video editing and ways to gain online traction.

After listening to several motivational speakers fluent in English, she decided to become a motivational dehati speaker who can communicate in English, in May 2022. She says, “I taught herself English and used my dehati identity to gain viewership.”


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Companies Hunt for CEO’s with High EQ and Humility

What do companies look for while hiring CEO’s? Statistics from the top recruiters in India tell us-70% of organizations in India were looking for a CEO who is humble, has a high EQ with good people skills. This was clearly called out when they received the hiring mandate from their clients. I read an article a while ago where a senior executive being considered for the position of a CEO was turned down because he was extremely rude to the driver that had come to pick him up for the job interview. The prospective CEO was running late and passed his anxiety and frustration onto the driver who had come to pick him up.

Several companies may overlook senior leaders riding roughshod over the emotions of team members, however we see this trend changing. Slowly but surely, the value of control over one’s emotions, demonstrating emotional intelligence and being empathetic are slowly competencies that people hire for.

Way back in 2008, when ShradhaHRD was conducting an intervention on Conducting appraisals for a Global Bank, it was interesting that the only thing that managers scored their team members on were hard skills. Even though there was a detailed matrix describing expected behaviors to be demonstrated, these were largely overlooked. Less than an hour in an entire year was spent talking about these competencies!!!!!!!!

Thankfully change , ushered in by the growing Millennial population in the workforce and other factors has brought emotional intelligence to the forefront.

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The Great Indian ‘Jugaad’ Rescue

A million dollar rescue machine or “semi-skilled” resources? Most of us would choose the first option for a rescue mission. The rescue of 41 miners by “rat miners” turns conventional wisdom on its head. The learnings are immense:

We often need a multi-pronged approach, that will get the job done. The heavy duty technology, created the path; manpower with relevant skills completed the job.

The rescue effort was a multi-agency collaboration-National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), the Indian Army, local authorities, experts most notably, Chris Cooper (Micro-tunnelling expert), Tunnelling expert Arnold Dix, Retired Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain. Completely different approaches, yet worked together to achieve success.

In an effort that took over 24 hours, the miners worked in two teams of three each, with one person drilling, the second collecting the debris and the third pushing it out of the pipe. It was boiling hot and there were no special suits for protection. Yet the teams worked non-stop till the miners were rescued. Ownership of the task, without considering personal benefits.

A fantastic example of leadership, collaboration and working with a solutions mindset, to achieve a difficult goal.

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Breaking Biases, Breaking Barriers

It’s always a pleasure to work on events like breaking biases and breaking barriers with the Thought Leadership team at CII-IWN. Truly women supporting women.

The key note speakers and panelists were a diverse group with hugely interesting perspectives-the high commissioner of Rwanda, Deputy country rep United Nations India…

A panel of women from completely different walks of lives…what they have in common…breaking the glass ceiling in male dominated environments

And a group of individuals-performers, filmmaker’s, journalists that had shattered stereotypes and broken the mould.

My take away’s

The positives:

  1. India has a very progressive constitution with respect to gender equality and a robust legal framework to support.
  2. 4,200 women directors in over 3200 companies. A lot of these numbers have come about in the last 10 years
  3. Women shattering the glass ceiling and moving into domains where they were  never present before – the Armed Forces, on assembly lines in heavy manufacturing, as heads of multinational organizations and agencies

Work still to be done:

  1. 13% of the world’s land is owned by women
  2. In India, only 24% of women participate in the workforce
  3. 40% women in IT at the entry level, moves to 3% at top management levels

Above all, if women support women…we can create magic. I see it everyday, at Shradha HRD, where we are 90% women dominated and at platforms like CII-IWN where women truly support women!!!!!!!

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Is your Heart at Peace or at War?

Is your Heart at Peace or at War? Resolving the Heart of the Conflict

During a recent Webinar that I co-facilitated, a participant asked me a question most of us have grappled with at some point in our careers:

How do I deal with a stakeholder that is nasty and argumentative?

My mind immediately went to: “Is your heart at Peace or at War”?

This is the foundational principle of the Anatomy of Peace, a book which is the story of Yusuf al-Falah, an Arab, and Avi Rozen, a Jew, each lost his father in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

When we approach a conflict, most often we do it with a heart that is full of anger and a mind that says “I am right”. This comes in the way of us being able to see the other person’s perspective, leading to a far deeper conflict.

The solution is really simple, when you walk into a conflict situation, you need to ask yourself, “do I really want to find a solution or do I want to be proven right”?

When you approach a conflict situation, ask yourself the following questions:
1.    What is it that I really want from this situation? What is my best case scenario?
2.    What could the other person be thinking, feeling, seeing, hearing?
3.    What can I do that could move the situations towards a resolution?

The next time you walk into a conflict, just ask yourself “Is my heart at peace or is at war”?

Read on & Try it…the results may surprise you !!!!!!!!!!!!

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A Journey towards Self-Empowerment

We started a learning journey at hashtag#IIMLucknow, a couple of days ago. Amul S. Bahl, the founder of  Shradha HRD facilitated the session on “Building Capabilities to Realize Potential”. Based on 2 sutras from the Cipher, this session was a starting point, with endless possibilities to delve deep in one’s own self and broaden learning.

Conscious leadership and leadership with a conscience is critical today for a more humane and productive workplace. This is the over-arching theme for the learning journey.

The key session objectives were:

  1. To bring greater clarity to participants with respect to their own self
  2. Empowering self
  3. Understanding the karma matrix of essential and non-essential actions
  4. Tackling adverse results

The session focused on the linkages between the inner self, evolution and external achievements. Appreciating these linkages resulted in the cohort feeling more enlightened and confident of their inner selves.

We would like to thank Prof. Anita Goyal for organizing this session flawlessly. It was a fantastic start to the journey of inner evolution and external success!!!!!

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Transitioning from Campus to Corporate

Its always refreshing to train new entrants to the workspace. ShradhaHRD ran learning interventions for executives joining Automobiles, Pharma, Alco-bev, electronic goods, IT and ITES. This year, we covered the entire gamut.

What is refreshing about these programs is, often an hashtag#unconventional way of looking at things and a fresh and everchanging perspective to life.

Some themes that we see prominently reflected in GenZ:

1. A growing confidence to speak about what is on their mind and ask for what they need
2. An expectation of super-fast growth, coupled with ongoing learning
3. A need for constant newness/stimulation and some resistance to perform repetitive, everyday, mundane task
4. The need to belong (to a team, an organization)
5. Time to pursue their own interests (beyond work), often travel

While some of these hashtag#expectations might seem at odds with each other; we need to acknowledge the existing mindset. Only when we know and understand, can we work effectively.

For me, the one point that stood out was the strong need to belong and feel a part of a larger structure. This becomes tougher in a hybrid environment.

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Hijacked by Your Emotions?

If you regret having lost your temper and acted in a manner you later regret, this post is for you….Some of us that are die-hard Football lovers, might remember the 2006 World Cup Final game. In front of 28.8 million viewers in 213 countries Zinedine Zidane, a world-wide soccer role model, lost his self-control and head butted Marco Materazzi. Zidane was kicked out of the game. France lost the World Cup to Italy and Zidane’s career ended in disgrace and wonderment

“What was he thinking?” Again, he wasn’t.

When faced with danger, the primitive flight, fight or freeze response kicks in. Even though we are not faced with physical danger, anything we perceive as a threat, our mind views as danger. This releases a flood of hormones and hijacks our better sense.

Examples of threatening situations in our daily work life:

  1. An angry email from a key stakeholder
  2. Being put on the spot to answer an uncomfortable question in front of your team
  3. A crisis that came out of the blue

This phenomenon is known as the Amygdala Hijack!!!!!

Dealing with the Amygdala Hijack

  1. Become aware of your “hot buttons”: Recognize the situations that cause you to lose your cool. This will help you respond effectively as opposed to react
  2. Name the emotion: When faced with threatening situations, research has shown that naming/labelling the emotion helps calm you down
  3. Practice using this technique regularly until it becomes a part of your mental routine
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The Conjunction Fallacy – The Brain Sometimes Makes Connections Where None Exist

#AmosTversky and #DanielKahneman in their landmark work in 1983 asked participants to solve this problem. 80% of those that answered, gave a response that clearly proved they have a clear bias. How much have things changed in the last 40 years? The problem is given below….

Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations. Which is more probable?

1. Linda is a bank teller
2. Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement

More than 80% participants chose option 2, regardless of whether they were novice, intermediate or expert statisticians, even though the mathematical probability of Linda being both a bank teller and a feminist activist is much lower than the probability of her being a bank teller alone.

This example demonstrates how our brain makes connections where none exist: the #conjunctionfallacy.

We also have an inherent bias that detailed statements are more likely than general ones.

There has been criticism on this problem. It remains one of the earliest & most well-known examples of the way our brain interprets information, makes connections & deduces things about people.

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How a Leader Builds a Culture: Aditya Vikram Birla

A brilliant example of leaders supporting their employees, even when there has been a huge loss. This happened with the Late Mr. Aditya Vikram Birla and is often held up as a benchmark on treating employees at the Aditya Birla group

A senior employee at the Aditya Birla group had made a mistake that cost the company a lot of money. The incident was brought to the notice of the late Aditya Vikram Birla. He had to decide what to do with the employee.

He followed an unusual approach. He made a list of all the positives and the negatives of the employee, including the money the employee had made for the company. He then reviewed the lists carefully. The decision was clear. He decided to retain the employee. After due consideration and careful thought, Mr Birla decided that the gains the employee brought the company were much more than the losses that the company incurred due to the incident.

A leader sets the tone and molds the culture of the organization. By taking a decision like this, a clear message is sent out-the leadership has your back!!!!

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Ubuntu – I am because we are

The Disney movie #lionking opens with the mesmerizing song #Circleof life with its first few lines sung in Zulu. The powerful vocals and African drum heralding the new born lion cub! The circle of life – we go back to where we come from, and within and around this circle we encounter love, despair, success, failure, happiness, sadness, unexpected pathways and obstacles and back we come to where we began.- in one big circle – the circle of our lives.

Also, not so surprisingly, each of our circles are interconnected – crossing paths and intersecting at workplaces, homes, subway stations, online and god knows where else!!

#Ubuntu is a beautiful Zulu word that stands for this #interconnectedness. Ubuntu essential means #humanity but has gone on to have a more widespread meaning emphasizing on spreading kindness to connect people.

It is the understanding that we cannot exist in isolation and so Ubuntu is more commonly interpreted as “I am because we are”

#Ubuntu promotes the following:

  • #Interconnectedness of everyone to each other and to their surroundings
  • No one exists in isolation. We are all part of a larger circle, a #largesystem that effects us and that we are affected by
  • It is every person’s duty to #share and #contribute to the system/ community/society
  • Promote fairness and brotherhood. Spread love, integrity and acceptance

Africa’s, Ubuntu philosophy pervades almost all parts of the African continent. It is integrated into all aspects of day-to-day life and is a concept shared by all almost tribes.

The #Ubuntu philosophy has powerful lessons for all of us today-as individuals, managers of teams, leaders of organizations and most importantly members of society.

Our actions-good, bad and indifferent affect all those in the ecosystem. If we could truly internalize this important concept, our world would be a happier place!!!!

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Finding your Inner Goddess – Leadership Lessons from Athena

The Greek Goddess #Athena has left a legacy that is immortal and timeless. The lessons from 7000 BC are valid, even today for all #womeninLeadership positions. According to legend, the Athenian King Cecrops decided to have a contest amongst the Gods of the Acropolis, the winner of which will lend their name to the glorious city. The two most prominent Gods of that time, Poseidon and Athena, were the fiercest contenders.

The contest between them was so intense, they nearly went to #war with each other. Then, Athena had an idea. She #proposed that she and Poseidon present the city with a gift and the best gift would become the patron. King Cecrops and the people
of the city would decide the winner.

#Poseidon was the God of the Sea and gave the gift of #water, in the form of a massive foamy stream. This excited the people. But they found out quickly, the water was sea water and unfit for human consumption.

Athena, presented the city with an #olivetree. The olive seed bore fruit and proved to be a wonderful gift. It provided the people with sustenance, fuel, wood and a crop that was trade able. Athena was proclaimed the winner.

Thus #Athens got its name and Athena’s wisdom was immortalised.

Athena is considered the #GoddessofWisdom and a #War. She was a #prudent and #wise battle strategist.

1. She #creatively turned what could have been a destructive war into a gift for the people.
2. She ensured irrespective of who won the contest, the city and people won and #benefitted by default.
3. Athena is also considered the #Goddessofstrength, leadership, crafts (specially spinning and weaving) and was known for her generosity and kindness.

As women, in leadership roles much can be imbibed from these myths and legends of Athena. She embodied courage, wisdom as well as kindness and domesticity.

For us women striving to balance the home and workplace, we could, like Athena, embrace our feminity and yet, fiercely lead from the front line.

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Do you stop at Diversity or Are You Inclusive Too?

A beautiful example to bring out the difference between #diversity and #inclusion. “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance”. There lies a vast #difference between diversity and inclusion, terms that are used interchangeably quite often.

Focus on diversity will ensure your organization has a #Mix, policies and focus on inclusion will ensure that this #Mix works in a way that is #meaningful to both the employees as well as the company.

While various hiring and retention #manifestoes can help companies achieve diversity, focused policy and #mindset changes are required for the purpose of inclusion.

#GodrejIndia Culture Lab has been working on a project that specifically makes the case for corporate India to embrace the 4.9 lakh documented #transpeople in India, 92% of whom are still unable to participate in the formal economy, according to
the #National Human Rights Commission.

A paper titled, ‘A #Manifesto for Trans Inclusion in the Indian Workplace’ was presented by Shahani, head of Godrej India Culture Lab.

This manifesto, makes a case on why #hiring and inclusion of LGTBQ community into mainstream corporate world can have many #financial and other #benefits for an organization.

Yet, the process of including and #integrating them into the workforce is one that can pose many challenges and obstacles.

The Manifesto also has #guidelines for companies to adopt #inclusivehiringpractices
sensitizing current employees, widening the scope of health insurance and medical benefits, rethinking restroom infrastructures…..

There are real cost implications in the short term; in the long term companies which
demonstrated a clear focus on inclusion have reaped many #benefits:

1. Coveted employer #credibility
2. More wide spread #revenue streams
3. Greater #employeeengagement and retention

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The Secret Code of Creative Excellence

Is there a special secret quality that creative people have? One quality that I have seen in all the highly creative, innovative people that I have worked with is, they work on possibilities whereas most of us work on probabilities. Here in lies the difference between the creative and the mundane.

A brilliant piece extracted from the Cipher by Amul S. Bahl on the Code for creative excellence.

Most people live in the domain of probability, whereas excellence, actually resides in the domain of possibility. It needs a stretch.

Expand and enable the possibility. That’s excellence, and invariably results in innovation.

The expertise of probability is mundane. The out-of-box doesn’t apply; the lateral thought absent by a mile.

What is probable is all that is possible.

What is possible, is a danger to the probable, the status quo and the existing.

This is the difference between the probable and the possible.

A man who is aware of the possibility, even though with a poor probability, is thinking beyond the ordinary.

As they say, possibilities are endless. Probability is the refuge of certainty, for a man accustomed to a ‘life of ordinary’.

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How business leaders THRIVE and not merely survive in the VUCA world

In the VUCA world, companies adapt to the changes, survive. But few leaders thrive in this environment. They pull everyone forward along with them. What lessons could we learn from those leaders? BE THE CUSTOMER

a) Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico, asked employees not to be representatives of customers but become customers themselves. She herself visited retail stores as a typical customer and experienced the business from a consumer’s mind. She encouraged everyone to do the same.

b) Amazon was so successful in selling books because Jeff Bezos was an avid reader. He himself is an extreme user. He knew the desires, needs of his targeted user segment.

c) iTunes store was an essential reason for iPod’s massive success. iTunes store solved a lot of problems and gave a wonderful experience to the music fans. One reason — Steve Jobs himself was a huge music fan -a hardcore Bob Dylan fan. Being an avid user, Steve knew what were the real needs of a music listener.

d) Harley Davidson promotes a culture where employees are encouraged to become riders so that they could understand the customers.

e) Nike’s founders Phil Knight and Billy Bowden were track athletes. They knew the problems faced by professional athletes with the shoes as they had experienced themselves.

How business leaders thrive and not merely survive in the VUCA world?

Source: Article by Shah Mohammed

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6 Features of Hurry Sickness

If you are constantly racing to cross items off your to-do list, juggling several tasks at a time and easily agitated by small delays, you might be dealing with “hurry sickness”-a term coined by cardiologists Meyer Friedman & Ray Rosenman

6 Features of Hurry Sickness

1. You treat everything like a race

You find yourself treating even small, everyday tasks like shopping, eating or driving as a race; delays cause anxiety

2. You find it impossible to do just one task at a time

Focusing on just one task, feels unbearable to you. You’ll try to figure out what you can squeeze in while you brush your teeth

3. You get highly irritable with delays

Traffic, waiting at the doctor’s stresses you out. You’re the kind of person who presses the “close door” button in the elevator repeatedly

4. You feel perpetually behind schedule

There are never enough hours in a day to accomplish what you need to do. You always feel like you’re playing catch-up

5. You interrupt or talk over people

You may not intend to be rude, but you’ve been told you have a habit of cutting people off mid-conversation.

6. You’re obsessed with checking things off your to-do list

You love the burst of satisfaction you get when you complete a task and get to cross it off your list. But that high doesn’t last long, you quickly move to the next thing.

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How learning helps companies beat Covid shocks

#Learning helped Mondelez India advance product entry of cakes into India, during the 2020 lockdown and pandemic, as well as shift an entire chocolate line from China to India without the machine manufacturers coming to the floor. #Unbelievable but #true.

Mondelez decided to launch its entry into cakes in 2020. The process was complicated due to covid restrictions. Well before the pandemic, Mondelez India had been experimenting and getting their personnel trained on running the production line remotely.

“We would have had no option but to shut the line for 3 weeks, had the shift engineer not run it from his laptop” says Mondelez International President (India) Deepak Iyer.

#Machinelearning and #ArtificialIntelligence helped Mondelez move the chocolate line, without any delays or glitches. Instructions were provided over cameras and mobile platforms on how to dismantle the line, package it, ship it, unpack it and assemble it. Deepak Iyer says all this is possible because Mondolez is focused on learning.

#Learning has clearly moved from a one time event to a life long affair. If we are to stay #relevant, individuals, teams and organizations need to learn and upgrade themselves continuously. The #VUCA world has necessitated this change. The pandemic and the increasing use of technology has hastened the process.

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Satya Nadella, Says This 1 Trait Is More Important than #Talent or #Experience. It’s Something Anyone Can Learn. You would think the leader of a company like Microsoft would look for talent or creativity or experience. And, I’m sure he does. It’s just not the most important thing.

Nadella, used just one word to describe where he thinks innovation comes from: #Empathy.

Nadella says:

“To me, what I have sort of come to realize, what is the most innate in all of us is that ability to be able to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and see the world the way they see it. That’s empathy. That’s at the heart of design thinking. When we say innovation is all about meeting unmet, unarticulated, needs of the marketplace, it’s ultimately the unmet and articulated needs of people, and organizations that are made up of people. And you need to have deep empathy.

So I would say the source of all innovation is what is the most humane quality that we all have, which is empathy”.

Businesses, as Nadella observes, “are made up of people.” Truly innovative companies are made up of people. Those people aren’t just focused on spreadsheets, product design, software code–they’re focused on people who use the products, software, or spreadsheets. They’re focused on empathy.

The one trait that Satya Nadella thinks is the Key to Innovation

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A successful experiment to reduce GENDER BIAS

How an organization was able to substantially reduce their #genderbias in their hiring process through a simple cost-effective method.

Till the 1970’s, the top five orchestras in the U.S. had fewer than 5% women. By 1997 they were up to 25% and today some of them are well into the 30s.

How did this happen?

A simple change in the procedure…

Candidates are situated on a stage behind a screen to play for a jury that cannot see them. In some orchestras, blind auditions are used just for the preliminary selection while others use it all the way to the end, until a hiring decision is made.

Even when the screen is only used for the preliminary round, it has a powerful impact; researchers have determined that this step alone makes it 50% more likely that a woman will advance to the finals.

It may not always be possible to have a completely gender blind interview. If we think out-of-the-box, towards this objective, we are likely to definitely make an impact!!!!

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Daniel Kahneman’s decision making test

Given an option to choose between which of 2 events is likely to happen, how do you decide? How do you take decisions? How accurate is your decision making? Take a #test

#Option1: Delhi Airport is closed. Flights are cancelled.

#Option2: Delhi Airport is closed due to critical VIP movement. Flights are cancelled.
Is #Option1 more likely or #Option 2?

Most of us will choose option 2, even though it is more unlikely. The airport could be closed due to any number of reasons accident, strike, bomb threat, bad weather.
Why? The #conjunctionfallacy. When faced with details that are more #convincingly and vividly #potrayed, we believe them

Even #experts are not exempt from the Conjunction fallacy. In 1983, at an International

conference for future research, experts were divided into 2 groups

Group 1 was told “Oil consumption will decrease by 30%”

Group 2 was told “A dramatic rise in oil prices will lead to a 30% reduction in oil consumption”

Groups had to indicate how likely they felt the forecast was.

Group 2 felt much more strongly about the forecast than group 1

#DanielKahneman believes 2 types of thinking exist:

1.Intuitive, automatic and direct

2.Conscious, rational, slow logical

Intuitive thinking draws conclusions long before the conscious mind does

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