Leadership is “The” Lead Factor” Rest are all Lag Factors

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Pic Details: Copyright @YashMahadikPhotography. Two Lionesses, Nashipae and Narisho of the Enokoyani pride emerging from the bush after their afternoon rest. Nashipae means attractive and a beautiful lady and Narisho means a skilled and ferocious huntress. Their names are given to them coz that’s what they are. These two were were protecting their seven cubs from a lion war that was on in Maasai Mara for their Pride and territory take over and hence had broken away from their pride. This image was created on 24th August, 2016 at 4.31 pm local time. Shot with my #Canon1DXMarkII Lens Canon f2.8 70-200mm @110mm f5.6, ISO 400, WB – Auto, 1/400s, Handheld shot, Zone cluster focus on AI Servo mode. For more details and images from the wild visit @yashmahadikphotography

Over the years, I have spent a lot of time in the wild observing, understanding and photographing wildlife. I have learnt many valuable lessons from mother nature. One for example is about Lions. The Lion may be “The King of The Jungle” but it’s the Lioness who is “the True Leader”. The Lion is big, masculine, roars loudly and plays a very important role in protecting its pride and its territory and is called the King of the jungle. However, the Lioness plays even a more important role which includes hunting for the pride to feed it, raise the cubs successfully (especially with very high mortality rate for lion cubs in the wild), methodically coach and train the future lions and make them adept for staying at the top of the food chain. Lioness are the ones who keep and grow the pride and ensure its perpetuity. Hence it’s not just the Lion who is the King or is more important, but it’s the Lioness who is equally if not more important to its pride. I give this analogy of Lions not because of its gender traits but to tell a story of hierarchy and its relative importance to leadership.

Similarly in an organisation it’s just not the CEO but it’s the CXOs and leaders at the middle of the pyramid that are crucial and important to organisations success and perpetuity. 

If engagement, performance, culture, values pertaining to an organisation and it’s workforce are an outcome (also known as lag factors) then leadership is the most important lead factor. There is a lot of wisdom shared on how to develop and grow leadership in large enterprises and many inspiring examples come from the armed forces too. In my perspective and experience the essentials of leadership to become an effective lead factor within an organisation are as follows:

1) Define:

As an organisation clearly define your leadership framework. Framework consisting of – Values, Competencies and Behaviours that you expect you leaders to imbibe, role model and develop themselves and in others.

2) Assess and Build:

First help leaders assess their capabilities and styles and identify gaps. Use validated assessment techniques and experts – avoid a home-made and untested remedy when it comes to leadership assessments.

Then, start to shape, influence, build and develop leadership competencies and capabilities from the top. CEO and CXO group should be totally aligned and committed to role-modelling and living them.

I would emphasise more on “shaping” and “influencing” by ways of coaching as compared to the traditional class room training methods to build leadership competencies and capabilities. Please remember, people are cast into unique and diverse moulds depending on the background of their upbringing and that’s mostly reflected in their style preferences. Never try to break and re-mould people, instead shape, influence and help them understand the effect of their behaviour on others. Educate them on how they should  best flex their style depending on the situation. Remember diversity of leadership traits and styles can be a strength. Don’t allow the CEO to start cloning people to match or look like his DNA.

3) Cascade Leadership building:

Most organisations in my opinion make the mistake of focussing their development effort only at CEO, CXO and their direct reports level (the top of the pyramid). Some call it their “top 100″ and other ‘top 300” depending on the size of their organisation. I have said it in point no.1 that top down approach is important but don’t restrict your leadership development to the top of the pyramid.

When it comes to leadership, “the fortune is at the middle of the pyramid” and I say this, coz of two main reasons:

a) Leaders at the middle level of an organisation have the maxim performance and productivity impact on people whom they lead and influence.

b) Middle level leaders are the pipeline of the future leaders of any organisation and they need to be disproportionately invested into.

In addition to the above, other important things to consider whilst you build leadership to be the powerful lead factor include as follows:

  1. Make sure the performance and rewards in your organisation are equally balanced on the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of the results. Many organisation recognise and reward their people on parameter that are more biased towards the what (High Sales numbers, low-cost of operations, brand ratings, etc) and nothing wrong in that. But giving equal weightage to how these results were delivered (compliance to standards and laws, by being ethical and honest, by coaching and developing people) is very important. Top-notch organisation always focus equally on the “What” and “How” the results were delivered.
  2. Lessons on leadership from armed forces are valuable and inspiring and there is a lot to learn from them. But, remember that the context and rules of the game in the Army and a Corporate organisation are very different and hence not every leadership capability and its context can be applied as it is. May be a separate blog later on this topic!!
  3. Dont overwhelm early in career leaders by expecting them to act and deliver like highly evolved senior leaders. Let them make mistakes, learn and evolve as leaders with their original style.
  4. Coaching and creating a culture of learning for leaders by action-learning is key. Traditional classroom training doesn’t teach corporate leaders much. The slum-dog millionnaire learning style is crucial.
  5. Attitude, character and thinking ability differentiates good leaders from others. Skills and capabilities as a business manager become threshold. After a point skills and capabilites do not differentiate leaders to be effective. Its attitude and charachter of the leader which comprises of many things such as honesty, ethics, sensitivity to people and cultures, ability to develop and grow more leaders, to be a life long learner, etc, etc.

We assess, hire and develop leaders based on their experience, skills and capabilities with such little focus on knowing their attitude, character and thinking ability. Hope there is better balance in every organisation on this front.

True Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders – J Sakiya Sandfifer

Understanding Light to Create Super Wildlife Images in Harsh Lighting Conditions.

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This is Loraine’s Cub, the Leopard of the Massai Mara Reserve in Kenya. How beautiful she looks in this B&W image. This image is special coz its shot at 12.30 pm middle of the afternoon in harsh lighting conditions. Most would refrain from trying to create an image in such harsh lighting conditions. I never give up any chance of creating a super image, irrespective of the lighting conditions (unless it pitch dark ofcourse). 

From Wildlife photography point of view, Massai Mara during August is the richest park in wildlife density but is most challenging in terms of light. The tall dry grasslands acts as a giant 360 degree reflector of the natural light and the Highlights and Midtones compete to fill your frame with equal intensity. The soft morning and evening light duration is very short. Lack of clouds and clear skies enable harsh lighting conditions for photography throughout the day. However, you can make such images if you are willing to experiment and shoot in monochrome mode in Manual camera settings of your DSLR.

Light is everything in Photography and here is a brief description of what effect light creates in capture of any image – especially for your camera’s sensor. Each frame comprises of Highlights, Midtones and Shadows. How you read the frame with naked eyes and assess it manually and then use your camera settings (depending on the features in your camera) will define how good a image you create. Next blog post on the art of exposure compensation for getting all the thre tones right to create that perfect image.

Hightlights: These are the whitest or brightest areas of the surface and often cause over exposure, it’s where a given surface on the subject is reflecting the actual light source most efficiently. The highlight is a reflection of the actual light source on the subject. In some cases you can see the light source itself in the highlight, For example catchlight in the eyes of your subject.

Midtones: As the name implies, this tone is midway in between the highlight and the shadow. It would show the “true” color and consistency of the object. The highlights are brighter than the “true” color, and the shadows are darker than the “true” color. The midtone is usually going to be the majority tone that is visible, the highlights and shadows are usually a smaller part of the tonal range. But the area covered by any of the tones will ultimately be determined by the shape, constancy and size of the subject and also the quality of the lights on the subject.

Shadows: Shadows are the darkest area of the surface and often cause underexposure. Shadows can have really sharp edges between it and the midtone or it can just sort of gradually blend into the midtone. How the shadow looks depends entirely on the surface of the object and also the quality of the light.

Get out there, shoot and experiment and you will master all of this. Understanding light for creating awesome wildlife images is the most difficult part of wildlife photography. If wildlife photography was any easy, I wouldnt be up for it. Take up the challenge and test yourself!!

SHRM India, Conference 2016.#SHRMI16

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Society for Human Resource Management  (SHRM) is a professional body that works towards the interest of Human Resource professionals across the globe. SHRM promotes the role of HR as a profession and provides education, certification, and networking to its members. SHRM Global Site

I am a member of this society for many years and have tremendously benefited for its offerings and services. This year, I had the privilege of attending its annual global conference in Washington, US along with my friend and colleague from the faternity Mr Santrupt Mishra of Aditya Birla Group. It was as an amazing learning and networking experience; 22000 delegates, more than 150 speakers and learning tracks, the keynote sessions were absolutely awesome. It was a true international event of and for HR professionals and academicians from numerous nations. For the first time I saw and experienced the might of SHRM.

SHRM India (SHRM India Site) is the Indian wing that’s focused on the same objectives of SHRM in the Indian Sub-continent. It’s run by a team of very competent and passionate professionals with Achal Khanna at the helm. SHRM India organise their annual conference every year in India and in my opinion it’s the most premier event of HR in our sub-continent. If you’re an HR professional, It’s an event that’s not to be missed. Best is to attend it in person and if you cannot then you can still stay connected and learn and contribute via social media channels (Twitter, Facebook and the blogs on SHRM India site). The #tag for this event is #SHRMI16 – SHRM India Conference 2016 Site

In the professional growing up days, especially early in-career, I used to make it a point to identify on or two main conferences in India and attend the same with a clear objective of learning and networking. The learning obtained and the networks I created helped me tremendously to grow and advance my career. You can’t get your company to sponsor you for every conference that you wish to attend. I say, invest in it from your pocket. I used to do it and those wise investments helped me tremendously. Like a knowledge hungry person, I would attend each session with energy and enthussiam and never missed the networking events. In those days there was no social media and no mobile, now we have it. So my advise is, leverage it and learn.

I will be attending this years event starting tomorrow. I am also a speaker at the event. If you’re there see you at the event and if not then let’s stay connected on the various social media channels that I will be present on during the conference.

One of the highlights of the conference is the book launch by Abhijit Bhaduri the title is The Digial Tsunami. I had the pleausre of pre-reading the book and I say, “Its a very powerful narrative of the digital disruption thats already happened and whats to come. It will help HR professionals to brace themselves and be prepared to learn about the digital disruption and be able to leverage it. Its a must read”

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Meet the #SHRMI Blog squad and stay connected with them on prominent social media channels.

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Happy learning and wish we have a nice conference.

Celebrating the First Anniversary of My Facebook Photography Page

I should have titled this post as My First Anniversary at work and the First Anniversary of My Facebook Photography Page. Then thought of keeping it light and personal.

My daughter, who is the first fan of my photography convinced me to create my Photography Page on Facebook. She wanted me to share my passion for this art and craft with the world. At first I was hesitant and after being in this art and craft of Photography for about a decade, I finally created @yashmahadikphotography page linked to my Facebook account.

Today I posted the attached special image and message on my page for the circa 50K followers and fans of the page and thanked them.

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Sharing my photographs with the world and getting their feedback and encouragement has indeed advanced my skill and craft for the art of photography. Also this is my first blog after a hiatus of about a year.

I changed my job last September, when I moved from Philips to SunPharma. I moved countries too, came back to India leaving the beautiful Amsterdam. Coming back home and this role with SunPharma were the biggest driver for changing jobs. It been a year and what a year it has been. On the professional front, its been very productive, hectic and busy. I was finding my feet in this big highly successful global organisation. I travelled like nobodies business and got to almost all places where our company operates. It was such a pleasure meeting highly talented and capable people of SunPharma and they taught me so much. In year one, I focused on the following five things:

  1. Getting to know the company, its business models, practices, people, culture, and processes. It was so much fun and learning and identifying opportunities for improvement.
  2. Understanding and re-evaluating the strategy, structure and operating model of my HR function and team. Then followed the redesign and restructuring of the same for delivering superior results and creating more value for the business. I am almost done with this, I would say 90% there.
  3. Re-designing and revamping the HR Technology architecture, platform and applications for a superior and best-in-class talent (employees) and candidate (talent) experience. We are now busy executing the same.
  4. Completing the massive integration process at the organisational, people, policies and practices level between SunPharma and Ranbaxy (the company that SunPharma had acquired). Its done and dusted and now we are embarking on a major culture building program. Phew it was one helluva program and task to complete. Full credit to the team for doing such a wonderful job.
  5. Initiating a proper and business aligned HR Transformation program to move the needle and take the company and its business to greater heights.

It’s all going very well, there were some tough decision to be made and we had to move ahead with rigour and speed. The highlight of the first year has been – the fantastic HR team that I am being able to build in our company. Was able to recognise and promote some of the existing team members and enrich their jobs and also attracted some top-notch HR leadership talent from outside. Its all coming together very nicely now. I am over-joyed to work in this value based and super organisation which is full of committed and excellent people. I count my blessings everyday.

Throughout this hectic, busy, exciting and sometimes stressful period (of the last one year) my family and photography (which is my hobby and passion) kept me sane, on track and relaxed. Despite my high pressure and exciting job, if I don’t get burnt and look fresh and relaxed most times its coz of these two factors in my life – now you know whats the secrete.

I don’t get much time do a lot of photography as my profession and job (which is my first love) demands a lot of my time. I just take one week off every six months for photography and then of course whenever I get long weekends, I try to plan a photography trip in the wild (we get about two to three such long weekends in a year). But every weekend, when at home, I spend two to three hours on my images, I post process them, organise them, post and share them (I usually schedule my posts for a week or two) that’s why most of my posts are at a specific and a regular hour and when you see the posts, I am actually busy working or am in a meeting or on a plane. But technology todays allows us create the illusion of being regular at something like posting content on your page 🙂

My love for nature and wildlife keeps increasing with each trip I make to the wild for photographing animals and nature. I have come to realise that alongside my profession and my corporate job, photography is my calling too. Whenever, I hang my boots as a full-time professional corporate executive, I know I will step into the boots of becoming a professional wildlife photographer and conservationist. How cool is that. 🙂

More details on my experience and learnings at SunPharma during my first year will be presented in another blog post and similarly one separate blog post is upcoming on the joy of photography and why its important to have a hobby to be happy and productive in life.

Not from XLRI or TISS, What does that mean for a career in HR? 


One of my HR colleagues asked me a question: How do you rise whist making a career in HR (in India) especially if you are not from XLRI or TISS?

I began my reply by quoting Mahatma Gandhi: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Then I realized that my first reaction was rather harsh and I was trying to fit a wise quote unwisely to the discussion. Thereafter we had a great discussion in which I put forth my perspective based on my own experience.

I found the question very intriguing and despite not being from any of those institutes it never passed my mind in all these 27 years of my career. Thought of blogging about it and present my thoughts and perspective for a more richer discussion:

XLRI and TISS are institutions of great repute and are big brands when it comes to producing and supplying talent for the HR / Social Sciences stream (in case of XLRI also in other streams). I know hundreds if not thousands of colleagues and friends from these institutions. I have recruited many talented people from there and have/had the privilege of working with them. 4 out of 5 (my early-in-career) bosses were from there, I have engaged with and consulted many professors from these institutes over the years, I have visited their campuses on countless occasions. Like most, I only have respect for these two institutions. Having said that, let me share some of my thoughts arising out of this question.

I asked myself a leading question to try and have a wise discussion, I asked, “is it any different for a graduate from these institutions to make a career in HR as compared to talented people from other institutes”? Short answer is No, because….

All educational institutions play a vital role in developing its pupil and that’s undebatable, but just attending a institution of repute doesn’t guarantee anyone of being well equipped or best suited for future success. Not everyone from Harvard succeeds and many from lesser known institutes become the benchmark of success. Therefore, I have observed and have come to believe that it depends a lot on the person and less on the institute.

Graduating from an Ivy League does give you certain advantages. But to me those advantages are few and limited. For example your chances of landing a good internship and then a terrific job with a top employer are much higher as compared to others. The power networks you could possibly build and have access to (mostly alumni) is one of the major advantages. Of course last but not the least, access to high quality education should have made you learn better and wiser – but that’s an assumption. Each one of us is most detrimental to our own learning and development. No one learns more, better or less as compared to the other coz of the institute alone. Remember the “Slum Dog Millionaire Learning Style”

Most important; real life begins in the real world which, is when you are out of your institute. The ability to perform consistently and create value for self and others. Your attitude, values and capabilities are tested everyday and then begins the process of distinguishing the real talent from the rest. No one asks you or remembers your qualifications on a daily basis and most importantly your family, friends and colleagues don’t care about it as much as they care for your behavior.

A career generally spreads over a long period of time. For some it’s almost their entire life and for most of us in the corporate world it’s circa half of our active life. 2-3 years spent in an institution can have a significant impact and influence on your career but it doesn’t define, make or break it – you do!

Lastly, on the perception that coteries exist in the corporate world where people seem to have a bias for people from their institutions: well in my experience it’s not true. I was hired, developed and grown by people from these institutions and that too at a stage in my career when I wasn’t even a postgraduate (initial years of my career, I was just a B.com graduate). When you embark on an international career and move out of India this perception even fades further as many in the other parts of the world don’t even know about or recognize XLRI or TISS as Ivy League (sorry my friends from there). The definition of Ivy League in US or Europe is something else. In my experience successful leaders have a bias for competence and diversity more than anything else. Hence no need to feel insecure about coteries and personal likes and dislikes of leaders.

Must say that, I have seen a few people who carry a chip on their shoulder about the institutes they graduated from and I don’t sweat about it as I know those chips shall soon fall and reality will bite sooner than later.

It’s said that nothing succeeds like success. I will build upon that and say, “your capabilities, values and attitude – set you up for success and not the branding of your institute”. Learn, work hard and live a life of integrity and you shall achieve/realize your own definition of success.

I dedicate this blog to all my team members and colleagues who have made a tremendous difference at work and are highly successful coz of what they are not coz of the institutes that they graduated from.

A Picture of Harmony and Respect. This is real India.

  
I saw the picture on my Facebook timline today (Shared by friends and courtesy Siddharth Vaidya). His post says “Due to shortage of space in Masjid, the Eid namaz was offered in Ganapati Pandal today…. Colaba, Mumbai…..Proud to be an Indian”

This picture and its story – gives me immense joy. The smile continues to linger and refuseses to dissolve today 🙂

The richness and joy of diversity emanates from co-existence of differing faiths, cultures, ethnicities, thoughts, genders, etc, etc. From my perspective, the two basic requirements for peaceful co-existence and harmony are tolerance and respect (towards things that differ from our established beliefs) – especially involving faith, culture and thoughts. 

The ability and maturity of individuals and society – to tolerate and respect diversity in or around their world – defines or marks the level of civility.

India is fortunate to be the most diverse county in this world and we should boisterously celebrate it. It’s about time we seek and get joy and strength from it and not pain and tears. Let’s set standards of civility that others shall aspire for. 

As a photographer, how I wish, I clicked this picture. As an Indian I am happy that, someone clicked it and shared it with me.  

Eid Mubarak and Jai Hind!

I am Moving to Sun Pharma

  
After a very rewarding career of 5 years with Royal Philips, today I am joining Sun Pharma (http://www.sunpharma.com/) as their Executive Vice President and Global CHRO. 

I have relocated to Mumbai, India from Amsterdam, Netherlands.

I look forward to leading the Human Resource function and the global HR team of this fast growing healthcare and pharma company. 

Regards

Yash Mahadik

Is clicking Selfies a mental disorder? Did you participate in a Selfie Initative at Work?

  
In March 2014, the news about the American Paychiatric Association declaring selfie obsession as mental disorder went viral. Thanks to the advent of social media, there were millions if not zillions of shares, comments and discussions threads on and of this news. Those who didn’t believe in selfies seemed over joyed and felt a strong sense of endorsement for their thinking and feeling by the APA. Those who love clicking and sharing selfies were taken aback and probably some of them might have seriously doubted their style of expression, whilst  some must have just shrugged of the news as sheer nonsense, but for sure it must have made a lot of people think, debate and discuss this.

Then very soon or very late (by Apri/May 2014) it was revealed that the news quoting APA was a hoax, it was a fictional spoof by Adobo Chronicles (A parody website). And bang! The said debate and discussion becomes even more interesting.

I am a enthusiastic photographer and though I Iove taking pictures of others vs of myself, I must confess that, I do take selfies, not to the level of self obsession (atleast in my own assessment). Having said that, The Photographer and the Human Reaource Professional (in me) made me very curious about the psychology behind this behavior of people. I don’t claim to have conducted a stastically significant survey with a proper methodology etc. but I qualitatively discussed this with many people (already 200 plus now) and I chose to seek views and opinions of my colleagues, friends, connections on Facebook and Twitter. I carefully chose to seek views of people cutting across gender and age groups. I also researched and read a lot of blogs and articles on this subject. All this considered, here is my perspective:

I observed that people of younger age group (below 30) found this news to be bizzare if not absurd and most of them accepted that they click and share selfies and also own a selfie stick, which is their travel companion. People in the middle age group (30 to 45) were on the fence, most accepted the fact that they click and share selfies but also qualified that they take more group selfies vs individual selfies. People in the age group of 45 and above (my age group) were most cynical and sarcastic about the selfie phenomena, however some people were absolutely okay with group selfies and felt as long as it isn’t an obsession and just pictures of oneself, selfies are okay. One person also said that he takes selfies only when he doesn’t find someone else to click his or his mates pictures. When asked to define obsession, most people defined it as overdoing it (high volume shares). Also when asked to define a selfie, almost everyone said that a group selfie (more than two) isn’t really a selfie. They define selfie as a picture taken by self of oneself or two people together – the definition is almost correct. Selfie is best defined as a Self Portrait clicked by self using your own mobile phone camera.

This made me wonder if the thinking, feelings and opinions on the subject are based on age or generational diversity? Does it have to do more with access to and proficiency in technology (use of phone cameras and social media)? I didn’t find anything that suggests that that there is any gender sensitivity in this subject.
Most blogs and articles (that I read) about the psychology behind this, suggest that clicking selfies and sharing them on social media is an individual or personal style and choice of expression. Its similar to fashion (kind of clothes you choose to wear), hairstyle, blogging, movies you watch or books you read, etc.

I think the debate on selfie obsession (overdoing it) will continue and the jury is still out on this one. Some say that it’s the new form of narcissism, to me it’s a new style of expression using the new tech platforms of good phone cameras and the advent of the social media. 

The article on this subject in the Forbes also suggest that human beings by nature seek recognition and positive strokes. Some may seek it more as opposed to others. The style and way they seek it is a matter of individual’s choice and need.

Am attaching a few links to related articles, they helped me understand the psychology behind the selfie phenomena and of course, I will always refrain from passing any kind of value judgement, such as, its an obsession or an disorder – each to his own and all respect for the choices people make about expressing themselves.

My two cents worth – to all leaders and people managers out their, try and understand the psychology and reasons behind people behaviour and once you understand and respect them, you will be able to shape, guide, engage and leverage them. If you participated or started a selfie sharing initiative in your company, as long as it is not a mere self portrait, is more inclusive and is aimed at recognising people and allows freedom of expression, its not a mental disorder. 

Origins or the news
Article in Forbes
Blog on FirstPost.Com
Don’t worry it’s not a disorder
What we can learn from the Hoax
Narcissus takes a selfie 

Thou Shall Win and Not the Trolls

How sad and terrifying…Death threats, ‘swatting’ attacks and a flooded basement: How online trolls destroyed this family’s offline life
#MyPerspective, Trolls or Nouveau-Terrorist/Criminals: I have often said, these trolls can not only steal your peace, health and happiness but can make you quit your presence and life on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, etc.

As the new way of life (on social media) and it’s meaning and understanding evolves, so shall evolve methods to deal with the uneasiness and discomfort caused by trolls, but what does one do until then?

I say, do the following, three things:

1) First don’t be a troll, means – don’t rumor monger, pass value judgements, make hateful comments, do mud-slinging, etc. Before getting aggressive, prank-full, offensive or angry with someone – do the self/family test. The test is to imagine and answer a simple question; if someone else said or did that to you or your family, how would you feel?

“This world is full of scoundrel’s, If you decide not to be one, then, you can count one scoundrel less”. ~ Unkown

2) Don’t quit the social media platforms, coz you will give up your own right and compromise your freedom and they will win. I know – easier said that done. May be, suspend your presence or take a break from the platform, but don’t quit and come back to your choice or life.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” ~ MKG

3) There are many anti-trolling communities and help groups out their, the best one is “your personal network” – let them take on the trolls along-with you and you shall gather a critical mass and finally win. But, remember help begins with self-help.

Thou shall win and not the Trolls ~Yashwant Mahadik