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Archive for the ‘writings’ Category

When I rewrote the speech for the fifth time I came to realise that speech-writing is a whole different creature. As a writer, I write for a reader to visualize a perspective of another reality. While as a speaker, my speech has to be written to get the audience involved in a matter of seconds.

I have discovered that the speaker is just an instrument, carrying a message, to impact the audience. Therefore the most important person in this whole equation is the audience, not the speaker standing on stage delivering his/her address. The ability to charm, to entice and to keep the attention of an audience requires talent and training. And while delivering the speech, one must be mindful to share emotions through tonal quality and gestures.

A speech, delivered with wit and enthusiasm, sells the meaning, the moral, the purpose and creates an impact long after the speaker has left the stage.

While on this journey to be an impactful speaker, I have come to appreciate the ability to communicate and present with effectiveness. I am even more in awe of people who can orate with such power and impact. It is a gift.

My journey as an author, has been writing stories that are evolving and developing in my head. I don’t communicate directly with a reader, I have time to edit, rewrite, and to reevaluate how to structure my work. It is a process. I can take my time to deliver my best work in writing.

Speaking requires a different format. It is having the confidence to meet the audience face-to-face and share an opinion with powerful words, voice, and persona. Using words, structuring an idea, and then articulating them with clarity – all of that in a limited time frame – what skill!!

When I was preparing my speech that would be evaluated on tonal quality and body language, I did practice in front of an imaginary audience, conscious of my hand movements, of my voice, presence and my expressions.

When I delivered my speech to the audience, I added more drama, and it felt like I was acting out a play. It was fun. I received a positive evaluation, and recognition for good use of body language, however I could have done better with vocal variety. The learning continues…

Differences between authoring a book and writing a speech:

  1. Speech: Write with the audience in mind, what will grip them, the way one delivers the first few words are important.
  2. Book: write to build a world for the reader to visualize. Be descriptive, be detailed with words that create an impact.
  3. Speech: When you share a story, don’t go too much into the details, bring the audience right into the centre of the story, like it is unfolding for them in the now. Keep them vested in what you are going to say next, like this: ‘I was in the Doctor’s office. I was only 8 years old, living in Africa….’ The suspense starts right away to capture the audience’s attention.
  4. Book: ‘When I was only 8 years old, I was living in a small town in Africa. I was a restless imaginative child who loved playing outdoors in the hot sun. Despite repeated warnings from my mother to stay indoors in the afternoons, I sneaked out to chase orange-grey lizards in the courtyard. I was a skinny little kid, and a poor eater. Worried about my health, my parents took me to visit the Doctor…’ When writing a book, it gets descriptive, and ideally one needs to create context, build the backdrop of the story slowly.
  5. Speech: Use gestures, pauses, emotive tones, expressions. Get the audience involved in your speech, in the way you are vested in it, get them to feel your joy or pain.
  6. Book: Describe emotions, all the five senses are explored to paint a picture of what’s happening. It is more detailed.

In both ways, the ability to touch hearts through words is the true power of communication.

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If you want to join a Toastmasters Club, be prepared to challenge yourself, and be prepared to take it seriously.

Even if it means you have to present your speech online, there is a structure to the two-hour meeting, and everyone is pretty much taking this journey seriously. So online or in-face, the journey to be an impactful speaker requires discipline and dedication.

I thought that online presentations would not have an impact on me. Facing a small laptop screen, where the people are visible in tiny squares, why would I feel intimidated? So, I didn’t do much preparation for this speech.

After my booster shot, I was lethargic, and had no incentive to sharpen and rewrite my speech. I was confident that I had everything in my head, clear about what I wanted to say.

That was foolish of me.

It was a speech with a purpose. A purpose requires thought and reflection. Requires clarity and concision. Requires conviction and energy.

When you go on the Toastmasters website, they explain in detail how to structure a speech. It could be chronological, topical, spatial, causal, comparative, problem/solution, particular/general/particular. And then there are the transitions. Writing a speech requires deep thought and planning.

In 700 words, or less, I needed to articulate clearly what I wanted the audience to understand about my speech with a purpose. And here I was taking it lightly. I should have written ten drafts. I delivered after two drafts. I had practiced the speech only once.

Preparation is key. Speech writing: 75%. And delivery practice: 25%.

The most crucial point is: What is the core of my speech? What are the takeaways that the audience will remember. One must write it down in different ways, a dozen times if necessary. Eventually one must condense the core idea to literally one sentence of seven words or less. To get that kind of precision requires reflection, and deeper understanding of what I wanted to say. I had done a shoddy job.

What I have discovered is that in speech preparation, making it as succinct, as captivating, and as audience-friendly as possible. The goal is to keep in mind that the audience is not going to get immersed in the speech if the speaker is half-hearted and not convinced by his or her own words.

The delivery – tone, expressions, body language, and presence – comes from practice and watching yourself. So, yes practice is necessary to ensure that there are limited number of ‘uhms’ and ‘ahs’.

As a story writer, I want to be able to create a unique way of telling a story. I am psyched by that idea. But first, let me tell you what happened at my second speech.

My speech was okay – I did it standing up. Despite the small squares of people watching, I was slightly nervous. The facilitators of the evening were keeping track of the time, language, and ‘ah’s, with a keen ear. There is pressure in that 5-7minutes of speech to create as much impact as possible. I did the best I could, but I self-reflected that I could have done better if I had prepared.

Speech review: the structure was okay. There was too much explaining, I rambled towards the last two minutes.

And that’s my learning. The writer in me knows I have the potential to improve.

I will be delivering the same speech next week. I have worked on the 5th draft, rewritten it, removed all the extra unnecessary bits. And by next week, hopefully, I will have a polished 10th draft. 🙂

This time the speech evaluators will be focusing on tonal quality, expressions and body language. I will be ready!

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2021 Self-Audit

There are moments in life when we take stock of the past, and realise many facets of ourselves. While COVID hangs over our heads as a warning that travel is a no-no, and we have to sit tight with masks on, my mind continues to wander, and my heart seeks guidance.

This year, I have a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for every moment with family and friends. I have also experienced a deep need to self-develop. Pushing through my comfort zone has been a challenge.

Ever since I wrote the book on self-esteem, my life has changed. I had researched not just the psychology behind our behaviour, but also to understand the self. The learnings I gleaned from motivational speakers, modern-day gurus, and empowered individuals resulted in applying the wisdom in my life. Inner work is all about the willingness to change the way we think, feel, and act.

I started with a morning ritual of gratitude. As a lover of the written word, I believe that words have the power to impact the way we communicate with ourselves and others. Therefore, besides words of gratitude, as much as possible, throughout the day, I monitored my inner dialogue, reflecting on the beliefs or conditionings that created a particularly negative thought process.

Fear has been a driving force in life. Converting my way of thinking, from a fear-based approach to a courage-based approach, had a great impact on the way I see myself today. In this year, I pushed through my comfort zone, challenged myself to face my fears. I held firm with determination, and pursued many new personal goals.

With these mindful changes, the greatest leaps began to happen. Not only did I notice a shift happening within me, I noticed that, as a result of my efforts, there was a difference externally.

I reverted to some of the learnings from the research in self-esteem. There is one particular teaching that resonated with me in 2021. In my book, Reboot Reflect Revive: Self-esteem in a Selfie World, I mention Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist, who shared her findings on growth and fixed mindsets.

Dweck popularized the idea of mindsets. She defines mindset as a simple idea that has a profound effect on a person’s life. ‘Mindset is the view that you accept for yourself what determines the way you live your life, see the world, and make decisions.’ After decades of research into people’s beliefs about themselves and their abilities, Dweck identified two fundamental mindsets that people have.

The first is a fixed mindset, which thinks that our abilities are innate or unchangeable. Our thoughts are rigid and conditioned. If we stick to a belief system, we are not able to look at an alternate point of view. When this mindset is predominant, failure can be unsettling because it makes us doubt ourselves from the root of who we are. The other way of thinking is the growth mindset, which means we expect that we can improve our basic qualities and capabilities. In this mindset, failure is not so problematic, for it shows us how to change and learn from our mistakes. We accept that change is inevitable, and in an ephemeral world, adapting to new ideologies and trends is necessary to stay in sync with the new generation. Resisting change affects our own mindsets.

Many people are afraid to change or push towards a goal because they feel that other people will not approve, or they might lose respect if they fail. It is true there are people who will judge or resent us for wanting to aspire towards a goal. But that is a choice that one must make based on one’s own mindset.

If you have a growth mindset, you are never too old to learn. 

In 2021, I trained to become a life coach. Having the mindset of a student was an adjustment, but by being a student, I have learned how to teach. With over 140 hours of training and coach practice, I have discovered ways to resolve limiting beliefs, and to empower others in finding their purpose to lead a more fulfilling life. My niche: mindset coach. We need a growth mindset to be open to change, to let go of old and bring in the new, to be brave enough to flow, undulating through the waters of life lessons.

2021 has been a year of learnings and great opportunities to redefine my priorities.

Having a platform to share my perspectives helped me understand my strengths and weaknesses. These platforms have given me opportunities to transform: Youtube channel, TEDx online, book launch plus coaching workshops @ Naveda, recognition at an Indian Businessmen’s Association event, launch at Bookazine, joining the WoHK, and completing a book project as a ghostwriter.

2021 has brought in many new people in my life. I am grateful for the cultivated relationships, stronger bonds, new friendships and the community of empowered individuals: life coaches, mentors, gurus, and wise souls who I have met this year, their very presence has taught me so much.

We are all born with certain skills, but our attitude toward improving them and ourselves ultimately determines our success in life.

Every moment in life is a moment of learning and understanding.

2021 has been a great teacher. Looking forward to another year of more writings and more discoveries.

Photo courtesy: @nellyhats

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Pivot. It is a Mindset shift.

When I look at the word Pivot, it brings to my mind a childhood memory of a playground – the see-saw – a rustic long wooden board fixed onto a triangular base -the fulcrum/pivot. This part is not meant to move. The person sitting on either end of the seesaw, moves up and down. This is done by pushing down/pushing up on one end of the seesaw. As children, we would sit on the ends of the wooden board, and push with our feet to see-saw back and forth. It was fun, it was exciting and we would always want to be ‘up’.

In science, a pivot is ‘the one central thing that something depends upon.’

In business, pivot means to shift in a new direction, to adjust to a new environment.

The point of pivoting still means that there is ‘one central thing’ that is immovable, that is the point of strength.

Pivoting relies on experience, on the ability to see a foreseeable future with a strategic goal. It can mean pushing the horizon of the product or service, to adapt to new ways of living. People are adjusting to the existing and new trends in business, online communications, work, and relationships. While many have found ways to pivot, others are looking at existing resources, fine-tuning skills and talents, to navigate into new directions.

The Financial Times lexicon defines it as ‘a shift in strategy.’

If I was to put it in context of our self-development: It is an ability to shift our mindset.

Pivoting is the ability to look at reality from a new angle. It is said that a crisis can become rare opportunities to pivot into new situations. Our thought processes pivot around limiting circumstances to find solutions. And when we find that one thing that can work, we are facing ‘up’.

When I wrote the book on self-esteem, I never realised that what I was doing was ‘pivoting’. The immovable part of my skill was my writing skills, the shift was in understanding the new potential to write in the self-help space. And then, I pivoted into becoming a life coach, pivoted further into ghostwriting.

In this process of pivoting, I was opening my self up to new opportunities and pushing through my comfort zone. I like being in a safe space and in my comfort zone. Oddly enough, the pandemic has broadened my horizons, given me the confidence to learn new skills.

Writing comes naturally, alone, in the comfort of my environment, but it’s always been communicating through written words. To pivot strategically has given me a much needed motivation to speak, to interact with people, to exchange ideas and develop a new way of thinking. And build new friendships and bonds.

Pivoting challenges our own beliefs of ourselves. It gives us a chance to renew ourselves. When every news bite tells us everything is falling apart, we can easily get stuck in a state of analysis paralysis.

When we pivot – we challenge the status quo. We proactively make a change to better our immediate environment. It is a mindset shift first, before it is a strategic action. We then help others find a way to deal with their situations. We look at existing difficulties from all angles, and then shift, and making small shifts can become a win/win.

Founded on the strength of experience, we can learn to pivot into any new direction. We just need to think differently, make a shift from within.

Thinking differently means learning how to use existing skills into a new field of work.

My writing career has been a path of self-development. With a new mindset I have pivoted into the self-improvement field. As a life coach, I can niche as a Writing Coach. It means that I link up my decades of experience as a writer, in helping others develop and write. To inspire others to be who they want to be, follow their dreams, and make a difference, is a new pivot.

Do pivot. It gives you a chance to rediscover yourself, redefine your strengths and becomes a reason to find out your true potential.

See-saw through life, look at the world around you. Which way are you looking? Up or Down?

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It started late one afternoon 6 months ago. 

*Ping* went the phone inside Alicia’s wallet. 

After three long weeks, and two less-than-stellar dates with the attorney from the bookstore down the street… she finally matched with the perfect partner on her favorite dating website. 

A few messages were exchanged, and they decided to meet up at the chic new Italian bistro downtown. 

As the conversation, drinks, and desserts kept flowing, they chatted about where they were from, their favorite hobbies, and recent travel adventures.

Not wanting the night to end, plans were made to meet up again the next day. 

As one date turned to two…

Then two into three…

And three into dozens more…

Things began getting more serious between Alicia and her new mate. 

“This is it!” she said, “I’ve finally found the one.”

Things were good until they weren’t.

One day out of the blue, about 3 months later, Alicia’s new man had a change of heart. 

“I have way too much going on and I can’t do this anymore. It’s over.”

Heartbroken, Alicia sat back and asked herself. 

How did this happen?

What did I do wrong?

How did I even end up here?

Relationships can be simultaneously wonderful and extremely complex to navigate at times. 

That’s just a fact of life. 

They also require a lot of work and self-reflection. 

They involve discovering who you are, knowing what you want and what to look for in a partner, and recognizing how past experiences have shaped you today. 

What if there was a way you could seamlessly incorporate and apply those elements into your life so you could finally begin to cultivate healthy relationships and thrive?

Relationships where you:

  • Are both heard 
  • Are in control of your emotions 
  • Are able to communicate effectively 

And most importantly feel loved… 

Friends, in just 1 week I’m giving you an exclusive opportunity to discover the secret to building a thriving, invigorating relationship with your partner — and I want you to be a part of it. 

This is your open invitation to join me and 21 other experts for The Missing Link to Healthy Relationships Summit: Heal the past and find love that lasts.

During this summit, you’ll gain powerful insights, practical tools, and easy to implement techniques that will help you confidently build a strong bond with your partner that will last for years to come. 

Our 21 experts will guide you through topics like:

  • How people just like you have created lives of self-love, joy, and happy partnership.
  • Uncovering why self-love is truly everything… 
  • How to make your achievement-orientation work for you (instead of blocking you with pressure & perfectionism!).
  • Why you need to stop dating… and be ready to fall in love – and how to do that!
  • How to fall in love before first sight – to connect with your future partner!
  • Why getting crystal-clear on your priority passions is an essential, game-changing step.
  • Powerful practices for instant emotional shifts – get out of “not good enough” and into the energy of all your desire.
  • How to understand the “masculine/feminine” thing at last… and how to use it regardless of gender or orientation.
  • The difference between healthy boundaries vs. lonely barriers.
  • Tips to rekindle your stamina for dating, if dating has become a drag – and get exciting results fast!
  • How to create an emotional connection on dates.
  • How to express your needs and desires in ways that make partners want to fulfill them!
  • Answers to the age-old question, “What do men want?” (You’ll love these answers!).
  • How to recognize emotional maturity in a prospective partner.
  • Feminine Qualities that Make a Woman Magnetic to a High Quality Man.
  • The Crucial Secret Ingredient All Relationships Need.

And so much more…

If you are looking to strengthen, develop, or build a strong and healthy relationship with yourself and those around you, you won’t want to miss this event. 

Here’s a sneak peak at just one of the many topics we’ll cover during the summit. 

Just imagine…

Knowing how to confidently develop and maintain a connection with those you care for — romantic and platonic.

Effectively communicating with your partner in a way where your needs are met. 

Making healthy choices for yourself.

Loving who you are and recognizing that you are valuable and have wonderful qualities to bring to the table.  

Doesn’t that sound great?

Once you join us you’ll have the mentors, tools, support, and resources to truly know what’s possible for you in love. 

And what’s more…

You’ll have the practical, science-backed guidance to fully realize that dream in your heart – even as you become utterly fulfilled in love with yourself, exactly as you are now.

 I’m personally inviting you to The Missing Link to Healthy Relationships Summit: Unlock your heart, heal the past and find love that lasts. 

I can’t wait for you to join us! This is an event you won’t want to miss.

Register here!

DATE: October 18, 2021 

Ready to discover your missing link to love? 

I’ll see you on the inside. 

Shobha N

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Have you thought about how you think? Reflected on how you feel? Have you hit upon the ‘whys’ in your life, and figured out the core issue?

I would like you to join me for an interaction on my book – it’s a virtual launch but it’s also a discussion.

When: Friday, 17th September, Virtual discussion: 4-6pm IST: Hosted by SAGE

We are wired from childhood to prove our worth, to be better than the best, to compare and aspire, to believe that we have to be perfect at everything. We enter a virtual battlefield where our self-esteem gets bashed. We are criticised, bullied, manipulated, and hated – not by others, but by our own selves.

Life goes on, and we live in this anguish of feeling undesirable, unsuccessful, and underappreciated. We go on, day after day, in a struggle to fight those feelings of worthlessness.

We seem to have forgotten an important fact: We are flawed human beings, and we are not meant to lead perfect lives, have robotic levels of perfectionism, or fit into a body shape. We are unique, different and each one of us has different sets of skills and talents. We contribute to society in our own distinctive and creative ways.

Reboot Reflect Revive Self-esteem in a Selfie World is not a self-help book, it raises the curtain on how much this world has conditioned us to lose our core worth. How our limiting beliefs has affected the relationship with the self.

Through honest stories, inspiring life experiences, interviews with experts, cutting-edge research, latest studies, this book shares the glaring reality of the pressures of our hypercompetitive society. It depicts the way we crucify ourselves to fit in, it shows what happens when we estimate our worth as nothing. This book raises awareness of the urgent need for self-acceptance and self-compassion.

Now more than ever, we need to reboot, reflect, and revive our self-esteem.

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‘The more we accept our thoughts without thinking about them, the more we define ourselves by what we think, the more likely it is we are living in some internal stress loop of suffering. Belief in our unexamined internal stories is not a belief in facts.’ The Unlimited Self by Jonathan Heston

Heston’s words gives us pause for thought. What Heston shares is something we know innately but find it difficult to do. To me his words resonate from a mindful and a spiritual context. If we are not self-aware, if we get caught up in the emotions, and then make choices, we are leading a reactive life. The stories we tell our selves and excuses we make are due to circumstances or other’s actions.

Let’s take a step back and see why we tend to behave in this reactive way.

  1. We are not our thoughts: If you put some distance from your inner commentary, and just observe, you will notice that most of your thoughts are there to a) justify one’s actions, b) nulify someone else c) victimise one self. We have the capacity to change our thinking style.
  2. Stuck Beliefs: When we are conditioned from childhood by our parents, teachers, elders, to follow a certain path in life, we tend to forget that actually, we can create a new path, we are unique and living in a different time.
  3. Self -esteem: We compare ourselves with others, and often feel we are not good enough. If we lack the attitude of acceptance towards self and others, every aspect of our life is affected by the way we approve of ourselves, and value ourselves in context to the world. Every thought, behaviour and action can be linked back to how we feel about ourselves. If you are wired to follow a certain way of thinking which is to be unkind and critical to yourself, every behaviour and action becomes a struggle. Every goal and dream will remain unfulfilled.

Writing this book on self-esteem has been a journey of self-discovery to understand the relevance of how we value or devalue ourselves in this hyperconnected world. If we can take the inside-out approach to our life, we can find a way to wards a path of fulfilment.

It is time to reboot your thinking style, reflect on your inner needs, and revive your goals that bring meaning and purpose to your life.

It has brought some meaning to mine.

This book is not to tell you what’s wrong or what there is to fix in ourselves. It is not a self-help book, it is more of a self-understanding book, covering real life stories of different people and to give us an glimpse of the different ways to face life.

Why i wrote it? Because it helped me realise that it is okay to be okay with oneself, as I am, flaws and all.

Do take out some time and read this book. It has made a difference to me, I hope it will make a difference to you

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Cross connecting Thoughts

Be aware. We have discovered that our thoughts are so powerful that we can change the course of our destiny. What if our thoughts are powerful enough to change someone else’s destiny?

When we come into contact with people there’s a reason to either learn from them or to teach. Therefore in our hyperconnected world where energies connect on unseen levels, we think of certain individuals with kindness or bitterness. We then think certain thoughts about them. These thoughts create feelings which is energy. So when that energy transmits there is an effect. The kind of effect that becomes positive or negative. That person can feel it. Even if they don’t realise it, that thought creates an impression.

We wonder how much is coming from another person or how much of my thoughts are truly mine.

Next time a thought pops into your head. Ask yourself: ‘was that me or someone else?’

So when you think of another person send out positive vibes. Because what goes out, eventually returns.

Let’s think supportive and kind thoughts.

Stay well in mind and spirit.

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Travel Tales around the World

TravTrails

Sue Slaght of http://www.traveltalesoflife.com has compiled a series on the effect of COVID 19 around our world and I am honoured to participate.

The full text is here : https://traveltalesoflife.com/covid-19-turkey-france-india-england/

Table of Contents

It is heartening to read how residents of other countries are dealing with this physical and emotional wrecker, some with humor and some with despair. We can all pray that we have the strength to help others and ourselves. As I write this India figures have crossed the 60,000 mark and increasing by the hour.

There is more:

You may also be interested in reading

Views of COVID-19- Thailand, Mexico, Spain and Australia

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People come in all shapes and sizes. Some are cunning and purposefully bitter, and others are there to teach us to reframe our expectations.

I have found that people are inherently good. They just come from a bad place when they get ugly with words or attitude.

It doesn’t really matter how anyone reacts, because everyone changes over time. The problem is the end goal, how does one achieve it? Forcibly? By annihilating other people’s careers? Or is it through team effort, with patience and harmony. There are different fields of work that require a bold blunt attitude, that requires the warlike ambition to push forward to succeed. And great news is that there are personality types who are capable of doing just that. And I respect them for their capacity to be all head and no heart. But not all are cut from the same cloth.

How we really live our lives is really our own choice. Childhood conditioning colours our views of the world and our ability to reason and decide what we want or don’t want to do in life. I’ve soon realised that we need to recondition ourselves constantly. We must break the binds of our conditioned behaviour to understand ourselves, and others, better, and to be able to adjust to other people’s constantly changing attitudes.

I believe that, ‘this is the way I am conditioned’ is a real cop-out phrase. Here’s why:

  1. Fear: The draining energy of dread and fear of those who have conditioned us is what holds us back. Fear of failure and fear of other people’s opinions drag us down. If fear sits on you like a heavy weight, then it’s time to learn to shift the mindset, and  lift that weight, bury it under the strength of sheer willpower.
  2.  Being conditioned is saying: ‘I don’t know what is right for me, so I let others decide what I am supposed to do with my life.’ Seriously? Look at other people’s lives and learn from them, how did they break away from shackles, how did they understand right from wrong, their own strengths and weaknesses, and to live on their own terms.
  3. Life teaches us a bunch of lessons, hard ones, and we grow and learn from them. And help others to find their meaning, because of the lessons we’ve learned.

I have realised that, in life, all that matters, really, is how you learn to adapt to evolutionary times, and changing attitudes. The ugly truth will always remain: there will be others who will despise you for who you are. Let that not be a reason to falter.

My book ‘The Blue Jade‘ shares this form of self-discovery in Neelam, my protagonist. She faces a tonne of upheavals and obstacles to achieve her goals.

Blue Jade IMG-20191231-WA0027

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