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June 2009

Lessons learned from Michael Jackson



I have been a Michael Jackson (MJ) Fan since I was little and all of my high school buddies were captivated with his style, moves and his unforgettable songs. I still remember buying my first set of CDs which I bought in US was the "Thriller and Dangerous" from my stipend. For those of us who grew up in the 80's he was a big pop star and still to this date, his style is unparalleled. Today the talk of the town was Michael Jackson. Most people were just upset with the demise and has been flipping channels reading more about how this event happened, getting depressed about the whole thing. There is no question that he will be missed.

But what can we learn from his life?

I am not discussing about the controversy surrounding his personal life but regarding his past successes and failures.  What is that we can learn from this icon's life?

Yes, MJ was extremely talented and worked hard to earn that reputation of reaching out to all over the world. One of the biggest temptations successful people face is to stop thinking big. After a taste of success, even the best and brightest like MJ suddenly start to think complacently. When they are on a roll, some tighten up and start playing it safe. They stop playing to win and begin playing not to lose. Where they once thought big and new, now they think incrementally.

We have seen people lose their momentum and then lose the fortune because instead of playing to win, they began to play not to lose? They get ahead, but then they pull back and stop playing with the intensity that earned them the lead. Back in the 80s, he appears to be cruising toward its best years ever, when all of a sudden the focus shifted from gaining momentum to sustaining momentum. The moment there is change in focus, momentum vanishes.

Momentum is definitely great inflator. When you have it, people think you're better than you are. You are on a roll and everybody is amazed by your success. When you lose momentum, people think you're worse than you are. Momentum magnifies your performance, and positive momentum can be a potent force to push you forward.

We are today where our thoughts brought us, and we will be tomorrow where our thoughts take us.When we stop thinking big as leaders and dwell upon protecting past successes, we start to think conservatively. The big thoughts that gave us a big year are replaced by conservative thoughts which will give us a mediocre year.

What are we supposed to do when experience successes??

I learned from successful entrepreneurs not to slow down and read the press clippings (of your own success).Instead look around for somebody that's bigger, better, faster, and smarter than you are. Study their successes and benchmark your results against theirs. I did this when I was preparing for coming to US, because very quickly in my field I had successes. Instead of being content with where I was, I started associating with people who were performing better. It was an exercise in humility; but I immediately realized the way to refocus wasn't to compare myself against everyone I was beating, but to compare myself with somebody better than I was.

I noticed by watching my advisor Dr. KS Viswanathan never to be satisfied with status quo. Dissatisfaction does not mean you are never pleased or satisfied. Nor is it a license to beat yourself up or come down hard on your people. Instead, it's a creative awareness that you can do better. You can do more to improve personally and to invest exhaustively in the growth of your team. This state of mind unlocks your comfort zone and prompts you to keep on stretching. I have observed a pattern that they maintain just enough discomfort to keep them continually alert and engaged.

If you can reach your goals with a "business as usual" approach, then your goals are too small. A goal is only effective when it forces changes, big decisions, and bold action. The thinking of a leader is contagious to the team. As a leader, you broadcast your way of thinking to people around you, and they are  going to pick up on your signals immediately. Unsuccessful leaders focus their thinking on survival."If I can just make it through the year." Average leaders focus their thinking on maintenance."If I can just hold on to what I have." Successful role models focus their thinking on continual progress.

MJ displayed amazing show of talent, set a high standard but slowed down and started relying on past successes. Great leaders are constantly creating their own conditions for success by blazing new trails.

Let us learn from this great icon to blaze new trail, keep the momentum on but also strive for  high standards of excellence which makes us a continuous learner and taking responsibility by looking at the Man in the Mirror

Like MJ  said " If you wanna make the world a better place, then take a look at yourself and make the change."

Are you working towards Ultimate Pinnacle Performance?

-Karthik Gurumurthy


On May 29, 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to summit Mt. Everest.  At 29,035 feet, it is the tallest point on earth.  However, he didn't achieve this accomplishment his first attempt.  In fact, in 1952 a few weeks after a failed attempt, he was addressing a group of people in England.  During his talk, he walked to the edge of the platform, made a fist and pointed at a picture of the mountain. He said in a loud voice, "Mount Everest, you beat me the first time, but I'll beat you the next time because you've grown all you are going to grow... but I'm still growing!"  He knew that his personal growth of knowledge and skill would inevitably lead to overcoming the mountain itself.

I believe the greatest feat the late Sir Edmund Hillary (1919-2008) achieved wasn’t conquering Mt. Everest but rather it was conquering himself.  How easy would it have been for him to say, “It can’t be done.  I’ve tried and failed.  Nobody has ever done it.  Forget it.”  Rather, he said, “I’m still growing!...” and he did it.


How high can you climb?  The mountain is in your mind.  The world is simply an extension of it.  The following three belief principles are the tools that you will need to use in the process of climbing your mental Everest's.


   1. Somebody must be the first to do it.
   2. Your past doesn’t need to predict your future.
   3. God is in the business of miracles

Somebody must be the first to do it.

Have you ever considered the fact that everything ever accomplished in the history of the world, once held the title, “Never been done”?  One of the reasons I love sports so much is that World Records are set all the time.  A World Record is something that says anything more is ‘impossible’ or at least has never been done before.  When a new record is set, somebody moves that standard forward.

Of course one of the most famous ‘impossible’ athletic feats accomplished was Sir Roger Bannister’s sub-4 minute mile.  On May 6, 1954 (one year after Sir Edmund Hillary’s ‘impossible’ summit of Mt Everest), Roger Bannister broke the four minute barrier with a time of 3:59.4.  Many at the time considered it physiologically impossible.  Yet, Bannister proved that to be false as did the 17 others who broke the four minute barrier the three years following Bannister’s feat. 

There are times when we really must work hard not to let our own self-imposed limitations dictate what can and can not be done.  Often, we don't even know that we do it.  We simply notice the bar of achievement that others have reached and subconsciously limit ourselves to that point.  There are fantastic stories of people accomplishing greatness when they were simply unaware of where the bar of achievement was set.  One of the best examples of unknowingly raising the bar is a story about George Dantzig.

In Dantzig's own words, "During my first year at Berkeley I arrived late one day to one of [Dr. Jerzy] Neyman's classes. On the blackboard were two problems which I assumed had been assigned for homework. I copied them down. A few days later I apologized to Neyman for taking so long to do the homework - the problems seemed to be a little harder to do than usual. I asked him if he still wanted the work. He told me to throw it on his desk. I did so reluctantly because his desk was covered with such a heap of papers that I feared my homework would be lost there forever.  About six weeks later, one Sunday morning about eight o'clock, Anne and I were awakened by someone banging on our front door. It was Neyman. He rushed in with papers in hand, all excited: "I've just written an introduction to one of your papers. Read it so I can send it out right away for publication." For a minute I had no idea what he was talking about. To make a long story short, the problems on the blackboard which I had solved thinking they were homework were in fact two famous unsolved problems in statistics. That was the first inkling I had that there was anything special about them."

Everything ever invented, every record ever set, every problem ever solved was by somebody who decided (occasionally unknowingly) that the ‘impossible’ is actually ‘possible’.  Why must others’ performance limit your own?  Somebody needs to be the first.  Why not you?  Why not now?

Your past doesn’t need to predict your future.

Have you ever said to yourself, “Well, I’ve just never been able to do that” or “This is just who I am”?  The truth is your past doesn’t need to determine what you achieve or who you are today.  In fact, who you are today is merely a result of who you have been; a result of your decisions.  Who you are right now is a person free to choose whatever you want.  Your decisions today will result in who you become tomorrow.

If you want to change the past, change today.  Because, today will be tomorrow’s past.  Get it?  The best analogy I have heard is that of a boat’s wake.  The wake is not what drives the boat but rather it is the trail that is left behind.  You may reflect on the past and learn from the past but you must understand that it does not drive your future.

Your past failures do not make you personally a failure.  In fact, it’s often said, “The road of success is paved with failure.”  Learn and move on with greater wisdom.  Consider the words of Thomas Edison from an interview published in the January 1921 issue of American Magazine.  "After we had conducted thousands of experiments on a certain project without solving the problem, one of my associates, after we had conducted the crowning experiment and it had proved a failure, expressed discouragement and disgust over our having failed to find out anything. I cheerily assured him that we had learned something.  For we had learned for a certainty that the thing couldn't be done that way, and that we would have to try some other way."

God is in the business of miracles.

I have heard my mentors TD and Suparna say this quite often, "Work like everything depends on you and pray like everything depends on God".  Kanti Gala once mentioned in 7-Springs that, “Stop telling God how big your problems are and start telling your problems how big your God is.”

Why is it that we feel it so necessary to put the world on our shoulders?  There is no glory to God if you can do it all yourself.  When you look to a greater source than yourself, you will find tremendous strength.  Ironically, dropping to your knees is very empowering.  When “I’m” taken out of the equation, the ‘Impossible’ becomes ‘Possible’.

Invite God to captain your ship and produce miracles in your life.  Remember, your creator didn't create you for harm.  That makes no sense.  If He can create the universe, He can certainly help guide you through your part in it.  To truly fulfill your Life Purpose and achieve more than you believe you are capable of achieving, remove your ego and your control from the center of your life and replace it with your faith, your spirituality, your relationship with God.  No longer will you depend upon your abilities but rather on His. 

Are you getting closer to your goals?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

What did you do today that is getting you closer to your goals?

As you live your days, you are creating your life. What you do today is actually creating your future. The words you speak, the thoughts you think, the food you eat and the actions you take are defining your destiny – shaping who you are becoming and what your life will stand for. There's no such thing as an unimportant day.

Each of us is called to greatness. Each of us has an exquisite power within us. But for this power to grow, we need to use it. The more you exercise it each day, the stronger it gets. The more this power gets tapped, the more confident you grow.

The best among us are not more gifted than the rest. They just take small steps each day as they march towards their biggest life. And the days slip into weeks, the weeks into months and before they know it, they arrive at a place called X- Tra Ordinary.

Happy Father's day


Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there. Every father should strive to live up these ideals with their children.  I am thankful that my dad taught me the importance of integrity,hard work, discipline, reading and thinking.  What a great gift he gave to me and my brother Aravind!


How is your Emotional Quotient(EQ)?

- Karthik Gurumurthy


In Daniel Goleman's  book, Emotional Intelligence, he discussed a study done with a group of four-year-olds and marshmallows. They tested the children’s EQ’s (Emotional Quotient – A term he coined) with the intent to determine whether it or IQ had a more profound effect on one’s future success.

In this study, the children were placed in a room individually at a table with a marshmallow. They were given the following proposal: The instructor is going to leave for about 10 minutes. If you wait until he returns, you can have two marshmallows for a treat. If you can't wait until then, you can only have one--but you can have it right now.

The results were dramatic. When observing these same children as they were graduating high school, in Goldman's own words, "Those who resisted the temptation at four were now, as adolescents, more socially competent: personally effective, self-assertive, and better able to cope with the frustrations of life. They were less likely to go to pieces, freeze, or regress under stress, or become rattled or disorganized when pressured; they embraced challenges and pursued them instead of giving up even in the face of difficulties; they were self-reliant and confident, trust-worthy and dependable; and they took initiative and plunged into projects. And, more than a decade later, they were still able to delay gratification in pursuit of their goals."

The point is that one’s success has much more to do with their EQ than their IQ. This should be great news because your IQ is fixed and never changes, however, your EQ can increase with personal development. Think about it; that should make sense. You may never be great at solving math problems but you can learn to walk away from that cake that you feel keeps calling your name.

As a fairly new area of psychological research, the definition of Emotional Intelligence is constantly changing. However, it generally includes the following abilities as described in Daniel Goleman's 1998 book, Working with Emotional Intelligence:
• Self-awareness - the ability to read one's emotions and recognize their impact while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
• Self-management - involves controlling one's emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
• Social awareness - the ability to sense, understand, and react to other's emotions while comprehending social networks.
• Relationship management - the ability to inspire, influence, and develop others while managing conflict.

The success and significance of your life will be directly related to how well you work with others. There is simply no way around it. Your purpose will have to do with other people and the higher your EQ, the tighter your connection will be with them. Studying and understanding the science of Emotional Intelligence and raising your personal Emotional Quotient is one of the greatest self-development focuses you can have.

Before we leave the topic, however, here is a quick pop-quiz: You are driving home in your brand new dream car. Suddenly, you hear a loud bang coming off your right car door. You look in your side-view mirror only to see one of the young neighborhood boys standing on the curb. You realize he just threw a large rock and it slammed into the side of your car. Okay, how are you feeling? Mad? Disgusted? What do you do? Most people would stop, back up and confront the boy. Let's say you do. However, when you back up and park the car, the boy starts to run off over a mound of dirt behind the curb. You look at your new car and your door has a big dent in it. Do you follow him? A survey done says that most people would. However, when you catch up to the boy, he stops, looks at you and says, "I'm so sorry Mr." "Look! My brother was riding his bike when he fell and now he's unconscious. I couldn't get anyone to stop and help me so I had to throw the rock. I'm sorry. Please help my brother." Looking over, you do indeed see his brother laying on the ground not moving. How do you feel now? Are you still mad or disgusted?

Isn't it amazing how quickly our emotions and, therefore, our attitude can change? Now, let me ask you--what caused the change? The situation was the same all along. The only thing that changed was your understanding of all the facts. What if you didn't stop and just drove home mad. Once home, you tell your spouse about how terrible the little boy is and what a bad influence he is on the neighborhood. Your dialog leads to anger in your spouse who, in turn, shares it with others. Rumors begin to fly and damage is done. One of the simplest lessons to learn in order to begin raising your EQ is to not jump to conclusions.

You must be knowing the popular radio star Paul Harvey who died recently. He would get a newspaper and read a story sharing the facts as it was written. Then, he would pause and say his famous line, "And now for the rest of the story," adding facts and commentary that wasn't included in the original story. Once he finished, the listeners had a whole new understanding of what it was all about. Remember that line, and the possibility there is more to the story when events happen, and you will raise your EQ instantly. At least it’s a start. Join me in a life long commitment to this area of growth.

Lessons from Lamaze

by Karthik Gurumurthy

Today Shobana and I attended the Lamaze class. One of the highlights from our instructor Marcia is, pressure is good. She was addressing to the audience who are expecting couples to work through their childbirth in a way that is mutually knowledgeable, satisfying and supportive. One of the most common questions the couples had was, "Is it normal to feel lot of pressure"? Is that OK?

I can see what Marcia meant with the business endeavor we are working on.Pressure can actually enhance your performance. Your power most fully exerts itself when the heat is on. Who you truly are only surfaces when you place yourself in a position of discomfort. Challenge serves beautifully to introduce you to your best - and most brilliant - self. Please stop and think about that idea for a second or two. Easy times don't make you better. They make you slower and more complacent and sleepy. Staying in the safety zone - and coasting through life - never made anyone bigger. Sure it's very human to take the path of least resistance. And I would agree it is pretty normal to want to avoid putting stress on yourself by intensely challenging yourself to shine. But greatness never came to anyone normal. (Bill Gates, Rich DeVos, Mahatma Gandhi, Richard Feynman and Thomas Edison definitely marched to a different drumbeat - thank God).

I love the story of famed explorer Hernando Cortez. He landed on the shores of Vera Cruz, Mexico in 1519 and wanted his army to conquer the land for Spain. Faced an uphill battle: an aggressive enemy, brutal disease and scarce resources. As they marched inland to do battle, Cortez ordered one of his lieutenant’s back to the beach with a single instruction: "burn our boats." My kind of guy.

How fully would you show up each day - at work and in life - if retreat just wasn't an option?  How high would your reach, how greatly would you dare, how hard would you work and how loud would you live if you knew 'your boats were burning' - that failure just wasn't a possibility?  Diamonds are formed through intense pressure. And remarkable human beings get formed by living from a frame of reference that they just have to win. Ask new <>s Suresh and Sandhya Partha.


Pushing the envelope

Go Diamond 2009 067

Karthik with TD

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Earlier today, I was listening to the speech given by my mentor Tirthankar Dutta (TD). TD is extremely known for developing global business team all over the world. He has empowered copious amounts of people from different backgrounds all over the world and helped them reach their dreams and goals. The speech I was listening to was from a kate conference which he did for our team few months back. He talked about leadership and how the best get better. One of the new people who attended to the conference call for the first time asked him what's the best thing he's learned to be successful. “Always be pushing the envelope,” TD replied.

Sure being a leader is a lonely act. The very definition of being a leader means you are out in front – with no one else. Taking the road less traveled. Taking responsibility for results in a world that blames. Seeing possibilities that no one else has yet dreamed of. If you were in the herd, thinking and behaving like everyone else, then you wouldn't be a leader – you'd be a follower.

So push the envelope. Refuse to accept the ordinary. Let go of the chains that have bound you to the mediocre gang. And definitely leave the herd . Stand for your best. Devote to excellence. Become wildly crazy about doing the activities that puts you ahead in the game and wear your passion on your sleeve. They might call you different or weird or crazy. But please remember, every great leader was initially laughed at. Now they are honored. TD always used to say in a funny way, "It is better to be crazy and rich than intelligent and broke".

Always remember where you came from

-Karthik Gurumurthy

There is a need to fight the dangers success brings. Dangers like arrogance, complacency and inefficiency. All too often when a person or an organizations reaches lofty success, they stop doing the very things that made them successful. And therefore, success introduces them to the beginning of their end.

Just read these words of author Po Bronson that I wanted to share with you:

"Failure's hard but success is far more dangerous. If you're successful at the wrong thing, the mix of praise and money and opportunity can lock you in forever."

Remembering Pravin Chheda

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I was recently challenged to look at how I live my days. How I choose to spend my hours. Who challenged me? I challenged myself. Life is short, we are told frequently to live each day to the fullest. A friend of mine always says that once a person accepts his or her mortality they can start to live a more full life. Some might say thinking that you might die is a sad thought, I think it's actually extremely powerful thinking.

I was just reminiscing one of our wonderful associate Pravin Chheda who went to be with God last year around the same time. He is a great man really too young to have left us, but what he left is a legacy.

I remember a few years ago while spending some time with Pravin he said to the associates, "Isn't this a great opportunity we have, we get to see and change the future every day!"

So true, living life to the fullest. Living every day as if it where their last. He will be missed and the positive comments about his life has been pouring in even now. I guess that's a way to live forever. It is said that how you live each day is a reflection of how you live your life. Powerful thought.

Here is today's question...

What are you doing every day to live to the fullest? What could you do differently to make each day count? What are you going to do today?