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March 2010

Connecting with people

-Karthik Gurumurthy

There are few books which I revisit and reread once in six months. One such book would be "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. I have the 1944 edition of this book which was given to my dad as a gift by his cousin brother. Yes, the book is old but the contents are not.

Every time I read this, I get something new out of that book as if I am reading the book for the first time. Today I got some quiet uninterrupted time for myself and was able to read some of it. This is what I got out of it. To establish good connection with people, these would be 10 big ones.

1. Smile.

The best thing you can do when you meet someone for the first time is simply smile!

This is the number one secret for getting people to like you instantly – and it is free:-)

Try this time next you are in a crowd of strangers. Just smile gently and see what reaction you get back.

You can even go through your whole life wearing a goofy smile all the time – if nothing else, people will wonder what you are smiling about!

2. Remember their name.

When you first meet someone, ask them their name and then be sure to remember it.

If their name is unusual ask them how it should be correctly pronounced and even ask where it is from.

Be sure to address them by their name early on in the conversation – that will also help you remember it.

To most people, the sound of their own name is the most beautiful sound in the world!

3. Look people in the eye.

In any conversation, look at the person you are talking to and maintain eye contact as appropriate. This will also help you follow what they are saying.

Clearly you don’t want to spook them out by fixedly staring into their eyes either!

If you can’t get used to the idea of looking people in the eye, then practice looking into your own eyes in front of a mirror. This can be quite a confrontational exercise for some people but it will do wonders for your own self-acceptance.

4. Listen completely.

The greatest gift you can give a person is your undivided attention. Practice your listening skills by focusing completely on that person and being present.

Give them your 100% attention. Stop your mind from wandering and focus on what they are saying. Make the other person feel important. Your undivided attention tells the other person that you genuinely value them.

Be genuinely interested in other people. The emphasis here is on being interested rather than ‘interesting’. Be genuine about this and do not fake it. Focus on what they have to say rather than harping on about yourself and your own grandness!

Just remember the old saying – we all have two ears and one mouth – use them accordingly.

The key is to be completely present for the other person and to truly listen with your heart.

5. Build empathy and rapport.

As you listen, build empathy and rapport with your new friend.

Focus not on just the words but the nuances of what they are saying. For example, do they sound excited or bored when they talk about their job?

You will also pick up clues and remember what to talk about later in your conversation – they will be impressed with what you have remembered.

By truly empathizing with the other person, you will get to understand better their point of view. And people just adore those who are interested in their point of view!

6. Look for opportunities of helping them.

As you get to know someone better, look for ways of helping and supporting them perhaps by referring them to a friend who could be interested in their service.

Look for ways of connecting new friends with any existing like minded friends. If you have promised to do something for them, make sure you do so promptly.

You will soon create a reputation as someone who is highly connected, someone who can be trusted and someone who delivers! Building trust comes with being good for your word and being accountable.

7. Don’t give advice!

Sometime during a conversation with a new friend, you may be tempted to simply butt in and offer a solution.

However before you do so, always seek permission before you offer your input as people don’t like to be seen to be helpless.

Also, your advice should be subtly delivered rather than telling them bluntly what they should do.

Of course as your friendship develops you can be more forthcoming with your words of wisdom – but again with their permission of course.

Needless to say, it is important to be respectful of other people’s feelings and opinions. Be tactful as appropriate to the situation.

At the same time, though some people may seek out your advice they just don’t want to change – in that case, let them be and don’t make it your issue. My good friend Dr. Shamik Jain used to have this in the Email signature "Don't give advice-Fools don't heed it and Wise men don't need it".

8. Be positive.

Everyone likes to be around positive, energetic and bubbly, and not someone who is a merchant of doom and gloom.

As I heard someone say once – some people light up the room when they enter it, others light it up when they leave! Which one would you rather be?

So never dump your stuff on others. Life is too short to go around with a miserable face.

Also, learn to only say good things about others – never gossip about others as it will inevitably come back to you, and affect your friendships. Assume that anyone you are talking about can hear what you are saying about them. And actually at a subconscious level they are.

If people know you as a positive person who doesn’t get involved in gossiping, they will know you can be trusted and you will soon have a reputation as someone with integrity.

9. Be friendly and open.

It goes without saying that you must be friendly and open to make new friends! Yet so often people go through life closed and not open to new opportunities and friendships.

Knowing that everyone around you is doing the best they can, you can let down your own guard and become more open and even vulnerable.

Show your appreciation and gratitude in every way you can. Say your thanks genuinely and wholeheartedly to your new friends and especially to all those strangers who do so much to make your life convenient and easy, such as mailman and the janitor.

Your new friends will gauge you on how well you treat strangers – so make it a life long habit be always pleasant and friendly to all strangers who cross your path.

10. Be authentic and yourself.

Do you go through life trying to impress others with your status, fame and  achievements? If that is the case, then know that doing so rarely makes people genuinely like you.

From today onwards, give up trying to impress others and especially so when you meet new people. Instead of blowing your trumpet too loudly, just be authentic.

Who you are will shine through more brightly than any number of accolades or worldly ornaments.

Final words

People will come and go from your life, but their impact and their essence remains with you forever.

It is therefore up to you what you make of their presence in your life – and by applying these, they can be friends for life

More than anything, to have a friend be one yourself.


Nuggets from "9 things a Leader must do"

-Karthik Gurumurthy

 9things
 

I am currently reading the book "9 things a Leader must do" by Dr. Henry Cloud. The book is a must-read for everyone. Leading organizations is one thing, but the first person to lead is leading oneself. This book has lot of small stories which illustrates the point. One of the things which caught my attention after today's reading was what the author mentioned about how to be a successful leader. 

The author said,  "To be a successful leader, you many not keep everyone around you happy. In fact, if you are successful in any arena of life, you are guaranteed to tick some people off! When all people speak well of you, it means that you are duplicitious and a people-pleaser. You cannot speak the truth, live out good values, and choose your own direction without disappointing some people.

The key is not to count your critics, but instead to weigh them. Forget the popularity polls. Don't try to avoid upsetting people; just make sure you are upsetting the right ones. If kind, loving, responsible and honest people are upset with you, then you had better look at the choices you are making. But if controlling, hot and cold, irresponsible, or manipulative people are upset with you, then take courage it might be a sign that you are doing the right thing and becoming a deja vu leader!"

So true isn't it! It resonates well with what Bill Cosby said " He who pleases all pleases none".


Great Expectations

by Dr. John C. Maxwell

A primary responsibility of leadership is to communicate expectations, both with words and actions. When leaders carefully and consistently set expectations, they engineer a flourishing work environment. However, when leaders abdicate their duty to communication expectations, chaos ensues. Here are six rules of thumb to follow as you set expectations in your organization.

1) Set them for yourself first

Leaders must set the bar the highest for themselves. They must go first and give the most. Leaders who demand more of their people than they do of themselves quickly lose credibility with followers. However, leaders who commit to taking the first step demonstrate their belief in the vision, and they earn the right to ask others to follow.

2) Set them early 

Have you ever boarded a train without being entirely sure if it was the correct one? If so, then you probably didn't feel at ease until the conductor announced its destination. Once you knew the route, you could relax and enjoy the ride.

Uncertainty causes anxiety. People have an innate need to know where they're headed. They want goals to guide them and targets to hit. By communicating expectations early, leaders provide direction. People feel secure when they know the plan and have a good idea of what the future holds.

3) Set them clearly

Confusion breeds frustration. When a leader fails to communicate clear expectations, people must guess at what he or she wants. Oftentimes those assumptions do not line up with the leader's desires, causing followers to misspend time or squander energy.

Clearly communicated expectations spell out a leader's vision and define everyone's roles and responsibilities. Unambiguous expectations also align activity, provide structure, and promote harmony. Serving as a reference point, clear expectations allow people to evaluate their performance and gauge whether or not they succeeding.

4) Set them optimistically 

People generally perform in a way that's consistent with our expectations of them. That's why it's important to believe the best about those around you. When we give others a worthwhile reputation to uphold, they will stretch to meet our expectations. However, if we view others negatively, then we're likely to treat them without respect. In turn, sensing we dislike them, people are apt to put in minimum effort and to confirm our suspicions of them.

5) Set them realistically

Inexperienced leaders have a nasty habit of offering more than they, or their teams, can give. In doing so, they damage their character, sever relationships with customers, and discourage those they lead. In making exaggerated claims to gain business, they actually lose business in the long run after failing to come through.

Under promise and over deliver. Be sensible about your commitments, and diligently follow through on them. You don't get credit for intentions, only for accomplishment. Set your people up for success by setting aggressive but attainable goals for them.

6) Exceed them consistently

Go above and beyond what others expect from you as a leader. People expect you to be fair, but be generous as well. People expect you to respect them, but show you care for them, too. People expect you to be judicious when you exercise authority, but be willing to serve also. Over time, as you exceed expectations, talented people will flock to your organization. Everyone wants to work for a leader who has his or her best interests in mind and leads with excellence on a consistent basis.



Be a river

Great article written by author Mark Sanborn about Growth. Lot of great nuggets. Enjoy!

-Karthik

MarkS

I’ve been listening to a CD of a panel presentation from a conference I recently attended. The participants were all long-time friends and colleagues in the speaking business. They are all highly successful in their respective fields and I’ve seen great growth in them and their careers over the years.

The insights and perspectives they shared were very valuable and I have benefited from their collective wisdom.

In listening, I was reminded of something very important about highly successful people.

First, they invest regularly and significantly in their own growth.

I know each of these individuals and they have spent serious time and money in seeking out the best resources, whether professional associations, coaches or educational experiences.

Second, they become conduits of what they’ve learned.

Each freely shares what they’ve learned with colleagues and clients. Their exceptional expertise has created great demand for their services. Not only have they profited from their skills and abilities, but they have been willing to help others who desire to do the same.

They have become rivers.

Highly successful people are more concerned with their growth than their comfort; they are more committed to learning than leisure. That means they invest in learning and development.

But they don’t stop there. Not only do they share; they increase their expertise and abilities in the sharing. A wonderful synergy takes place when they help others. People learn from the successful, but the successful learn not just from the people they teach but from the teaching process itself.

The lesson, if you aspire to become and stay successful: be a river.



Build your experience

-Karthik Gurumurthy

 Mist1
 

So easy to beat yourself up over blunders you've made. So many amongst us live in the past rather than loving the present and building a brilliant future. Some people stay stuck for years over something they did or a failure they've experienced. Sad. A life is a terrible thing to waste.

Blunder But let me ask you a question: "is there really such a thing as a mistake?" First of all, no one tries to fail or mess things up. Every one of us wakes up in the morning, walks out into the world and does the best we can do based on what we know and the skills we have. But even more importantly, every so-called "blunder" is actually a rich source of learning. An opportunity to build more awareness and understanding and gain precious experience. Experience that will help us do, feel and be even better. So, just maybe, there are no mistakes. Just maybe what we could call failures are actually growth lessons in wolf's clothing. And just maybe the person who experiences the most and learns from those wins.

   


Pay the price to get the prize

by Karthik Gurumurthy

One of the scientists whose work I adore and admire the most is that of  Late Dr. Richard P. Feynman (RPF). For those of you who are wondering who RPF is, Dr. Feynman got the Nobel prize in 1965 for his work in Quantum Electrodynamics. I heard about RPF from my uncle (L.M. Krishnan Athimber) who attended Thermodynamics class with him in MIT back in the 30s. My uncle was one of the first south Indian to graduate from MIT. He was a tremendous source of inspiration to me. He referred me to a book called "Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman". I strongly recommend it to anyone who likes Science. In Grad School, I  have also used his book "Feynman's lectures in Physics" written while he was teaching undergrad students at Caltech.

 Feynman

Anyways going back to story of RPF is a powerful one.

After winning the Nobel prize for his work, he visited his old high school. While there, he decided to look up his records. He was surprised to find that his performance were not as good as he had remembered them. And he got a kick out of the fact that his IQ was 124, not much above average.

Dr. Feynman saw that winning the Nobel prize was one thing, but to win it with an IQ of only 124 was really something. Most of us would agree because we all assume that the winners of Nobel prizes have exceptionally high IQs. Feynman confided that he always assumed that he had.

If Feynman had known he was really just a bit above average in the IQ department, we wonder if he would have had the audacity to launch the unique and creative research experiments that would eventually win him the greatest recognition the scientific community can give.

Perhaps not. Maybe the knowledge that he was a cut above average, but not in the genius category, would have influenced what he tried to achieve. After all, from childhood most of us have been led to believe that ordinary people don't accomplish extraordinary feats.

Most of us fall short of our potential because of little things we know or assume about ourselves. And the most self-defeating assumption of all is that we are just like everyone else.

We have to have the belief that we can move from ordinary to extraordinary by following the lead of your heart. While Feynman’s performance in high school may not have been a forecast of his future, his heart led him where his marksheet couldn’t.

Your success as a leader is not dependent on the outward measurements that others use to quantify. Pursuing the passions of the heart as you seek out your goals and ambitions is where you discover the talents and skills that you have.

Louisa May Alcott said, “Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations, I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.” As you pursue your dreams chase them with your heart. Your head will catch up.

We have to have a belief that nothing is out of your reach. The fact that Feynman didn’t make great grades in high school did not deter him from chasing after his dream. He is credited for his work in quantum mechanics, assisted in the development of the atomic bomb, and was a member of the panel that investigated the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

Oprah Winfrey said, “The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but on significance- and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.” From bad grades in high school to quantum mechanics is not an overnight step. Your success will come as you relentlessly pursue the dreams you have and not give up. The leadership seeds that are in you are not lying dormant, they are growing and developing and are ready to spring forth.

To move forward in life we have to take the first step. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Don’t be too timid or squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” Leaders fail not for a lack of vision or ideas, but for never taking the first steps toward achieving them.

One can sit on the sidelines and ponder a dream or get in the game and make it happen. Denis Diderot said, “Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.” You will fulfil your life’s dreams and passions when you decide to take the first steps in making it a reality.

As a leader with the seeds of potential inside you, never settle for anything less than the belief that you can achieve your dreams. Don’t allow the report card to dictate your future. Don’t quit in the middle of the fight. Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close to success they were when they gave up.”

Sm_feynman


Moving forward in life is not as far as you think.

Josh Billings says "Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there".

Keep your eye on the prize and your heart in the hunt. Your days of triumph is waiting for you.


Need for a mentor

by Karthik Gurumurthy

Who is a mentor? Why do we need a coach?

Often when we think of a coach, we think of an athletic advisor for a sporting event. And, there have certainly been some great coaches who have helped many athletes have a better life because of their influence and direction. In more recent days, however, most of us have heard that a coach can be more than just an athletic advisor. A coach can be someone who gives you guidance in your own personal life and future.

 Johari_


The Johari Window is a communication model that can be used to improve understanding between individuals within a team or in a group setting. Based on disclosure, self-disclosure and feedback, the Johari Window can also be used to improve a group's relationship with other groups

Developed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham (the word "Johari" comes from Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham), there are two key ideas behind the tool:

   1. That individuals can build trust between themselves by disclosing information about themselves; and
   2. That they can learn about themselves and come to terms with personal issues with the help of feedback from others.

By explaining the idea of the Johari Window to your team, you can help team members understand the value of self-disclosure, and gently encourage people to give and accept feedback. Done sensitively, this can help people build more-trusting relationships with one another, solve issues and work more effectively as a team.

 

 Coach


A coach is someone who looks at something with another set of eyes. They are able to give advice on the best way to approach the problems and challenges that a person may be facing. The wonderful thing about a coach is that they usually are not emotionally invested in those situations. Because they are not emotionally involved, they are able to have a better perspective and a more “level-headed” approach in the process.

 

It is both funny and strange that the coach does not have to be an expert in the exact area in which you need help. Of course, experience is a plus, but just the very fact that he or she can look at your situation from an unbiased, unemotional perspective, is the issue that will help them give proper perspective. All I am trying to point out is that a coach can be someone who simply has a different set of eyes.

You may have heard the story about the eighteen-wheeler truck that got stuck under a bridge in a busy city. The Highway Department tried to figure out how they were going to get the truck un-stuck. They considered everything from cutting off the top of the truck to tearing down the bridge. The truck was lodged so tightly that it could not budge nor move forward or backwards. As all of the city planners and brilliant transportation experts studied the situation, a young boy rode up on his bicycle and observed what was taking place. He strolled over to the man who was in charge and said, “Sir, why don’t you just let some of the air out of the truck’s tires and it will go down a little bit?”

Well, as the story goes, everyone looked at each other in amazement because the solution was so simple! That is the point I am trying to make in this particular Tip. All of us need someone who can look at our circumstances and situations in a different light. They surely will be able to see one part of it that perhaps we have overlooked.

Although I am a big believer in gathering wisdom and counsel from someone who is older and wiser, and who has experience in a particular area, I am also open to the fact that a coach may be anyone who gives me information and direction that will help my life and circumstances to be better.  I know that I am only going to get to live one time so I want to gain all the wisdom I can from as many resources as possible.

I have a personal coach who is at least 10 years older than me. He is ahead of me in life and where I want to be ten years from now. I talk to him about relationships, business, spiritual matters, and other areas of life. I am grateful to have someone who gives me guidance.

I am going to learn from my coaches and I would suggest you do the same. Begin to look around at who you allow to influence your life and who you listen to for advice and counsel. Having a coach makes everything go better!