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May 2011

Get Uncomfortable

-Karthik Gurumurthy



"Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone."
— Robert Allen

Last Friday, one of my good friends Mahavir asked me about comfort zone. I was excited to share because this is some area I am working on now more than ever and it definitely pays off well.

We all have a comfort zone where everything feels safe and familiar. We tend to not want to venture beyond it, however if we allow ourselves to stay there we will not be challenged, experience personal growth, or learn new and exciting things.  Leave water sitting in a pot for two or three days and the stagnate water starts to smell bad. So what do you think happens when we stay in our comfort zone — we stagnate. Why do we still seek comfort when we know it is not good?

Human beings crave control-just the way we are. A survival mechanism that goes right back to the days when we lived in caves. We need certainty and anything less makes us uncomfortable. But leadership is all about visiting with your discomfort. It’s about running to-not away from-the things that intimidate and frighten you. And leadership is about trying new things.

It’s so easy to eat the same food each day. But if you don’t try new foods, you just might miss out on your new favorite dish. It’s easy to associate with the same people and have the same conversations each day. But if you don’t expand your community, you just might miss out on meeting your new best friend. It’s so easy to do the same things at work each day- stay in a rut. But if you don’t stretch, you just might miss out on an achievement that will flood you will a sense of confidence and fulfillment that will be the start of a whole new world of work showing up.

"I used to have a comfort zone where I knew I wouldn’t fail.
The same four walls and busywork were really more like jail.
I longed so much to do the things I’d never done before,
But stayed inside my comfort zone and paced the same old floor.
I said it didn’t matter that I wasn’t doing much.
I said I didn’t care for things like material things and such.
I claimed to be so busy with the things inside the zone,
But deep inside I longed for something special of my own.
I couldn’t let my life go by just watching others win.
I held my breath; I stepped outside and let the change begin.
I took a step and with new strength I’d never felt before,
I kissed my comfort zone goodbye and closed and locked the door.
If you’re in a comfort zone, afraid to venture out,
Remember that all winners were at one time filled with doubt.
A step or two and words of praise can make your dreams come true.
Reach for your future with a smile; success is there for you!"

So I invite you to use each day as a platform for filling your life with more adventure, passion and energy by injecting more new things into it. I am  still working on it as the road to success is always under construction. If I can do it, so can you!

Friday "Fun"damentals: Confidence

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Friday evening was fun. Since it was a long weekend, we actually had PASE potluck. PASE stands for Product Awareness System Education. To start off the evening, we had all our associates who are in the hunt share what worked well and what didn't in the last couple of weeks. This kind of sharing gave all of us the takehome message about what areas we need to work on. After the discussion, I found one common ingredient with all the people who are getting ahead. What is that?

It is confidence!


Without confidence, nothing great gets done. Sure you can have a gorgeous vision and delicious goals that set your heart aflutter. But if you don’t have the confidence to take the action steps needed to move it all forward, the dreaming has been a waste of time; great ideas without the confidence to breathe life into them through near-flawless execution are mere fantasies. And fantasies don’t lead to great businesses.

I do believe that one of the jobs of a Leader is to grow the confidence of the people who are climbing towards the mountaintop with him (along with your own self – faith). Your job is to remind people of all they are – and everything they are meant to be. Do it with words. Do it with thank you notes. Do it with kind gestures and other thoughtful rewards (behavior that is rewarded is behavior that is repeated). Be a person who builds the confidence of everyone who intersects with your daily path. I guess what I’m trying to say is that – to genuinely lead – make it a priority to help people believe. In their potential. In their talents. In their selves.

I was inspired to see my friend Hemang Parikh shining so brightly. His confidence was contagious. He made us all feel we could be great. And confidence is like that. Once one person feels it, he passes it on – making everyone feel better.

What are you excited about?

-Karthik Gurumurthy


Couple of days back, I was in Barnes and Noble South Coast where I stumbled across the book "Idea Man"- written by one of the founders of Microsoft and the right hand man of Bill Gates, Paul Allen. As the title was catchy and would like to know his thought process, I was skimming through the book. I did find some nuggets towards the end of the book.

He wrote:

    “Some people are motivated by a need for recognition, some by money, and some by a broad social goal. I start from a different place, from the love of ideas and the urge to put them into motion and see where they might lead.

    “The creative path is rocky, with the risk of failure ever present and no guarantees. But even with its detours and blind alleys, it’s the only road that I find fulfilling.”

Here’s a man who, through the ideas he pursued with Bill Gates and the value he provided, became a multi-billionaire at a very young age. And, while the money was simply a means to an end that allowed him to pursue that which he chose to pursue, it certainly wasn’t just about the money.

For Paul Allen, it was about the ideas; it was about putting them in motion; it was about seeing where they would lead.

What is it about for you? What moves you? What motivates you? What gets you up in the morning?

I think  that is the difference maker. We need to find out what motivates you.

No, not what motivates Paul Allen; it’s about what motivates YOU. It’s about what YOU will throw yourself full-force into.

Once we are clear about that,  rest of it is all history.

What keeps you going?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I heard this story recently and it is worth sharing..

The Japanese have always loved fresh fish. But the water close to Japan has not held many fish for decades. So to feed the Japanese population,  fishing boats got bigger and went farther than ever. The farther the fishermen went, the longer it took to bring the fish.  If the return trip took more time, the fish were not fresh.  To solve this problem, fish companies installed freezers on their boats.  They would catch the fish and freeze them at sea.  Freezers allowed the boats to go farther and stay longer. However, the Japanese could taste the difference between fresh and frozen fish. And they did not like the taste of frozen fish. The frozen fish brought a lower price. So, fishing companies installed fish tanks.  They would catch the fish and stuff them in the tanks, fin to fin. After a little thrashing around, they were tired, dull, and lost their fresh-fish taste. The fishing industry faced an impending crisis!But today, they get fresh-tasting fish to Japan.

How did they manage? To keep the fish tasting fresh, the Japanese fishing companies still put the fish in the tanks but with a small shark.

The fish are challenged and hence are constantly on the move. The challenge they face keeps them alive and fresh!

Have you realized that some of us are also living in a pond but most of the time tired and dull?

Basically in our lives, sharks are new challenges to keep us active. If you are steadily conquering challenges, you are happy. Your challenges keep you energized. Don’t create success and revel in it in a state of inertia. You have the resources, skills and abilities to make a difference. Don't avoid challenges, embrace them. Put a shark in your tank and see how far you can really go!

Most critical but commonly missed element to succeed

  -Karthik Gurumurthy

This is one of the areas I had to work more than any others but the payoff was worth it.  I still haven't reached where I wanted to be, but I am getting there.  This is one of the common areas which lot of us fall short.




Accountability means being responsible for our actions—to somebody for something.  However, I am not writing about how to hold other people accountable. It’s about us holding ourself accountable.

When we take 100 % responsibility for holding ourself accountable, our performance will shine, our relationships will flourish, our market value will multiply, people’s respect for uswill soar, we will be a great example for everyone to follow, and personally  on top of that, our self-esteem will grow.

How is it that in all these areas of our life we can see such a great improvement?  Because when we hold ourself accountable to doing the things we know we should do, we will distinguish yourself from the crowd.

I am convinced if we want to advance our life personally or professionally, we must hold ourself accountable for our actions, responsibilities, and goals.  Think about it. Why should it be someone else’s responsibility to make sure we are doing the things that we know we should to be doing?

The mindset I adopted more than 3 years ago is this: it is up to me and no one else to make sure I am doing what I know I should be doing. When someone has to hold me accountable, because I failed to do what I should have done, I have a serious conversation with myself. My belief is that no one should have to hold me accountable for my actions, responsibilities and goals. While I appreciate others helping me get better, I am the one that must hold myself to a high standard.

There are three areas in which we must hold yourself accountable:

1.    Our actions and choices.  What actions and choices I am talking about?

  •  How we communicate with others.
  • How we spend our time. If God wants to see what we have done in the last 24 hours and based on how we spent it, if he is going to grant another 24 hours, will we pass the test? Think about it.
  • Our behavior and manners
  • The consideration and respect we show others
  •  Our eating habits and exercising routine (I am working on this!!)
  • Our attitude and thoughts
  • The way we respond to challenges

2.    Our responsibilities—This would include these types of things:

  •  Returning calls, emails, and texts in a timely manner
  • Being on time for business and personal appointments
  • Keeping our home, car, and workplace clean
  •  Spending less than we earn
  • Doing the things we agreed to do when we agreed to do them
  • Executing our job description to the best of our ability
  • Writing things down on a “To Do” list so we don’t forget

3.    Our goals—This would include our:

  •     Fitness and health targets
  •     Financial goals
  •     Family objectives
  •     Career ambitions
  •     Personal goals
  •     Marital enhancement
  •     Any other goals we have set for ourself

Make no mistake about it. We cannot achieve any worthwhile goal, if we don’t hold ourself accountable. The reason is simple. It’s our life!  We are witnessing enough examples in day-to-day life how lack of accountability kills relationships. Eg. Tiger Woods, Arnold Schwarzeneggar...

Holding ourself accountable is nothing more than following through with OUR commitments and responsibilities.  It’s doing what YOU know YOU should do, when YOU should it. Last week I had a chance to listen to Entrepreneur Sugeet Ajmani who said " the bigger gap than Grand Canyon is the gap between knowing and doing."

Irrespective of where we are in our life, let today be the day that we can make the commitment to ourself that we will NEVER again require anyone else to hold us accountable.  After being associated with my wife Shobana, I have started keeping a prioritized “To Do” list which really help focus on holding myself accountable to working through my tasks in a prioritized sequence. Just like any good habit, it is difficult to get started but once you make it a habit, it is worth it. I strongly recommend it.

One life to live..Take charge and live large!