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November 2013

Great expectations

-Karthik Gurumurthy

"The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it."

~ Michelangelo

The expectations you have for yourself are important. You will not rise above your own level of expectations which is why they are critical. If you are feeling trapped or held back in your personal development then stop and assess your expectations and also what thoughts are dominant in your mind. If your thoughts and attitudes are negative then so will be your actions and outcomes. Keep your thoughts right, your attitude strong, and expectations high. Remove the limitations to your success by believing the best and being your best. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Happy Thanksgiving:) Thanks to my parents, teachers, family, friends, students, associates, colleagues…It has become a habit everyday, to simply cease and purposely ponder the notable events and people who have influenced my life, and take the time to thank and appropriately acknowledge them. So, thank you.

Yes, you. The person reading this. Because if you found your way here, then that is a blessing for which I am truly thankful. And I’m here to remind you how truly special you are. I am thankful for every connection I have because each and every one of you brings something wonderful to my life. You bring you.
Photo: Happy Thanksgiving:) Thanks to parents, teachers, family, friends, students, associates, colleagues…It has become a habit everyday, to simply cease and purposely ponder the notable events and people who have influenced my life, and take the time to thank and appropriately acknowledge them.  So, thank you.

Yes, you. The person reading this. Because if you found your way here, then that is a blessing for which I am truly thankful.  And I’m here to remind you how truly special you are.  I am thankful for every connection I have because each and every one of you brings something wonderful to my life. You bring you.


-Karthik Gurumurthy

Caution is a good risk to take.

Prudence is all about good judgment, weighing all the possibilities, considering the consequences of one's actions, thinking before one acts, being thoughtful, using common sense, doing what's best for oneself, using discretion, exercising caution, and conforming to reason and decency. It is the avoidance of thoughtless and reckless behavior. It is the ability to distinguish the difference between what is harmful and what is helpful and following the right course of action. Imagine how much misery would be eliminated if we all following the dictum, " Look before you leap.

You see, part of being prudent is being balanced; it is imprudent to be otherwise. Because of the need of balance, prudence may direct us to hold our tongue on one occasion and to speak up on another.

There are two types of risks, those with bad payoffs and those with good payoffs. A prudent person doesn't smoke because it is a health risk; it has a bad payoff.Prudent people avoid risks with poor payoffs, but have no problem taking risks that have good payoffs. Part of being prudent is valuing courage.

Some disasters are avoidable while others are unavoidable. The consequences of our actions are always unavoidable. But as long as they are governed by prudence, we will have nothing to fear. Prudence is a protective shield and the absence of caution is more harmful than the absence of knowledge.

In the thirteenth century, Persian Poet Saadi wrote, "Learn from the misfortunes of others, so others may not learn from you." Besides learning from the mistakes of others, prudent people also learn from the accomplishments of others. Every person we meet is an example, one to be followed or one to be avoided.


Thought for today: Integrity

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Integrity is a value, like persistence, courage, and industriousness. Even more than that, it is the value that guarantees all the other values. You are a good person to the degree to which you live your life consistent with the highest values that you espouse. Integrity is the quality that locks in your values and causes you to live consistent with them.

Integrity is the foundation of character. And character development is one of the most important activities you can engage in. Working on your character means disciplining yourself to do more and more of those things that a thoroughly honest person would do, under all circumstances.

To be impeccably honest with others, you must first be impeccably honest with yourself. You must be true to yourself. You must be true to the very best that is in you, to the very best that you know. Only a person who is living consistent with his or her highest values and virtues is really living a life of integrity. And when you commit to living this kind of life, you will find yourself continually raising your own standards, continually refining your definition of integrity and honesty.

You can tell how high your level of integrity is by simply looking at the things you do in your day-to-day life. You can look at your reactions and responses to the inevitable ups and downs of life. You can observe the behaviors you typically engage in and you will then know the person you are.

The external manifestation of high integrity is high-quality work. A person who is totally honest with himself or herself will be someone who does, or strives to do, excellent work on every occasion. The totally honest person recognizes, sometimes unconsciously, that everything he or she does is a statement about who he or she really is as a person.

When you start a little earlier, work a little harder, stay a little later and concentrate on every detail, you are practicing integrity in your work. And whether you know it or not, your true level of integrity is apparent and obvious to everyone around you.Perhaps the most important rule you will ever learn is that your life only becomes better when you become better.

Ask yourself this question: What are your five most important values in life? Your answer will reveal an enormous amount about you. What would you pay for, sacrifice for, suffer for and even die for? What would you stand up for, or refuse to lie down for? What are the values that you hold most dear?

Think these questions through carefully and, when you get achance, write down your answers. Here's another way of asking that question. What men and women, living or dead, do you most admire? Once you pick three or four men or women, the next question is: Why do you admire them? What values,qualities, or virtues do they have that you respect and look upto? Can you articulate those qualities? What is a quality possessed by human beings in general that you most respect? This is the starting point for determining your values. The answers to these questions form the foundation of your character and your personality.

Who you are, in your heart, is evidenced by what you do on a day-to-day basis, especially when you are pushed into a position where you have to make a choice between two values or alternatives. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Guard your integrity as a sacred thing." In study after study, the quality of integrity, or a person's adherence to values, ranks as the number one quality sought in every field. Integrity in leadership is expressed in terms of constancy and consistency.

Napoleon Hill, in his book, The Master Key to Riches, tells about how he created an imaginary board of personal advisors made up of great figures of history. He chose people like Napoleon, Lincoln, and Alexander the Great. Whenever he had to make a decision, he would relax deeply and then imagine that the members of his advisory council were sitting at a large table in front of him. He would then ask them what he should do to deal effectively with a particular situation. In time, they would begin to give him answers, observations, and insights that helped him see more clearly and act more effectively.

You can do the same thing. Select someone that you very much admire for their qualities of courage, tenacity, honesty, or wisdom. Ask yourself, "What would Washington do in my situation?" or, "What would Lincoln do if he were here at this time?" You will find yourself with guidance that enables you to be the very best person that you can possibly be.

Activity vs. Accomplishment

-Karthik Gurumurthy

One of the books I like to read from time-time is "See you at the top" by Zig Ziglar.

In this book in one of the sections, he mentions about how lot of us confuse activity with accomplishment and the importance of having a daily goal.  A man or a woman without a goal is like a ship without rudder. Each will end up in the beaches of despair, defeat and despondency.

John Henry Fabre, the great naturalist conducted a most unusual experiment with some processionary caterpillars. These caterpillars blindly follow the one in front of them, hence the name. Faber carefully arranged them in a circle around the rim of a flower pot so that the lead caterpillar actually touched the last one, making a complete circle. In the center of a flower pot he put pine needles which is the food for processionary caterpillars. The caterpillar started around this circular flower pot. Around and around they went hour after hour, day after day, night after night for about 7 days (around the flower pot). Finally they dropped dead of starvation and exhaustion. With an abundance of food less than six inches away, they literally starved to death because they confused activity with accomplishment.

From today's readings

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today I was reading the book, "Day by Day with James Allen".

This is what I got from my reading.

  • We need to keep reminding ourselves that we have tremendous reservoirs of potential within us, and therefore we are quite capable of doing anything that we set our mind to. All we must do is figure how we can do it, not whether or not. And once we have made our mind to do it, it is amazing how our mind begins to figure out how.
  • We are either living in the problem or living in the solution. We always have to focus on solutions.
  • In life, there are no mistakes, only lessons.

Importance of playing in creativity

-Karthik Gurumurthy

We often hear extremely productive people say that their vocation is also their avocation, that they love what they do, that they have fun at work. Too often we fail to realize what this tells us about the way they work; it is not solely linear reason and disciplined routine, it is fun. Too many of us handicap ourselves in life and at work by approaching problems analytically; we cut out play and imagination and consequently close ourselves off from a vast source of ideas.

Many great achievers emphasize the importance of play and imagination in making breakthroughs. In an interview with Kary Mullis concerning how he arrived at his invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which won him the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, he said, "I wasn't working, I was playing. I was letting this take shape before my eyes, and deep down I knew that I was about to find  something that was going to be Nobel Prize winning..And that's what happened!"..What Kary Mullis demonstrates for us  is that his Nobel Prize- winning breakthrough did not come from him following the linear path of logic and reason alone. In fact, breakthroughs  must disrupt the logic of what we know; because they bring new knowledge, breakthroughs can come only from parts unknown to the conscious mind and therefore unknown to reason. So breakthroughs- even the most intellectual and sophisticated ones - can manifest only at times when we disengage from what we know and from what we understand logically. This is why play is crucial: it disconnects us from reason and logic and opens us to new and different thoughts we wouldn't have access to.

Play done properly is the lifeblood of our work. It fuels motivation and enables us to move beyond what we perceive as insurmountable limitations. Play isn't some reprehensible at-risk behavior that threatens to make slackers of us all. Play opens us up the possibility that we don't need more of anything- time, money, knowledge and so on - in order to produce more.  Human motivation is not linear; the way  one person gets motivated is a complex function of many intertwined factors, which do not follow a linear continuum but which can be greatly influenced by play. When we tap  into the part of people that responds to play and inspiration, we unleash possibilities and a huge potential for new sources of motivation that we could not have predicted or accessed otherwise. Thus when people are engaged in play, truly or deeply engaged, they lose track of time, they stop thinking about whether their check is bigger today than it was yesterday, they withstand discomfort and inconvenience, and more often than you might imagine, they create magic. Play moves people into an optimistic frame of mind, a place where they are more adaptable to change and more likely to improvise, and where they begin to dance in the groove of life.

So we all need to lighten up and we can break through the mental barriers that are keeping us stuck.

Shiny Happy People

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Shiny Happy People...This was the song by R.E.M which I vividly remember listening to when I was a freshman in College. I loved the song but more than that, I want to belong to Happy people group.

"Happiness comes most to persons who seek it least, and think least about it. It is not an object to be sought, it is a state to be induced. It must follow and not lead. It must overtake you, and not you overtake it"

-John Burroughs

Anyways, I realize there are two types of people in the world: those who choose to be happy, and those who choose to be unhappy. Contrary to popular belief, happiness doesn’t come from fame, fortune, other people, or material possessions. Rather, it comes from within.
The richest person in the world could be miserable while a homeless person could be right outside, smiling and content with their life. Happy people are happy because they make themselves happy. They maintain a positive outlook on life and remain at peace with themselves.

The question is: How do they do that?

It’s quite simple. Happy people have good habits that enhance their lives. They do things differently. Ask any happy person, and they will tell you that they …

  • Don’t hold grudges.

Happy people understand that it’s better to forgive and forget than to let their negative feelings crowd out their positive feelings. Holding a grudge has a lot of detrimental effects on your wellbeing, including increased depression, anxiety, and stress. Why let anyone who has wronged you have power over you? If you let go of all your grudges, you’ll gain a clear conscience and enough energy to enjoy the good things in life.

  • Treat everyone with kindness.

I just talked about the same yesterday. Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that being kind makes you happier? Every time you perform a selfless act, your brain produces serotonin, a hormone that eases tension and lifts your spirits. Not only that, but treating people with love, dignity, and respect also allows you to build stronger relationships.

  • See problems as challenges.

The word “problem” is never part of a happy person’s vocabulary. A problem is viewed as a drawback, a struggle, or an unstable situation while a challenge is viewed as something positive like an opportunity, a task, or a dare. Whenever you face an obstacle, try looking at it as a challenge.

  • Express gratitude for what they already have.

There’s a popular saying that goes something like this: “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.” You will have a deeper sense of contentment if you count your blessings instead of yearning for what you don’t have.

  •  Dream big.

People who get into the habit of dreaming big are more likely to accomplish their goals than those who don’t. If you dare to dream big, your mind will put itself in a focused and positive state.

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Happy people ask themselves, “Will this problem matter a year from now?” They understand that life’s too short to get worked up over trivial situations. Letting things roll off your back will definitely put you at ease to enjoy the more important things in life.

  • Speak well of others.

Being nice feels better than being mean. As fun as gossiping is, it usually leaves you feeling guilty and resentful. Saying nice things about other people encourages you to think positive, non-judgmental thoughts.

  • Never make excuses.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Happy people don’t make excuses or blame others for their own failures in life. Instead, they own up to their mistakes and, by doing so, they proactively try to change for the better.

  •  Get absorbed into the present.

Happy people don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. They savor the present. They let themselves get immersed in whatever they’re doing at the moment. Stop and smell the roses.

  • Wake up at the same time every morning.

Have you noticed that a lot of successful people tend to be early risers? Waking up at the same time every morning stabilizes your circadian rhythm, increases productivity, and puts you in a calm and centered state.

  •  Avoid social comparison.

Everyone works at his own pace, so why compare yourself to others? If you think you’re better than someone else, you gain an unhealthy sense of superiority. If you think someone else is better than you, you end up feeling bad about yourself. You’ll be happier if you focus on your own progress and praise others on theirs.

  • Choose friends wisely.

Misery loves company. That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with optimistic people who will encourage you to achieve your goals. The more positive energy you have around you, the better you will feel about yourself.

  • Never seek approval from others.

Happy people don’t care what others think of them. They follow their own hearts without letting naysayers discourage them. They understand that it’s impossible to please everyone. Listen to what people have to say, but never seek anyone’s approval but your own.

  •  Take the time to listen.

Talk less; listen more. Listening keeps your mind open to others’ wisdoms and outlooks on the world. The more intensely you listen, the quieter your mind gets, and the more content you feel.

  • Nurture social relationships.

A lonely person is a miserable person. Happy people understand how important it is to have strong, healthy relationships. Always take the time to see and talk to your family, friends, or significant other.

  • Meditate.

Meditating silences your mind and helps you find inner peace. You don’t have to be a hermit or Sage to pull it off. Happy people know how to silence their minds anywhere and anytime they need to calm their nerves.

  • Eat well.

Junk food makes you sluggish, and it’s difficult to be happy when you’re in that kind of state. Everything you eat directly affects your body’s ability to produce hormones, which will dictate your moods, energy, and mental focus. Be sure to eat foods that will keep your mind and body in good shape.

  • Exercise.

Studies have shown that exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft does. Exercising also boosts your self-esteem and gives you a higher sense of self-accomplishment.

  • Live minimally.

Happy people rarely keep clutter around the house because they know that extra belongings weigh them down and make them feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Some studies have concluded that Europeans are a lot happier than Americans are, which is interesting because they live in smaller homes, drive simpler cars, and own fewer items.

  • Tell the truth.

Lying stresses you out, corrodes your self-esteem, and makes you unlikeable. The truth will set you free. Being honest improves your mental health and builds others’ trust in you. Always be truthful, and never apologize for it.

  • Establish personal control.

Happy people have the ability to choose their own destinies. They don’t let others tell them how they should live their lives. Being in complete control of one’s own life brings positive feelings and a great sense of self-worth.

  • Accept what cannot be changed.

Once you accept the fact that life is not fair, you’ll be more at peace with yourself. Instead of obsessing over how unfair life is, just focus on what you can control and change it for the better.


-Karthik Gurumurthy

Years ago I wrote in my blog the following line. “Be the kindest person you can be and the world will come to you.

This was my way of trying to re-boot my attitude. It always works. At least I try. The world is full of negativity, jealousy and anger. It’s easy. It’s what we read about on the internet news sites and in papers. What we hear on television or the radio. It’s what sells. People are drawn to drama and drama tends to be negative. Kindness sadly isn’t fashionable.

It’s not easy. It’s never easy. I mean most of us want to be kind but think about it. How we react to people, how we speak to people. Our body language and what we say or snap at someone. I know I am not perfect. I try to be nice to all, but I am not. It’s a work in progress. Every day, all the time.

One of the entrepreneurs I admire made the comment, “Sarcasm is like swearing”. Brilliant. It’s true. When you throw a sarcastic comment back at someone you are saying, “I want to steal your light!” It’s a low form of self gratitude. The old “look at me” mentality.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I don’t like everyone I meet, I don’t agree with many people. I don’t chose to accept everyone’s choices. But and it’s a big but, I don’t have to ridicule or be hurtful.

Now, if you choose to take on the kindness lifestyle remember this. People will start to watch you. Start to judge you. You can’t be a kind person with hopes of “getting” something. That’s not why you do it. At least it shouldn’t be. It should only be because  you want to leave a place or a person better than you found them.

I can imagine if more people chose kindness over sarcasm, pessimism, negativity and those hurtful jokes we would probably be a happier society. I know it’s idealistic and probably a little naive. But as my mom said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say… it  is better to keep your mouth shut!”

Be kind today. Try it, you may be surprised at what you get back.

Ctrl Alt Del and start over

-Karthik Gurumurthy

 Once in a while as a leader it’s reassuring to be reminded of this simple truth. The weight and responsibility of leadership can drag you down and it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that tomorrow is a new day. The view you have of today’s troubles can improve drastically in just 24 hours. Keep your eye on the ball, keep your attitude right, and don’t be distracted by the obstacles you face today. Tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities. Ctrl Alt Del and restart with a great attitude!

Daily To-Do list

-Karthik Gurumurthy

  1. Think of the three things I have to be thankful for.
  2. Do what I do normally a little differently.
  3. Take a minute or two to think about my life purpose.
  4. Think about the goals I am striving towards.
  5. Prioritize my  list of goals.
  6. Eat less sugar, lower the portion (making a conscious choice to lower the portion every day).
  7. Making a conscious choice not to participate in any gossip.
  8. Give someone a compliment.
  9. Do a common task with great attention.
  10. Exercise or atleast go for walk with Ashwin.
  11. Look for one quote each day that inspires me.
  12. Thinking about how to add value and write something which can help someone in the blog on a daily basis.
  13. Read a book for atleast half an hour everyday.
  14. Finishing the day with the thanks.

Reading good literature/books/articles

-Karthik Gurumurthy

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. – Dr. Seuss

It’s been said that leaders are readers. I agree. It’s one of the single greatest recommendations I can give to all leaders. It’s through the reading of books that your mind is awakened, your understanding is strengthened, and your knowledge is increased. Reading is one of the most productive leadership habits that you will develop. Have you read a good book lately?

I meet people all the time asking me to recommend books which they can read. The answer to them depends on their taste.

Today there is more to read than ever. Traditional and social news sites are filled up with the latest buzz stories repeated ad nauseam. One is pressed to keep up. Amid the endless competition to make headlines and build traffic there is no enduring value.

From time to time, I love to turn back to the classics, the old enduring books that have stood the test of time and retain their lustre. The common perception of old books is that they are antiquated and useless. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We believe, with out technology, that we have reinvented life. But that is not the case. The gadgets that surround us are minor details, the essence of life remains unchanged. It feels the same to be alive today as it did a thousand years ago. We are still lone souls confined to our thoughts, facing the same challenges.

Everything has it particular place. Old books cannot teach you how to effectively use your IPad or teach you coding a programming language. But they will teach how to live. They will teach out what it means to be human. They will give you a firm place to stand against the assault of common change. The wisdom of the greatest human minds passed down through centuries is our most reliable asset.

I am not alone in this opinion. I leave you with this passage from the immortal Albert Einstein.

Somebody who reads only newspapers and at best the books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely nearsighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else. And what a person thinks on his own without being stimulated by the thoughts and experiences of other people is even in the best case rather paltry and monotonous.

There are only a few enlightened people with a lucid mind and style and with good taste with a century. What has been preserved of their work belongs among the most precious possessions of mankind.

Nothing is more needed than to overcome the modernist’s snobbishness.

My favorite ones which I like to read once in few months are as follows:

  • Self Reliance by  Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The art of living by Epictetus
  • The Prophet by Khaleel Gibran
  • Aldous Huxley essays
  • Experience  by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Ethics- Plato
  • As a man thinketh by James Allen

"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention"

- Sir Francis Bacon

Perception, Reality and Authenticity in Communication

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Ever get the feeling that people-even people who know you (or should know you) very well-just don't "get" you?

Ever get the feeling that the relationships in your life-some of them anyway- are a little  out of sync with your ideals and what you really want?

Ever get the feeling that there's a troubling disconnect- maybe only minor, maybe profound- between your personal life and your professional life?

In every case described above, a gap seems to exist between the " real you" and the you other people see and interact with.

Your personal brand is a perception held in others minds, and it has evolved through their interactions with you. Through repeated contacts between you and another person, his or her perception of you sharpens and your brand in that person's mind become clearer.

In other words, people are constantly observing who you are, what you do and how you do it. Having a brand is not the point: more important is the question, How strong is your personal brand? The strength of your personal brand grows or weakens depending upon the consistent impact (positive or negative) you are making on other individuals.

It doesn't involve changing your personality- you can be an introvert or extrovert. And it is definitely not about trying to be something you are not.

 We should strive to work on having a strong personal brand. A personal brand is a perception or emotion maintained by somebody other than you that describes your outstanding qualities and influences that person's relationship with you.

A Strong personal brand does not result from a contrived image, colorful clothing, snappy slogan, or from having put on an artificial veneer to disguise the true nature of what's within: A strong personal brand describes a person who chooses to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others and who builds trusting, valued relationships. A weak personal brand describes a person whose attributes and perceived qualities lack clarity, and more importantly, someone who is not perceived to extend him- or himself to make a difference for other people.

The difference between one personal brand and another is that the person with a strong brand utilizes his or her special qualities to make a difference in the lives of others. Using one's values and distinctive qualities to make a difference for others is the core ethos of strong, thriving personal brands. Since the ability to build trusting relationships is a key component of professional and personal success, people with strong personal brands are able to achieve more what they want by being more of who they are.

An important competency of building and growing a strong personal brand is to harness the power of perceptions. If others' perceptions define our personal brand, we need to be purposeful about managing the perceptions we leave with them. Let us be clear that how people perceive us has a significant impact on how they relate to, and react to, us. And in some case, their perceptions may impact whether they will even take the time to meet with us. So to leverage our personal brand and make the most of our relationships, we must improve our competency of managing the perceptions we create.

Even with our best intentions of managing others' perceptions of us, it is not easy. Commonly we view ourselves one way while others have a very different perception of us. Do you know of someone who takes pride at being a hard worker- while other people perceive him or her as a lazy person. Who is right? How does that difference in perception impact their relationship? In the end, the perspective others have of us will clearly bias how they perceive and relate to us.

There are many reasons why a difference exists between how one perceives oneself and how one is perceived by others. We each have a unique set of lenses through which we view others, so to speak. Each person's lenses are colored by life's experiences, attitudes  at the time, and how the person feels about him-or herself at a particular moment. The result is that a person's actions or words may be interpreted differently by various other people ir at different times. Building a dependable strong brand requires a level of wisdom and flexibility to ensure that one's actions and words consistently reinforce the way one wants to be perceived.

Why should anyone work so hard to manage the perception others have of them?

It is all about the gap in communication. The size of the gap between the way you want to be perceived and the way you are perceived by another person will have a big impact on the general tenor and productivity of the relationship. A narrower gap supports a productive and enjoyable relationship. Conversely a wider gap results in a relationship that will require more effort to accomplish things, and interacting may not be as much fun.

Leadership Nuggets from Books Part 9

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today I am going to write about a book which I quote often in my presentations. The book I am talking about is "How to be Rich" by J. Paul Getty. For people who are in the Los Angeles area, you might have heard about famous Getty museum in LA. Back in the 60s, he was named richest man in the world. I learned that How to be Rich is essentially a series of articles that Getty was commissioned to write by Playboy magazine. His intention was to explain himself and why he was a businessman, and secondly to get behind the myths of what it was like to have great wealth. Hence the title of the book: not to get rich, but to be rich.

Wildcatter to mogul

J.  Paul Getty's (JPG) father, George Getty had grown up poor on an Ohio farm, but managed to get through law school supported by his wife. He became a successful Minneapolis attorney and did well in the Oklahoma oil rush.

JPG was born into this relative prosperity in 1892, an only child. He writes fondly of a teenage apprenticeship of a roustabout in the oil fields, then very much a dusty frontier place of rough men, "where gambling halls were viewed as the ultimate in civic improvements." In utter contrast, he then spent two years at Oxford University in the UK before returning to the States.

He had planned to enter the US diplomatic service but at 22 went into business on his own as a wildcatter (an independent oil driller and speculator) and got lucky with some oil leases. He was a millionaire by age 24. Deciding to "retire" he enjoyed himself for a couple of years, but his parents were not pleased, his father telling him that he had a duty to build and operate businesses that created wealth and better life for people.

The oil rush had shifted to California and Getty decided to invest in new oil leases near Los Angeles. His business rapidly expanded over the next few years, but his father's death in 1930 was a setback. It was said that Getty Sr. left JPG $15 million. Actually it was $500,000.

During the Depression of the 1930s, Getty came up with the idea of an integrated oil company spanning exploration, refining and retail marketing. He bought up oil stocks, which were now very cheap, purchased the Pierre Hotel in New York at a bargain price, and began a difficult 15-year take over of the Tidewater Oil company, then one of California's largest. After the Second World War Getty Oil gambled $12 million on oil concessions in Saudi Arabia. Though it took a further four years and $18 million for the wells to produce, by then the world had become aware of the vast reserves in the area, and the gamble paid off handsomely.

In 1957, Fortune magazine named Getty the richest man in America with an estimated worth of $1 billion. He would from then on receive an average of 3,000 letters a week from strangers requesting money.

JPG's tip on success in business and in life

Beat your own path

How to be Rich was written at the zenith of large-company capitalism, when the species "organization man" evolved to make the most of his small place in the corporate machinery. Getty described this person as "dedicated to serving the complex rituals of memorandums and buck-passing." In contrast, Getty's "office" in his early years in the oil fields was the front seat of a battered Model T ford.

Most executives, Getty observed, would rather become "boot-lickers" to those above them than risk rocking the boat. This was actually counterproductive, because the only real security in the workplace was reserved for those who demonstrated that they could add value. Successful businesspeople, he believed, were usually rebels of some description whose wealth was built on rejection of the status quo. For example, Getty does not mention his purchase of low prices after the Wall street Crash as a boast, but to demonstrate that the person who does not follow the pack often "reaps fantastic rewards"

Be open-minded

Getty had invited an outspoken socialist to a  dinner party at his Sutton Place mansion just outside London. Another guest, a fellow American, was appalled. Getty did not apologize; in fact he felt he was honoring the great American tradition of encouraging dissent. Hearing views different to your own, he believed, "adds spice, spirit, and an invigorating quality to life."

Writing at the beginning of the 1960s, he correctly forecast that the "vanished dissenters" would soon reappear,  and knew that the economic future would brighter because of it. Getty's moral was that wealth was only ever generated by open minds, because only such intellectual openness enables us to see opportunities that others do not. 

Get the facts, then act

In a chapter titled "Business blunders and booby traps," JPG says that many mistakes in business and in life result from a failure to distinguish between fact and opinion or hearsay.

He once commissioned a geologist to report on the potential of an oil lease. The report said that there was little chance of finding oil, so Getty sold the lease. It later turned out to be part of the huge oil pool. Yet Getty did not blame the expert, only himself for accepting his view without question and not getting another opinion.

Businesspeople frequently accept as fact what they have heard or read without doing their own investigation or study. This is not so bad on its own, but when the results will affect a whole enterprise and the livelihoods of workers, it is an important point. If you have made a decision that is based on facts, stick to it. Have the courage of your convictions. The relaxed business person, Getty says, is always much more effective, and if you have done your homework your resolve will be less likely to be sabotaged by worry.

Final comments

Getty notes that of the tens of thousands of Americans who take their lives each year, a significant number are classed as "economic suicides." His point is that many scramble for and achieve financial success, but when they get it they find that it lacks meaning. People need to believe that their efforts are increasing value and enriching the world in some way, that they are engaged in real creative effort and not simply status seeking.

Getty himself gained a reputation as a miser because he famously put a payphone in the hall of his Sutton Place mansion. (Guests had been using the regular phones to make transatlantic calls). Yet with the passage of time, we can see that if it were not for the man's dedication to eliminating waste and maximizing resources, millions of people would not be enjoying what he left. He is now, after all, more famous as an art collector and philanthropist. The collection he created is one the world's best-as anyone who has been to the Getty Museum at Malibu, California will attest.

Getty was a great believer in the free enterprise system, but was the arch capitalist that many people think. He never complained about high wages, taking the Henry Ford view that a work force that was not well paid would not buy the products you were trying to sell.

A millionaire had to accept everything with good humor, Getty realized. When he was named "richest man in the world," he had a hard time explaining to journalissts that he did not sit on mountains of cash; nearly all his wealth was tied up in infrastructure and operations, and he was working 16-18 hours a day to keep it all going. He admits that his marriages suffered and fell apart as the result of his dedication to work, and there were books he had wanted to read and didn't have the time for- but on the whole, he reflected, he had led an exciting and rewarding life.

This concludes the nuggets from books part for now. Will continue back on the same after a break.

Leadership Nuggets from Books Part 8

-Karthik Gurumurthy

 When you come across a book with a title like "Science of Getting Rich", you may be forgiven for suspecting that it is a greed manual by an author of questionable motives. It is worth keeping an open mind, however, as Wattles's classic is essentially a metaphysical work that deals with a very earthly issue.

Tapping in to flow

What is the source of wealth? All the great prosperity writers say that the origin of wealth is thought, rather than things. Napoleon Hill called this source Infinite Intelligence, Deepak Chopra named it the "field of pure potentiality", and both Wattles and Catherine Ponder describe the formless stuff from which all matters springs as "substance."

The premise of Wattles's science is that if your purposely place a clear thought in the formless substance, it cannot help but find material expression. Though visualization of what you desire on  a repetitive basis, the thing will come into being through the organization of existing modes of production. This is the secret shortcut of gaining what you need.

Yet humanity, through most of history, has approached this from the other way round, by trying to create only from existing materials,applying thought to things through manual labor. Wattles notes that we have only just begun to operate as God does, who is after continually creating something from nothing. Through the science of mind, we are now starting to see that we can manifest things more easily and more perfectly by first impressing the idea of them on formless substance.

If you accept that everything comes from something immaterial, how you live an act will be different from someone who believes that the foundation of everything is matter.Appearances alone will cease to form the basis of your decisions, because your underlying knowing will be that the universe is abundant and ever renewing. In Wattles's words:

'To think health when surrounded by the appearances of disease, or to think riches when in the midst of appearances of poverty, requires power; but he who acquires this power becomes a master mind. He can conquer fate; he can have what he wants."

 The fact of increase

Nature always seeks expression and increase-this is the one reliable fact of the universe. The caveat: What you seek must be in harmony with the universe. It should be to further your fullest expression, not merely for excitement and entertainment. "You do not want to get rich in order to live swinishly, for the gratification of animal desires; that is not life" You want wealth so that you can pursue your interests and develop your mind, travel, surround yourself with beauty, and be in a position to give generously.

Creation not competition

Wattles reminds you that the substance that creates the evolving universe does not pick and choose who will favor: its power is open to all and its  flow of riches is endless. There is no need to be fearful of what you will "get ___"You do not have to drive sharp bargains, " he says - and no sense in trying to take things aways from others.

These ideas of competition do not reflect the reality of an abundant universe. The concept of competition rests on the belief that there is one pie to be carved up, whereas creation rests on an acknowledgement of infinite riches. You need to become a creator rather than a competitor.

Consider that other people can't "beat you to it" if you are creating something unique out of the imagination, skills and experience that make up your unique personality. Wattles's further tip  for real-world prosperity is that you must endeavor to provide something that buyers feel is greater in value than the price they have paid for it.

Harmonious gratitude

Many will attest that the best way to draw something to you is to give thanks that you already have it. Because the nature of the universe is abundance, it rewards those who are actively aware of the fact and are continually grateful for it.

When you are attuned to the source that creates all things, it is natural that it will provide you with the things you need. Gratitude will prevent you from falling on to the plane of competitive thought and lack, and make you realize the blessings that are already yours.

Wattles further advises you  not to spend your time complaining about the world, railing against magnates and politicians. These people are part of Earth's evolution, and their actions allow you physically to pursue your opportunities efficiently and in peace. Instead, cultivate gratefulness.

Never talk about your past financial troubles. Wattles says: "If you want to become rich, you must not make a study of poverty." Do not care how poverty is created or sustained, even if you have an interest in the history of tenement dwellers or hunger in developing countries- look only for what makes for riches. The poor need inspiration more than charity, and so you should endeavor to show them the path to wealth rather than trying to alleviate property.

Final comments

The question must be asked: Why seek to be rich? Some will say that we should want less, settling for a standard of living that is less taxing on the earth. This is no doubt true, but it fails to take account of human nature. What is a person if not a bundle of aspirations?

Desire is the engine that drives the world, and without ever-increasing wealth there would be a miserable gap between what is wanted and what can be afforded. The nature of life is growth and increase, so it would be contradicting nature to restrict the urge to plenty.

It is also a fact that you cannot seek the higher things in life if you have to fight for the basics. "Moral and spiritual greatness," Wattles says, "is possible only to those who are above the competitive battle for existence." You will not be able to pursue what fascinates you or fulfill your intellectual potential if you have no money to buy books or free time to read. Wattles points out, to live soulfully a human being must have love, and it is difficult to love when you are poverty stricken.

In the twenty-first century we seem much more open to the idea that spirituality and wealth go together. The Science of Getting Rich will be dismissed as quaint by some, but it was actually heard of its time. Despite its mythical language, it is profoundly practical.

Leadership Nuggets from Books Part 7

by Karthik Gurumurthy

 Today I am going to talk about another popular runaway best seller named "Millionaire Next Door" by Thomas Stanley. This book revealed to the world a most unexpected picture of America's millionaires. The Millionaire Mind is more thoughtful and insightful look into the psychology of millionaires, the "soft" factors in terms of attitudes and beliefs that have made these people financially successful.

The research base was broadened to encompass an even wealthier set of millionaires (including many "decamillionaires", with a balance sheet value of $10 million or more). In all, the author received 733 responses to his carefully targeted questionairres, and the sum effect of this book is a little like being invited into the living rooms of 733 wealthy people for fireside chat.

The key question asked is: Is it possible to have a very enjoyable, balanced life but still achieve millionaire status? Stanley's surprising answer is that while money can't buy happiness, millionaires are perhaps more aware than most that the best things in life are free. Rather than, as you might expect, spending their non working time visiting glamor spots or engaging in expensive hobbies, the great majority of millionaires prefer to spend time with family and friends. If they are not doing this they are involved in community activities or playing a round of golf.

Vocation, vocation, vocation

The way to sustainable wealth and an enjoyable life is simple.: Do work that you love to do. The more you love your work, the more likely you are to excel at it, and the more rewards will accrue to you. You are also much more likely to create a profitable niche through the process of deepening your skills, knowledge and contacts in your chosen field.

Millionaires are happy to make a life out of truck spare parts or car washes if they see opportunities, no matter what others think. Compare this to people who don't particularyl like what they do but were led to the belief that it would given them financial and career security. Ironically, this perception leads many to choose similar business opportunities, with thet result that they find stiff competition. Above all, millionaires "think differently from the crowd": they spend much of their time looking for things that others have overlooked, overturning assumptions and creating profitable niches within generic industries.

Still haven't found your vocation? Against the conventional view that you go directly into a field after school or college, stick at it, and eventually do well, most millionaires did a variety of hobs and had a good spread of life experiences before they found their vocation. Looking at the data, Stanley concludes, "It is hard for a person to recognize opportunities if he stays in one place and remains in one job."

 Risk, reward and self-belief

Stanley notes the strong correlation between willingness to take financial risk and financial success. While most of us would see starting a business as a great risk, the financially successful see working 9-5 for someone else as risky. You are dependent on your employer for your livelihood. and your income is related to how much time you spend working. Millionaires tend to choose a career in which there is no ceiling on how much money that can make if they are successful at it.

You may ask, what about all those among Stanley's respondents who don't own businesses? Surely the list includes doctors, lawyers, accountants and people who have done well as employees in large firms? There are indeed many, but they tend not to among the decamilion-aires surveyed. Even if a person is at the top of the profession in one of these areas, they are required to give the service personally in return for a fee, one client at time. As an employer, you can always get other people to put in the time, but you reap more and more of the fruits.

One of the book's most fascinating chapters concerns the link between courage and wealth. The millionaires in Stanley's surveys all seemed to have one thing in common: A belief in their ability to generate wealth. People talk ad nauseam about the importance of investing in the stock market, but, as Stanley rightly points out, few really think about the source of wealth; generally an idea turned into business, initially owned by a small group of people. Real wealth creators focus on creating a prosperous business instead of gambling on public companies about which they can never have all the information. This may seem like putting all your eggs in one basket, but those eggs can be watched like a hawk.


A good  proportion of self-made millionaires worked hard in school but were not the top students. What they learned most in school was how to judge people well and get along with them, and that hard work could bring surprising level of success. Many were judged not intelligent enough to succeed because they lacked the high levels of analytical intelligence or IQ to get them into medical school or law school. Yet later in life, most of the millionaires admit that these judgmentns only made them more determined to achieve. Knowing that they would never with the "beautiful people," they sought to prove their worth in other ways. They became very good at dealing with people and scoping out opportunities.

People often put success down to good luck, but Stanley's millionaires rate luck quite lowly on the scale of success factors, "The harder you work, the luckier you get" seems to be a consensus view.


Nine out of ten married millionaires say that their marriage has been a significant factor in their success. A spouse provides on-tap psychological support and advice that is likely to be honest.

After love, attractiveness, and sharing common interests, most millionaires chose their spouses for a certain "x-factor": small things they noticed that indicated self-worth, integrity, even compassion. It turns out that millionaire spouses have the sort of qualities that would be helpful in running a business: intelligent, honest, reliable, cheerful. Millionaires choose their lifelong partners astutely, knowing that it will greatly affect their own success.

Every little helps

Becoming wealthy involves a set of habits and ways of doing things, some of which seem of minor importance or common sense, although many of us don't do them.

  • Acquiring antique furniture or quality reproductions, which can be reupholstered instead of buying cheaper pieces every few years.
  • Investing in better-quality shoes and getting them repaired or resoled when necessary, instead of buying a new pair,
  • Buying household items at bulk discount stores. Half of the millionaires surveyed always make a list before going supermarket shopping.
  • The typical millionaire from the survey has never spent more than $41,000 on buying an automobile (a good proportion buy quality used cards at much less than this figure), nor spent more than $38 on a haircut.
  • Millionaires are frugal, but are not into DIY. They get other people to paint their house because they know their time is better spent focusing on their investments. They employ top experts to sort out their tax and legal matters. Big accountancy and legal firms cost more, but their better advice and contacts make their cost low over the long term.

Final comments

The Millionaire Mind could have been better edited (many statements were repeated), but it si not for lovely elegant prose that you will buy this book. At less than the price of a main course at a good restaurant, its insights may prove an insanely good investment.

There are multitude of revealing facts and ideas, including the five "foundation stones" of financial success most often mentioned by millionaires, and enjoyable case histores and anecdotes of specific millionaires. Forty-six tables display the research data in a manner that even the numerically challenged can understand.

What is the millionaire mind? Not living a spartan lifestyle and making money your God, but staying free from reliance on credit and being in control of your finances. The great self-discipline of the average millionaire means that they can't help piling up wealth long after their modest needs have been satisfied. The millionaire mind evokes the famous biblical saying,  "To them that hath, more will be given." Not only do these people have money, they love their work. Most people will think, "Of course they love their work, they can do what they want," but few appreciate that it was their love of their vocation that helped to make them wealthy in the first place.