449 posts categorized "Achievers"

What is your Plan B?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

"Most people go to their grave with their music still inside them"- George Bernard Shaw

Most recently I read a story about Antonio; an Italian boy who loved music, but whenever he tried to sing the music that was in his heart, it came out so badly that all his friends laughed at him. Next to singing, the boy loved to hear the violin. He had a pocketknife he always carried with him and we would whittle all sorts of things with it.

One day Antonio learned that the greatest violin maker in all Italy, the great Nicolo Amati, lived in his village. Antonio began to whittle a violin and worked many hours on it. When finished, the boy walked to the house of Amati, who just happened to answer the door. The boy handed the master the small violin he had carved and said, “Sir, I love music, but cannot sing. I wish with all my heart I could learn to make violins.”

The great Amati smiled, looked at the small gift and said, “Beautifully done. You want to make violins? And so you shall. In time your violins will make the most beautiful music ever heard!” And so, Antonio Stradivari became the pupil of Nicolo Amati and in time made violins that equaled his master’s.

Consider the successes of the likes of Henry Ford, R.H. Macy, Soichiro Honda, Bill Gates, Walt Disney, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison. The common thread among all of them is that their eventual successes were only attained after many failures early on in the careers.

Resilient leaders are not deterred by the disappointment that comes when Plan A is no longer an option. Success comes when Plan B is embraced and that can make all the difference. In business and in leadership, plans do not always turn out as we hope. In these times of testing you have a choice.  Here are three things to remember when Plan A falls apart and Plan B falls in your lap and you are tempted to throw in the towel.

Plan B creates opportunity. Stradivari’s contribution to music was not to be found through his voice, but through his hands. He joined the passion of his heart with the skill of his hands and made his mark on the music world with it.  The challenge in leadership is not to lay down what is in your hand but to use it. It may not be Plan A, but Plan B turned out incredibly well for Stradivari and it can for you if you choose the right attitude and give it all you have.

Plan B redirects your skills. Upon the outcome of this Hollywood legends first screen test, the director of MGM noted, “Can’t dance. Can’t sing. Can dance a little.” Undeterred, Fred Astaire went on to become an incredibly successful actor, singer and dancer. He kept that note in his Beverly Hills home to remind him of where he came from. As a leader, you will face many challenges and you will at times hear the voices of those telling you that it can’t be done. But in the end all that matters is what you believe in your heart and having the courage to pursue it; even if it is Plan B.

Plan B prepares you for a rewarding life. In many respects Plan B is not just about opportunities, but overcoming adversity. While his name is synonymous with some of the biggest films in the modern era, this movie director was rejected three times from the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television. After so many year , Steven Spielberg returned to school and completed his BA last year.


The blessing of Plan B is not always easy to see in the beginning. The blessing of Plan B is realized when we embrace it and begin the journey it takes you on. Wise leaders are flexible enough to know that when one door closes it is not the end; it’s just the beginning of living out your dream in a manner you didn’t expect.

What is your Plan B?


The Why?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I am thankful and blessed to work with talented students who brings the best out of me and I try to do the same as well for them. There are times where things don't go the way they wanted and get upset.

When you get frustrated and want to give up, or maybe ask yourself “what am I doing” or “why am I doing this” always remember there’s more to what you’re doing than just the immediate results that you can see. When you get frustrated and think “why am I doing this?” I hope you’ll remember that some of the reasons you’re doing what you’re doing you will never fully realize because the impact that you’re making cannot be fully measured, or even recognized in this life. I hope this message encourages you to do one more thing one more time; plant one more seed one more time.   See the best that is ahead of you not the worst that is behind you or around you. 

Life is full of distractions, disappointments, and defeat … but life is also full of opportunities, victories, excitement and hope if we focus on what we want next not on what we have now. When you get frustrated read this message or even better write your own message of hope, excitement and anticipation. When we have our final conversation and take our final breath hopefully we will be proud of ourselves. Not an arrogant, egotistical kind of pride … but a peaceful acknowledgement that we fought the good fight and did not give up.

We should never give up regardless of how hard or how long the race is because we may be the only reason that others don’t give up. When we finish our race we should be at peace knowing that we overcame challenges and distractions and made a positive difference in the world. 

Our patience and perseverance may be the lifeline and the example that keeps another person from giving up on their dreams. The seeds that we plant today will provide comfort for others today and may provide comfort for others generations from now. Keep planting good seeds, expecting a good harvest. Be the best example you can possibiy be.


What's the root cause?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I am fortunate to work with young adults in helping them in Prep for SAT/ACT / MCAT tests.  I am also work with organizations in their Agile transformation efforts as an Enterprise Agile Coach. Even though the work involved is totally different, I see a parallel in both the roles.

Sometimes when the results are different from what's expected, we pause and find out what is the root cause of the issue?

Why don’t people perform? It is almost always for one of these reasons:

1. They don’t know what to do.

2. They don’t know how to do it.

3. They don’t want to do it.

4. They can’t do it.

Expectation without proper education equals frustration. Good leaders have the ability to assess abilities. An effective leader knows both what a person is capable of and what training and the education they need to succeed.

But training and development aren’t a panacea. If you’ve got the right person in the wrong role they won’t succeed.

Specifically, it is a matter of fit. The person fits the role. It isn’t an exact science, an either/or. However, when someone who is conscientious struggles performing even after they’ve receive the necessary training, it is likely a fit problem.

Are the right students in the right classrooms and even in the right seats? Are you assuming a student is a poor performer when in reality, her or she is just in the wrong classroom?

Willingness and ability aren’t the same thing. Understanding the nuances of people and performance are an important skill for leaders.


Before the game is over

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Before the game of life is over,  I want to know I have done someting truly great, that I have made a positive impact of people who worked with me. I do not aspire to become as wealthy as Jeff Bezos, as famous as Napoleon and conquer many nations, but I do want above all else, to feel that I have been an addition to this world of ours. I should like the world, or at least my native land, to be proud of me and to sit up and take notice when my name is pronounced and say, "There is a man who had done a great thing." I do not want to have passed through life as just another speck of humanity, just another cog in this amazing world. I want to be something greater, far greater, than that. My desire is not so much for immortality as for distinction while I am alive. When I I leave this world, I want to know that my life has not been in vain, but that I have, in the course of my existence, done something of which I am rightfully proud. Success to me is how many people are better off because I lived (quoting Bill Britt).

Before the game is over, I want to know that during my life I have brought great happiness to others. Friendship is one of the best things to the world, and I want to have many friends. But I could never die fully contented unless I knew that those with whom I had been intimate had gained real happiness from their friendship with me.  We all want much happiness in our lives, and giving it to others is one of the surest ways to achieve it for ourselves.

Before the game is over I want to have visited a large portion of the globe and to have actually lived with several foreign races in their own environment. By traveling in countries other than my own I hope to broaden and improve my outlook on life so that I can get a deeper and more complete satisfaction from living. 

Before the game is over, I would like to live life to the fullest giving my best everyday.


1:1 Conversations

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Whenever we meet friends or family, we make it a point to meet one family at a time. We try our best not to meet many families at the same time.Sometimes due to time constraints we might have done it but we try not to do that anymore. We seldom invite anyone for the sake of meeting them but we always wanted to give them undivided attention.

There’s nothing quite like it to unburden yourself. To know that you are being listened to. To feel that you are special. Many a memory is made up of meaningful conversations with significant others.Everyone has a special story to tell and I have learned a lot from the 1:1 conversations as opposed to having many extroverts completely take over the conversation and you never get to hear from the quieter people who wanted to share a useful nugget or a funny situation.

It is at these times that we learn to still ourselves to listen to the other. To give him/ her the gift of our undivided attention. It is when we learn how our lives can make a difference to other lives.

If we pay more attention to others, someday, in the future, someone will tell us how our attention and words made a difference.

 


Greatness, Competitiveness and Friendship

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Federal

I love this picture not just they are tennis fiercest rivals of all time. To see your greatest rival cry tears of sadness is the ultimate respect. There will never be another rivalry like this duo.Two men demonstrating the strength to be authentic. To be truly as you are, where you are. It's so obvious what this moment means to these two. Their powerful emotions clearly, courageously on display for all to see. How often do we hold ourselves back from being our authentic selves because we feel "it's not allowed." When was the last time you felt strong enough to be authentic?  It disrupts and destroys all myths about masculinity, competition and vulnerability.Being vulnerable in front of others always shows one's inner strength and character. 

Men are expected not to cry.
Men are expected to be tough.
Men are expected to destroy the competition.

Nothing about the raw emotion of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal follows any of those outdated, damaging and dangerous rules of toxic masculinity.

They are openly crying.
They are holding hands.
They are competitors on the court and compassionate comrades who respect and revere one another.

Possessing both masculine and feminine traits is the sign of an evolved person. This really warms my heart.

And I hope that we are continuing to move towards a world that evolves beyond the gender binary "masculine" and "feminine"; one that isn't so desperately set on putting people into boxes and telling them that who they are, what they feel, who they love and how they live is "wrong" or "right" based on how the world has gendered them.

Until then, I implore more and more leaders to show up fully in all of their *human* traits — regardless of gender — so we can embrace, learn from and love them wholly.  Bow and respect to both Federer and Nadal..


Greatest of all time: Roger Federer!

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Few people in this world set such a high example for character, class, sportsmanship and pure love for the game of tennis. It was a pleasure watching you compete all these years and you are true definition of an amazing human being on and off the court. Even RF's Retirement Speech will become one of the Greatest Retirement Speeches of All Time! You will be missed, Roger!!

RogerFederer

"I am 41 years old. I have played more than 1500 matches over 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognize when it is time to end my competitive career.”- 20 time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer who announced his retirement from tennis"- Roger Federer

 


Focus

-Karthik Gurumurthy

When you focus on the "Problems", your "Goal" will stop appearing, and

when you focus on the "Goal", your "problems" will stop appearing.

The Sun is shining on the day so brightly so your day is  also going to shine the same way. Let us focus on the right stuff.

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50th Wedding Anniversary

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Happy 50th Anniversary to Dad and Mom. Cannot thank them enough for everything you have done and continue to do for us. All the good things that Aravind and I have gotten is all because of your Blessings and Prayers. We are so thankful that we were born to the most amazing parents. 


Leadership Culture

-Karthik Gurumurthy

In my twenty plus work experience, I have had the opportunity to work with amazing organizations and great leaders. What I have observed with the top leaders is they focus primarily on the growth and well being of the team and the communities to which they belong.  They always put the needs of others first and help their people develop and perform at a very high level. 

I have also witnessed  so called  average positional leaders sharing lofty big dreams but doesn't necessarily back it up with the action/ strategy to make that happen. To develop leaders, one needs to start from the ground-up.  What separates average companies from the great ones is their ability to build a leadership culture through out their organization that cultivates great leaders.

"a true leader is not the one with the most followers but the one who creates the most leaders."

-Neale Donald Walsch

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Employee Engagement

-Karthik Gurumurthy

CFO asks CEO:  "What happens if  we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?"

CEO: "What happens if we don't and they stay?"

"Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don't want to."- Sir Richard Branson

Rotterdam

 


Rocketry

-Karthik Gurumurthy

So glad I went with my family to watch this wonderful movie on the  first day of movie release(It is actually first day first show).  Totally worth it and more.

#RocketryTheFilm #RocketryTheNambiEffect is an Amazing Achievement by @ActorMadhavan and his team on the life of legendary rocket scientist #NambiNarayanan . What a great tribute !  #Maddy lived the role & deserves all appreciation. Kudos Team 🏆🤠💐

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Dysfunctional Leadership

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Not everyone is meant for everything. It's completely OK to tell no to things that doesn't makes sense to you. Actually it's a strength if you identify things that doesn't interest you. You will understand everything that is happening around it doesn't mean you have to do all of that. You understand them because of your common sense.  That's all. So step back, focus on things that you love the most and allow the rest to be taken care by others. No hard feelings.Keep on Keeping on..

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Journey is the Reward

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Found this insightful short story in "Happiness Trap" by Dr. Russ Harris.

A mother decides to take her two kids to a fantastic Zoo which happens to be 2 hours drive. One kid has only one aim: to get to the zoo as fast as possible. All the way there he's sitting on the edge of the seat, in a constant frustration, every few minutes whining "Are we there yet?" " I am bored". "How much longer?"

Second kid has two aims: to get to the zoo as fast as possible and to appreciate the journey. So, this second kid is looking out the window noticing all the fields full of cows and sheep, watching in fascination at the giant trucks and waving at friendly pedestrians.

Now, if the car breaks down half-way and the kids never reach the zoo, then which kid had more rewarding journey? and if the car makes it to zoo, both kids will have a great reward - but still, only one of them has enjoyed the journey.

Living in the moment, appreciating where we are rather than focusing where we are not is the key to avoid happiness trap.

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Stop Judging people

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Don't waste time by judging people. Everyone behaves a certain way because they like doing so. That's all. Don't wear a Sherlock hat and start investigating every behavior and come up with theories to prove someone right or wrong. It's called waste of time.


Subramanian Ramamurthy Uncle- Om Shanthi

-Karthik Gurumurthy

SubramanianRamamurthyMama

An absolute blessing to have had the privilege of meeting this amazing Uncle in Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana many many years ago,. Getting to know him and getting connected with  mostly through Facebook. In this world of social media, one of the biggest boons for many of us was to have connected with  Dr. Ramamurthy mama (Uncle)

What is special about this Uncle? 

He is the beacon of light who uplifted our spirits everyday with Facebook posting, always with positive messages that made everyone feel that he is family and that he is genuinely and truly caring for us, cheering for us, comforting us, complimenting us.He made every single person in his presence feel that they were the most important person to him. He treated everyone around him with unmatched kindness, affection and love. He was very proud of Kallidaikuruchi, where he hailed from. He was a connoisseur of all genres of music, South Indian cooking and English literature (a Great PG Wodehouse fan!!)

It is amazing to see the spectrum of his friends in facebook, ranging all the way from the most eminent of artists to a little girl who did her first classical dance in stage who looked forward to meet dear Ramamurthy Mama.
 
Each and everyone of his friends waited with anticipation for a happy post from mama to uplift their spirit everyday. He certainly made a positive influence everyday. His love for people was unconditional and the kindness that used to ooze out of him was immense. No wonder God loves to have such people closer to him at the earliest and he is no more with us.. Praying for the departed soul and condolences to the near and dear ones..
 
Only few are blessed to live a life like mama, where everyone who know him feel so empty and lost today. Mama lit up every up gatherings, can talk to people of any age group on any topic - always helping, smiling - I can go on and on. None can match mama's charisma and personality. I am in disbelief and devastated. He got married the same day (and the year) my parents got married (July 12). Was always the first one to comment about my blogs and wish me on my B'day.  How are we supposed to go on without you dearest Mama 🥲.. the excruciating pain of losing you feels very much akin to having lost my own dad for you always extended that unconditional love to each and every one of us just like a dad would. With a very very laden heart we all bid our adieu to you .Will take a break from Facebook  for sometime ...
 
What I have learnt from Uncle is how to unconditionally  love everyone without expecting anything in return.  Om Shanthi Uncle..This will take sometime for me to digest...

 


Asking Questions

-Karthik Gurumurthy

“The fool wonders, the wise man asks”

The above quote is from former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli. For me, its closest modern equivalent is, “The only stupid question is an unasked question.”

While I prefer the more elegant phrasing of Mr. Disraeli, I applaud the sentiment behind both. Even though at times it can be brutally difficult to admit you don’t know who someone is, what something is, how to pronounce something, how to do something, etc, you stand a far better chance of being well thought of—and, more importantly, learning something new—if you’re willing to ask the question.

Given this, what are some things you can do to feel more comfortable asking questions?

• First: Don’t confuse ignorance with stupidity. Just because you don’t know how to conjugate French verbs or tie a half hitch slipknot doesn’t mean you don’t have mastery of numerous other skill sets and bodies of information.

• Second: Point two flows naturally from point one: don’t apologize for your ignorance. We all tend to do this and it doesn’t serve us, or our listener. Instead, it diverts attention from getting the question answered into massaging one another’s egos. Stay on task; just ask the question. If your listener expresses surprise at your not knowing, don’t feed into it. Agree and add, “Yes, I don’t know. Can you tell me?”

• Third: Remember that everyone loves being an authority. While your boss or your colleague or your date may be surprised by your not knowing something in the moment, this will quickly be superseded by the satisfaction of getting to be the authority.

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The image build-up

-Karthik Gurumurthy

As a kid you were enjoying life as you did not associate ourselves with any  image or identity. As you grew you started enjoying the image that you created. Later you wanted more of it. In the pursuit of the identity you lost all the enjoyment in life.

Lose your image. Become null in your head. Enjoy life. The heavy lifting that you are doing right now is temporary and you will retire. People will forget you. Don't look back and feel bad.

You can do your job with 100% efficiency without mentally associating yourself with stuff that boosts your ego. Do and move on.

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Good news!

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Found out  today that Amita Satish (who got an outstanding score in SAT last year) got accepted in Purdue and UTexas, Austin for Electrical Engineering (Fall 2022)...Always driven, setting high standards of excellence this is no surprise at all. Wishing her outstanding success and more good news to follow from Amita..Watch out for Amita! She has not only big dreams but an amazing work ethic to make her dreams happen! Fortunate, Blessed and honored to work with these kids!!


Happy News to start the New Year 2022

-Karthik Gurumurthy

What a way to start the New Year !!Found out that my student Joshua Oommen (who aced the  MCATs last year) got accepted at Loma Linda University for Med School. So happy for him!! It is wonderful to observe this kid from high school days to take the journey of Med School student. I can already visualize him extremely successful in his chosen field and lead a  life of significance. 

I am extremely thankful to work with lot of talented kids over the last 20 + years  but there are few who stand out and make you feel like million bucks because your paths crossed. That's the kind of feeling you get when you work with Joshua. I wish him outstanding success in his chosen journey.


Finishing meeting early

-Karthik Gurumurthy


In a world when you can be anything, be the person who ends the meeting early. Whatever you want to say it, say it quickly like a twitter message. Like my dad always used to quote "Brevity is the soul of wit"..Shorter the meeting, sweeter and happier everyone is..


What's your worth?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

A father, before he died, said to his son:

“This is the watch your grandfather gave me and this is more than 200 years old.

Before I give it to you go to the watch shop on the first street, and tell him I want to sell it, and ask how much they offer”.

The son went and after several minutes, he came back to his father and said, "The watchmaker offers to pay $5 because it's old and has a lot of scratches.” He then asked him to go to the coffee shop.

The son went and after an hour or so, he came back and said: “The coffee shop owner offers $5, father.”

“Go to the antique museum estimator and show that watch”. He went ahead and then came back happily. “They offered me a million dollars for this piece.”

The father said: “I wanted to let you know that the right place values your value in a way right, don't put yourself in the wrong place and get angry if you get treated like crap. Those who know your value are the ones who appreciate you, don't ever stay in a place that doesn't suit you."

Make sure you know your worth and don't sell yourself short.


Bring your A game

-Karthik Gurumurthy

If you are dull all the time, your talent will be forgotten and people won't collaborate with you. In a professional environment the accountabilities are handed over to only those who are high on energy and extremely active. You are measured based on the rate at which you bring positive ambience to your surrounding. So put back yourself together before entering your workspace no matter what is happening in your life.


Learning from mistakes

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Everyone makes mistakes; it would be small-minded to think you can’t make one. We learn more from screwing up than we do from anything else. When you think (or you know) you have failed, take some time to think. What did I learn? What will I do differently next time? How can I make better decisions in the future.


Rookie Mentality

-Karthik Gurumurthy

The one thing that kept me going all these years is to begin everyday like it’s my first day at work and never stop learning!

‘Every individual I meet is an inspiration and Everyday is a new opportunity, to try something new, to learn, to evolve…’

It has been a great journey so far and it’s time for the clock to reset and start all over again!


Habit of reading books

-Karthik Gurumurthy

How to get good at reading books?

Start one page a day. Yes only one page not two even if you could. Then make it two pages a day in a week's time. Then three pages a day after three more days. Then four pages a day. At this point of time, increase it by additional page every day. Eventually you will end up reading 50 to 100 pages a day in less than 6 months.

Habit stacking works.  Make reading paired with any existing habit. Like I'll read before going to bed or immediately after waking up, or after breakfast etc.


Happy New Year 2022

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Happy New Year! As we adapt to the possibilities that the coming months may bring, let’s make 2022 the best year of the decade thus far. Thankful to all of you who have been reading/commenting to me in person with your thoughts for the last 20 years. Please continue to share your views. #Thankful #Grateful


Graceful Entry, Graceful Exit

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Work in silence and leave in silence. Success didn't necessarily need to make any noise. Feeling successful is a mindset and not an external acknowledgment. High performers work for themselves and do not expect anything in return. They leave. They will be missed. Graceful entry, graceful exit.


Happy and Thankful

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Happy and thankful to hear Arjun Malik ( who got 1540 SAT score) got admitted to NYU Stern Business school for Fall 2022.  I am not surprised though. He  constantly worked hard on improving himself (be it Math or Golf!). Hardwork never fails. Wishing him outstanding success in his new journey.


No Credits

-Karthik Gurumurthy

For peaceful life, accept that you are not permanent; in the job, in the mood, in the status.  Moreover in life. you will leave. Never try to create a name tagged to a legacy. Create legacy if you wish to, but work without credits. We still don't know the person who invented wheel. Stay away from name and credits. If it is forced upon you, accept it with grace and move on. Never link yourself with any awards, designations, rewards or anything.


High Performing Teams

-Karthik Gurumurthy

What is the one thing that you can focus on fixing in an Agile team to start your journey towards an high performing team?

Fix the attitude of "My way or the Highway". Identify who has this attitude in the team and fix that first. This includes Scrum Master as well.

Encourage an environment where collaboration becomes a culture. Every thing with respect to product must be discussed as a team; get this into the team agreement. Things will start to take shape in the right direction.


Happy Birthday Coach Wooden!

-Karthik Gurumurthy

CoachW

Today is the Birthday of legendary Coach Wooden. I am reflecting what he shared.

  • Being authentic and vulnerable is foundational to leadership. The only gift I have to offer the world is me and what I have within.
  • It took me a while to recognize that I’m more than enough for what I want to accomplish. Once I stopped being ashamed of myself I could start being my best version every day than trying to copy some and end up being a bad duplicate.
  • Each of us is a walking billboard, advertising ourself. Our words and actions are our real time commercial. How we represent ourselves is very important.

John Wooden’s dedication and commitment to excellence resulted in a an incredible framework to develop leaders.


Product owner: Mindset preparation

-Karthik Gurumurthy

As a Product Owner your 5 min. before starting the daily stand-up:

Think about:

1. What role you want to play in the meeting?
2. What to avoid discussing in the meeting?
3. What’s the one thing you want the team to take away?
4. What do you want people to “feel” by the end of the meeting?

The emotion you send them with determine the amount of energy your team is willing to spend.

Choose carefully.


Get in the game

-Karthik Gurumurthy

You cannot build anything without getting your hands dirty. Theoretical knowledge without actual implementation will create pseudo success at mindset level. It is more toxic than not having the knowledge. Get out and do the actual work.