59 posts categorized "Books"

Value of Inquiry

-Karthik Gurumurthy

What is common between a student, Business Analyst, Project Manager, Program Manager, and your profession. Irrespective of your chosen profession, one thing common is the ability to ask questions. I recently read a book "Ask More" written by Frank Sesno. He was a former CNN Anchor and White House correspondent and spent his career asking questions. In this book, he talks about the "taxonomy of questions" and explores the value of inquiry. Each chapter covers a different type of question, including "diagnostic, bridging, confrontational, mission, interview, legacy," etc. and more.

What I got from the book:

  • Asking questions helps you open doors, solve problems and break down barriers.
  • To use inquiry effectively, master asking different type of questions, including:
    • "Diagnostic" questions help you get to the heart of the matter and zero in on the problem.
    • "Bridging" questions act as connectors between a reluctant subject and needed answers.
    • "Confrontational" questions demand accountability and uncover the truth.
    • "Mission" questions identify shared values and goals.
    • " Interview" questions can be helpful or can intimidate both employees and employers. When used correctly, interview questions produce meaningful revelations.
    • "Legacy" questions give you the opportunity to reflect back on your life.
  • Asking questions and reflecting on it encourages personal growth. 

"The simple act of asking, of listening without comment or judgment, and letting a silence linger or a free-form thought coalesce invites a person to reflect or think out loud."


Take_Aways from the book " the Stuff"

-Karthik Gurumurthy

A young woman wanted to be a doctor, but couldn't get into a US medical school. A Cuban medical school accepted her, but she couldn't read or speak Spanish. She graduated within five years and now a physician. Authors Sampson Davis and Sharlee Jeter attribute her success to her having "the stuff". They discuss the essential elements of this level of fortitude and share stories about people whose stuff enabled them to overcome life's challenges.

The nuggets from this book:

  • Life is tough. To stay on top of it, you need "the stuff"
  • Using your stuff requires a mission statement and steadfast hope. Having the stuff means defying your limitations. Use your stuff to embrace the hard work.
  • Remain alert to unexpected inspiration.
  • With this level of fortitude, you can ignore fear and turn negatives into positives.
  • The stuff is inside you. We need to activate it.

"If you can re-evaluate a situation after experiencing trauma, look past the pain and find the positive elements of the experience, you are better positioned to grow from it."


Nuggets from Lifescale

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Your time and attention have never been more valuable. Tech companies vie for your attention and trade it as a commodity. They lure you into increasing your time on their platforms, and exploit neuroscientific  discoveries to manipulate your online behavior. You succumb to the barrage of distractions, losing focus and  creativity. "Digital anthropologist" Brian Solis noticed the demise of his own creativity and developed the Lifescale method in response. He provides a framework for recapturing your focus, rekindling your creative spark, and igniting a deep sense of purpose and well being.

People suffering addiction to digital devices often drop out of real life to sleepwalk, zombie-like, through a virtual existence. They lose the ability to focus, meet goals and fulfill responsibilities. The detrimental effects of never disconnecting from the digital world include decreasing attention spans, loss of empathy, and less energy for creative activities or critical thinking. Productivity drops as workers spend an average of two hours a day on their smartphones. The time you spend on apps, networks, social media and texts does not make you happier. It erodes your sense of well-being, increases stress and anxiety, and engenders feelings of loneliness and self-doubt.

The author has clearly spent a lot of time thinking through the optimum way to deal with the stress that can overwhelm us through being constantly interrupted by alerts, emails, messages on a plethora of platforms from Slack and WhatsApp to Twitter and Facebook.

The author provides a framework to help you navigate your way through your work life and personal life while still being able to be connected and avoid the inevitable burn out we all suffer from leading a digital life. As he says we've all, somewhere along the way, have become distracted. Maybe we don't realize quite how much our personalities have changed due to the advancement in technology but they undeniably have.

Read this book, reclaim your attention, break the cycle of instant gratification to think creatively and critically once again. Learn to waste less time on distractions and spend more time with your loved ones! Happiness and success are possible if you live consciously.

This book helps you build good habits, live with a strong sense of purpose and make technology work for you, not the other way around.


Circle of Influence

-Karthik Gurumurthy

There are few books that I like to go back once or twice a year to reflect on and how I can get better. One of those books is Stephen Covey's  "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People".  One of the concepts in the book that I found very interesting was that of the circle of influence. For those of you who have not gotten a chance to read the book, I shall briefly explain the same, essentially the aspects to improve productivity.

The core of the concept is that broadly, everything that has an effect on you, impacts you and is of consequence to you can be divided into two broad circles. One is called the circle of influence, which comprises all those things that you have an influence on, and the other is the circle of concern, which comprises things that impact you directly or indirectly, but which you can't influence. These are two concentric circles- the inner circle, the smaller circle, which comprises things that you can influence, and the bigger circle that has things on which you don't have influence.

Circle_StephenCovey

This is in context to work.You dream of being very successful in your career, but to be successful, one must deliver high quality and high quantity of output at work. You must deliver results which are compelling so that people make note of them, and thus create a good reputation and long-term career for yourself. For you to deliver those results, there are set of things which are within your sphere of influence, in your circle of influence. Likewise, there are things that impact your ability to deliver results at work that are not in your influence and those are in the outer circle, the circle of concern. Whenever I set a target to work at, I measure consistently and review periodically and reflect on how I can get better. Whenever I spend any amount of time on my circle of concern, I realized it is a major productivity killer and an extraordinary waste of my precious time. Whenever I spent time in my circle of concern, I felt irritated, angry, frustrated, at times incapable of creating results and  feeling inadequate- a whole set of negative emotions.

I have observed from all the productive leaders I have had  the opportunity to witness, that they spend all their time on things to which they make a difference, where they have an influence. The benefits of this habit go beyond just productivity. The more you focus on your circle of influence, the more it grows, and slowly and steadily, it starts to cover more of the areas that earlier fell under your circle of concern. 

To increase productivity, let us focus relentlessly on whatever is in our circle of influence. Rest will take care by itself.

 


Daddykins

-Karthik Gurumurthy

My copy of #Daddykins arrived on time and I couldn't put the book down.

Kalpana Mohan writes magically about her father, his life, all the way from his days in pre-independent India, to the 21st century. I was transported to his village in Palakkad, to the Madras of old that him and his family made Home in. Mostly though, the words paint a breathtaking picture of a man through his daughter’s eyes, through his Man Friday’s eyes, through the lives of those he touched.

Daddykins
A read that was both sad and funny, a story of a love that is both universal and unique. Nothing can ever extinguish the aching sadness of the loss of one's parents; all we are left with are stories and memories. Kalpana Mohan has captured these so beautifully. It is the story of her family, the life and times of her beloved Daddykins and a host of others who were part of his milieu. I can totally relate to her narration as I lost my dad to cancer in 2012 as soon as I heard about his illness, I dropped everything to take care of him. Kalpana has used unswerving probity coupled with a defining and underlying compassion – making us laugh and cry with the family. ! I am teary eyed right now, having literally lived the last moments of Daddykins in the past hour!!  It is a rare book that can appeal to everyone – Daddykins is one such – for we can, each and every one of us, relate to someone or something in the book.  Five stars, that is my vote. Wonderfully written!!


Nuggets from Option B

-Karthik Gurumurthy

 

I just finished the reading the book "Option B" by Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) and Adam Grant (Prof. in Wharton Business School). 

After the sudden death of her husband, Facebook COO (and author of Lean In) Sandberg finds herself a widow and single mother.  It is a brave attempt to unveil the vulnerability with such rawness and honesty.Her book isn't exactly a checklist--which I think is a good thing--but it is a way to take charge of one's own response to tragedy or difficulty.

Sandberg researches what these things are, and does her best to follow them. Turns out these types of mindsets or mental exercises are good for all of us who have gone through something as tragic or even mildly difficult. And they are good for those of us who have stood by friends who have lost loved ones or are battling enormous life adjustments. Or smaller challenges, too. Or maybe we're parents of children whose lives will inevitably involve some hardship, and we'd like to teach them to be resilient from a young age.

Some of the things I picked up from the book and will carry with me as tools to face or overcome the loss or failure, both in my own life and others:

- The "3 Ps" can stunt recovery: 1) Personalization, or the belief that we are at fault; 2) Pervasiveness, or the belief that an event will affect all areas of our life; 3) Permanence, or the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever. Challenging those responses and letting rational thinking return to the forefront helps.

- It's no big secret that learning from mistakes is helpful in school and at jobs. I liked the story of Kim Malone Scott at Google who brought a stuffed monkey named Whoops to team meetings. The person who had the biggest screw up got to have Whoops sit at their desk for the week. 

- I loved the idea of opening yourself in a humble way to feedback. Sue Ashford's studies "show that although fishing for compliments hurts your reputation, asking for criticism signals you care about improving."

- "Believing it will all work out helps it all work out."

- Loved the last chapter of adding humor back into life after a tragic event or loss. "Humor lowers our heart rate and relaxes our muscles. Humor is a signal that a situation is safe. Laughter breaks tension by making stressful situations less threatening."

For people going through a tragedy or loss, Sheryl offers some useful phrases: “you are not alone” is better than “I cannot imagine”; “I will bring dinner” is better than “how can I help?” which puts the burden on the grieving one to come up with something to do. And as for “how are you?”: It can be a punch in the gut to someone already in pain, since the answer is probably somewhere along the spectrum of awful to unbearable. A better alternative: “how are you today?”

I strongly recommend this book. I am in complete admiration of Sheryl Sandberg and her determination to move forward in a positive way for the sake of her children, family, friends and colleagues and  am thankful that she generously decided to share her nightmare with those of us who can always use a little advice of what to do when someone we love meets tragedy. 


Triggers

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Just finished up Triggers.  This is what I got from the book

Triggers

Marshall Goldsmith explains in Triggers the kinds of things in our environment that derail us from becoming the kind of leader, co-worker, parent, or spouse that we want to be. He illuminates an aspect of self-awareness that is so vital to a leader’s success.

We can’t control our environment, but we can control our responses. We always have a choice.

When it comes to interpersonal behavior we can’t rely on habits to help us. “We must be adaptable, not habitual—because the stakes are so much higher.” We need something more to help us deal with the uncertainty of our day.

When it comes to triggers, it’s not the big triggers that usually do us in, it is the little moments in life that trigger our most outsized and unproductive responses. They trigger some of our basest impulses. Especially with the people we know and love the most. “We can say and do anything with these folks. They know us. They’ll forgive us. We don’t have to edit ourselves. We can be true to our impulses. That’s how our closes relationships often become trigger festivals with consequences that we rarely see in any other part of our lives—the fuming and shouting, the fights and slammed doors, the angry departures and refusals to talk to each other for months, years, decades.”

So where the problem is most vivid is in the small, minor moments of the day, when we are not thinking about our environment or our behavior. That’s when we need to be most vigilant.

Sometimes the best strategy is to avoid the trigger altogether. Stop flirting with those things that tempt you. Goldsmith says that one of the most common behavioral issues among leaders is “succumbing to the temptation to exercise power when they would be better off showing restraint.” And that behavior is very hard to eliminate because those who engage in it because they no doubt enjoy doing it.

But we can’t always walk away.

What is the solution?

The solution then isn’t trying to fix the environment or the behavior of others, the solution is to change our behavior. When we are triggered we need to adjust.

Goldsmith has found that asking yourself some active questions works magic. Active questions get to personal responsibility—something you have control over. Goldsmith suggests six engaging questions anyone should be asking themselves each day to build engagement:

Did I do my best to set clear goals today?
Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals today?
Did I do my best to find meaning today?
Did I do my best to be happy today?
Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?
Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?

In addition, Goldsmith has a number of other Daily Questions he asks himself to gauge whether he had taken responsibility for his own life. Our own questions would reflect those things that we want to work on—will success on these items help me become the person I want to be?

Did I do my best to have a healthy diet?
Did I do my best to be a good spouse?
Did I do my best to add value to ______?
Did I do my best to learn something new?
Did I do my best to get a good night’s sleep?
Did I do my best to not prove how right I am when it’s not really worth it?

You score yourself on a scale from 1 to 10 to track your progress or the lack of it. “One of the underappreciated benefits of the Daily Questions is that they force us to quantify an unfamiliar data point: Our level of trying. We rarely do that.”

Daily Questions remind us that success is the result of small efforts repeated consistently over time. Daily Questions can be a game changer because they reinforce our commitment, they ignite our motivation where we need it and not where we don’t, and they shrink our goals into manageable increments.

OUR NEED FOR STRUCTURE

The Daily Questions provide structure in our lives. Simply put, Goldsmith says: “We do not get better without structure.” Like rules, structure pushes us in the right direction when our first impulse is to go the other way.

Goldsmith has worked with Alan Mulally and finds that “no idea looms bigger in Alan’s mind than the importance of structure in turning around and organization and its people.” Goldsmith explains how Mulally integrated the Daily Questions process in his weekly Business Plan Review meetings with his sixteen top executives. And repetition was key. “In the same way that Daily Questions drive us to measure our effort every day and then face the reality of our own behavior, the executives would be announcing how they graded themselves every Thursday—without deviation.” And in the group setting the idea was: How can we help one another more?

Structure “limits our options so that we’re not thrown off course by externalities….Imposing structure on parts of our day is how we seize control of our otherwise unruly environment.”

Goldsmith points out that after a hard, decision-filled day we become depleted. Our discipline and decisiveness fade at the end of the day to the point where we want to do nothing or fill our time with mindless activities.

Deletion isn’t something that we are always aware of but we should anticipate it and create structure where we can. “If we provide ourselves with enough structure, we don’t need discipline. The structure provides it for us. We can’t structure everything obviously—no environment is thatcooperative.” But the more structure we have the less we have to worry about.

ANTICIPATE

When you know you are headed into a pointless meeting, imagine that you are going to be tested on your behavior:

Did I do my best to be happy?
Did I do my best to find meaning?
Did I do my best to build positive relationships?
Did I do my best to be fully engaged?

Sometimes we think we have to show everyone how we feel but that’s ego talking. “Why waste that hour being disengaged and cynical?” asks Goldsmith.

It’s in the moment that we shape ourselves into a better person. Sometimes hourly questions might help. When we face an event were not up for or a person that usually throws us off our game, why not try setting our Smartphone to ask us a question like, “Am I doing my best to…?”

THE FAVORITE PART

What I like best about Triggers is that by creating an awareness of our environment and identifying our own triggers we can be a force for adding value in other people’s lives by triggering something good in others. It requires our imagination and clarity about what we want to become.

When we dive all the way into adult behavioral change—with 100 percent focus and energy—we become an irresistible force rather than the proverbial immovable object. We begin to change our environment rather than be hanged by it. The people around us sense this. We have become the trigger.

Nuggets from the book "Presence"

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Just finished reading the book "Presence" by Amy Cuddy.  Practically written upon the base of sound academic research and knowledge, Cuddy manages to clearly and succinctly lead the reader into the world of "Presence"; so much so that it is becoming an entity in its own right.

Presence is about harnessing confidence and poise. How do you carry yourself? How does that make you feel? How do you think others see you? The first few chapters are all about harnessing this presence and believing your own story.

This is one of many profound insights Cuddy presents about how we can use our physiology (our bodies) to increase our power and presence.

There seems to be what researchers refer to as a “bidirectional” relationship between feeling and behavior: when you feel powerful, you expand your body, and when you expand your body, you feel powerful.

Bottom line: Expanding your body language, or carrying yourself in a more expansive way can actually make you feel more powerful. 

"…the smaller the device, the more we must contract our bodies to use it, and the more time we spend in these shrunken, inward postures, the more powerless we feel. Our findings uncover a cruel irony: while many of us spend hours everyday working on small mobile devices, often with the goal of increasing our productivity and efficiency, interacting with these tiny objects, even for short periods of time, might reduce assertiveness, potentially undermining our productivity and efficiency. If you must spend long stretches in front of a screen, which many of us do, be sure to choose a device carefully and configure your space to allow for the most upright and expansive posture.”

Go to your local coffee shop on a busy day, and you’ll probably find 80% of people hunched over their tiny little smart phone screen.

Regardless of whether they do it while they’re sitting or standing, this hunching-over-screen habit is NOT contributing to their sense of presence.

In fact, it’s impairing their ability to expand, thus contributing to powerlessness.

It’s actually quite obvious when we think about it: hunching down at a smart phone screen produces an inward stance; when what we’re really looking for is an expansive stance.

If you’re looking to cultivate more presence, power, and a sense of genuinely connected with other people, then stop hunching over and tapping away at your smart phone all day long. And start being more present by putting away the smart phone, straightening out your posture, and expanding your stance a little more often.

The tips, studies and facts around positive poses and presence really resonated with me. If you really liked what you read so far, you should get the book.

 


Notes from the readings today

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Tony Dungy mentions in Quiet Strength : "It is the journey that matters. Learning is most important than the test. Practice well and the games will take care of themselves."

Rick Pitino in Success is a choice: Individuals with great self-esteem will do great things..they're the ones others count on to boost results when the company needs it most.


Lesson on integrity

-Karthik Gurumurthy

  SRT1

I am currently  reading the book "Playing it my way" written by the Cricket Legend Sachin Tendulkar (SRT).  I always want to know what he had to go through to reach the pinnacle of success he had achieved to be one of the greatest cricketers of all time. One of the stories which he shares in this book really shows what he is made up of. 

SRT's career did not start the way one would expect. When he started getting coached from Ramakant Achrekar (RA), he moved schools to Sharadashram where RA coached. The first two games he played, he scored  two consecutive ducks. He scored 24 runs in the third game.     One had to score at least 30 runs to get the individual score published in newspaper. The scorer of the game mentioned to SRT  that he will make up his score to 30 (adding the extras of 6 to his score) and convinced SRT that it should be alright as he is not changing the total. In the excitement of seeing the name in the newspaper, SRT had agreed to fudge his score from 24 to 30. He was hoping he would get applause all over the place for this accomplishment. Instead, the following day SRT got the surprise/shock of his lifetime. Coach RA got really upset, shocked and unhappy after seeing the fudged score in the newspaper. He took SRT aside  and showed through the motion how unhappy he was with the manipulation. It taught him a valuable lesson of integrity and SRT promised that he will never do that again. What a powerful story and a powerful lesson! The instance clearly shows how his character is made up of.

I have seen lot of occasions where emphasis is given more on performance than integrity. So I have seen lot of people falter and fudge having the notion of doing whatever it takes to make things happen. Doing whatever it takes is good but it has to be done with integrity. Success without integrity is not long lasting.  Even though he might erred in this occasion, it takes a lot of guts to openly share it so that everyone can learn from it.  This is one of the reasons SRT was able to have outstanding success in the long run as he had all these values and principles deep rooted in him. 

Picture courtesy: ESPN Cricinfo


Print worthy!

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I browse through many articles and posts  on a daily basis. If I find something truly outstanding  I print them, irrespective of how many pages are involved. 

Yes, sure;  you can save it and access it later. Personally for me converting the ideas into a document I can hold, highlight and saving it separately is compelling. It means I really find that post worthwhile  and the value I get from re-reading it is priceless.

When was the last time you read something so great that you feel the urge to print it?

Not all our written communications need to be “have to  print” quality, but if nothing we write  urges our readers to print it, we’re not  definitely up to the mark. That is one way of checking if we are articulating it correctly so that the readers feel compelled to print them. Print worthy is a good goal we all can strive for.


Reading

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I am thankful for the train ride to work every day. It gives me a chance to read, observe, contemplate and capture ideas that will be relevant to my audience and useful in my speaking, writing, coaching and consulting. Reading broadly and eclectically develops intellectual bandwidth. If we read only what others are reading, we will likely lack the ingredients for true originality.


Remembering Appa

- Karthik Gurumurthy

It has been two years since you left us. When I say, left us, I mean your mighty physical presence. I know you are always with and within us in guiding us. We all definitely miss your physical presence. The best way to honor you is to follow what you have taught us and set a good example making each day count. Success is after all, how many people are better off because you lived. It would have been wonderful if you had stayed longer . All of us come with an invisible shelf life. We just have to make the best use of the cards we are dealt with and make each day count towards something great. Thank you Appa for being there with us all the time and guiding us through all the issues. We miss you big time Guruji. We love you Appa-:)


Thoughts for today: Plenty of room at the top!

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I was raised in an extremely competitive family. My cousins went to great schools and set a great standard for us to follow. This definitely provided me with energy and desire and a great deal of stamina. But what I found in my early years was that the goals that I set for myself became meaningless as soon as they were reached. This created a pattern of dissatisfaction and non-contentment. Beyond that there was an undercurrent of inability to share the joys of others' achievements, since, by definition, winning is about being at the top. And if someone is there, you're not.

When I joined my Grad school in Baltimore, I had to slow down to reflect this, that  there is room enough at the top for everyone. If I compete for the first spot, First, it means that your personal success does not need to be tied to someone else's failure. Secondly, it reinforces the belief that supporting others and their successes can be incorporated into your own view of success. Finally it calls for patience; for there is truly enough room at the top for everyone, you need not seize every opportunity that arises for fear that that opportunity will be forever lost. That extra room at the top means that there is room for you as well as everyone else. The opportunities will appear again. One priority may be displaced by another for a period of time without completely abandoning the vision no matter how strong. And if one can be patient, supportive, and capable of rejoicing in another's success, then peace will follow. Because each changed life signals renewed hope as one life touches another, and then another, and society begins to reflect the difference. Because, after all, "civilization is just a slow process of learning to be kind."


Merry Christmas!

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish each of you a Merry Christmas! Thank you for your kind words of encouragement throughout the year.

I would also like to wish you and your family all the best in the coming year. My prayer for you is that you will be blessed with good health, be surrounded with loving family and friends, and that you will continue to grow and reach your full potential and destiny.


Thoughts for today: Risk

-Karthik Gurumurthy

The story is told of a man living near the Holy Ganges river in India. A farmer like his father and Grandfather, Ram staunchly believed that God would always take care of him. Life was good; Ram's crops flourished and his animals were healthy. 

When the Ganges began rising, Ram thought to himself, God will take care of me. As water covered the first floor of his farmhouse, Ram picked up his farm animals ans moved up to the second floor. Watching things he barely recognized swirling past his house. Ram marveled at the river's power. The next day when neighbors rowed up to his bedroom window to take Ram to higher ground, he refused to leave because he believed God would provide. Water rose over the second floor and Ram reluctantly moved into the top floor, Volunteers yelled through second floor window, pleading with him to get into their boat, yet Ram steadfastly refused. The following morning, water began seeping into the second floor and Ram wearily moved onto the roof; certain that God would provide, he refused to climb into neighbor's boat. As water covered the roof, Ram exhausted by his ordeal, feel asleep and was swept away by the rising water.

While a helicopter crew was recovering his body, Ram was asking to God in heaven with a disappointed note, "Why didn't you take care of me?". God answered, "Well, I sent three boats and a helicopter- What were you waiting for?"

Like Ram, we often hope for divine intervention rather than take the leap of faith and the risk to move on.We doubt our own judgment, we love our safe comfort zones and hate uncertainty. It is also the fear factor. Fear can be Finding Every Acceptable Reason not to do something or False Evidence Appearing Real. Successful have the tendency to believe latter and make the first move which makes all the difference.


Thoughts for today: Everyday learning

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Remember when you came home from school and your parents asked, "So, what do you learn today?". The question is still relevant because learning is important to the health of your brain. Learning does not keep you from getting Alzheimer's disease, but it does keep your brain alive and helps you stave off senility. New knowledge causes your body to make new connections between your brain cells. The process of arborization occurs when neurons actually grow microscopic filaments to connect to each other. When you learn something new, neurons create growth hormones that stimulate their own growth and that of their neighbors. Thoughts happen when the branches of brain cells connect: that's why you need to keep feeding your brain knowledge. We need to make learning a lifetime habit by becoming an habitual thinker.

According to Late Dr. Lazarus (Dr. L), you learn best when you spend a short time learning everyday or every other day. Pulling an all-nighter as you did in college is counterproductive. Dr. L suggested when you are learning something difficult, switch off and do something that comes naturally to you; then return to the difficult subject. 


Rest in Peace Nelson Mandela

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today Nelson Mandela went to be with God and World has lost a tremendous leader today. He was 95. In his life of 95 years, he spent 27 years in prison. But in his 95 years he has packed more substance than so many of us together.

393848_090620162033_MANDELA

I read his book "Long Walk to Freedom" and would love to share about what I got from that book. The best thing is to read the book. This is just the essence of the book.

"I never thought that a life sentence truly meant life and that I would die behind bars. Perhaps I was denying this prospect because it was too unpleasant to contemplate. But I always knew that someday I would once again feel the grass under my feet and walk in the sunshine as a free man."

Nelson Mandela grew up in a traditional village in the Transkei region of South Africa, hundreds of miles from either Johannesburg or Cape Town. A member of theThembu tribe that forms part of the Xhosa nation, his father was both a tribal chieftain and the chief adviser to the Thembu king, and Mandela was groomed to follow in his father's footsteps. The name given to him at birth was, prophetically, Rolihlahla. In his native Xhosa, the colloquial meaning of the name is "troublemaker."

The first member of his family to go to school, Mandela was given the English name Nelson. He recalls an idyllic Transkei childhood of animal herding, stick fighting,and storytelling, but after his father died he was moved to the Thembu capital to live under the wing of the tribal chief.

In his early years, Mandela says, he saw the white man more as a benefactor than an oppressor, and was enamored of British culture and its political system. But he came to realize that the Xhosa was a conquered people, with most of the men having to slave away in the gold mines for minuscule pay or work on whiteowned farms. Mandela observed: "No matter how high a black man advanced, he was still considered inferior to the lowest white man."

Early lessons, lifelong contacts

As a student, Mandela was introverted and not brilliant, but worked hard. He was placed in an English-style secondary college for blacks, met young people from other tribal backgrounds, and began to get a sense of being "African" as opposed to simply Thembu or Xhosa.

At Fort Hare University College, run by missionaries and with black professors, he studied English, anthropology, politics,native administration, and Roman Dutch law. At this time his ambition was to be a low-level civil servant, a clerk or interpreter in the Native Affairs Department.

For a black South African, Mandela's education was privileged, and he believed that a BA would be his ticket to prosperity. Only later did he realize that there were many people without degrees who were smarter than him, and that character was the greater ingredient in Competing in cross-country running in college taught him that he could make up for a lack in natural ability by hard training. In his studies, he observed: "I saw many young men who had great natural ability, but who did not have the self-discipline and patience to build on their endowment."

Back home from college for a break, Mandela found an arranged marriage waiting for him on which he was not keen, and fled to Johannesburg. After trying to get work in the offices of a gold mine, he eventually found an articled clerkship in a liberal Jewish law firm. He was paid a pittance and often had to walk miles into thecenter of Johannesburg from his township. Slowly he began to get involved in politics and the African National Congress (ANC), but for a number of years was more observer than activist. It was at this time that he met ANC stalwart Walter Sisulu, a real estate agent when blacks were still allowed to own some property.

A black lawyer was a great novelty, and when Mandela enrolled in the University of Witwatersrand for a Bachelor of Law degree in 1943 he was the only African student in the faculty. His discomfort was lessened by a circle of supportive whites and Indians, who would later prove to be important in the struggle for black freedom.

Beginning the fight

On a platform of "the nigger in his place," in 1948 the Nationalist party came to power in South Africa. Though the idea of apartheid ("apartness") had been around for centuries, the Afrikaner Nationalists entrenched it in hundreds of oppressive laws designed to create a brutal hierarchy: whites at the top, blacks at the bottom, and Indians and coloreds in the middle. Afrikaans, the language of the original Dutch farmersettlers,took over from English as an official language. With race as the basis for South African society, elaborate tests were required that often broke up families. "Where one was allowed to live and work could rest on such absurd distinctions as the curl of one's hair or the size of one's lips," Mandela notes.

The defiance campaigns that the ANC organized, involving stay-at-homes and gatherings to protest against new laws, only made the new government more iron-willed in keeping black people downtrodden. School education was scaled down, whole towns were razed to make way for white housing, and the pass system made it extremely difficult for non-white people to move freely. The 1950 Suppression of Communism Act was only partly related to curbing communism; its real purpose was to allow the government to imprison anyone on a trumped-up charge.

Despite this harsher climate, in 1952 Mandela and Oliver Tambo established the first black law office in South Africa. It was inundated with cases from the first day and was highly successful. In those days, Mandela admits he was a "hotheaded revolutionary" without a great deal of discipline, and that he enjoyed wearing smart suitsand driving around Johannesburg in a large American car. He even bought land in the Transkei with a view to moving back home.

Fate had other ideas. At 35 Mandela was banned from any involvement with the ANC, which meant that any work he did for the organization would have to be secret and risk long-term imprisonment. His roles as freedom fighter and family man were never compatible, and from this point on he would live with the constant anguish of having made the people he loved secondary to the larger struggle for freedom.

Criminal and outlaw

In the famous 1958-61 Treason Trial, the Nationalist government charged Mandela and others with trying to overthrow the state. Though the prosecution lacked real evidence, the trial dragged on for years. By this time Mandela's marriage had collapsed, and the time required to be away from the law practice saw that, too, fall apart.

When the members of the group were acquitted, the authorities' embarrassment was so great that it made them even more determined to quell insurrection. In 1960, 70 black demonstrators were killed at Sharpeville, a township south of Johannesburg, when they peacefully surrounded a police station. Many were shot in the back trying to flee the gunfire. South Africa came under a State of Emergency in which the rights of blacks were further curtailed.

Mandela knew that he would soon be rearrested for something, so he decided to go underground, moving from place to place with the help of disguises. He grew his hair and wore the blue overalls of the worker and, because he had a car, pretended to be driving it for his baas (white master). During this outlaw existence, when there was a warrant for his arrest, the newspapers began calling Mandela "The Black Pimpernel." For several months he actually left South Africa to visit various African states including Sudan, Haile Selassie's Ethiopia, and Egypt to seek support for the ANC's cause, solicit donations, and learn about guerrilla warfare. The trip was the first time Mandela had experienced freedom and had seen blacks either running their own states or being treated as equals, and it only inspired him further. However, back in South Africa he let his guard down, and in 1962 he was captured on a road leading into Cape Town.

Captive revolutionary

At his trial, Mandela tried to put the onus of guilt on to the government, and wore traditional clothing to symbolize that he did not recognize the white legal system and the charges it was making against him. He received a five-year sentence without parole. However, much worse was to come. As the ANC's philosophy of non-violence was clearly not working, Mandela had founded a covert military affiliate that began a sabotage campaign on government property. In 1964 he was charged with sabotage and conspiracy, along with a number of other ANC members.

The death sentence was expected, and in his address to the court Mandela said that he was prepared to die for the cause of justice. Perhaps because of international pressure, however, the men "only" received life sentences. This seemed like a great victory.

Mandela would spend the next 18 years in the notorious Robben Island prison. The first decade involved hard manual labor, terrible food, and a climate of fear and abuse. However, the political prisoners were kept together and so could continue their discussions. Denied virtually all outside contact, the acquisition of a newspaper was prized almost above food. The men's political struggle was reduced to within the prison walls, and they had to fight for any kind of improvement in their daily life. For the slightest infraction they could be thrown into a solitary confinement cell for days on a diet of rice water. Mandela writes: "It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones—and South Africa treated its imprisoned African citizens like animals."

The years on Robben Island made Mandela a virtual stranger to his family, and he often wondered whether the struggle was worth it. His mother died while he was there and he was not allowed to attend the funeral. On the rare occasion that he was allowed family visitors, he was given only half an hour with them. Because of the restrictions on her movements, he did not see his second wife Winnie Mandela for two whole years, and his children were not allowed to visit before the age of 15. The nadir of Mandela's time on the island came when he received news that his 25-year old son had been killed in a car accident.

In the latter years of his imprisonment, as his legend grew, Mandela was moved to mainland prisons and received special treatment, ending up with his own house and cook, and was able to receive visitors.

He had been seeking dialog with the government for some time, and after 75 years of bitter antipathy white politicians began to listen to his ideas for a fully democratic South Africa. They knew that history was not on their side, and the country was becoming explosive.

Mandela_Prison

Amid great euphoria, Mandela was released in 1990, having spent 27½ years in jail. Four years later, after the country's first nonracial elections, he was elected President of South Africa. In the meantime there had been much bloodshed, but the worst years were behind the country.

Final comments

Long Walk to Freedom is simply but skillfully written, and even at 750 pages you feel that it only skims the surface of one of the twentieth century's great lives. This commentary, in turn, only highlights a few points; reading the book cannot be more highly recommended.

Today we think of Mandela as a grayhaired statesman, a legendary figure, but his memoirs allow us to get behind the image. We see that he was a normal man who was willing to react positively to extraordinarily bad circumstances. He got through his ordeal because he was an optimist, and could therefore inspire himself as much as others. The key to his success as a leader was the sense of inevitability he created—the power of his belief. The message he gave out that things would change wasso great that even prison warders came around to his way of thinking. The end result was a new nation based on fairness and dignity in the place of a rotten police state.

Though he received a privileged education and was groomed for leadership, neither of these things was a cause of his future success as a leader. As the state gave himless and less to work with, he parlayed even these meager opportunities into positive action.

In a tight situation or a long struggle for recognition or success, we would do well to remember Mandela, and to have even an ounce of his mental discipline and bravery.

We will miss you Madiba!

Mandela


How much stuff do we actually need?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Just like many of you, I came to this country several years back with 2 boxes...Somehow over a period of time all this stuff seems to creep into and expand in our homes through invisible cracks in windows and doors, filling every nook and cranny, cupboard, closet and drawer.When we move to a new home, we are forced to come face to face with our stuff. Shocked to see how much we have, we wonder where it all came from.

When I approach this topic, I notice that it is often associated with disapproval, guilt or sense of justification. "What is so wrong with materialism?" "If I work hard and can afford luxuries, why not indulge in them?" Actually, nothing wrong with materialism per se.  I think we need to determine how much is enough. At a minimum, we should have what we need to meet our basic physical needs- clean water, food, shelter and clothing. Ideally, we would also have those material things we genuinely cherish, which of course will vary considerably from person to person. Figuring out what we need or cherish can be challenging. Sometimes we unconsciously seek material goods to compensate for unmet non material needs. For example, some people shop to relieve stress, as a treat to counter the dissatisfaction in their lives. Others amass possessions to enhance their sense of self-worth, believing that what they own reflects their status in society.

It is true that buying something new can be exciting and relieve stress or boredom, but often that excitement is short-lived. Once the thrill wears off, we seek another fix, another shopping high, and the cycle continues. We seem to be genetically programmed to always want more. Most of us need to work hard to pay for our spending. Working excessively generates stress and dissatisfaction, for which we seek relief, often in the form of spending more money. Welcome to the work-and-spend treadmill.

How much is enough? That's the question we need to grapple with, and it will be with us for the rest of our lives. As our interests and lifestyles change over time, so will the answer to this question.

We can learn so much about ourselves by looking and our possessions- how and why we acquired them, what they mean to us, why we still have them. Sometimes we keep things long after they have served purpose. For example, I have carted my college textbook from house to house for years before I was able to let go of them. It is helpful to ask ourselves what our possessions says about us. Do we keep unused, unvalued books because they it makes us look smart to have full bookshelves in every room? Do we bring home all sorts of momentos from our travels because they bring back fond memories, or because we can impress our guests with how well travelled we are?

I really enjoy and love books. I cherish them and it has become an addiction to get more books, devour them. But do I have the time to use all the books which I have accrued over these years? The answer is no. I made a conscious choice to give it to my friends and family who can use them and enjoy them.  From last year onwards, I have slowed down.

Simple

When you slow down, you become more conscious of everything in your life, including your possessions. This awareness engenders a deeper understanding of what our lives are about. Often we develop gratitude and a greater sensitivity to the material waste in our culture. We simply don't want things we don't value in our space. "Get it out of here!" we scream. With fewer possessions, it is much easier to develop love and appreciation for the things you keep in your life. The goal is to take what you need to cherish and to honor the life energy and natural resources that went into producing your possessions by taking good care of them. We let go of everything else.


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.

Kindness

-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.


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.

School

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.

Spouse

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.


Leadership Nuggets from Books Part 6

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today I am going to talk about a book called "Take Time for your Life: A Seven-Step Program for creating the life you want" written by Cheryl Richardson. Cheryl Richardson was originally a tax consultant where she found out that her clients needed advice and support on making decisions on the non financial aspects of their lives. Eventually she stopped doing people's tax returns and gave workshops on the "secrets of success". This is different from the other books I have read in this topic. She focusses more on life instead of simply career or personal goals. Outward achievement is all well and good, but if it is not balanced by what she calls "extreme self-care" you will burn out and be no use to anyone.

Slowing down to success

The best part of Take Time for Your Life is its vignettes of people with whom Richardson has worked.Most of her clients seem to live fast-paced lives and dream of more time for themselves, more fun and more authenticity in their existence. They feel that it is time to step off the merry go-round and take stock.

Richardson identifies the seven common obstacles that these people seem to face in living their best lives:

  1. They generally have difficulty putting themselves first.
  2. Their schedule does not reflect their priorities
  3. They feel drained by certain people of things.
  4. They feel trapped for monetary reasons.
  5. They are living on adrenalin
  6. They don't have a supportive community in their life.
  7. Their spiritual well-being comes last.

You may feel that to get ahead or simply maintain your current success you have to work very long hours, sacrificing everything. This is a myth, and Richardson shows how altering even small things about your daily existence can make a big difference. She mentions one woman, for instance, who tried leaving work by 5:30 pm each day and found, to her surprise, that her work did not fall apart;  she achieved the same amount through greater focus and delegating.

Yet Richardson's book is less concerned with time management than it is with self management. She does not suggest abandoning your responsibilities, merely that you need to devote much more consideration to the renewal of your energies. In his book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", Stephen Covey calls this "sharpening the saw." Without frequent sharpening you become blunt in a productivity sense and lose the ability to connect with the people you love and influence those you work with.

Tipping the scales in your favor

One of the main ways to regain balance is to create what Richardson calls an "Absolute Yes" list, a ranking of what you feel are the most important aspects of your life. One client of Richardson's, Joan. put at the top of her list daily time to herself to read, meditate or exercise. Second was time spent with her husband each evening. Next came quality with her children, then study to complete her degree, time with friends, and finally household chores. She had to reorganize her life to fit these priorities, but the result included much better moods and greater harmony. Note that the elements in her life did not change, just the order of priorities.

The gift of Take Time for your Life, through its hundreds of ideas for self-care, is the feeling that you do not have to be hurried along by circumstances. You can regain control of your life simply by making more conscious decisions. The seven obstacles to a balanced life mentioned above are the springboard for Richardson's strategies to "win back" our life. The following gives a taste:

  • Regular "downtime" is important for your sanity. At first you may feel very edgy in doing "nothing" but as Richardson put it, "We all need a holiday from thinking too much."
  • Pay people to do services you normally do. Though it costs money, "sharing the wealth" allows you to care for yourself and think at a higher level, both of which can bring you greater success.
  • Go through old stuff and papers and throw much of it out. This makes way for what your really want to come into your life.
  • Don't fret over spending a little less time working. The world has a way of rewarding those who are focused and make better use of their time.
  • Identify the drains on your life; that is, the people, places and situations that tax your mental and physical energy. Eliminating or lessening their impact is the beginning of successful living and abundance.
  • Stop running on caffeine or adrenalin. "Fuel your body with premium fuel and it will provide you with the strength and stamina to live well." Caring for your body is essential to living a high-quality life.
  • Consciously engineer more "amazing moments" into your life: bring back the soul.
  • Tell people when you are grateful for what they have done.
  • Write a journal.
  • Notice your dreams.
  • Follow your intuition.
  • Have the courage to seek your highest purpose instead of simply looking for another job.

Taking time for financial health

As you would expect from a former financial consultant, Richardson includes a useful chapter on "Financial health". She manages to bridge practical financial skills witha  more spiritual attitude to money. Her thesis is that once you decide to take more responsibility for your finances (paying bills on time, paying off your debts, keeping an account of spending), money stops being a source of frustration and beings to flow more freely into your life. You have to get more serious about money before it gets serious about you.

She identifies all the attitudes you may have to money that prevent you from attracting more of it, and disabuses the ready of such ideas as  " I am a creative person, I shouldn't have to worry about financial stuff." A person can be both spiritually and financially rich, Richardson says. She includes a list of books at the end of the chapter that can help you appreciate this, covering the practical and spiritual aspects of wealth, including authors such as Catherine Ponder, Thomas Stanley and Robert Kiyosaki.

Final comments

With her emphasis on spiritual well-being Richardson may not seem too practical for some readers, but her definition of "spiritual" is fairly loose. It simply means the sense of calm that comes to you when you are willing to stop and contemplate. Though uncomfortable at first, the practice reconnects you to what is important and therefore puts your life on more solid ground.

You need to appreciate the truth that success should not be "at all costs," that you don't want to achieve something if it leaves behind a trail of poor health, ignored spouses and children, and the hollowness of never having any time for yourself.

With its checklists, wealth of ideas, and warm friendly style, Take Time for your Life, is as close as you will get to a personal coaching relationship in a book. Sometimes you need a person outside your regular circle of friends, family, and co-workers if you are to see your true worth. While therapy will focus on your problems, a good life coach will work with you on your possibilities. The element of success are already there- you simply need to  identify them and bring them to the fore.

 


Leadership Nuggets from books Part 5

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today I am going to share about a book viz. "Lincoln on Leadership".

There are now many books that extract leadership lessons from the lives of famous people, but this was one of the first. Phillips had the initial inspiration for it when, in the middle of a week-long management seminar, he realized that the ideas being presented had been enacted in real life by Abraham Lincoln. He was then amazed to discover that amidst the thousands of articles and books written on Lincoln, there was very little on his leadership style. It seemed that Lincoln's very genius as a leader and his success as president had made him into a myth, obscuring the fact that his life before becoming president was unspectacular, and that whatever he knew about leading he had, like everyone else, learned.

The Unlikely Hero

Lincoln was born in a log cabin in what was then frontier America. His mother died when he was young and his father remarried. Fortunately, his stepmother encouraged him to read. With a minimal education he went on to try his hand at a number of jobs, including clerk, store owner, surveyor and postmaster, before becoming an attorney. Though not particularly successful in his early political career, his views on slavery in the Lincoln-Douglas debates brought him wide attention, and at the 1860 Republican convention he won the party's nomination for the presidency.

Lincoln's election to the White House was not exactly an accident, but he was greatly helped by the fact that the Democrats were split between North and South. Within the Republican party, Lincoln had only been selected over William Seward because he was considered the more middle-of-the road candidate.

By the time he was sworn in, seven states had broken away from the Union on the slavery issue, yet the outgoing president, Buchanan, had given up trying to control the situation. Congress, though the Union army was in disarray and underfunded, was looking to cut its costs, and only Lincoln seems to see that action had to taken if the Union was to survive and be rid of slavery. Decisive and ceaselessly energetic, his determination surprised everyone. He made William Seward, his Republican rival, secretary of state, and Edwin Stanton his secretary of war. While neither man thought much of him, within a relatively short space of time both would change their minds.

Phillips presents us with the amazing fact that Lincoln had never held an executive position before becoming president, yet he proceeded to a total reorganization of the US military, and a constitutionally questionable expansion of the powers of the presidency itself.

Let us look in more detail at some of the points that Phillips makes about Lincoln as president.

The active leader

  • Lincoln knew that the White House was an ivory tower and spent most of his time of the office: visiting troops in the field, visiting his staff in their homes, visiting the wounded in hospital, holding cabinet meetings where it was convenient. He prized informality and human contact.
  • Lincoln employed what is now known as MBWA- management by wandering around. He sacked one general for isolating hinself from his men, and believed that the best information was found at first hand. He took charge of battle situations himself when necessary and remains one of the only US presidents literally to come under fire.
  • The most accessible US president in history, Lincoln rarely turned away who came to see him, whether top general or lowly farmer. This, and his great ability as a listener, helped build trust in him as a leader.

The scholar of human nature

  • Lincoln had a "penetrating comprehension of human nature," Phillips writes, which allowed him to take the broad and compassionate view. He was able to forgive mistakes easily, and was notorious for his many pardones, particularly of war deserters, who normally would have hanged. Phillips believes that this compassion evoked trust and loyalty, which in a time of war are absolutely crucial to success.
  • The president used persuasion, not coercion, to achieve his ends, and was fond of the maxim, "A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall." Only if you could someone that you were their friend could you really influence them. Despite periods of depression, Lincoln never underestimated the power of a pleasing personality, and was always ready to compliment or encourage. He rarely lost his temper.
  • In terms of managing his own generals, Lincoln was not afraid to let them know  what he thought was their bad points, yet he also gave them free rein to perform. Many did not meet his expectations and were given lesser responsibilities, but when the man did come along who could act in the way he wanted-Ulysses S. Grant-he placed the entire U.S army under his command.

Honest and compassionate Abe

  • The nickname "Honest Abe" was accurate. Lincoln's reputation for honesty made people trust him and increased his ability to lead. Top leaders are expected to "do the right thing" and he had this attribute in abundance. "Values motivate," Phillips notes.
  • Lincoln sought objectivity. "I shall do nothing in malice. What I deal with is too vast for malicious dealing." He did not have time for retribution, pettiness , or blame. Although he frequently wrote angry letters to his generals who were not doing enough to defeat the Confederate army, he never sent them. To do so would have made enemies, and he was always keen to give people another chance. While some perceived this as weakness, his willingness to overlook mistakes and hold his tongue endeared Lincoln to his staff.
  • When the Civil War ended in 1865, Lincoln did not seek revenge on the South, instead offering good will. In his Second Inaugural Address, he spoke the famous words,  "With malice towards none; with charity towards all..let to strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds."

This large view of things helped the South to get on with rebuilding the country without fear, minimizing both guilt and shame.

The great communicator

  • Lincoln was a brilliant writer but also a remarkable orator. With his high-pitched voice, strange gangly frame, and ill-tailored clothes he did not make first impressions, but by the end of a talk his audiences were usually rapt. He enjoyed injecting anecdotes, stories and jokes into his speeches because he preferred them not to be too "high-minded." He wanted them to appeal to the average person.
  • The same man, with very little schooling, ws able to write the almost poetic Gettysburg Address, not to mention thousands of superbly crafted letters. Lincoln's lesson is that every investment we make in increasing our communication skills pays off.

The unmoveable

  • Lincoln was a master of overcoming setbacks and defeats, because he was supported by the belief that he had right on his side. His assertiveness and refusal to buckle under pressure made him the target of unjust criticism, slander, and abuse,  and until he could demonstrate himself in office he was rejected out of hand as a hick country lawyer. Yet he did not often attack his detractors, and in fact accepted criticism as part of the job, only worrying when the criticism might affect perception of the Union war effort. He found release in humor and story telling, both to amuse others and to get him through the dark years of the war.

Final comments

What is remarkable about Lincoln, Phillips notes, is that he actually did what he said he would in terms of preserving the Union and abolishing slavery. This wasn't good luck. He had goals for his time in office and he accomplished them relatively quickly(within four years). Though always ready to admit when he was wrong, he was massively confident about the stance he had taken, and with this certainty of purpose came decisiveness.

Lincoln on Leadership is worth reading to appreciate the nuances of Lincoln's character and for the points that end each chapter, providing an easy reminder of his leadership lessons. It is an inspiring read, because Lincoln himself inspired. He fulfilled the main criterion for a great leader that James McGregor discussed in his seminar work "Leadership": a person who can "lift others into their better selves."

Next time you find yousrelf in a quandary about how to deal with someone or how to cope witha  crisis, ask yourself, "What would Lincoln have done?"

 


Leadership Nuggets from Books Part 4

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today I am going to talk about a book called Rich Dad...Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.

This became a best seller during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s. Many ideas and businesses faded away when the bubble burst, but this book has kept going because it has market frenzies and everything to do with our private attitudes to money.

The book's title comes from Kiyosaki's two "dads" his real one, who worked hard all his life as an educator in Hawaii, and a friend's father, who ran businesses and worked for himself. At age 9, the young Kiyosaki decided to follow the advice of the "rich dad". and Rich Dad, Poor Dad is the culmination of  those teachings.

The rat race

Many people's parents say, or at least trongly imply, that the reason we have to stay hard at school is so that we can go to the University and then get a secure job.This is seen as the path to financial success, and anything else is too risky or strange to contemplate.

Accepting this conventional wisdom- a wisdom based on fear- most of us end up "working for the man." The average workplace has a sense of quiet desperation about it. People forever complain about their pay or their boss, but the alternative of quitting seems even worse. If they do go, they have another job lined up so that there is a smooth transition from one pay packet to another.

Thanks to your fear, Kiyosaki says, for the rest of your life you are likely to be dependent on a wage and an employer. As you gain a mortgage, consumer debt,  and children, your dependence only increases, and so does your fear of trying something different. Because you can't  take any risks with what you do not have, your retirement is placed in mutual funds that emphasize safety, and also have low rates of return. And because you are working all the time to get raises to keep up with inflation and debt interest, you have no time to discover alternative investments. To cap it off, Kiyosaki says, you are working from January to mid-May just to pay your taxes. If you end up with enough to get in by in your retirement, you will have done well.

This is the "rat race."

Assets and liabilities

Do you know that there is a difference between money and wealth?  Money is a result of wealth or real value, and sometimes only a symbol of it. What is real is what has generated the money: business with revenues greater than costs, a property with rent greater than mortgage and upkeep, a creative work that earns loyalties.

The poor and the middle class labor under the idea that money (usually a pay packet) is what matters. This equals "security." But the rich don't focus on pay from a job- they are more interested in something that makes money, and that will do so even when they are not around. Instead of looking for jobs, they scout for assets that will be a source of  income.

The fundamental difference  between the rich and the poor and middle classes is that the rich know the difference  between an asset and a liability. Anything that generates money- that actually puts it in your pocket- is an asset.  Everything else you own that you think is an asset, be it your home, your car, or your expensive set of golf clubs, is most probably a liability. It takes money ouf of your pocket.

You can tell someone who doesn't know much about money because they boast about how much they earn in their job. For the savvy, job earnings are almost an irrelevance. What matters is the income coming in from assets that don't even need you to be around to generate cash.

Literate and educated

Would you describe yourself as literate? Your answer may be, 'Of course." But do you know how to read a balance sheet? Rich Dad told Kiyosaki that accounting was a "story in numbers," and if you could read these stories you had a great advantage. Financial literacy was important as word literacy. "Illiteracy, both in words and numbers is the foundation of financial struggle" he said.

People frequently ask Kiyosaki, "How do I start getting rich?" The questioner is then disappointed to hear his response.Before making any investments, educate yourself on all the options and opportunities. The more you know, the better your decisions will be. Lack of financial education team with the desire for quick riches lead to disaster. "Most people. in their drive to get rich, are trying to build an Empire State Building on a 6-inch slab." he says. What sort of knowledge foundation do you have?

One of Kiyosaki's fascination points in the myth that specialization leads to path to wealth. The idea goes that if you know more and more about something, you will be paid more for your knowledge. The danger with this is that it may blind you to the business aspects of your profession. Most of us "become what we study." That is, if you study cooking, you become a chef; if you study medicine, you become a doctor or a specialist. As you start to know about your field, you do become more valuable- to whoever employs you. Kiyosaki warns that you can spend so much time educating yourself that you forget to "mind your own business".

Make sure that financial knowledge is not left out of your learning.

Personal development and building wealth

The key to controlling money is controlling your emotions. How many people have won the lottery or gained a big windfall, only to lose it again within a year or two? In these situations, any deficiencies in financial education or self-discipline are magnified.

Becoming rich involves self-discipline and the ability to separate the emotions of fear and greed from a good investment decision. It may seem strange, but self-knowledge is vital to your financial future. That prosperity is intertwined with personal growth is one of the secrets of wealth in the twenty-first century.

Kiyosaki's poor dad was alarmed when he joined Xerox as a salesman. Middle-class, educated people did not go into sales. But Kiyosaki was a shy person and thought that sales training would make him less so. He knew that successful people were not as afraid of rejection, and that to get ahead in life you have to be good at selling, whether it was yourself or a thing. Once he was being interviewed by a journalist, an author herself, who asked him how she could be more successful at it. He told her to quit journalism for a year and take a sales job. He had given her the choice either to be a bestselling author or a best-writing author. She didn't like the idea.

Kiyosaki has taken many courses and seminars; one which cost him $300 made him $1 million when he applied its ideas. If he does not stimulate his mind and learning, he knows he will stand still. Opportunities comes from new ideas. Money spent on self-improvement is always a wise investment.

Final comments

This book makes you think. It makes you reflect not merely about investments and assets, but about your whole attitude to work and life. We have all heard it said that the stock market is driven by "fear and greed." Kiyosaki claims that, for most of us, fear is the key influence in our personal economic lives. We are shaped by our attitude to money, and our attitude to money is shaped by our fear. If we could change our attitude to risk and wealth, we could begin to think, act and live like the rich. But first we must become financially intelligent.

Some of the main concepts have been described here, but only some. If you are serious about long-term improvement of your financial situation, and are willing to admit that you know little, you should buy Kiyosaki's book.


Leadership Nuggets from Books Part 3

-Karthik Gurumurthy

This is again one classic favorite of mine and Shobana's. The book I am referring to is, "See you at the Top" by Late Zig Ziglar. This was written in 1975 and has sold over two million copies all over the world.

The book has a traditional view of success that may have few people laughing, but let's remember that this former cookware salesman had been around a long time and a top motivational speaker longer than many of us have been alive. He passed away November of last year which was a huge loss.

All this said, See You at the Top is still a magnet for those who simply want the best for their family, to be successful at work, and to feel that they are free to chart their own course in life. It is filled with stories, analogies and jokes which helps in reinforcing the principles. You may not agree with all his political views, but the points he makes about seeking your best are difficult to rebut. I have gifted this to lot of my friends and family and all of them who read it thoroughly enjoyed it.

Ziglar's recipe for life at the top involves the three dimensions: the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. You are the sum total of your habits and influences, he says, so if you ignore one area, you will be "a phony"

Zig Ziglar's mantra if I have to sum it up in one line: "You can have everything in life if you will just help others to get what they want."

Ziglar is a self-confessed sentimentalist about America and the free enterprise system. He notes that the countries where people are "provided for" have the highest suicide rates, because if contribution and work are not seen as necessary, people feel they have no value. Providing service creates a healthy self-image, which is not the same as an inflated ego.

Goals

You are "born to win" but must commit your goals to give them force.  People do not "wander around and find themselves in Mt. Everest". Ziglar says: if you are not planning to get anywhere in particular, you will not get anywhere in particular. Have plans that stir your soul and be specific about them, but work toward them gradually as "confidence is the handmaiden of success".

You are what you take in

Whatever goes into your mind- television programs, conversations, pornography- will come manifested as action or words. Most people live under the illusion that they are in control of their mental life, when their physical circumstances suggest otherwise. Knowing that you are the sum total of what goes into your mind is scary. Once you realize it, however, you have the rare opportunity to remake your life.

As Benjamin Franklin knew, personal development is a daily thing. Read good biographies of successful people and use your time in the car listening to empowering talks.

Marriage

Success has more to do with your marital relationship than anyone else, but what is the key ingredient to make that a happy relationship? Loyalty..Without knowing that you have loyalty, you won't have the energy or support for making a mark in the world. See you at the Top is perhaps at its best on the subject of honoring and loving your partner, and Ziglar is an unapologetic romantic when it comes to his wife, whom he married over 50 years ago.

Attitude

To keep life fresh you must avoid "hardening of attitudes". The right attitude is all-important, because in life the distance between winning and losing is often infinitesimal, and the right attitude allows you to cope with all the seconds and thirds you seem to have to go through before winning. Desire and persistence mark you out from the rest.

Habits

In changing bad habits, you don't "pay the price," you enjoy the benefits. Ziglar got into jogging in a big way to reduce his 41-inch waistline, but found it tough getting out of bed in the morning. While good habits are hard to acquire, they become easy to live with; in contrast, bad habits come slowly and easily but are hard to live with.

The best guide to your conduct is the people you spend your time with. If you want to stop smoking, quit drinking, and start getting up early, you will not achieve it by spending your nights in bards, however good your will-power. Habits are only the surface of your whole attitude to life.

Final comments

It is the sort of book you need if you life is truly and deeply in a mess and you need some black-and-white solutions for dragging yourself up. I feel, it is a must-read for everyone.


Leadership Nuggets from Books Part 2

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today I am going to write about one of my favorite books "Magic of Thinking Big" by David J. Schwartz

Think of people who earn five times as much as you. Are they five times smarter? Do they work five times harder? If the answer is no, then the question, "What do they have that I haven't?"  may occur to you. In a book that has sold several million copies, David Schwartz suggests that the main factor separating them from you is that they think five times bigger. We are all, more than we realize, the product of the thinking surrounding us, and most of this thinking is little, not big.

Plenty of room at the top

In the course of researching The Magic of Thinking Big, Schwartz spoke to many people who had reached the top in their field. Instead of getting detailed responses, he was told that the key factor in personal success was simply the desire for it. Rather than there being "too many chiefs and not enough Indians," the opposite is true. Some people choose to lead, others to follow. Success is not primarily a matter of circumstances or native talent or even intelligence- it is a choice.

From the many little comments and asides that have been made to you throughout your life, you may have unconsciously written a log of the things you can or can't have, the person you can or you cannot be. These daubs of paint many even have been applied by people who loved you very much, but the result is that it is not your picture. The Magic of Thinking Big tries to show that in fact the canvas you work on is vast. Schwartz delivers the right quote by Benjamin Disraeli: "Life is too short to be little." You must enlarge your imagination of yourself and act on it.

"Thinking Big" does work in relation to career goals, financial security and great relationships-but it is more significant than that. You are challenged to see yourself in a brighter light, to have a larger conception of life. This is a choice that is no more difficult than the choice to keep doing what you're doing, laboring in darkness.

You may feel that some of the ideas and suggestions are somewhat obvious or basic compared to more recent success writing, but like the other older success classics, The Magic of Thinking Big contains simple and powerful messages that do not date.

Road to success

This book is about "getting ahead" with a fair amount of attention given to increasing your income exponentially, making that dream home a reality and getting your children a first-rate education. It tells us how to think, look and feel "important."

Action drives out thought, whereas leaders set aside time for solitude to tap their supreme thinking power.

Belief is everything

There is nothing mystical about the power of belief, but you must draw a distinction between merely wishing and actually believing. Doubt attracts "reasons" for not succeeding, whereas belief finds the means to do the job. Schwartz was in conversation with an aspiring fiction writer. When the name of a successful author came up, the aspiring writer quickly said, "But I could never equal him; I am not in his league." Knowing the writer in question, Schwartz pointed out that he was neither super-intelligent nor super-perceptive, merely super-confident. The writer had at some point decided  to believe that he was among the best, and so he acted and performed accordingly.

Most of us believe that the result of an event is the best indicator of how successful we are, yet events are much more likely to reflect our level of confidence. In Schwartz's words: "Belief is the thermostat that regulates what we accomplish in life." Turn the thermostat up and witness the results.

Excusitis, the failure disease

Never depend on luck to get what you want. The only vaccination against "excusitis" as Schwartz calls it- "commonly known as failure's disease"- is conscious self-belief. Schwartz knew that as soon as you hit a rough spot your thinking is likely to shrink back to its normal size, yet this is exactly when it is crucial for it not to do so. Sporting champions do not collapse when, in the course of a game, they are being beaten. Instead of building a case against themselves, they remember they are champions. Tennis star Boris Becker tells up-and coming tennis players that talent is not enough: you must walk, talk and think like a champion.

Staying big

While it is said that a large vocabulary is a big determinant of success, what really counts is the effect that your words have on how you think about yourself. Instead of trying to use long words, Schwartz says, use positive language and see how it transformrs your mood and the perception of others. Don't see yourself merely in terms of how you appear now. You may have an old car, dingy apartment, debts, job stress, and a crying baby, but they are not truly a reflection of you as long as you are working on the vision of what you will be two years from now. Concentrate on your assets and how you are deploying them to change the situation, and avoid getting mired in petty recriminations. Absorbing the blows is a quality of greatness.

Schwartz also reminds you that every big success is created one step at a time, therefore it is best to measure yourself against the goals you have set rather than comparing yourself to others.

Improving the quality of your environment

Schwartz phrases it, "Go first class". This does not mean always getting the most expensive ticket. It does mean getting your advice from successful people and not giving the jealous the satisfaction of seeing you stumble. Spend time with those who think on a large scale and are generous in their friendship. After a while, the base level of what you think possible will rise. People make assessments of you whether you like it or not, and the value the world gives you matches the one you give yourself.

Schwartz has many more useful tips on how to think and act success, backed up by case histories. They include:

  • Don't wait until conditions are perfect before starting something. They never will be. Act NOW!
  • Persistence is not a guarantee of success. Combine persistence with experimentation.
  • Goal, once in the subconscious, provide energy and an invisible guide to correct action.
  • Walk 25% faster! Average people have an average walk.

Final comments

This classic book was written in the golden age of post war American industrial society. The focus is on sales, production, executives getting a great job in a good company. It may be a product of its age, but it transcends it too.  The Magic of Thinking Big has literally been worth its weight in Gold for many people. I try to read it once every six months. It  is one of the great examples of the success literature's call to break free of self-imposed limitations, to recast your idea of what is possible.

Schwartz argues, the desire for success, begins with a willingness to find the tools that can deliver it. Amazingly, although no one likes crawling in mediocrity, not everyone is seriously interested in finding and using these tools.

Around 1890, a person named Gottlieb Daimler drew a three-pointed star on a postcard to his family and wrote next to it, "One day this star will shine down on my work." He co-founded Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft, now Daimler Chrysler. Great accomplishments such as these demonstrate Schwartz's claim that a person is best measured by the size of their dreams.


What drives you?

Karthik Gurumurthy

What makes people comes alive?

People are energized by values and visions that give their lives meaning and purpose. They want to be surrounded by something that uplifts and excites them.

Leadership may once have been conferred by rank and privilege. It may once have been something that was characterized by a command-and control, top-down, do-as-I-say style. But no more. Those days are long gone. It does not work with my 4 year old son. Today, leadership is only an aspiration. It is something you have to earn every day, because on a daily basis, people choose whether or not they're going to follow you. It is something you keep striving to achieve and never assume you have fully attained. I feel Leadership is a relationship between those who aspire to lead and those who choose to follow.

What do leaders expect from the team members? What purpose do leaders serve? Why do people believe in some leaders but not in others? Why do some people choose to follow one leaders while others reject that leader? What actions sustain that relationship? What actions destroy it? What is the state of the current relationship between leaders and team members?

Loyalty is not something a boss(or anyone for that matter) can demand or even command. It is something the team member choose to grant to a leader who has earned it. The people's choice is based not upon authority but upon the degree to which leader lives up to the expectations constituents hold. They key to unlocking greater leadership potential can be found when you seek to understand the desires and expectations of your team members and when you act on them in ways that correspond to their image of what an exemplary leader is and does.

If we have to select the most basic ingredients for leadership, it would be

  • Integrity (is Truthful, Trustworthy, has Character, convictions)
  • Competence ( is capable, productive, efficient)
  • Leadership (is inspiring, is decisive, provides direction)

We will go over the same  in depth.

 


Lessons from Encore Effect

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Remarkable performance doesn’t happen by accident. Whether delivered individually or organizationally, it is always preceded by commitment. Think about the connection between commitment and performance this way:

EncoreEffect

Commitment is the price you are willing to pay to get remarkable results.

Performance reveals the price you have paid.

Consider:

•A remarkable performance reveals how highly you value (price) your customer, spouse, child, boss, co-worker, or other goal (athletics, music, academics, and so on).

•A poor performance reveals how little you value (price) those same people or goals.

When we deliver a remarkable performance we are saying, “There is no other place or way I would rather spent my “commitment dollars” than on you. But when we deliver a poor performance we are saying, “My “commitment dollars” would be better spent somewhere else.

Which do you want to communicate when it comes to your most important relationships and goals?

Commitment is not a binary (either/or, on/off, yes/no) experience. You and I make choices every day that reveal different levels of commitment. For instance, I enjoy the occasional good movie but I have no intention of being a movie reviewer so I am not committed to viewing every movie that comes out. That would be a poor investment of my “commitment dollars.”

You are making the same choices daily. Our challenge is to make smart, conscious investments of commitment; to pay the right price at the right time and place. When a remarkable performance is called for, we need to be ready to write a check and pay the price.

 

LEVEL

EVIDENCE

1. Interested Aware of the basics and adding to that knowledge on a casual basis.•Non-remarkable: the equivalent of flipping through magazines or listening to CNN Headline News while working out at the gym.
2. Informed Knowledgeable as a result of persistent, intentional study.•Potential for remarkable: subscribing to magazines, buying books, taking classes, attending to seminar with the intention of
3. Involved Knowledgeable as a result of both study and activity•Evidence of desire for remarkable: taking what they are learning and applying it to life; beginning to make positive changes in light of recognized benefits.
4. Immersed Recognized as an expert or specialist•Gateway to remarkable performance: rising above the pack, standing out in the crowd; expert/specialist status creates desirability and indispensability.
5. Invested Recognized as “a” leader in the field•Consistently remarkable performance: investing time, talent, and treasure in improving; clearly committed to education, improvement, and continually seeking higher standards of performance.
6. Innovative Recognized as “the” leader in the field•Defines remarkable performance: doesn’t seek new standards as much as setnew standards of excellence and remarkable performance. Discovers new, innovative ways to increase his/her own value by meeting the needs of others.

Nuggets from Jim Collins "Great by Choice"

What do highly successful organizations have in common?

Jim says it starts with “Level 5 Leaders”: those who have humility coupled to will. But it takes more.

Here are the three drivers for “10x companies”, those that outperform others by a factor of 10:

Fanatic discipline: doing what isn’t easy when it isn’t easy and doing it with dogged persistence. “If there is one chapter to read from my new work Great by Choice, read the chapter about the 20 mile march.” That is the ability to undertake difficult but critically important tasks and execute them consistently. “The true mark of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.”

Empirical Creativity: learning, trying things and testing the results. The key word is empirical (“based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic”). “The ‘genius of the and’ is the ability to blend creativity and discipline.” Creativity is natural but discipline is not. The key is the ability to marry the two.

Productive Paranoia: translating paranoia into preparation and buffers for when times are tough. “It is what you do in good times to prepare for bad times so that you can be strong when people most need you.” “Underlying it all is a motivating force: passion and ambition for a cause or company larger than yourself.”

The twist: “Think of an event that hit you or your enterprise that meets three tests. One, you didn’t cause it. Two, it had a potentially significant consequence. Three, it had an element of surprise. It was unpredictable. Then ask yourself as a leader how well you performed in the face of it.” Jim said his research lead him to a great question: what is the role of luck? Could the difference between 2X and 10X success that people just got lucky? He decided to define, quantify and study luck. It meets the same three way test above, but with a positive outcome. “What we found is that the great companies weren’t luckier. The same events happen to everyone.

It is about what you do when these unpredictable, consequential events come.” Was Bill Gates the only lucky one when the PC first came out? Lots had the same opportunity, but Gates worked hard to create the basic app and then worked for 25 years to build the company.

“Most companies squander the good events and leave themselves exposed to the bad events.” Jim has concluded that 10x performance is about superior performance in the face of disruption: how to use a bad event as a defining moment to transform and deepen your purpose.

“Greatness is first and foremost a matter of conscious choice and discipline.” Reflect on these questions: What distinctive impact are you making? Who would miss you if you went away? Are you able to achieve enduring success? To the leader, Jim says, “An organization is not truly great if it cannot be great without you.” “In the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life.” Live and lead in a way that when the end of your life comes, you will know that it mattered.


Importance of reading : Part 2

-Karthik Gurumurthy

What do you do with your life? Where do you want to go? No matter what stage of life you're currently in, if you're still breathing, you have a future. Whatever your goal, you need to know that someone has been there before you. Someone has probably written a book or books about exactly what you have in mind. Maybe you're already following a life plan and are involved in your chosen profession. In that case, books can help you do even better. Whereever you are, someone has been down the same path you are on. Someone has a different perspective on what you're doing. Someone who's written a book can help you see what you're doing a little differently. Why not accept the challenge to accomplish more, keep your outlook fresh, and look at life at all sides? Books can help you do all these things.

I was reading about Benjamin Carson. He mentions in one of his books (Think Big) that as a child, Ben Carson spent his primary school years in the bottom of the academic pool. By the time, he'd reached fifth grade, the nickname "Dummy' has become his permanent label. Then his mom took charge. Though she was a single parent who had been a teenager when Benjamin was born, she understood what needed to happen, and it didn't involve teachers' conferences. Ben's mom restricted his leisure time and insisted that homework and books come first. She insisted Ben and his brother read two books a week, and to make sure they were retaining what they read, she asked for book reports, to. Young Benjamin hated it, but in eighteen months, he'd gone from the bottom of the class to the top.

One day, his science teacher asked the class a question about a rock sitting on the teacher's desk. Since he had just finished reading a book on geology, Benjamin knew the answer. No one else in class did. That was the moment Benjamin Carson understood what his mother was doing. Though unable to read herself, she knew her sons would not succeed in life without books. And today, Dr. Benjamin Carson is director of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins (Yay!) Hospital, and the first person to successfully separate Siamese twins connected to the head.

What you read, what you see, what you listen to truly influences your thoughts. Earl Nightingale, leading authority on success gives the critical ingredient about what makes people successful.  "You become what you think about."

Lot of people tell me , " I wish I had the time to read books." Really!..Let me tell you where I get the time...If there is one thing that characterizes the times we live in, be it America, be it India, it is waiting. We wait at stop lightsl we wait in lines at post offices, stores, movie theaters and themeparks; we wait in doctor's offices; we wait at the bus stops like Forrest Gump.

My commute to work isn't a long one, but I have learned to make use of stoplights. Since I am familiar with my route, I have studied those lights. I know their cycles, and I know just about how much time I've got when I'm waiting at one. I use that time to read. Maybe you don't feel comfortable with the idea of reading at the wheel. I can understand that.  But make time when some one else is driving. 

When I hear people say that they don't have time to read, I find myself nodding in agreement with this advice from Ralph Waldo Emerson: " Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them, and their value will never be known. Improve them, and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life. "

If you read one hour per day, it will translate into approximately 1 book a week which approximately translates to fifty books per year. If you read an hour  a day, one book per week, you will be an expert in your field within three years.


Importance of reading

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I grew up in a home where both my parents encouraged me and Aravind to read more. During the summer, I remember Dad taking us to Higgin Bothams bookstore and always got us books as gifts. 

I am a strong believer in reading, and whenever I can, I am front and center on the importance of reading. I am glad to have had a part in improving the lives of those under my leadership.

I had never considered all the benefits of reading-like the fact that it's a safeguard against old age, or that it makes you the most interesting person at the dinner table. Reading makes your mind sharp, alive, vibrant. It keeps you on the cutting edge. Like a healthy body, a healthy mind is honed like a razor.

Reading appears to be an act of self-satisfaction, but ultimately it is a selfless endeavor. When we read, we become more interesting people. We become team players in the game of life, people with whom others want to engage. Books fill our minds with ideas and information we can pass on to others. When we read, we become excited about reading, and we can't wait to share our current favorite or just get others excited about reading.

We have a responsibility not to let knowledge we gain from books be put on hold in our minds. If we don't learn from what others have passed onto us, and than pass on what we have learned to others, our system breaks down, just as it does on the basketball court. It's critical we not let that happen.

We  live in one of the greatest eras of communication known to man, yet nearly every day, somewhere in America, headlines spell out the news that reading, as a skill, is dying. I don't know about you, but the fact alarms me..and thats the reason I am writing the next set of articles..

In a world where few people read, the vast stores of knowledge found in books are either lost or reside with a select few. Is that the future, we want.

During my summer break in 1989, I remember reading a book called Fahrenheit 451. This was published back in the 50s, but the novel had an idea that one day  all the books be banned was startling.

Mark Twain is often quoted as observing, " A person who won't read as no advantage over one who can't read."

I hope to inspire you to improve your own reading habits and than pass that passion on to those you love before you leave this world. Books can take you places you'd never get to otherwise.

Let us examine those closely..


Anger management

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I was reading a book "Winning without intimidation"..The author talks quite a bit about handling anger.
A story is told of Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, and how he was angered by an army officer who accused him of favoritism. Stanton complained to Lincoln, who suggested that Stanton write the officer a sharp letter.
Stanton did, and showed the strongly worded missive to the president. “What are you going to do with it?” Lincoln inquired. Surprised, Stanton replied, “Send it.” Lincoln shook his head, “You don’t want to send that letter,” he said, “Put it in the stove. That’s what I do when I have written a letter while I am angry. It’s a good letter and you had a good time writing it and feel better. Now burn it, and write another."
A WebMD study reveals that personality types and the ability to control anger may have an effect of heart health and one’s risk for stroke. In addition the study said, “People considered the least agreeable and the most antagonistic had a 40% increased risk for arterial wall thickening. This is similar to the risk imparted by having metabolic syndrome, a known potent contributor to heart disease.” 
While there may be a Top Ten list of things that anger us at work, none of them are worth the serious health risks caused by stress and anger. So what is a leader to do and how can you get a grip on anger? Here are four tips to help you keep it all in perspective.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. 
In his highly acclaimed book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, Richard Carlson sensibly points out, “Often we allow ourselves to get all worked up about things that, upon further examination aren’t really that big a deal. We focus on little problems and concerns and blow them out of proportion. So many people spend so much of their life energy sweating the small stuff” that they completely lose touch with the magic and beauty of life.”  The next time you are tempted to look at how bad things are try counting your blessings instead.
Learn to laugh. 
It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine. And while not every issue that makes you angry is a laughing matter, perhaps those issues wouldn’t make you so angry if you simply learn to laugh.
 In his book, Rules of Thumb, Alan M. Webber says, “We all want to work for people who take their work seriously-and themselves not so much. Work is hard. Life is short. Shouldn’t we all rejoice at the seriousness of our work, and laugh at the foolishness that surrounds us?” That’s great advice. If you simply learned to laugh at what surrounds you instead of being angry it would completely change your outlook. It will also be good for your heart
.
Practice gratitude. 

 Be it stress, fatigue, work or personal issues, or a variation of them all; anger can cause you to miss the good that surrounds you. Norman Vincent Peale says, “One of the great principles of life is that of thanksgiving. Not only is giving thanks a recognition of past benefits, it is the activator of blessings yet to come. If in your life there is a paucity of blessings, it just might be that your tendency to thankfulness has grown weak and inactive.
”"What are you thankful for?
Subbu in last PASE talked about being writing twenty thing you are grateful for every single day.
Be proactive.
 While I have given a few suggestions, there are plenty more good resources available to help you if this is a major issue for you. Additionally; taking breaks, getting proper exercise and rest, among others, will lead to a more positive approach to confronting your anger.

Leadership is hard and stressful at times. And it is only natural that on occasion anger can get the best of us. But if left unbridled it can cause long term problems. Get a grip on anger and reclaim the joy and challenges that each day brings.

 


Law of the hourglass

-Karthik Gurumurthy

All of us need to be sensitive about this. It is called Law of the Hour glass.

People read about time management and talk about time management. But is that all worth it? Reading alone is not just worth it, but keeping an eye on the time and having a sense of urgency is vital. I read Todd Duncan's book (High Trust Selling) and he gives a great example which illustrates the whole point.

Take the example of a close football game. If the losing team has the ball they typically use a "two-minute" offense to help them run as many plays as possible with the remaining time. Their objective is to call the best possible plays before time runs out. If in the end they lose, you might hear, "They didn't lose the game, they just ran out of time." That might make for good consolation but the bottom line is they lost the game!

Likewise, you must manage your moves during the day so that you make more revenue. Create ways to help you make your best moves before time runs out. How can I prospect more, set more appointments, make time to study and prepare better, learn to overcome objections easier, build a better referral network or learn to go deeper with clients and referral partners?

If you don't know what's important you will make the wrong moves. Event management do the things that have the greatest ROI. You need to learn how to get first things done first. You must prioritize your events. It is important that you understand that the most important things generally require the greatest skill, the greatest motivation and have the greatest risk but these activities also provide the greatest return.

Todd believes strongly that you need to know what your hourly rate is and that you need to doing work that is commensurate with your hourly rate at least 75% of every day. You are just keeping busy if the work you are doing could be done by someone else for less than your hourly rate. You are productive when your time is spent on doing things that command your greatest talent and provide the largest return. Are you managing your business or is your business managing you?

Consider this, If you want to take your earnings from $30,000 to $60,000 you need to start doing $60,000 things while you are earning $30,000. As Todd says, "If you don't do something differently, you'll be then where you are now only later."


What are you excited about?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

BillGates

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.


Time drainers

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Time

One thing that God doesn't distinguish between a ditchdigger and a Multimillionaire is he gave everyone an account of 24 hours. Steve Jobs has 24 hours, you and I have 24 hours. What makes one person more efficient than others is how the 24 hours are spent. Take some time to figure out how much of your time is spent in activities which are going to help you in your goals you have set for yourself.

The three major time drainers would be the following:

#1: Not having a to-do list

Not having a to-do list for your day, month or year can cause you to waste lots of time.  Why?  Because you will probably attempt too many taskd and get very little done; the key is to focus your days, months and or years solely on your priorities.

The Lion Tamer at the circus uses a pistol, a whip, and a chair to control the lion.  The chair is said to be the most efficient at controlling the lion.

Why do they use a chair?

The bottom of a chair has four legs, and when pointed in the direction of the lion, the lion becomes unsure as to which leg to focus its attention on, and thereby loses his or her train of thought.

Don’t be like the lion, with so many things to focus on that you get off track; while nothing gets accomplished.

Maybe you want to take a day and focus on organizing your house, or take a year and focus primarily on getting in shape or creating a prosperous mind, but keep your focus single.  You will accomplish more when you have singleness of purpose.

#2: Chatting on the telephone during your productive zone time.

I have specific times that I will answer my phone. If someone calls outside of those hours, I will return their call when it’s most convenient for me.  You can waste a lot of valuable time just “shooting the breeze” at times where you could have done more productive things.

There’s nothing wrong with “chatting on the phone,” as long as it doesn’t conflict with your other priorities.  It’s important to preserve the times when you are most productive, and dedicate those hours to producing your best results uninterrupted.

Don’t become the victim of someone else’s boredom.  In other words, when someone has an hour to kill, don’t let them kill your hour too.  Take control of your telephone time, and it will help you take control of your day.

#3: Watching the News

How many people spend hours a day watching the news, or reading about the news on the Internet?  A lot.

Why should you avoid watching the news?

It steals your time from doing more important things; things that will actually enhance your life and make you feel good about yourself (such as working out, communication with your spouse, or making strides towards achieving your personal and professional goals).

Unless your job requires it, there’s no real need to know about all of the murders that are taking place, not to mention every single theft…it is ridiculous waste of time.

While they are telling you about all the murders, they are murdering your time and killing your productivity.

I once heard someonesay (something to the effect of) instead of showing the news, they should just flash, “Things Are Getting Worse!!!” across the screen.

Now, I don’t believe things are getting worse, I believe things are getting better (society is evolving for the better, no matter what the stock market says).  However, the picture that the media portrays is that things are getting much worse, and really fast.

I don’t want to fill my mind with such rubbish. We never have cable in our place and we don't regret that decision. I would rather choose to focus on the good, thereby increasing the good in my own life.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you become a hermit, and find a rock to hide under. It’s OK to find out things which might help through the Internet because I can click and choose what enters my mind.  I don’t want to be bombarded with the negativity from the media (I usually give myself a time limit, such as 5-10 minutes).

What if World is coming to an end or what if something major happens and I Miss it.

Don’t be concerned that you are going to miss the next great tragedy if you’re not tuned in. If something big happens, you’ll find out about it, trust me ;) .

A majority of the time there is virtually nothing you can do with the bad news from the media, except to become more afraid, lowering your consciousness and the collective consciousness of the entire population; increasing the chance of this negativity re-occurring.  This is a huge waste of time; you should take this precious time and do something that enhances your life.

What is the solution then?

My coach TD and Suparna recommends having a to-do list and not-to-do list which covers it all.

For some people, watching the news (or surfing the web for the news) is just a daily habit.  Try replacing that habit with reading a good book or material which will help you achieve your goals.

Instead of taking in bad news, take in some positive news, because you are the summation of the information you take in. 

Most people have several anti-virus programs to protect their computers. How about protecting your brain which is lot more valuable?

I definitely know that you are engineered for greatness.


What we can learn from Zig Ziglar

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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One of my favorite self-help books is "See you at the top". It was written by Zig Ziglar. Zig Ziglar is an American author, salesperson and a motivational speaker.

Sometimes, a simple quote can change the way you see something, and that is what Zig Ziglar does so well.

With all that said, enjoy the quotes below and think about how you can apply them to your own life. Is there something that can be improved? What steps can you take today to improve what you already have?

    • "You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want."  Being selfish in life might make you happy in the short-term, but sooner or later you’ll realize that what really matters is helping others. It is what brings joy into your life and gets you up in the morning. I am by no means saying to neglect yourself, because if you do not help yourself, you cannot help others, so there’s always a fine line of balance.

 

    • "The greatest good we can do for others is not just to share our riches with them, but to reveal theirs." Everyone has at least one gift and one passion in this life, usually more. Sometimes we’re blind to what’s in front of us, and we need someone else to point out the obvious.It took me a long time to realize that I really liked writing. Writing is something that comes naturally to me, and I love it. If it is one of my riches I do not know, but for now it certainly seems like it.

 

    • "Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude." It is not your inherent ability that determines your success, but your attitude. I’ve seen people have everything delivered to them on a silver platter and fail miserably. They gave up at the first sign of trouble. I’ve also seen people succeed with very little. If you’re determined to succeed, you won’t stop until you do.

 

    • "Every choice you make has an end result." What kind of choices are you making today, and how will they affect your life one day, one month, one year, or ten years from now?Are you constantly avoiding going after your passion because you’re afraid of what might happen? Are you waiting for the stars to align so you can go after your dreams? The decisions you make today are the ones that shape your life, so choose wisely.

 

    • "If you learn from defeat, you haven't really lost." I failed a lot before I succeeded and started making a living from my online business. Although failing hurts, I no longer look at it as defeat. I learn from each failure, and from each mistake I make.It may not be obvious what I’m learning all the time, but sooner or later it dawns on me. When you’re starting out with anything new, such as going after your passion and your dreams, you will make a lot of mistakes, and it will feel like you’re failing, but in reality, you’re making progress.

 

    • "If you wait until all the lights are "green" before you leave home, you'll never get started on your trip to the top." This is an excellent quote, because a lot of people want to wait until things are perfect until they start going after their dreams. If you’re one of them, you most likely will be waiting your whole life. If you want to do something other than you’re doing now, then go after it, and start doing it in any little way you can. Stop waiting for permission. Stop waiting for things to work out. Start doing what you can do today, conquer your fears and take things from there.

 

  • "Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful." Adversity doesn’t feel nice, but it is sometimes just what you need in order to be successful. We don’t have a crystal ball, so we can’t really see that today’s adversity is tomorrow’s success.Don’t judge the mistakes you make, the failures you have and the adversity you run into, because you never know if all of those things lead to something wonderful.

My wife Shobana and I felt that we should have read this book in high school. What you get from the book is nothing but Golden nuggets of wisdom which you can implement it every single day!


Nuggets from "Go Givers Sell More"

  Gogivers

The Law of Value: Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.

The Law of Compensation: Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.

The Law of Influence: Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other peoples' interests first.

The Law of Authenticity: The greatest gift you have to offer is yourself. The most significant way you have of adding value to others' lives is by honoring your own nature—by being genuine and not trying to be someone you're not.

The Law of Receptivity: The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.