102 posts categorized "Goal setting"

Keep moving forward

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Some time back, I passed an exam called PMI-ACP. This is for  experienced Agile Project Managers who wanted to get certified by the prestigious Project Management Institute. Even though I had the experience of leading agile teams for several years, I had to undergo training for the same to take this  exam. 

I took an online course which was offered by Joseph Phillips.  He is an outstanding trainer and what I loved about his training was, his videos were short, succinct and to the point. On top of it, he is always encouraging, very positive and says "Keep moving forward".. Thanks Joe for your outstanding training and words of encouragement.


Building rapport

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Be interested, not interesting.

Checking your ego at the door and simply just listening is incredibly empowering, both for you and whoever you’re meeting with.

The less I talk, the more I feel in control. If I’m 20 minutes in to a monologue about something, barely taking a breath let alone a question from the audience, how can I possibly be sure I’m on the right track?

Humility, empathy and listening are key skills to develop as a Program/Project Manager along with the ability to use silence and pauses as tools to control dialogue and it’s outcome.

Indeed, as someone more introverted, being in control by listening comes much more naturally than trying to dominate and drive a conversation through words alone.

Maybe it’s just me.. but I find it works well for my style.


Lessons learned: 2019

-Karthik Gurumurthy


Thankful to lead an incredible team in Amex. It has been a great opportunity to learn, serve an  amazing, passionate, sharp team of Engineers and thoroughly enjoying this experience. As a TPM (Technical Program Manager) while  we finish one project/program, we always reflect on the lessons learned from the sprints/iterations/ projects/ programs. Likewise end of the year is a good time to reflect on lessons learned and how to make 2020 year better.

  • What are we thankful for? It is not enough to just count our blessings but to rehearse, relive and revisit them constantly. One of the things my wife does very well is to write thank you letters and she does that with our son on  a regular basis. Lot of times, it is easy to get complacent and tend to take things for granted.
  • What did the past year teach us? What are the good things that we are going to carry forward to 2020? What are the things that didn't go too well which we will improve upon in 2020.
  • Over the years, I am realizing the value of simplifying life is  to focus on the right priorities and remove the things in the agenda that doesn't add value. We all need to realize and reduce the time we spend on less important things/trivial which doesn't add value from our day-to-day routine. Past will equal future if we do not change.
  • One of the things that I learned from my boss  ( Dr. SV) is  to always have  a learning agenda. Whenever he had free time, he consumed himself with learning new technologies, getting his hands dirty and implementing what he learned. What do we need to learn or want to learn in 2020 to move on to the next level?  Cultivating curiosity,  expanding intellectual bandwidth sets a great foundation to move forward in 2020.
  • 2018 was awesome with regards to exercise and diet. With traveling and staying away from home for extended period of time in 2019, diet and exercise got really messed up. Developing a proper routine in 2020 with diet and exercise will pave way to better health.
  • Every day, asking ourselves “How can I be of greater service?” Volunteering to help prevents self absorption and serves a higher purpose. Who and how can we serve in little and big ways in the coming year?

Success is never an accident. Improving requires intent and we need to work on it on a day-t0-day basis.  Let us make the 2020 the best year of our lives. Happy New Year 2020!



Thinking about you dad

-Karthik Gurumurthy


It has been four years since Dad left us. There is still not a day that goes by without thinking about him. I miss his physical presence and cannot thank him enough for what he has provided for us and the family. There are lot of values that he imbibed which still makes me the person I am. 


Dad was my biggest cheerleader.My dad always told me I could do anything I wanted to do and be anything I wanted to be. He said that my gifts and abilities were unique. Now that I am a dad myself, I try to do the same for my son and hope that he believes me and subsequently believe in himself. 


Every summer, my dad would make it a point to take us to a new place which was a big deal. It was very special for my brother and myself and we always looked forward to that. Both my parents worked hard the whole year and took that break which was very refreshing. They instilled a desire in me to see the world. There was always another adventure waiting around the corner that kept us on our toes and made life exciting and sweet.The lesson he taught us was to smell the roses along the way.

Living within your means

On my eleventh birthday, my father began to teach me how to live within my means. When I was about 11 years old, He sat me down and taught me about an allowance. He was going to provide me with a monthly pocket-money that I would later come to realize was my means. I was going to have a set amount of money that I could spend on anything I’d like. The only catch was that once I spent it all, I couldn’t buy anything else until the following month when I received my next allowance. At the age of 11, I began to learn how to budget, how to save, and how to spend wisely.It is a powerful lesson which I realized and learned only later, but I learned really well what he really meant.

Choose your friends wisely

Successful people surrounds himself with successful people. He valued his friends so much and he had friends from all walks of life.  He was so right. When I think of the friends I have been blessed with in my life: I am often reminded of the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson who said: " I didn't find my friends, the Good Lord gave them to me."


Thank you Dad for everything you did and all your blessings you are showering on me and the family. I consider myself superlucky to be born your son. We miss you. 

Agile Transformation

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Change is not a one time thing. It’s a repetitive process because the first implementation will almost always not be 100% perfect. You need a few iterations with minor tweaks here and there and that’s where agile comes in. Short implementation cycles coupled with feedback loops allow organizations or teams or projects to find what works best for them. There is no one cookbook recipe type solution for agile transformation- This is where the mindset change & behavioral change (to constantly push forward and be better , leaner , faster etc) come into play. Most companies take many years before they are truly agile while the rest send a few people for scrum master & agile coach certifications that can be gotten over a weekend and then declare they’re agile. The second group is always the one that’s complaining that agile doesn’t work because they haven’t even tried being Agile. it’s a long game - no quick wins.

Secrets of Happiness

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Heard this story from a discourse from H.H.Shri Ravishankar today in Sankara TV.

Once a wise man drew a line on a board and told his student to make the line shorter without touching or erasing it. How would you do it? You have to shorten a line without touching it. The intelligent one (referring to the student) then drew a much longer line underneath that line. So, the line automatically became shorter. The lesson here is that if your difficulties appear to be very big, lift your eyes because you are only focused on yourself. If you lift your eyes up and look at those who are in a worse condition than you, you will suddenly feel that your burden is not as bad as you thought it was. If you think you have some big problem, look at people who have a greater problem. Suddenly, you will get a confidence that my problem is much smaller, and I can manage it.

So, the first point on how to be happy is to see the world where there are greater and bigger problems. Then, your problems will appear smaller. The moment your problems appear smaller, you will get the energy and confidence to deal with it or solve it. In simple words, serve those who are in greater need.

Second, look at your own life. In the past, you had many problems. They have all come and gone. Know that even this will go and you do have the energy and power to overcome it. You will get self-confidence by understanding and looking at your own past.

Third, and most important, do some breathing exercise and relaxation.

Fourth, do you know, in anger we say, ‘I give up’. Without frustration or anger say, ‘I give this problem up, I cannot solve it, let the Divine help me.’ And know that you will always be helped. Have the confidence that you will be helped; a power in the universe is going to help you.

The fifth one – what do you think is the fifth one? I leave it to you. You think about the fifth one. I can go on up to twenty-five or thirty (points), but I would like you to come up with it. We are always looking for solutions from someone. We forget that if we turn our mind inward, we can get some idea, some solution. This is the fifth one. Spontaneity! Be spontaneous. Spontaneity will come when you take a few minutes to go deep within yourself. There is nothing great in smiling when everything is normal, and when everything is going the way you want. But if you awaken the valor inside of you, and say, ‘Come what may, I am going to keep smiling’, you will notice tremendous energy, just rise from within you. And the problem is like nothing; it just comes and disappears.

Today's thoughts: Simplicity

-Karthik Gurumurthy

The best leaders don't waste time. They have the unique ability to cut to the chase, and say it in a few well-chosen words. This simplicity enhances message clarity and demonstrates respect for others' time. The same direct communication styles have a way of carrying over to process design as well. Just as words are not wasted, neither are steps or time. Respect for simplicity and the real business at hand reinforces strong interpersonal relationships. In contrast, long-winded complexity distracts. But what taking the time to just shoot the breeze, to show you're a regular person, to develop a relationship. The truth is you are usually interrupting  someone's workflow. It only takes a second to smile or give a person a pat on the back. Do this instead!.

Thought process: Vision

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Epictetus, A Greek Philosopher, wrote: " What concerns me is not the way things are, but rather the way people think things are." Centuries later, Johnny Carson proved Old Epictetus right when he joked on his late night television show about a shortage of toilet paper in the US. Fiendishly, Carson went into exaggerated detail about the dire consequences of the Tissue Paper shortage. To his amazement and distributors dismay, people took Carson seriously and bough up all the toilet paper in sight. People who heard Carson's retraction later remain unconvinced; they knew there was a shortage. after all the shelves were empty. This was a vision gone awry.

This is a funny story but having a vision of your future enables you to make it come true through your actions.

Thought for today: Important lessons you learn from pencil

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today morning, I was reviewing my notes from some time back. This was shared by entrepreneur Visu Ar about the important lessons we learn from humble pencil.

  • It tells you that everything you do will always leave a mark.
  • You can always correct the mistake you make.
  • The important thing in life is what you are from inside and not from outside.
  • In life you will undergo painful sharpening which will make you better in whatever you do.
  • Finally, to be the best you can be, you must allow yourself to be held and guided by the hand that holds you.


-Karthik Gurumurthy

Caution is a good risk to take.

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

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

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

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

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


From today's readings

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

This is what I got from my reading.

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

Importance of playing in creativity

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

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 7

by Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

Vocation, vocation, vocation

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

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

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

 Risk, reward and self-belief

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Every little helps

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

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

Final comments

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

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

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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Leadership Nuggets from Books-Part 1

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I love reading about leadership and watch leaders and see what I can learn from them and put in action myself. Starting today, I will write more frequently from the notes I have taken from leadership books. I am writing this so that it gives me a chance to review them as well as it benefits you as well.

Today I am going to write about "On Becoming a Leader". This is written by Warren Bennis. Bennis is a major figure in the study of leadership.

On becoming a leader provides many fine insights. Perhaps the key one, and the theme of the book, is this: True leaders are not interested in proving themselves, they want above all to be able to express themselves fully. Proving oneself implies a limited or static view of the self, whereas leaders, by continually seeking their fullest expression, must be willing to engage in periodic reinvention. For Bennis's leaders, life is not a competition but flowering. Structured education and society often get in the way of leadership. "What we need to know gets lost in what we are told we should know." Real learning is the process of remembering what is important to you, and becoming a leader is therefore the act of becoming more and more your true self.

Leadership is an engagement with life itself, because it demands that your unique vision be accomplished, and that usually involves a whole life. When people protest that they can't lead, or don't want to lead, they are usually thinking of management and giving speeches. But leadership is as varied as people, and the main question is not whether you will be burdened, but how you are challenged to escape mediocrity and conformity and really lead yourself.

According to Bennis, becoming a leader involves:

  • Continuous learning and never-dying curiosity.
  • A compelling vision: leaders first define their reality (what they believe is possible), then set about "managing their dream"
  • Developing the ability to communicate that vision and inspire others to follow it.
  • Tolerating uncertainty and taking on risk: a degree of daring.
  • Personal integrity: self-knowledge, candor, maturity, welcoming criticism.
  • Being a one-off, an original: "Leaders learn from others, but are not made by others."
  • Reinvention: to create new things sometimes involves recreating yourself. You may be influenced by your genes and environment, but leaders take all their influences and create something unique.
  • Taking time off to think and reflect, which brings answers and produces resolutions.
  • Passion for the promises of life: a belief in the best, for yourself and others.
  • Seeing success in small, everyday increments and joys, not waiting years for the Big Success to arrive.
  • Using the context of your life, rather than surrendering to it.

What does the last point mean? Bennis believes that late twentieth-century business life was mostly about managing rather than leading, with people and organizations focusing on small matters and short-term results. His message: Stop being a product of your context, of your particular place and time.

You can see your context as the backdrop for your particular genius to develop, or you can let it enslave your mind. In many ways the path of a "driven" person is an easy one, since it does not require much thought. The leader's path is consciously taken, may be more challenging, but involves infinitely greater potential and satisfaction, not to mention better health. To lead, you have to make a declaration of independence against the estimation of others. You have to decide to live in the world, but outside existing conceptions of it. Leaders do not merely do well by the terms  of their culture, they create new contexts, new things, new ways of doing and being.

Some examples

Personal integrity, a compelling vision, and the ability to enjoy risk and uncertainty define leadership.  Bennis uses the example of television writer/producer Norman Lear, who revolutionized US Television by making shows such as All in the family and Cagney and Lacey. For the first time, TV shows reflected real American people rather than cowboys, private eyes, and caricatured families. Lear saw a world that are waiting to be expressed, and expressed it. Not only did his shows break the mold, they were successful year after year.

In his assessment of American presidents, Bennis sees Johnson, Nixon and Carter as driven men who projected their personal histories on to the country they ruled. Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy, on the other hand, had the gift of personal reinvention and lived in the present to reshape the US future. Lincoln was perhaps the greatest president because he focused on what at the time seemed only remote possibilities: ending slavery and preserving the Union. He fits of deep personal depression were nothing put next to those mighty causes.

World of Leaders

Bennis's conviction is that we are in dire need of leaders. He wrote On becoming a Leader when economic leadership was being seriously challenged- we forget now, but in the late 1980s it did seem for a while that Japan was surpassing the US in production, wealth and innovation.

Maybe the US listened to Bennis and other leadership Gurus, for the American economic resurgence was characterized by obsession with innovation and quality, and the realization that firms get ahead by empowering the team members reach their full potential. It took someone of the stature of Bennis to highlight the link between self-knowledge and business success, but this is now becoming accepted. The new type of leader is not satisfied with doing a job or running a company, but is compelled to find an outlet for their personal vision of the world.

Final comments

Bennis has probably done as much as anyone to shatter the myth of leaders as heroes, born not made. Above all, leadership is a choice and involves leading ourselves first.

We live in a democracy of leadership, in which everyone can lead in some way. As some people understand what leadership means and are taught to achieve their potential, it might be expected that competition will increase of ridiculous levels. However, competition is the result of everyone striving to win at the same thing whereas personal visions are unique. To become a leader is to claim the power and assurance that come from being a one-off.

This is based on the original edition of On Becoming a Leader. There is a new, updated and expanded edition that you may prefer to acquire.

What Matters finally is..

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I enjoyed reading this. 

Today's Daily Encounter by Michael Josephson

  • Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
  • There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
  • All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
  • Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
  • It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed. Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear. So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.
  • The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away. It won't matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end. It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant. Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
  •  So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
  • What will matter is not what you bought but what you built, not what you got but what you gave.
  • What will matter is not your success but your significance.
  • What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught.
  • What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage, or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
  • What will matter is not your competence but your character.
    What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.
  • What will matter is not your memories but the memories that live in those who loved you.
  • What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.
  • Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident. It's not a matter of circumstance but of choice.

Choose to live a life that matters!


Give it one notch up

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Everybody knows that at 200 F, water is hot. Very hot.

And we also know that at 212 K, water begins to boil. And becomes steam. And steam is powerful enough to move loads of people. Think about it. Just one notch up..One degree more- and hot water becomes powerful enough to move a train.

While we may not realize it, our lives are like that too. One degree means a lot. That little extra effort can mean the difference between being a winner and another participant. The difference between achieving your goals and missing them. The difference between being just hot water and being able to move a train.

Too often, we give up when the goal might have been just one step away.  Whatever it is you set out to do, whatever goal you seek to achieve, push yourself to do just a little bit more. The difference can be magical. Successful people do all that is expected of them. And then, they do a little bit more.

Make that extra effort. and watch the magic begin!

Failing forward

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Everybody talks about Gen-Y and how the trend goes towards empowering Gen-Y. One of the reasons mature people are apt to learn less than younger people is that they are willing to risk less. Learning is a risky endeavor, and nobody likes to fail. By late 30s most of us carry in our heads a tremendous database of things we have no intention of trying again, because we attempted once and failed. We pay a heavy price for our fear of failure. It is a powerful obstacle to growth. It assures the progressive narrowing of the personality and prevents exploration and experimentation. There is no learning or growth without some difficulty and fumbling. If you want to accomplish more, we need to be willing to risk more, and embrace failure. That is the last step before achieving any kind of lasting success.

Push vs. Pull

-Karthik Gurumurthy

One of the parents whom I tutor was sharing their thought process of how to get their kids accountable for their improvement in studies.

She mentioned that, " Oh I continually remind them that they need to study more, practice more problems. I cajole them about getting it done."

I responded back to her, "How is the reminding and cajoling working out for you so far?". "Despite all my efforts, it hasn't worked at all, " she responded.

I told her, "Maybe that's because you really aren't helping him accountable. Instead of reminding him, why not  make some time and work some problems with him."

We often think we are holding people accountable when are doing nothing more than requesting, pleading, begging and sometimes demanding performance. As the instance illustrates, these approaches aren't very successful. We need to help people be accountable rather than holding them accountable. We need to be active participants in their change and improvement. Think about it.

What is the Goal?

Helping people be accountable is more than identifying what they need to do; it is about clarifying what needs to be accomplished. Clear outcomes can often be achieved several different ways. We tend to be too rigid about the means and completely miss the end.

We need to structure your efforts around the end goal, and involve the person you're working with in determining the how. It is about giving them an active role in creating the process which will engage them and give them the sense of ownership.

When I read "Magic of Thinking Big",  the author Schwartz always mentions that the people are not motivated by a goal; they are motivated by the reasons for achieving a goal. If I can't see a benefit or a negative consequence to be avoided, why would I even exert any effort to change?

Motivation is usually all about hope of good news or avoidance of bad news. To help someone be accountable, we have to unpack the consequences of a change or lack thereof. The important thing is to find reasons that are worthwhile to them and not just to you.

Sometimes it helps to sit down with them to identify their roadblocks. I am not suggesting to plan for them which defeats the purpose. I am suggesting to work with them which can increase the effectiveness.

We also need to differentiate between excuse and an explanation. When I sit down with a student to understand the reason for his/her grade. An explanation is a statement of fact about what happened. An explanation is "this is what happened, and why". An excuse is "this is what happened, and why it wasn't my fault". If somebody is in the habit of making excuses in their routine, it is quite unlikely that they will take ownership of where they are at.

I love hearing to entrepreneur Brad Duncan who often says, "Your action speaks so loud that I don't hear a word you are saying." To help somebody become accountable, we have to show it by action, be the person they feel worthy of following and then help them accomplish their goals. A good teacher/leader always creates the pull which makes the student to do the right thing.

Leadership Trends

-Karthik Gurumurthy

On my train ride back home, I was reading an entertaining book "Whole New Mind" by Daniel Pink. The author has forecasted a subtle shift in the mindset of future leaders. According to Pink, three factors are quietly driving a huge change. These are well known and have been commented upon widely.

The first is the fact of abundance in western societies. Consumers have all that they want. Lately, they have been shifting from seeking material wants to seeking meaning in life.

The second is the rise of Asia where there is a surge of knowledge-hungry, prosperity-seeking young people. They yearn to improve their lot in life and can do all sorts of tasks at a fraction of the cost of their ' ageing, overpaid' counterparts in the West.

The third is the breakthrough in automation. Information of all kinds is available with far greater ease to every knowledge worker, thus changing forever the basic nature of job description and tasks.

After the above exposition, he forecasts a tectonic shift in the evolution of the 'ages'. We have learned in the past that agricultural age giving way to the industrial age, then to the knowledge age. According to Pink, Human society is in transition to the conceptual age currently.

In this conceptual age, the fulcrum of thinking will shift subtly from L(left) brain thinking to R (Right) brain thinking. Their relative importance will change: the two brains will not per se become more or less important. Most managers are products of the L-brained approach: analytical, logical and reductionist.

What is the R-brained approach? Creative and empathetic rather than logical and rational.  According to Pink, R-brained thinkers are more influenced by design, empathy, story, play, symphony and meaning and he goes on to describe these terms in the book.

What I understand from the reading is, we do not use one or the other brain at any point of time. Our brain switches between the left and right hemispheres automatically and our decisions and actions are based on where the fulcrum of the balance is. We have to recognize that the two hemispheres of our brain do exist and have different functions. All that we can do by becoming aware is to develop habits and skills that freely allow migration between the hemispheres.

To succeed in anything worthwhile, requires successful execution. Execution needs the involvement of three core processes.: the people process, the strategy process, and the operation process.

People process involves knowing the people and selecting your core team with care.  Strategy process is about setting the strategic direction and making sure your core team is aligned in that direction. The operations process is about having regular review of the whole process where the questions for forward movement gets asked and keeping an openness in moving forward.

Lessons from Norman Schwarzkopf

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Retired General Norman Schwarzkopf who was the commander for the US forces during Gulf war of 91 died last week of December. 

Last summer I got a chance to read his Autobiography: "It doesn't take a hero".  The title comes from a quote the general gave in an interview where he mentioned "It doesn't take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle". This shows how he came from a dysfunctional family all the way to being a 4 star general. This is a fascinating story, a real inspiration, it shows what one man can achieve through clear thinking, positive attitude, boundless enthusiasm, and a love for country and humanity.

What did I learn from him?

The following are his thought processes on different aspects of leadership.

  • Character

Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without strategy.

  • Leadership

Do what is right, now what you think the high headquarters wants or what you think will make you look good.

  • Courage

True courage is being afraid, and going ahead and doing your job anyhow, that's what courage is.

  • Success

Success is sweet, but the secret is sweat.

  • Action

The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is actually doing it.

Lessons from Dr. Asha Chopra

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Last year 2012 was a tough year for me. I lost three people who were very attached to me and and my family (to cancer and myocardial infarction).


One of them was Dr. Asha Chopra. Dr. Asha came to this country about three decades back and really worked hard, graduated top of the class in Medical school and worked in Medical Practice for more than a decade. Then she also finished her MBA from a premier business school and worked in Medical Management. She was a Management director of an elite medical organization when she was diagnosed with cancer. She fought the battle successful for two years and it looked as if she had won until cancer showed its evil side. Despite what she went through, she was one person who was absolutely optimistic and she knew how to shine light on other people. I knew her through a business opportunity where it gave me a chance to know her closely and I learned a lot from her and we all miss her dearly.

If I have to summarize what I learned from her, it would be as follows:

  • The only difference between you and the people who accomplish lot of great successes is the way they think and act.
  • You can never be too generous. Give to other- and then give some more!
  • Always be asking yourself, "What is important now? What is next?"
  • Make today count. Live it like it is your last. Every second counts.
  • Assume "YOU" are the problem. When you start doing that, you quit becoming the victim of circumstances and begin shaping the outcome.
  • Embrace rejections. Every nos gets you closer to a yes.
  • In the race towards success, you never really cross the finish line. Finishing one goal, performing at a big show, creating a record isn't the finish line. It is the preparation to new starting line.
  • Play all-out. Give it everything you have and hold nothing in reserve.

Thanks Dr. Asha for teaching these valuable lessons. We all miss you dearly. Thanks for making this world a better place to live.

What career should I pursue ?- Part II

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I consider myself very fortunate to interact with successful people from different areas because of my Dad. He had friends in the banking , Sports and the Movie industry. This gave me copious opportunities of observing and interacting with different personalities who were extremely successful in their arena.

One of the people I have had chance to observe from very young age was S.Ve. Shekher whom I used to refer him fondly to as Shekher mama (SM). My dad and him know each other for over 30 years and were instrumental in starting the drama troupe called Natakapriya. Now SM is popular and well known because of producing the best entertaining comedy plays, as well as an actor for several decades and his active involvement in politics. 

When you are around him, you will see his presence of mind and comic timing working in sync and there will always be people surrounding him with echoes of laughter. My dad used to tell me stories about how hard SM worked to earn this success when he was a nobody. I  distinctly remember him visiting us after the play in a scooter which had a registration plate TMX 552. Those were the days my dad and SM always had long chats outside our place. At that point of time, he was not recognized popular or a star. What my dad shared was, he always had an amazing work ethic and him being successful was  just the matter of time. It was clear that whatever else he may have thought about himself, he knew he was successful. And what did that mean? If he had plays that failed, he would still do the next play with the mindset that it will win heart and succeed -because he saw himself that way.

Of course- We'd expect as much: He's successful, renowned and wealthy artist. But it's important to factor in the one thing that changes the whole equation. People who knew him like my dad in the early days- before he was famous or successful- have reported that he had the same confidence when he was just starting out.

So what does this imply?

I used to think the prerequisite to having confidence is the knowledge. But it is not necessarily true. To be confident, you have to to act confident.

You have to "walk the talk" before the world responds. To put it another way, the most effective people are not only talented and persevering. They add one another essential ingredient. They have mastered the art of adjusting their inner frames in ways that allows them to succeed, in ways that allow them to be effective. 

"Success or failure is determined in your own mind"- Paramahansa Yogananda.

What career should I pursue?: Part I

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I get to interact with lot of students and that is one of the commonly asked question I encounter as to what career I need to choose?

My answer depends. Because it depends on what the person wants to do eventually. What are his/her long term goals and dreams?

One thing for sure is to set yourself in motion.

You set out to do something, and in the process you refine your concept of what is you really want to do. Life is an active feedback loop:  The path you take sends back information that help you adjust and revise..the path you'll take. Your career teaches you about your career: what it can be and also what you want it to be.

All you need to do now is to use the best idea you have about who you are and the direction you want to take, and then take the move. Balance action with reflection, but take action - even if you have limited knowledge of exactly where it will all lead. And of course, keep your eyes open.

Things have changed a lot from our parents generation. In the corporate culture of years past, people framed their lives of getting stuck. That was their dream! You work really hard and give 110% to one company and the company takes care of you. It was considered bad form to have too many job changes on your resume, and people hoped to stay with the same companies, in the same careers day in and day out until retirement.

Now the bottomline is that even if you wanted to stay in one job, the American economy doesn't carry the workers the way it once did, it allows for greater mobility. So wherever you begin, trust that you'll learn what you need to learn, and then surely move on.

To give you an example, when Tom Scott and Tom First graduated  from Brown University, they didn't want to enter the traditional workforce as their Ivy League classmates were doing. So they moved to Nantucket and started delivering coffee and supplies yachts that pulled into Nantucket harbor.

When the snowy winter arrived, they yachts stopped coming and they realized they needed another source of income. First remembered a peach cooler he had tasted in Spain. Using a kitchen blender, he tried to recreate the drink himself.

What resulted was Nantucket Nectars, a multimillion-dollar business that the two have since sold to Ocean Spray.

Did making money motivate them? Yes. They knew the yacht-servicing business was limited to warm weather moths and they had to come up with something else. But what did they actually do?

Mixing the first Nantucket on a cold winter's day, recalling a taste memory from summer vacation to Spain, is a much different experience- from making an appearance at an office somewhere you don't really want to be.

To take another example.

Bill Bowerman was accepted to medical school but instead decided to become a track coach. When you examine the job characteristics of doctors and coaches, you'll find many of the same categories: Practitioners in both fields are "Helpers,", "Teachers" and  "Advisors". My best friend Sudarsanam whom we fondly call him Susi has the same job description. In that regard, both careers he had considered probably corresponded to who he truly was.Yet, he obviously made the right choice: He was very successful, coaching in the Olympics and leading his athletes to several national titles.

Interestingly, one area where the two careers seem to be different is in category "Science." Doctors are scientists of sorts but..coaches?

Well, one day at the track he noticed how heavy all of the running shoes were. He went home, and like a mad chemist he poured a rubber compound into his wife's waffle iron. What came out were the soles for the first, lightweight "waffle" shoes.

Some time later, he and one of his runners, Phillip Knight, put up five hundred dollars each to start a footwear company, intending to bring lighter weight running shoes to the world. They named their company after a Greek god Nike.

Just like Nike says...whereever you are Just Do it!

Attitude of Gratitude

by Karthik Gurumurthy

Few months back in one of the training, my friend Subbu Viswanathan shared how important it is to have attitude of gratitude in our routine. He mentioned that from the time we get up in the morning, it is a good habit to have list 15 things we are thankful for. Once we start the day with that attitude, the day goes well.

It reminds of the story of Captain J. Charles Plumb which I heard few years back. For people who haven't heard about Charles Plumb, Charles Plumb is a decorated US war veteran, a navy fighter pilot. He is an example of the indomitable human spirit. He flew the F-4 Phantom fighter aircraft on 74 successful combat missions over North Vietnam. With five days to go to his return home, on his 75th mission, disaster struck. His plane was shot down. Luckily Captain Plumb managed to eject out of the aircraft and got out with his parachute. That saved his life. Unluckily for him, he was captured and jailed, confined to a tiny cell- 8 feet by 8 feet. He spent about close to 6 years-being tortured and humiliated as a prisoner of ware before he could finally return home.

Captain now spends his time sharing his story with others, helping people discover the strengths they need to tap into to overcome challenges in their own lives. My favorite of his story is set in the earlier part before he suffered six years of misery. Actually several years later the tragedy, Captain was enjoying his dinner when he noticed a gentleman seated few tables away. The other gentleman was staring at him and walked up to him and said. ' You're captain Charles Plumb?'. 'Yes' replied Captain Plumb, standing up and extending his hand in greeting.

'You flew jets fighters in Vietnam. You were on the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down. You parachuted into enemy lands and spent six years as a POW', continued the stranger.

'How in the world do you know all that?' asked Captain.

He replied back quietly saying, 'I was the guy who packed your parachute.'

Captain was left quite speechless, a sense of  shock mixed with awe, even as the man continued with a twinkle in his eye, ' I guess it worked!'

Captain thanked the man again, and again. Later that night, as Captain tossed about in his bed, his mind flashed back to his days as a fighter plilot. He wondered how many times he may have passed by the 'parachute packer' without even acknowledging his presence. He wondered if he ever said 'Good morning!' or 'How are you?' to the man. After all Captain was a fighter pilot and the other guy was just a sailor. He couldn't have cared less.

What did I learn from the above story?

We may not all be fighter pilots but we all have our parachute packers. People who build our safety nets, encourage us, and in their own small ways, make our successes possible. They remain unsung but somewhere inside, you know they made a difference. It could be the teacher from elementary school, your neighbor, your friend's mother, your dad's friend, your mom's colleague who always seemed to have the information you urgently needed..Through life's challenges, through the take-offs and crash landings in your career and life, they were the people who made it possible. When the going get tough, they kept you going. They just did their jobs- but boy they sure made you look good. Who do you turn to when the chips are down? So who is packing your parachute?

Unlike Captain Plumb, we aren't always fortunate enough to come face to face with our parachute packers. So often we don't get the chance to say thank you. Good idea then to think of the parachute packers in your life, and pick up the phone to thank them. Today. Now.

It is also very important to ask the question: Whose parachute are you packing? Who are the people you provide strength and encouragement to? Which people will put your name in the list of folks who made a difference to their lives? Real success and happiness often emerge not from the personal glory of winning but from the joy of having helped someone else win.

And finally, it's hard to miss a trait in Captain Plumb that's the hallmark of all great Leaders. In their biggest triumphs and greatest victories, they always, always turn the spotlight on to the unsung heroes. The ordinary folks who made a difference. The parachute packers.

The next time you are basking in glory, celebrating an accomplishment or receiving an applause, please take a moment to think and thank your parachute packer.


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:


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

Performance reveals the price you have paid.


•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.




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.

Indian Cricket Team: Lessons from failures

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I am currently in India to take care of my Dad who is recovering well from a health situation. Thanks to all the friends and family for praying as a result of which he is doing lot better than before.

Being in India, one of the common topics of discussion is always about the performance the Indian Cricket team.

Last year the Indian team reached the pinnacle of achievement where they won the World cup after 18 years. The same team has drawn lot of criticism currently because of their poor performances in England and now Australia. I always believe that winning and losing is part of life. The question to consider would be how we can benefit from this (temporary) debacle. It would be immature for anyone to expect the team to win all the time.

Life has peaks and valleys. When someone goes through the valley, that is the time to reflect upon few areas. That is exactly the time to ask ourselves the questions which I have listed them as follows:

  • What can we learn from this experience?
  • How can we grow wiser, stronger and better because of it?
  • What opportunities does it present?
  • What do we want to achieve?
  • What positive actions do we need to take currently so that we can emerge victorious?

Trust factor: Part II

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Why is trust factor important? What is its value?

When people have credibility, they are able to inspire others to trust and believe in who they are and what they do.

What builds it and what tears it down? Can you have it and lose it? And  if you lose it, can you get it back?

Credibility is available for everyone-regardless of who you are and what you do. Your position, status or role in life has nothing to do with your personal trust factor. Different people play different roles in their careers and some are roles of very high authority-however, there is no lasting connection between higher authority and your credibility.

I will give you couple of instances to drive home the point.

1. Five students are expected to complete a project for their school assignment. The teacher nominated Keith to be the captain of the team. Just in case, if he is unavailable the teacher nominated Anish. Well, Keith has good grades in the class. Anish grades are lesser than Keith but when comes to discussion for the project, the group members listened and paid attention to Anish more than Keith. Why? Anish showed lot of initiative and took steps about making the project work whereas Keith was basking in the sun.  There are occasions when Keith and Anish had said the same idea, but the group members bought what Anish said as opposed to Keith as they saw Anish in action. Action brings credibility than position.

2. During this short stay in Chennai, I wanted to make sure I am healthy. I was checking out the gyms in the local area. I probably visited about half a dozen of them. Finally I shortlisted them based on one vital component. I was looking at the people who were showing me around the gym. I looked at how they looked. Some of them I gotta tell you have not worked out ever. Anyways, the take home message is, " It is not what you say, it is what you do that gives credibility.

To be continued..after my class.

What are you chained to?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

When I was a kid I loved the circus. I was fascinated by the fact how wild animals which are supposed to be dangerous in general were tamed to perform different feats entertaining  the audience. 

I came across a discovery about elephant tricks in circus.  Have you ever wondered why the elephants—the strongest and largest animals in the circus—don’t simply walk away?

The trainers have discovered a way to make them helpless.

When an elephant is born, it only takes about two weeks for him to get strong enough to break his chains, but his trainers use this time to their advantage. The baby elephant, chained to a tree, will make many attempts to break free before giving up, but once he has given up, that’s it. Although he grows larger physically, in his mind, the chain is still stronger than he is. In effect, he imprisons himself.

The chain therefore is a constant reminder that they are helpless.

A lot of us live our lives the same way. People have mastered the art and science of learned helplessness.

Rather than becoming the stars of the show, these helpless people in the work place have self-designed themselves into being clowns. They have made decisions either constantly or unwittingly that have led people to laugh at them. This is so sad because this does not have to be.

At the core of this problem lies the person’s inability to determine the difference between what are facts and what are stories. The stories they have heard may have come from the people they love.

Stories come in forms like:
“You’re not as good as your brother /sister….”“You’ve brought bad luck to the family….”“You’ll never make it…..”“You’re just like your dad/mom, you’re a loser….”These are stories not facts but somehow they imprison, they form chains.
Here are some other examples of what stories sounds like and they mostly come from your primary story teller and that is YOU!:
I shouldn’t have to do this—it’s not part of my job description.”“Other people should be more dedicated and motivated. Nothing would get done around here if it weren’t for me.”“There’s not enough time to get it all done.”“Our department is always having to clean up after others’ mistakes.”“The boss just doesn’t get it.”“He is always undermining me.”My coworkers don’t appreciate me.”“Management only cares about the bottom line.”“I’m underpaid for what I do here.”“It would be finished if they’d stop interrupting me with last-minute changes.”These are stories. These are not facts.

You and I need to stop arguing with reality. The reality is that God does not invent junk. Humans do it to themselves. We imprison ourselves with the chains formed by the stories we hear or the stories we invent ourselves.

We have the free will to choose. We can choose to rise up above our adversities, ignore the attacks of the envious, labor and learn and accept challenges and retain humility as success comes or we can choose to stay with our stories and ignore the facts.

Samuel Clemens says it well a long time ago when he said, “The problem with most people is not that they set their goals too high and fail to achieve it but that they set their goals too low and they attain it.”

God has given us a head to think, a heart to feel, hands to labor and feet to move towards our goals with the purpose of adding value to the world and never for the sole aim of personal glory or aggrandizement. Starting tomorrow as you go to the work place, stick to the facts and drop those stories. Let go of all the shackles which is holding you back.

Do it now

-Karthik Gurumurthy

"Knowledge is only useful when put into action. You can't just sit there and wait for your ship to come in . . . you've got to swim out to it before the pier rots.  We can learn a lot about action by looking at insects. Consider the bee. It will make visits to 125 clover heads to make one gram of honey. That comes to about 25,000 hips for bees to make only one pound of honey. Ants are admirable creatures as well. They're not concerned about their stature but go about their diligent, tireless work of storing up food for their colony.”-

Harvey MacKay (HM)

Lillian Vernon, friend of HM was a 24-year-old newlywed seeking some extra income for her family when she spent $2,000 of her wedding money on an advertisement in Seventeen magazine, promoting monogrammed handbags and belts. The orders came, business grew, and today her mail-order catalog company, Lillian Vernon Corporation, has annual sales of $240 million and ships 50,000 orders daily during its peak holiday season. 

Ted and Dorothy Hustead likewise had a dream in 1931: to open a drug store in a town with a good school, a Catholic church, and a doctor. They chose Wall, South Dakota, a middle-of-nowhere town situated between the Badlands and the Black Hills. Alter a long dusty year in which few visitors stopped at their drug store, they were forced to do some serious soul searching.  They came up with an idea to lure parched visitors to their establishment and acted on it, posting FREE ICE WATER AT WALL DRUG signs all over the area. The signs soon became a novelty and were placed further and further away. Today, Wall Drug signs can be seen all over the world. During peak season, four to six thousand people visit daily. The fact is that you don't have to be famous or the CEO of a large corporation to have an idea and act on it.

Will Rogers once said, "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."  And here's a scenario you might recognize at your workplace: There once were four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. An important job had to be done, and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it and that Somebody would do it. But Nobody realized that Everybody thought Somebody would do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

Sounds confusing? You’ve got the point. This is what happens when nobody wants to pick up the tab and take responsibility. Everything turns out confusing.  Why not be somebody who makes things happen.  But how? In the words of a popular shoe and sportswear commercial, the slogan says: "Just do it."

Harvey Mackay says: “Ideas without action are like being all dressed up with no place to go.”  Nothing happens when you sit around waiting for things to happen.

And then there are only 3 kinds of people in this world. 
1. Those who make things happen. 
2. Those who watch things happen. 
3. And the last and the lost who wonders: “What happened?”

Don’t waste precious time. Do not delay. Do it now.


Accept Opportunities

-Karthik Gurumurthy

When I moved to US several years back, I learned two things on the first day of landing here. First one being " Whats up"? It took me sometime to figure that one out. My immediate response was "sky":) The second thing being " America is land of opportunities." Ok that is nice to hear, where is it? 

Despite the doom and gloom in the media about AAA plus downgrade., double dip,  depression and recession, I still think that there are possibilities for us literally everywhere.

We invite opportunities and set the stage for action by our choices, our study, our concentration and commitment. But sometimes, no matter how prepared we are, no matter how much we want something, no matter how much we recognize that this could be our big break, we fail to accept the responsibility before  us, perhaps because we are afraid of rejection or failure.

If you want to make a career as an actor, you cannot get the part if you never audition. Through interaction with really successful people as well as reading their works, I feel that successful people lead a life of no regrets. One of the saddest things that can happen when you are done with our lives and when God gives the DVD of what we have done, we should not give any chance for us to say "Wish I had risked more, loved more, cared more and so forth". It is sad to think what might have been. We must always open doors knowing that there will be great possibilities awaiting us when we do. All experiences deeply lived, no matter how much we struggle, are opportunities to learn. The greatest loss occurs when we don't expose ourselves to opportunities because we may be afraid of failure. Somehow we find inner strength when we persevere courageously. When we don't try, or give up too easily, we're turning our backs on the door that only we can open. I don't believe many of us really know how great we are in potential. We should expect more from ourselves. When we do, we bring out more from the vast reservoir of possibility that is in us all the time.

Our great task as human beings is to grow into fully expressing our powers and capacities. There is always so much more we can draw out of ourselves. There is a tendency among many of us to busy ourselves with  "this and that," to fill our calendar with obligations, and to commit to responsibilities that are not of our choosing that make us believe something, better and more extraordinary is not possible.

I have learned from Shobana to leave time every day to do what you want to do to prepare yourself for great opportunities. Don't hold back, reticent, waiting for extraordinary opportunities. Watch for the little opportunities right now at hand.


Once you start doing little more than Average Joe, you are likely to face disappointments and failures, but you can always be proud that you accepted an opportunity. Take whatever comes to you and make the best, the most good of it. You are accepting the challenge to be all you can be.

"In the middle of every difficulty lies an opportunity"- Albert Einstein

Reaching out and accepting opportunities is what we're meant to do in order to live well. Accept the gift of opportunity when you find it because opportunities are fleeting and life is short.


-by Karthik Gurumurthy

Teaching award 

It has been quite a while since I blogged. There has been lot of things happening which was keeping me busy. From time to time all of us catch ourselves being in a rut so much that we do not pause and reflect about the things that we need to thankful for.

With the blessings of my parents and good wishes from friends and family, I actually got the "outstanding award for excellence in teaching this fiscal year. I attribute this to my parents who has always blessed me and given unconditional support all the way, my wife Shobana who did everything in her side to let me go out and perform and my brother Aravind who has always been a backbone to all my successes, and my miracle baby Ashwin for showering luck on us.

I also like to take this opportunity to all my good and bad teachers from Kindergarten to Grad School.( Sankara School, Vivekananda College, Anna University, IIT Madras, Tulane University, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Johns Hopkins University, Univ of California Irvine). Good teachers taught me how to break down a complex subject to simple language in which students can enjoy and appreciate the subject so that they can apply it in day-to-day life. Bad teachers has shown through their example what pitfalls I need to eschew so that I can learn from them.

I would like to make a special mention about my good friend from Kindergarten "Susi" aka Sudarsanam who literally took me under his wings and pushed me to level of excellence when I was frittering away my time during IX grade. This was the time I really had no idea what I was doing and what I was capable of. I was promoted from IX grade to X grade with warning( I barely scored 35% in my annual exam). This was probably one of the low points in life which helped me to reflect and bounce back. Thanks to the association with Susi who really pushed me to excel and that is the time I started to dream big and I know I can outperform anyone and achieve anything if I set my mind to it. Thanks to all my cousins and relatives who set a high bar of excellence for all of us to follow.

I am thankful to my research mentor Dr. K. S. Viswanathan from IGCAR who showed through his example how to really learn and master any subject by putting in the effort through relentless passion. I thank all my business coaches for teaching me how to communicate clearly from heart than from the mind.  I am using this award as the springboard to help more students achieve their dreams and goals in academics as well as more business associates reach their financial goals through my business opportunity.

Friday "Fun"damentals: Confidence

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

It is confidence!


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

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

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

Man in the mirror

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I believe it’s strikingly important to remember that when you know better, you can do better. With higher levels of awareness, you can make smarter choices. And the more clarity you get as to who you want to become, the quicker you can start making the choices need to get you there.
A simple tool for you today.  Look into the mirror and ask yourself the following question: "What one thing could I do today that if I did it, my professional and personal life would get me to next level?" Then think about that One Thing. Reflect on executing that step superbly. Act from courage. And go out and do it NOW!


Is your past=future?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Sometimes life throws curve balls at you where you are not sure how it is going to be. Past=Future only if you do not change.

The philosopher Schopenhauer once observed: “most people take the limits of their vision to be the limits of the world. A few do not. Join them.” Great Statement. The life you see this very moment isn’t necessarily the life of your future. You might be viewing things through the eyes of your fears, limitations and false assumptions. Once you clean up the stained glass window you see the world through, guess what? A whole new set of possibilities appear. Remember, we see the world not as it is but as we are. That idea changed my life. Whenever I go through stuff or when I am going through stuff, that is what I remind myself that this won't be permanent.

Years ago, it was believed that no human being could ever break the 4 minute mile barrier. But after Roger Bannister broke it, many more replicated his feat within weeks. Why? Because he showed people what was possible. And then armed with that belief, people did the impossible.

What’s going to be your “4 minute mile”? What bill of goods have you sold yourself as to what’s impossible? What false assumptions are you making in terms of what you cannot have, do and be? Your thinking creates your reality. If you think something cannot occur in your life, then there’s no way you will take the action required to make that goal a reality. Your “impossibility thinking” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your perceived limitations become the chains that keep you from the greatness you were meant to be. The difference between somebody who gets it done and somebody who is a victim of circumstances is the possibility thinking and the action to get it done. Let us get it done so that past does not equal future.

Power of writing your goals

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Yesterday, I had a chance to listen to Olympic star Michael Phelps. Whatever he said goes well with other star performers I have interacted until this point of time.  Shobana and I discussed about how doing a simple act can make a night and day difference in accomplishing any major goals you have set for yourself. What am I talking about?

Lots of time is being spent articulating a clear and detailed vision for what the key areas of their lives will look like (if you have accomplished your goals). Then a written plan with the vision is broken down into sequenced goals so that the vision isn’t so overwhelming and so the big picture is neatly chunked into manageable steps to drive daily action.

One of the best effects of planning that I’ve discovered is what it does to my mind. Let me put it this way: few things focus the mind as well as setting plans on to paper and then sequencing them into goals. The very act of doing it heightens your awareness as to what’s most important. And with better awareness, you will make better choices. And as you make better choices, you are certain to experience better results.

So today, give yourself a gift: take out a nice white sheet of paper. Get a pen. And then start writing about the life you want to create. It’s a lot easier than you may think.



What makes your performance outstanding?

Whatever work you do, or whatever product or service you provide. What makes you better than those who also do what you do? What makes your performance outstanding?

Think about this: can you give three reasons why someone should hire you, or follow you, or  choose your service? If you cannot answer this clearly, then few changes have to be made for someone to choose you over some other candidate.  People are given slew of options to choose from and they would choose someone whose performance stands out.

Let’s say your senior associate is having lunch with a colleague today and your name comes up—what does he or she say about you? Adjectives like “nice,” “capable” and “pleasant” are certainly positive, but you can do better than that. Consistently great performance conjures up words like “fantastic,” “exceptional” and “extraordinary.”

If you decide to take another job one day, it would be reaffirming to hear your boss say, “What can we do to keep you here?” and not, “Bon Voyage!” To develop this kind of reputation—remember it doesn’t happen automatically—aim to always do a great performance but know when a remarkable performance is called for.

If you want to gain a really remarkable reputation, stay on your toes. Like a professional athlete or a famous rock star, you are only as good as your last game or your last hit. Your fans (or, in most everyday cases, your coworkers or clients) won’t love you unconditionally: they will continue to judge you based on your work and the results and benefits they enjoy from it.

It can be difficult to have an objective view of your own performance. It is easy to assume that you are doing a good or even great job and be content with that illusion. To avoid a rude awakening at a performance review, you need to maintain a clear view on how strong—or weak—your performance actually is.

The best way to do this is to actively seek ongoing feedback. Listen impartially, without defending yourself, and your ‘audience’ will offer insights you can use to improve. If you really want to know, ask this simple question, “What could I do to make my performance outstanding?” Even if this feedback isn’t the pat on the back you’d hoped for; it will be something valuable – clear direction on how you can become a better performer. The feedbacks I have received from Shobana and my coaches have helped me tremendously and I value them big time.

The goal in whatever important work you do isn’t to be good; the goal is to be outstanding like my coaches TD and Suparna Dutta.

Unconditional Serving

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I have been approached by students , business associates, friends and family about their challenges and they ask for my advice. After carefully understanding their issue, I give recommendations which might help them in the long run. Then when I observe what they actually did, they did exactly opposite of what I recommended. This used to bug me until I shared with my business coach.

He said, “Karthik, you are responsible to your audience, but not for them. You are responsible to them to be prepared, to put forth the very best information you can and share it in such a way that it can be effectively utilized. You are responsible to them for that.

“But” he continued, “you are not responsible for them. You cannot control who chooses to use that information and benefit from it. That is up to them.”

What terrific advice. And, I believe it applies to all of us who work with people, regardless of the “audience” whether one-on-one, committee or huge crowd.  I believe that whether we’re talking about products, services, or the solutions designed to help them, the attitude coach suggests is a vital part of a successful career. And, for that matter, any type of interpersonal persuasion process. Why? Because…

#1 Attachment Is A big no-no. If we have too much emotion invested in their taking a certain action, it’ll show through, and that person will probably follow the natural human tendency to resist that  which they feel is being pushed upon them.


#2 It Fortifies Us. When we can walk away without emotional attachment to the results, or, what I call “Positive Detachment” (also known as “posture”), it strengthens us when trying to help the next person. And that person might just take our advice.

So, care about helping them, care about serving them, care about providing them value. You are responsible for that part of process. But, don’t get too caught up in the result. You are not responsible, nor can you ethically control their decisions.

Indeed, you are responsible to them…but not for them.

What stops people from commitment?

-Karthik Gurumurthy


"Commitment to continuity leads to emotional stability". -Nardone

The habits which we are committed to on a daily basis gives us the strength to get the job done. Once we know this, what stops people from commitment? Here are the few

1. Lifestyle of giving up things when life gets tougher.

2. Wrong belief that life should be easy.

3. Wrong belief that Success is a destination.

4. Pessimistic attitude.

5. An acceptance of other people's fences.

6. An irrational fear of failure

7. Lack of Vision


Happy New Year 2011



I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season. This is the time to renew the relationships and reflect on what could have been done better last year. People also use this time to make a decision or they make a vow to themselves to change few things in 2011 such as working out regularly, be more compassionate, grateful, lose weight, higher savings and what not!..Right now as I type this, it is hard to get any parking space in any fitness center. Let us wait for few more weeks and see what happens!

Typically We resign ourselves to a temporary elevation of the spirit.

It doesn’t need to be that way.

Some are able to exhibit the compassion, appreciation and joy of the season throughout the year.

How do they do it? And how do leaders keep the spirit of an organization’s culture and values alive long after the kick off or launch?

My observation is that those who do best at keeping the spirit alive–whether of a faith, holiday, belief or even a corporate culture–do three things: they remember, remind and rehearse.

Remember what you want to retain. It sounds so simple and is so hard to do. How many times have you slapped yourself on the forehead and said, “I knew that!” Yet somehow you temporarily forgot.

Have you clarified exactly what the spirit is that you want to keep alive? You can’t remember what you never knew to begin with. Summarize the key values and behaviors you want to remember. Write down key phrases where you’ll see them often. Reflect on those things frequently and etch them into your memory.

Remind others of what you want is important. A leader of influence always keeps the dream alive in the team.

A good parent looks for teachable moments to remind children of important lessons.

Of course there is an additional benefit: reminding others helps you remember as well.

Rehearse the behaviors of the spirit you embrace. A great actor rehearses his or her lines until they are delivered with perfection. There is no substitute for doing. Almost everyone knows what is good, right or important but leaders are those who act on their knowledge. Have you considered what you can do each day to demonstrate the spirit you value? Let your behavior be a witness for your words.

Don’t let the spirit of any important seasons or event evaporate. Remember, remind and rehearse to keep the important messages and themes of significant events alive long after they are over.

Let us be dream driven in 2011.

Let us make it happen in 2011.