175 posts categorized "Gratitude"

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.

 


Fear of the Unknown

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Whenever we reach an uncharted territory, we need to remind ourselves of Joseph Campbell's words: "The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek."

We need to own the fear, find the cave, and write a new ending for yourself, for the people you are meant to serve and support and for your team. We need to choose courage over comfort. We need choose the great adventure of being brave and afraid..at the same time.

 


Kobe Bryant

Devastated! I am devastated that Kobe, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed  in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, today morning.  My heart is with the loved ones of everyone who perished in that tragic incident. He was truly an inspiration  to many.

Remember shaking hands with this legend back in 2004-2005 at the Vons store Newport Coast between my tutoring sessions. He was easy to talk to and was very approachable. What is special about Kobe? He constantly worked on getting better.. Constantly worked on himself..Really fearless , Laker. Can't believe this news..I definitely wish this is not true.

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#WillmissyouMamba #ReturnIfPossible


Lessons learned: 2019

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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Thankful to lead an incredible team in Amex. It was a great opportunity to learn and serve an  amazing, passionate, sharp team of Engineers and thoroughly enjoyed the 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!

 

 


Lessons learned 2018

-Karthik Gurumurthy

What a fun-filled year it was!!

  • I was able to take control of health. Lost about 22 pounds and through self-discipline, moderation, it was good to change sizes for better in a period of 7-9 months.
  • Learned a lot with regards to Tableau/Collibra at work.  Loved working with the data analytics team @ UCLA. 
  • Got some places off the bucket list and thankful to all the travel done in 2018
  • Awesome to take time off to  catch up with Susi and his family and reconnect.
  • Thankful for the new opportunity at Amex, Phoenix.
  • Would like to learn more and update my knowledgebase in 2019.
  • Get SAfe/ Harvard- American Express Leadership Excellence/ PMI- ACP certification successfully done  in 2019.

 


Daddykins

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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


Guru Purnima

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-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today is Guru Purnima. Guru Purnima is an Indian festival that is celebrated as per the Hindu Moon Sign calendar to express reverence towards your Guru, your teacher or mentors. Etymologically, the word Guru has been derived from two parts – Gu that means darkness and Ru that is the antidote to the darkness.The word 'Guru' is defined as a person who leads people on the path to enlightenment. Guru removes avidya, or ignorance, which is a case of mistaken identity.

I wanted to take some time now to thank all my Gurus starting from my parents, my teachers in School, College, specifically my Math teacher from Sankara (Shri NR), Dr. KS Viswanathan -IGCAR(currently at IISER), Dr. A.K Mishra -IIT Madras, Dr. King Jordan, Dr. L. Aravind -NIH, Chris Wintrode, Leslie Jones, Michael Wang, Randy Canfield, Sheila M and my friends, seniors, relatives (too many to name!) and my students who continuously have helped me evolve to get better, transforming me one day at a time. I cannot thank all the teachers enough to take time out of their schedule to dispel darkness from my mind. I seek blessings of my Guru(s) on this auspicious day.

 
 
 

 


Self Awareness

-Karthik Gurumurthy

All of us have blind spots and it is very important that we take time to be aware of them.  If we want to develop your own ability to be more conscious of your strengths, weaknesses and how they are perceived by others, here are some steps one can possibly do:

1. Please try to get feedback from someone you trust other than the family. It should be someone in your life you trust 100%, who has your back and will tell you the truth. While you may want to ask a family member, there’s too many feelings and emotions tied with family and sometimes with family they may judge you and they might give you a sermon than honest feedback. Please make sure you prepare your friend in advance about what you are seeking and don’t be afraid of what they’ll say.

If the feedback you receive seems to be out of left field, let the other person know you are surprised and then ask for examples. Ask for an example of the last time you exhibited the behavior: For example, “Was there a specific time you felt I wasn’t listening carefully enough?” That may help take the sting off any unexpected criticism because it narrows it to some specific events as opposed to feeling like an overall character flaw.

2. Take a few days, a week or even a month or so before you determine what or how you want to react. Generally, there are three possibilities you can address the information:

Make a big change: If the feedback can improve your life across the board, move forward with making changes.

Make a small change: The information may not impact every aspect of your life, but will allow you to make improvements in small ways.

Do nothing: In some cases, the phrase “I am who I am” applies as long as you are aware of the consequences of not changing.

3. Forgive yourself and move forward
You probably won’t like everything you hear. But feeling bad about criticism is only human. Acknowledge how you feel, whether it’s angry, sad or ashamed, and then work on self-acceptance.

We are so focused on building self-esteem when what we should be doing is looking at self-acceptance. Once you can give yourself permission to not be perfect, you can identify what you can control and do something to change that behavior.

Being at peace with yourself is key to building self-acceptance. People who are most introspective make self-awareness a priority and commit to working on it every single day.


Priorities

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I have shared this quote from Michael Josephson before and from time-to-time we all need to think about the same.

"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.
How true this is. And Michael Josephson gives us reasons to think.


Happy 75th Birthday Appa!

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Dearest Appa,

We miss your physical presence. Happy 75th Birthday! You always taught us through your example and there is not a day that goes by without thinking about what you have done for us. One of the greatest things which you showed us by example is the attitude of Gratitude.  You talked about how grateful you were every single day and always thanked God, family, friends. This is probably the best time I feel to express how thankful I am to have such a wonderful dad who set an amazing example. I am thankful for having the most caring Mom I could ever ask. I am thankful for all my Grandparents (both paternal and maternal) who worked hard  and made it happen for the  families. I am thankful to have wonderful brother Aravind who is always there for me for everything. I consider myself superblessed to get an awesome beautiful wife who is the most transparent person I know with amazing qualities being enthusiastic and great sense of innocence and love for people. I am blessed with my wonderful friends and each of them have helped me in multiple ways. The closest being Sudarsanam Raman (Susi), Vijay, PG, Balaji, Ranga who knows everything about me and still had chosen to be friends with me. There are lot of Gurus/bosses/ teachers/ coworker whom I am extremely thankful to know them, These are the CHANGE AGENTS. These people come in your lives and they transform your life for the best.   My high school Math Teacher whom we used to refer as NR;  Prof. AK Mishra  and my favorite of all Dr. KS Viswanathan; Dr. V. Ramamurthy , Dr. Don Creighton , Computational Biology department at Johns Hopkins University L. Aravind, Subbu Viswanathan, Leslie Jones, Shekar Panchapekesan, Priya Sreedharan,  Michael Wang,  Sheila Minton, Yvon Descieux, Robert Marston, Randy Canfield, Pramukh Subramanian,  Juli Kahanamoku. This is not in any specific order. I am hoping I didn't leave any of  my change agents out.  All these people have added tremendous value in my life on a day-to-day basis. 

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 #ThankfulandBlessed #ThanksDad #ThanksAll


Nuggets from Option B

-Karthik Gurumurthy

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Powerful words

-Karthik Gurumurthy 

A conversation with a friend, coworker and family member will turn into positive action when you ask these two words:

What’s next?

That question focuses on the next action to be taken, the new thing to be done, or where effort should be exerted. It moves you from dwelling on the moment to moving ahead.

“What’s next?” is all about what action–however small or large–you can take to create forward forward momentum towards results. “What’s next?” combats complacency. It gets you off your current plateau and breaks complacency. “What’s next?” goes beyond “thinking about” to “identifying and doing” what is necessary to make progress.

It gets an uncommitted prospect to make a decision. 

“What’s next?” uncovers what part of your big goal is achievable now. Over time enough questions like “What’s next?” results in an achieved goal. “What’s next?” identifies what it will take to make your relationship better, for you and the other person. “What’s next?” creates movement and progress with whomever you’re talking to.

Stumped? In a rut? Stymied about how to move forward? Just ask, “What’s next?”


Responding to critics

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I have heard a story about Winston Churchill and his extraordinary integrity in the face of opposition. During his last year in office, he attended an official ceremony. Several rows behind him two gentlemen began whispering. “That’s Winston Churchill. They say he is getting senile. They say he should step aside and leave the running of the nation to more dynamic and capable men.” When the ceremony was over, Churchill turned to the men and said, “Gentlemen, they also say he is deaf.”

How you respond to critics is very important part of building yourself. It’s all too easy to get defensive when critics rub us the wrong way or misunderstand us. There is also a possibility of us  being wrong as well. Ask yourself why the criticism was made. Is the person trying to help, to make things better, to help you avoid making mistakes, to suggest positive improvements? Is the person just in a cranky rude mood, having a bad day? Is the person just mean, or jealous? Is there good reason for the criticism?My dad gave me an outstanding piece of advice when I first left to US. He said, “If you take the blame when you deserve it, you will take responsibility and will improve and become a better person." I have found that to be very true. Difficult, but true. In my experience, until someone in a group (or in a family) accepts blame, everyone stays very anxious and focused on fingering the person at fault. Once I take responsibility and be accountable, then everyone else can relax. And then we can all focus on what needs to be done.

Thank the person offering the criticism. Sometimes they’re coming from a place of wanting to help you. That takes courage, and is a very generous thing. Be grateful for that. Even when they’re not trying to be helpful, they’ve taken the time to respond to you — and trust me, getting a response is better than absolute silence. Provoking a reaction means you’ve done something interesting — and for that, you should be thankful. Either way, thanking the critic will help lead to a positive exchange.

It is also important not immediately respond but delay the response.  Delaying the response gives time to think it over and not be reactive. Calm yourself down before responding. Always. Responding to a critic in anger is never, ever, ever a good idea.Respond rationally and calmly. Instead of being defensive, be honest. Share your reasons, acknowledge the other person’s points if there’s any validity, and come to a rational conclusion rather than jealously guarding your way of doing things.

Or stay silent. If you can’t respond with grace, then just don’t respond. Silence is a much better response than anger or defensiveness or quitting.


Miss you NR Sir

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today I received sad news that one of my favorite teachers in high school had passed away. As children, we spend almost as much time with our teachers as we do with our parents. The teachers who have had tremendous influence on us are far and few and N. Rajendran Sir   (whom we used to fondly refer him as NR Sir) was one of them.  He created such a ripple effect with students that  there is not a day that goes by without thinking about him. I tutor Math almost on a regular  basis and I owe everything I learned in Math to NR Sir. I have lost close ones before, but have never felt such sadness and grief as I feel today. I really adored you Sir, and I will always. The infectious zeal with which NR Sir have taught so many of us continues to energize us even today. 

I was failing miserably in my IX grade in Math and was promoted to X with warning meaning I barely passed my Math in IX. In our school, Our X grade students were segregated based on our performance in our IX grade and luckily for us, NR sir was the assigned teacher.  We weren't sure what to expect of him as we never had classes with him or had an opportunity to interact with him. He sported a big moustache  which made him look scary. After I had classes with him , I soon  got over the moustache part and realized that he was a wonderful teacher who was able to connect us  really with the Math concepts. He used to make us do so many problems over and over that our hands used to hurt by the time we were done. I was sitting in the first row right in front of him, and for some reason he used to pick on me as well and asked me to go to the board and solve a problem.  I had low self esteem up until that point of time . His teaching boosted my self esteem big time.He always used to have chalk piece with him which he used to throw at someone who is not paying attention. He wanted to do everything under his control to help out students and  am thankful he took me under his wings to help me understand appreciate and enjoy Math to the fullest. I moved from barely passing in IX to being top of the class in his tests. I never had  the passion to  be the first or anything but getting a pat in the back meant a lot to me . I remember few tests which I didn't do too well,  He was very angry  at me and I was mad at myself for not giving my best and made sure I didn't  slack off after that. He was eminently fair, honest to the point of bluntness, ever helpful, but would brook no nonsense that would disrupt his classroom routine.  NR sir always exhibited extra bit of life in whatever he did and had the rare capacity to instill some of that in others he met.

I fall short of words to express my grief on the sad demise of our beloved NR Sir. I am what I am today only because of him.  The right way to pay tribute to him is to face this news boldly and go ahead and do a great job as his student and carry forward his legacy.

I hope his family can take solace in the fact that such a great man is surely looking down on them from the highest pinnacle of heaven.

Rest in peace NR Sir, you're probably lecturing God right now or having a breakfast with your Math teachers. 

Sukumar_NRSir

I am thankful to one of our seniors Sukumar Rajagopal for sharing  his picture. Few years back he also honored this wonderful teacher..and am attaching herewith the video of the same (with his permission).

 


What matters

-Karthik Gurumurthy

This is not the first time I am quoting this but worth reading this once in few months.

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.


How true this is. And Michael Josephson gives us reasons to think.


Rest in Peace Ramesh Mahadevan

-Karthik Gurumurthy

When I landed in US few years back for Graduate school it was a totally different kind of world.  Laptops were uncommon and expensive. We used to stop by at the University library to check email and internet and speed was lot slower than the current scenario. But at that point of time, we did not know it was slow.  We were plain excited and  just access to free  internet by itself was fascinating.

Calling home was also an expensive proposition and there were no vonage/whatsapp/fb./Blogs. Those days there was only text based emails and there were internet news groups. There was soc.culture.india and some other groups like that. The Indians in US and some other parts of the world were connected through these news groups. It was mostly graduate students who had come from India who were active on these groups - the University email accounts helped. This was the practice ground where many of us started writing - especially armed with our new experience in the new place we had just entered. The news groups were very popular and we would eagerly wait for any update on these newsgroups just like we would wait for the morning paper in India the day after an exciting win for the Indian cricket team.

Of all the people who wrote on those news groups, Ramesh Mahadevan was my favorite. For all of you who are not aware of Ramesh Mahadevan,  Ramesh  obtained his PhD in Applied Physics from Ohio State University and was working in Maxtor in Denver, Colorado. Ramesh used to pen lot of articles relating to Grad school life which most students can relate to and he had diverse interests from Carnatic Music-Wall street. I  thoroughly enjoyed his articles and used to write to him regularly and he was prompt in responding back and we were in regular touch for quite sometime until he decided to move back to India. It was such a solace to read his articles when I was feeling home sick as a new arrival in the US. He was very knowledgeable and his observations of life of Indians in the US - - especially student life in US were spot on. His write ups on music, movies, food, TV programs were pure pleasure to read. He could write recipes which resulted not only in a tasty dish but would tickle you with the humor in it. I vividly remember his recipe for a dish made with Cauliflower which he called the king of vegetables. His series titled "A gentle introduction to Karnatic music" is both educative and humorous.   

On top of consulting, he was teaching at SSN College of Engineering and started a weblog which had a good following. However, I noticed that he didn't update after 2011. I always used to wonder how he was doing. Last time I was in Landmark book store, I picked up a book written by him about etiquette people skills at work. It was a well written book which I used to frequently refer back in 2012.  Today I found out he passed away last week which was shocking. I am hoping it is a rumor. I am sure lot of his fans who read his articles would feel the same sadness which I am feeling now.  I just have no words to express the sadness. Whoever knew his mind/views/ideas personally, will definitely miss him.

Whom the Gods love die young.

Rest in Peace, Ramesh.


Nuggets from the book "Presence"

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Thinking about you dad

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Appa

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. 

Self-Esteem

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. 

Adventure

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. 


Maturity

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Got this as a forward.

What's maturity?

1. Maturity is when you stop trying to change others, but instead focus on changing yourself.
2. Maturity is when you accept people who they are.
3. Maturity is when you understand everyone is right in their own perspective.
4. Maturity is when you learn to "let go".
5. Maturity is when you are able to drop "expectations" from a relationship and give for the sake of giving.
6. Maturity is when you understand whatever you do, you do for your own peace.
7. Maturity is when you stop proving to the world, how intelligent you are.
8. Maturity is when you do not seek approval from others.
9. Maturity is when you stop comparing with others.
10. Maturity is when you are at peace with yourself.
11. Maturity is when you are able to differentiate between "need" and "want" and are able to let go of your wants.
12. Maturity is when you stop attaching "happiness" to material things.


Happy Birthday Bapu

-Karthik Gurumurthy

As we celebrate the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, we can take some time to think about how he led his life. One of my favorite quotes from Mahatma Gandhi is “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” To truly lead, and make a difference in the world, we must always start with our self.

In order to start with our self,we must understand if our actions come from a place of obligation or opportunity. Do we see moments to serve others as a matter of obligation or opportunity? The people who act as leaders almost always act from a sense of incredible opportunity.

How do we change our motivation from a place of obligation to opportunity? This is a challenge faced by the entire society. Many people face this challenge of perspective because of their lack of self-mastery. People have fallen victim to allowing their dissatisfaction control them.

A recent Wall Street Journal report stated that 80% of line workers and 50% of executives are dissatisfied with their lives at work. This highlights the challenge for anyone is to make a life while making a living. Many people feel paralyzed by their lack of control over life.

Instead of losing control over our life, we can focus on all the things we do control. To achieve this, hone in on our self-mastery skills. Self-mastery defines the promises made versus promises kept, both to oneself and to others. 


Why do great people leave/quit an organization?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Quitting is portrayed a bad thing usually. People who leave an organization after being there for long haul are usually portrayed as someone who is not paying the price, losing the dream.  But we do witness great wonderful people leaving quit organizations from time to time. Why is that?

People don't quit organizations, they quit leaders. It’s a sad but true commentary on the lack of leadership skills that are so desperately needed to thrive.

There are consequences to poor leadership and where it’s not present, people will leave to find it. Inevitably it’s the good hardworking loyal workers who leave. Left behind is a weakened and demoralized team forced to pick up the pieces.

But why do the good ones leave? What is the tipping point? The specifics vary, of course, but typically the good people leave for the following reasons.

No Backbone

This type of leader plays to the crowd and will say whatever he or she thinks you want to hear. The good ones had rather hear the uncomfortable truth than the pleasant sounds of a diplomat. The good ones want a leader who is not afraid to make the difficult decisions.

No Vision

The good ones long for and thrive in an environment where the leader has a vision for the future, can articulate it, and sets a course of action that will take them there. The good ones understand that without a clear vision for the future there is no future to be had by  just merely staying.

Cheap talk Manager

It will be hard to command the respect of your people if you have no skin in the game as it relates to your organization and its mission. You can’t expect a buy-in from your people if you are not fully invested yourself. The good ones seek to be with leaders who are as passionately invested as they are.

Not Adding value

If the so called leader does not move forward or makes effort in moving forward, the good ones will not sit idly by while the leader plays politics or favorites and be denied the opportunity to advance professionally.The good ones will thrive in a culture of excellence where their hard work and talents are put to best use. 

No accountability

The loyal great leaders fundamentally understand that accountability and transparency are the cornerstones of success. When a leader no longer feels the need to be transparent or be accountable for his or her actions, then the good ones will not stay. Trust is like glue for the leader, is there is none, people won’t stick.

Low standards

Ultimately, the leader is responsible for the culture of the organization. If proper boundaries are not being observed and inappropriate behaviors are being tolerated, then the good ones will not stay in that environment.

No Integrity

At the end of the day it all comes down to the integrity of the leader. The good ones want their leader to be a person of integrity and one they can trust. If integrity is lacking in the leader then integrity will be lacking in the culture. The good ones will leave to avoid the connection.

Many personal factors contribute to the reasons why the good ones tend to leave and move on. I have discovered that it’s not always for the money or a promotion or not willing to work hard. The good ones understand the wisdom of the words of John Maxwell who once said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” That’s why the good ones leave- to be with good leaders.


Running your own race

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Powerful message...

I was cycling and noticed a person in front of me, about Quarter of a mile. I could tell he was cycling a little slower than me and decided to try to catch him. I had about a mile to go on the road before turning off.

So I started cycling faster and faster and every block, I was gaining on him just a little bit. After just a few minutes I was only about 100 yards behind him, so I really picked up the pace and pushed myself. You would have thought I was cycling in the last leg of London Olympic triathlon.

Finally,I caught up with him and passed him by. On the inside I felt so good. “I beat him" of course, but he didn't even know we were racing.

After I passed him, I realized that I had been so focused on competing against him that I had missed my turn, had gone nearly six blocks past it and had to turn around and go all back.

Isn't that what happens in life when we focus on competing with co-workers, neighbors, friends, family, trying to outdo them or trying to prove that we are more successful or more important?

We spend our time and energy running after them and we miss out on our own paths to our destinies.

Moral :
The problem with unhealthy competition is that it’s a never ending cycle. There will always be somebody ahead of you, someone with better job, nicer car, more money in the bank, more education, a prettier wife, a more handsome husband, better behaved children, and you can add to the list.

Take what Life has given you, the height, weight & personality. Dress well & wear it proudly! You'll be blessed by it. Stay focused and live a healthy life. There's no competition in DESTINY.

Run your own RACE and wish others WELL!!!

Wherever You Go,
No Matter What The Weather,
Always Bring Your Own Sunshine...  😊


Happy Father's day!

-Karthik Gurumurthy

 

Appa_Fathersday

AppaAshwin

Happy Father's day Appa. There is not a day which goes by without thinking about you. The older I get, the more I appreciate what you have done and what you stood for. 

I have summed up what I learned from my dad  last year here (2014). This is from 2013. This is from 2012. 

I have learned a lot from my dad but these are the ones which stand out right now.

  • I think I was in third grade.  I was walking back home from school. I found a bright new pencil box in the road. I looked around. There was no one there. I was ready to give it to the rightful owner but since no one was there I told to myself, .."It is going to be mine". I was in cloud nine with this new found friend and was holding it like a coveted trophy that I earned.  Dad got home from work and the moment he noticed this pencil box, he started throwing questions at me. The first thing that he said was, " That doesn't belong to you. How is it here?" I said that it was in the road and since no one claimed responsibility for it..I thought I can have it. My dad told me immediately "You don't touch the things that don't belong to you..Period." Let us go back and put it back where you found it."  I was mad at my dad as it didn't make sense at that point of time. Right when we were putting it back, I saw a girl with her dad frantically searching for the same thing. The moment we told that we found it and wanting to return to the owner, she was delighted. I realized what a blunder I created. Had I kept it, they would have come and not found it. It would have made them really sad if they had not found it.  Thankfully my dad made the right move. My dad, right after we gave it to the right owner, looked at me and said, "Character is who you are, when nobody is looking. The moment you lose character, you lose everything. " If you want a new pencil box, you earn it by working hard. Never ever forget that. It taught me a powerful lesson to always do the right thing  irrespective of whether it is convenient or not.
  • My dad was one of the biggest net workers I know. He had friends from sports, drama theater, and different fields and interests. Irrespective of the status of the individual,  I saw Dad engage every person with respect, giving attention to anyone who wanted his time.  His life taught me that the highest calling is to serve – and demonstrate that you care about – others.
  • He was always thankful..Every opportunity he had he would talk about his parents, his employer, his friends, his  family with zest and enthusiasm. It is not like he would like to thank when they are around. It is like a everyday agenda to show and display his gratitude.  He would take everything as a blessing.
  • Always a Straight shooter. He would always speak his heart out without mincing words. Lot of his friends, colleagues loved him for that. If he thinks something is a bad idea, he would not hesitate to bring it forward.  It might not come out nice. But with him,  there is no ambiguity or guessing. Very predictable. No hidden agendas. He always stood for something.
  • No Gossip tolerated: He would be very uncomfortable if a gossip is brewing. He would say, let us not talk about this and would walk out. 

These are simple life lessons which I learned by observing you. Thanks for being who you are and what you stood for. I really wish you stayed longer but I know you are still guiding us in our thoughts, beliefs and actions.

Guruji_GKa

We miss you big time and we seek your blessings.


Who is your hero?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

It is totally fine to admire what a person achieves in science, business, or in sports, but it is not smart to turn them into a hero unless they are the kind of person you want your child to grow up to be. Sports people were portrayed role models were very appropriate because the media only reported their redeeming qualities. Tiger Woods might have succeeded as a golfer but he is not a great role model.Some great football players beat their girlfriends. What we can learn from Roger Federer/ Sachin Tendulkar is their dedication to excellence.  Here's the challenge- separating the message from the messenger.

There is also lot of confusion between being great at something and being famous. If you are famous, then you are admired. You can be famous for good, for being notorious, or just for being famous (Kardashian, Justin Bieber). If you are famous, people will flock to be near you, to have their picture made with you, and many of them will want to be just like you.

How many people choose a Teacher or Professor or a Mother doing whatever it takes to provide for the kids as a role model? Not many. More often we admire and adore singers, movie personalities and anyone who gets media attention.

We need to look at more than what they do, what they have and how they look. We must look at who they are and how they live.It is our responsibility to determine what we plan to achieve and then, find a role model who has succeeded in that area, using their standard of performance to motivate us in a specific aspect.

Just as we all have fallen short and failed in our endeavors, we have to realize that our heroes do not need to be all encompassing examples of inspiration. I have many role models. My dad, mom, many of my teachers/Professors /Cousins/Uncles/Aunts/ Friends. I doubt you have heard of any of them.


MS Dhoni Sixers (Leadership Lessons from Captain Cool)

-Karthik Gurumurthy

MSDhoni2011

Today MS Dhoni, the captain of Indian Cricket team decided to quit Test Cricket. This is good news for India as he can focus on the upcoming World Cup which is coming up in 45 days.

M.S. Dhoni who is fondly referred to as Mahi is one of the most successful captains who lead India to #1 position many times in his career. 

He had very humble beginnings and worked as a ticket collector in Kharagpur for several years in Railways. When he was not checking tickets, he used his time in practicing. We all can learn a lot from MS Dhoni. MS Dhoni is known for his sixers and the following six(ers) can help us in improving ourselves.

MSD2015

1. The only way to command respect from the team is through your own personal example. Rahul Dravid mentioned while talking about Mahi, "One of the things I really liked about playing under MS was that he never asked you to do anything that he himself didn't do."One should perform at the highest level before we expect it from the team. Personal work ethic and performance is the best and the only way we can teach the team. 

2. MS Dhoni is known for his humility who likes to be in the background and shining the light on other team members. He shares the credit of success with the team members and applauds them in public.His ability to empower his team members created the loyalty within the team and together they were able to achieve more which resulted in securing World Cup 2011.

3. MS Dhoni is known as Captain Cool for being calm in extreme situations and leading the team from the front. Sometimes he can be perceived as being lackadaisical or not being aggressive. But he shows his aggression in the game, letting his bat speak and silencing his critics in several occasions. His unbeaten 91 in the World Cup is one of the reasons India was able to win the World Cup in 2011.

4. Mahi was always criticized for his experimentation. But experimentation and taking risk is part of achieving success.

5. MS Dhoni is known for encouraging the team members despite the setbacks and believing in them despite their debacles. He earned the respect and loyalty from the team members by trusting them and empowering them.

6. MS Dhoni seldom reads or believes newspaper clippings. This helped him in keeping him humble and focussing only on the performance ahead.

Picture source Courtesy: Reuters


Asking the right questions

-Karthik Gurumurthy

One of the biggest questions that is continually in the forefront of a business owner/managers mind is – how do I become a better owner/leader?

So how do we become better? Not long ago, I had a learning break-through. It was at Vivekananda College and  Prof. S. Sundaram made this comment: “it’s not what you know that will help you, it’s the questions you ask”.

Prof. Sundaram was talking about Analytical Chemistry, but this applies across the board to just about everything.

Questions ignite imaginations, avert catastrophes and reveal unexpected paths to brighter destinations.In Forbes Bunch of entrepreneurs have pitched in their questions which are as follows:

1. How can we become the company that would put us out of business?
2. Are we relevant? Will we be relevant five years from now? Ten?
3. If energy were free, what would we do differently? Or if not energy, then choose another key word that drives your business?
4. What is it like to work for me?
5. If we weren’t already in this business, would we enter it today? And if not, what are we going to do about it?
6. What trophy do we want on our mantle? Is growth most important? Profitability, stability?
7. Do we have bad profits? Some products/services look attractive, but are they taking the company capital and focus away from its main line of business?
8. What counts that we are not counting? What tangible and intangible assets truly differentiate your business  that you currently have no means of measuring?
9. In the past few months, what is the smallest change you have made that has had the biggest positive result? What was it about that small change that produced the largest return?
10. Are you paying enough attention to the partners your company depends on to succeed?
11. What prevents me from making the changes I know will make me a more effective leader?
12. What are the implications of this decision 10 minutes,10 months, and 10 years from now?
13. Do I make eye contact 100% of the time?
14. What is the smallest subset of the problem we can usefully solve?
15. Are we changing as fast as the world around us?
16. If no one would ever find out about my accomplishments, how would I lead differently?
17. Which customers can't participate in our market because they lack skills, wealth, or convenient access to existing solutions?
18. How likely is it that a customer would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?
19. Is this an issue for analysis or intuition?
20. Who, on the executive team or the board, has spoken to a customer recently? What should we stop doing?
21. What are the gaps in my knowledge and experience?
22. What am I trying to prove to myself, and how might it be hijacking my life and business success?
23. What do we stand for- and what are we against?
24. Is there any reason to believe the opposite of my current belief?
25. Do we have the right people on the bus?

Questions can be a great friend. Have an outstanding weekend!


Blind spots and self awareness

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Believe it or not, all of us have blind spots. We need to be aware that we are also capable of making mistakes. We should not be like this guy whom I am going to describe. 

I am originally from Chennai. Chennai is a city in Southern part of India which is known for its humidity.  It was a hot day at work due to issues in air conditioning. There were about dozen people in close quarters and everyone was sweating with a fan on. All of a sudden,  people started to wrinkle their noses at an odor passing through the air. One of the guys at work got irritated and said,  "Oh Boy, someone's deodorant is not working?"

A guy in the corner immediately yelled saying,  "Can't be me, wasn't wearing any."

We all love to visualize ourselves as  self-aware, but when a story comes up we always assume that it’s our neighbor who desperately needs to hear it and not us. Our time is spent judging whether our friends, co-workers, and family members are blissfully unaware of their deficiencies or just too self-absorbed to notice.It is important to check ourselves first before we start judging others.

 


Good thoughts

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today my friend G. Krishnan (fondly referred to Gikku) shared a quote from Swami Vivekananda. I loved it and would like to share this with you all.

"If we both exchange one rupee, we each have one rupee.

But if we both exchange one good thought, we each have two good thoughts."

Isn't that so true and powerful?


Print worthy!

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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


Gratitude

-Karthik Gurumurthy

"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." 

-William Arthur Ward

Gratitude1

 

As you look back over the span of your life  I’m sure there are people along the way who made an impact. Do you remember them? They are the ones who befriended you in a new position. They helped you grow and develop your confidence. They stood by you and believed in you when no one else would. They gave you correction when you needed it and patiently gave of their time to help you grow and become the person you are today. Expressions of your gratitude are in order.

Why not reach out and reach back to say thank you to those who were kind enough to help you?

Perhaps you can give them a call or send them a note expressing your gratitude. Life is too short  not to pause now and then to remember, reflect, and give thanks for where you are and for those who helped you. 


Happy Birthday Appa!

Mothers Day 2011 104

 

-by Karthik Gurumurthy

 

Appa, today is your Seventy second birthday. Happy Birthday Appa. There is not a day that goes by without thinking about you. I am sure you are cutting cake with Patti Thatha and blessing us all. On this day, I would like to remember the lessons you taught me. I will keep them close to my heart and remind myself of them whenever I stumble or falter. You have always been the greatest cheerleader and I derived greatest fulfilment when I heard your comforting words of wisdom. Whenever you blessed, the words spoken were all done to encourage, comfort and reassure. This isn’t general wisdom, rather advice that was tailor-made just for me. I definitely miss that.I love you Dad.

Six nuggets you shared

  • Be yourself. Accept who you are, you’ve got no one else to be. You're born an original, don't die a copy: be yourself not someone else.Don’t apologize. Don’t make excuses.
  • Be unique. Don’t try to adapt yourself to someone else’s view of normal. That belongs to them, not you. Like yourself as you are.
  • Don’t worry about other people’s opinions. Everyone’s a critic, but ultimately what they say only matters if you let it. Don’t believe your own press. People can just as easily sing your praises as they can tear you down. Don’t waste your time on things you can’t change. Let it slide off you like water off a duck’s back.
  • What ever you do, always give it a good go. Don’t be afraid of failure and disappointment. If you fall flat on your face then get straight back up. You’ll always regret not trying. Disappointment is temporary, regret is forever. As long as you dedicate yourself to your goal, you have nothing else to worry about.
  • Never, ever, ever, ever give up. Keep on punching no matter what your up against. You’re only defeated if you give up, so don’t give up. Don’t take yourself too seriously. People who take themselves too seriously are boring. Laugh. There’s humour to be found everywhere, even in your darkest days there’s something to have a joke about. Laugh long and loud and make other people laugh. It’s good for you.
  • Be generous and kind because you can’t take it all with you. When you’ve got something to give, give it without hesitation.Love with all your heart and be humane. In the end, love is the only thing that matters.

Reading

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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