108 posts categorized "Integrity"

Thoughts for today- Fear of Failure

-Karthik Gurumurthy

One of the biggest things that keeps people from achieving what matters most to them is this kind of fear.

I have had these thoughts come in my mind several times.

Suppose I really identify what matters most to me. Then I will have to come face to face with what I am not doing about what matters most to me, and I may see that as failure and I don't want to fail.I don't want to go through the ugly feelings that failure can sometimes bring.Therefore I won't take take the time to sit down and go through any of this stuff because knowing what matters most to me is going to open up the possibility of failing.

Fear like that can extinguish the human spirit.Don't let it immobilize you in your quest to do something about the things that matter most to you. Failure is part of growth and is how we learn. Another thing which is associated is the fear of change.

In the wonderfully motivating book "Release your Brakes", James Newman talks about comfort zones, those places and conditions we gravitage to by the paths of least resistance, usually by default.Leaving our comfort zones can be difficult unless, as Newman counsels, we realize that doing so can be an adventure, a rejuvenating and exhilarating experience. If we can consider leaving comfort zones as adventures, then we won't be afraid to fail and can understand that we might fail many times before we eventually succeed.

There is a wonderful story about a very successful entrepreneur who was asked why he was so successful. His response was "Good decisions." The second question was"Well, how do you make good decisions?" The response: "Experience." And then the final question: "How do you get experience?" And the response: " Bad decisions."

We learn by our experience. We learn by mistakes. We learn by failing. We learn by attempting something. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but we find the better way. It is important to do whatever it takes to get the fear of failure out of your system.

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: Listening

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today at work, there was a major issue which created a rift between two groups. On closer discussion with the groups, it is just a gap in communication because of not listening. 

Effective leaders are skilled listeners who take an active interest in the other person. Leaders suspend judgement until all the facts are know and "use a third ear" to discover what the other person wants to-but doesn't or can't-say.

I think it is a good idea for all of us to take the page out of statesman Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack. Franklin wrote that we attain true knowledge by using our ears rather than our tongues.He gave others  time to talk, consciously allowing a silent pause afterward to be sure  they had finished speaking. By listening so carefully, Franklin learned what was important to others. Refusing to speak when he was angry, Franklin waited he could think more clearly, because he realized that softly spoken words often are heard more clearly than harsh loud epithets.

Thoughts for today: Counting my blessings!

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Today is my birthday.I won't say how old I am. I can say I am celebrating my 11th anniversary of 29th birthday. Wow really..! Yes..Time has gone by so fast..

But that is fine...Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.It’s up to you whether or not you get old.

Few years back, I had in my mind my target weight goal in lbs and some financial goals.  But this morning? I decided to ignore the number and celebrate the day. I didn't get on the scale. I didn't check my bank balance. I decided to count my blessings instead.

I remember what birthdays were like as a kid. All of the anticipation of what you might get for a present, what kind of cake you wanted and most importantly what treat you were going to take to school. Yes, I grew up in the days of taking candy for your birthday. That practice that is now frowned upon in some schools and classrooms because of the health implications and the policy in those places is strictly enforced here.

My mom and dad made it special with their personal touch. My mom would make special Payasam (Indian Dessert) along with other special dishes and would shower her love and affection and my dad would pour his affection and I always felt like million bucks that day. Dad always got finer quality new dresses and expensive cakes. I don't know how he was able to afford them but felt like being in Cloud 9 the whole time. For dinner, Dad would take us all to a fine restaurant. Since going to restaurant was reserved for special occasions, we were looking forward to it the whole time. Since dad and mom were in good mood the whole day, I used this time to get their signature on the subjects which I didn't do too well.( I am not sure if they follow the procedure anymore. Back in those days, school students are supposed to show their grades to the parents and parents have to sign them (as a proof) showing they acknowledge the grades!)

I left the whole birthday present thing until last. Honestly, I can’t remember a single thing that I got for my birthday. Don’t worry, me and my brother always got a fantastic gift and it was usually something fun that we had asked for, but I really don’t recall exactly what any of the presents were.  I do know that we only got one present from Mom and Dad and we appreciated it.It is a great feeling to get the blessings from parents and other elders which made it more special.

Fast forward to the present day, my birthday is still a really good day. My lovely wife got up early to cook special lunch with so many of my favorite dishes and a special dessert for me. She also got the cake which I will be having with my dear in-laws. It was nice of them to grace us and we definitely appreciate their presence on this birthday. Made it lot more special.

Maybe it is sad that our birthday goes from being one of the two or three best days of the year to just another day. Sure, every ten years is that “special” birthday when everyone pokes fun at your age and make sure the whole world knows how old you are. I guess in retrospect while birthdays may not be such a big deal when you get to be an adult, they are still important. After all it is a day to reflect on all the good memories and blessings in our lives that came in the past year. It is also a day to look forward and wonder what the next 364 days might hold.

As I celebrate a milestone birthday this year, I want to pause, reflect, and say: Thank You. Over the past several years you have been part of the moments, the days, the months, and the years that have built on each other to create my life story. You have helped shape my journey and it would have been a different adventure had you not been part of the cast.

And so, in celebrating this milestone, I am in turn celebrating all of the cast, all of you, our times together, the moments we've shared, the laughter and the tears. Thank you for being part of it, for reminding me of my strengths when times were tough, and for keeping me in check when my ego took hold. For appreciating my idiosyncrasies, loving me as I am, and helping me be true to myself. But also for telling me when I wasn't being the best I could be, while at the same time reminding me that I am human and allowed to make mistakes. Thank you for inspiring and encouraging me in my creative pursuits, for intriguing my curiosity, for all the conversations, and for listening to my endless meandering thoughts, helping me learn and grow. Thank you for showing up and being present. For never ceasing to impress me, inviting me to celebrate your successes with you and for trusting me to be your pillar when you've needed help.

I am in awe that we are traveling this realm at the same time in the history of the world, and grateful that our short duration on this earth have not only overlapped, but that our paths have intersected. When I think about the odds for this to have happened, I really come to appreciate how special this is. That we are now here together, at this time in the history of the world, and that we met and were given the chance to create something together. And I sure hope that together we can continue creating a more loving history, a more generous world, a more peaceful one, one that we're proud to leave behind for the next generations.


If I was to try and summarize some of the big life lessons gathered over the past 29 years the list might look something like this at first draft..You can say  :

  1. Try not to be in too much of a hurry to “grow up”, always look at the world through a child’s eye as if it is something new to explore. Looking at the world through the eyes of our children we are reminded of the pure goodness and can take ourselves back into this magical place.
  2. My parents had more influence on me than everyone I've ever known. My wife is perfect example of  giving 200% in everything wholeheartedly. I have learned from her, anything worth doing is worth doing well.  If you want to learn about the word loyalty, my brother's name would be there. I learned from him what it means to be fiercely loyal. 
  3. Success is having appreciation for what God’s blessed you with. We need to be thankful all the time. Everytime your name is not in the Obituary section, you need to be thankful. Anyone in the obituary section in your today's newspaper would love to trade places with you whatever your situation maybe.Write down what you are grateful for every day – it changes your outlook on life – I promise.
  4. It’s okay to NOT know what you want to be “when you grow up”. Growing and learning is one of the most fun, important things you can give yourself. You can change careers, jobs, and directions as many times as you want. These are all patchworks and important parts of who you will become. Enjoy the journey.
  5. If you are expecting to see a pattern or purpose to the order of these, good luck.
  6. We only truly live if we put ourselves out there, and I mean right out there, in amongst the scary and the uncertain. Playing it safe is OK if you are happy existing, if you want to LIVE then you need to face your fears, fall, fall again and pick yourself up.
  7. Find a way to really connect and follow your intuition, even if everyone else is saying not to. Only you truly know. (although your parents are usually always right!)
  8. It is OK to ask for help, repeat after me. Oh! how this one could have changed things for me, it is never too late though and it has been one of my greatest learnings. It is NOT a sign of weakness, it is a sign of respect for ourselves and others. Giving someone special the gift of our asking, and allowing them to help is one of the most beautiful acts.
  9. Always say what you feel, always tell your people that you love them. If I could have one wish granted, it would be to have the chance to tell my dad one more time that I love him, for him to hear those words in his resting place.
  10. Spend time to listen to your parents and grandparents stories.
  11. Try your very best not to judge anyone. We are all a work in progress and many experiences dictate how people go about their day to day lives. Try to understand and accept that it’s the way things are. You can support and love, but you cannot change someone who doesn’t want to be changed. Respect people for who they are, not what you want them to be.
  12. Spend time to think about what you want your life to be like. Create visionboards and affirmations every few months. This is so much fun to do and will help you stay focused on what you what to attract into your life. They are also really lovely to look at everyday.
  13. Smile and acknowledge EVERYONE you meet and have eye contact with. Everyone is important.  Everyone matters.
  14. Don't waste your time arguing with hard-headed /hard-hearted people.  Pray for them, love them, leave them to God.
  15. Friendships do not need to be forever, there is an old saying about friendships coming into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Embrace this, learn to let go, speak your mind and surround yourself with those who share your dreams, lift you up and accept you for every little bit of you.
  16. You cannot change people but you can change how you react to certain situations. Always see the opportunity every relationship or experience presents to you. They are here to teach you something!
  17. Step up for people, and for what you believe in. Sitting on the sidelines is OK for those who are happy to exist, if you want to feel alive then you need to step up. Be a little extra-ordinary, go above and beyond.
  18. To inherit the future one must be constantly learning. Those who have finished learning will find themselves equipped to live well in the past.
  19. Being kind to others will lift you up. Possibly one of the most significant lessons and also one of my favourite personal wellbeing strategies, if you are stuck in your crap, simply spread some kindness to others and it will change things for you,  I promise!
  20. Learn to spend time by yourself. Without any other distraction from outside of yourself. It can be scary, but you will learn so much about yourself and feel confident that you are strong enough to stand on your own two feet.
  21. The next time you complain about your problems..remember if they weren't so difficult someone with less ability would probably have your job.
  22. You cannot get up early if you don't go to bed early.
  23. It costs way too much to go the the doctor, fill up your gas tank, and send your kids to college.  Start saving now.
  24. Consuming is easy but gives diminishing returns. Creating is hard work but has increasing returns.
  25. You are more productive in a clean, organized, uncluttered environment.Declutter your home on a regular basis. 
  26. There is nothing more destructive than a liar, except maybe a gossip.
  27. Challenge yourself often. Challenging your assumptions opens a new world of possibilities. Just because you have been thinking a certain way, that doesn't make it right. 
  28. I am not sure how much time is left for each of us.Whatever time is left, let us make the best use of it. My gift to my future self is a life of no regrets.
  29. I believe the best is yet to come.

Love and regards,


Rest in Peace Nelson Mandela

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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


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

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

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

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

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

Early lessons, lifelong contacts

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

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

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

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

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

Beginning the fight

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

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

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

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

Criminal and outlaw

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

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

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

Captive revolutionary

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Final comments

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

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

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

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

We will miss you Madiba!



-Karthik Gurumurthy

An errata is a correction of a book or article. An erratum is most commonly issued shortly after its original text is published.

When was the last time you read the errata section in a  book or newspaper or magazine?

Most people don't pay much attention. And what appears is made in the interest of accuracy and probably to avoid legal problems.

Wouldn't be great if we had an area of our lives for corrections and clarifications?

In a way we do, if we remember to use it.

Have you ever contacted someone to clear up a miscommunication? Reestablish a relationship? Apologize for something you did?

When you communicate poorly do you take the time to clarify what you meant? Do you own up to mistakes?

Errata, Corrections are important for print publications, but even more important for personal integrity and success.


-Karthik Gurumurthy

Caution is a good risk to take.

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

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

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

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

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


Thought for today: Integrity

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shiny Happy People

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

-John Burroughs

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

The question is: How do they do that?

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

  • Don’t hold grudges.

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

  • Treat everyone with kindness.

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

  • See problems as challenges.

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

  • Express gratitude for what they already have.

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

  •  Dream big.

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

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.

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

  • Speak well of others.

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

  • Never make excuses.

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

  •  Get absorbed into the present.

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

  • Wake up at the same time every morning.

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

  •  Avoid social comparison.

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

  • Choose friends wisely.

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

  • Never seek approval from others.

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

  •  Take the time to listen.

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

  • Nurture social relationships.

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

  • Meditate.

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

  • Eat well.

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

  • Exercise.

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

  • Live minimally.

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

  • Tell the truth.

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

  • Establish personal control.

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

  • Accept what cannot be changed.

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


-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ctrl Alt Del and start over

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

Daily To-Do list

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

Reading good literature/books/articles

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Sir Francis Bacon

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 6

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

Slowing down to success

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

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

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

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

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

Tipping the scales in your favor

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

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

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

Taking time for financial health

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

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

Final comments

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

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

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


Leadership Nuggets from books Part 5

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

The Unlikely Hero

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

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

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

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

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

The active leader

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

The scholar of human nature

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

Honest and compassionate Abe

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

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

The great communicator

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

The unmoveable

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

Final comments

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

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

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


Leadership Nuggets from Books Part 4

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

The rat race

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

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

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

This is the "rat race."

Assets and liabilities

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

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

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

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

Literate and educated

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

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

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

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

Personal development and building wealth

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

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

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

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

Final comments

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

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

Leadership Nuggets from Books Part 3

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.

Characteristics of Leaders Part..3 (Golden Rule)

by Karthik Gurumurthy

Think back of your favorite leader and your least favorite leader you have had a chance to observe.

1. Make a list of all things done to you that you abhorred.

2. Don't do them to others. Ever.

3. Make another list of things done to you that you loved.

4. Do them to others. Always.

Characteristics of Leaders continued..Part 2 (Reflection)

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Yesterday I discussed about the traits which makes up great leaders.

As a leader you must be willing to look at your life and reflect- on where you have been, what you have learned, and how your life experiences have shaped you- and realize that this collection of factors is now a meaningful and inescapable part of who you are and how you see the world. Listening to ourselves is difficult, and it doesn't occur to us in the normal course of a day- we are always thinking, moving from challenge to challenge, reacting , and getting things done. It is often true that the only thing we don't make time for is listening to ourselves- reflecting on our deepest thoughts, feelings and intuitions. For some people, staying this busy is a way of permanently avoiding any self-reflection that would be possible. We need some quiet time and personal space to search our memory for the patterns in our life that have become our routine.

Knowing who we are at the core is a project of awareness, courageous introspection, and thoughtful reflection.  We need to ask ourselves open-ended questions: "Why did I do that yesterday? How do I feel about this, really? What worries me? What was I concerned about when I did that, or said that or thought that? What is driving me right now? What past experience of mine just influenced my thoughts or feelings? This is work no one can do for you- you must initiate your own process and follow it through your own insights. The lens through which we see the world is uniquely ours: it affects the way we interpret everything that passes before us, and we must own that point of view and any biases that come with it. When we own our point of view publicly and take responsibility for seeing things the way we do, we allow debates and conversations to occur more objectively. We can separate the facts from bias that we might carry and that keeps others from feeling as if they are fighting our "opinion". When the authority of hierarchy speaks with a strong personal opinion- as opposed to a strong fact-based point of view- it usually serves to shut down any hope of a useful, collaborative dialogue; no wants to argue with the "so called leader's "opinion". I have noticed the same trend in few families as well. I find Great leaders also find opportunities to weave a lesson or principle from a specific experience from their life into a conversation or a situation as it occurs, as a way of further revealing some insight into what makes them tick.

We are who are, and it is comforting to our teams as well as family members to know something about our background- and that is possible only when we are willing to look at ourselves and see what is really there. When we, as a leader, are willing to explore the forces and events that shaped our point of view, the process results in the comfort of knowing we have reflected in your life story and accounted for the experiences that have formed our unique and personal point of view towards important ideas, concepts and principles. Ultimately, knowing yourself better than you thought you could will repay you many times over in the form of the confidence that comes from being totally comfortable in your own skin. In the toughest moments, that one person who will always be there with you is- you. You want to know that person.

Dad's Perspectives

-Karthik Gurumurthy

My dad and mom are always big on character. The best months of my life was the time I spent one-on-one with my dad from Nov 2011-Feb 2012. Until end of January, my dad was in a position to talk very well and I got many opportunities to listen to him speak about different aspects of life.

He mentioned, " Reputation is what others think about you. What is far more important is character, because that is what you think about yourself." He had saved bunch of clippings from the past about me. I was delighted to see them and was proud and ecstatic.He said "Reading press clippings is a great idea. The danger, he said was not much I would hear or read something bad about me, but that I might tend to believe my glowing articles too much. He didn't want me to get a big head." Then he said something that really rang true to me. He said that reading about your results was reading about yesterday. You need to live now to shape your future.Why sit back and admire yourself when you could be spending time getting better and better.

Living in the present was something my dad his whole life. My dad had guts and determination. From my dad, I learned the importance of valuing each moment, carrying on, doing your best no matter what the difficulties. To be successful in anything he stressed the importance of reinventing themselves through continuous learning. 

To overcome challenges, you need an unwavering sense of self, and if you listen to what everyone says about you, you won't gain that personal insight.

We are all ignorant about something but recognizing that allows us to do more than give information inclusively. It also opens door to receiving information. If we are able to identify our own ignorance, we can then identify someone else's expertise. I miss you dad..

Honesty is a time saver

-Karthik Gurumurthy

SOME YEARS ago, Dr TR Balasubramanian (TRB), a Professor, asked my opinion of a statement of purpose (SOP) letter from a student. "A boy I know wanted a feedback, hoping you could guide him," he said. "I haven't had time to read it."

After I had read only a few paragraphs, it was apparent that the SOP had been copied from an online website. But I didn't say so. I hedged. "I don't know about this," I said. "I'll send it to my coworker who is a faculty and will get back to you."

TRB scanned the pages as I handed them back. After a minute he looked at me in surprise. "Do you mean to tell me you'd take the time and trouble to send this to your friend, and impose on a man there to read it and write you a letter, only to have to return in a week or so to tell me what you can tell me now?" he asked incredulously. My embarrassment must have been apparent, because he smiled gently. "Always remember this," he said. "Honesty is the world's greatest time saver."

I thought about his advice for some time afterward. My dad's favorite saying was always, "Truth need not be remembered."For how long, I kept asking myself, had I been engaging in deceptions that were squandering precious time and irreplaceable energies- both mine and those of others? And all under the virtuous facade of diplomacy. Gradually, I came to realize that honesty is more than just a time-saving device:it is the ultimate of economy in ALL human relations.  For example:

It Saves Time.

I'm often interrupted by telephone calls from strangers offering everything from "you can make a million doing nothing" to "you need to sign up for this telephone service which will be panacea for all your issues". There was a time when I remained mute during such calls, listening to a memorized speech that took valued minutes and left me frustrated and resentful. Now, however, I interrupt my caller immediately. "It wouldn't be fair to take your time," I say, "when I already know I'm not interested." And I hang up.

A couple I know made a New Year's resolution to be completely honest in their social life. "It all began with a friend calling every Monday morning to make plans with us for the following weekend," the wife explained. "I'd say okay-whether we wanted to see them or not-because I could never come up with a quick excuse. Then my husband and I would spend all week trying to figure out a way to cancel. We finally realized that it is all right to refuse any invitation."

It is Good Manners.

Few years ago, at the international rendezvous in my Grad school, I heard an exchange student speak glowingly about his year in US. "But there's one thing I still don't understand," he added. "Americans often promise more than they deliver. 'Come to see me,' they're always saying, or 'we must get together.' Yet few follow up. Everybody seems to want to be a good guy, but I find their dishonesty unkind. Maybe it's meant to be good manners, but it turns out to be bad manners."

 It Saves Needless Contriving.

A family I knew recently underwent the chores of moving. As the movers were gathering their barrels and boxes, they realized they hadn't seen a valuable vase. Carefully, the four men went through every every box of papers, while my friend and her young daughter searched closets and shelves. After an hour, on the verge of giving up, the woman's eyes caught the gleam of a pieces of crystal on the kitchen floor. The daughter looked at her mother and burst into tears. "I dropped it early this morning," she confessed. Our family friend was distressed over the loss of a treasure, naturally. But she was more distressed over the unnecessary trouble her child had caused. "You have wasted an hour for six people," she pointed out. "That's six hours-almost a day's work." The girl wiped her eyes.

"But I think I learned a lesson, Mother," she said. "If the truth hurts, putting it off only hurts worse."

It Generates Trust.

A little boy who greatly feared the sight of blood was taken to a dentist to have a tooth pulled. Both his father and the dentist assured him there would be no blood. There was, of course, and the child was outraged. Now an 40-year-old man, he said to me, "I remember it to this day. Parents shouldn't lie to children even if they think it's for their own good. Lies deteriorate relationships, can ruin them permanently."

It Brings Inner Peace.

One of my favorite movies of all time is Quiz Show . This is where Professor Mark Van Doren posed that he was lot more knowledgeable in a TV Quiz show in an effort to appear more glamorous. Actually he was given the quiz questions and answers before the show. When an attorney investigated this case, Mark admitted that, "It was a horrible existence--trying to be what you're not." The investigator wanted to expose the TV show and Mark Van Doren initially resisted it but finally admitted, he is grateful to the investigator for the rest of his life. "He forced me to admit the truth, and the truth set me free."

A final word of warning about honesty:solicited or unsolicited, it should never be confused with rude, intrusive comment."Aggressively outspoken people get satisfaction from saying that they don't like your new dress or your new chair,"  My uncle (LMK Athimber) told me. "Worse, there are those who say they wouldn't be your friend if they didn't tell you something ugly that was said about you. In my work, I sometimes have to tell a hard truth. But I don't do it unless I'm absolutely certain it's meant in a loving way. The rule I use-and think anyone could use-is to refuse to employ painful honesty unless the unpleasant task breaks my own heart. Thus, I'll never wound to gain feelings of self-righteousness or superiority. Or to punish someone I really don't like."

From time to time, each of us should step back and take a look at our daily lives. Are we wasting time and energy carrying out deceptions, both polite and impolite? Having stepped back myself, I have learned that being honest is not a talent, not an art, not even a skill. It is a habit. And like the forming of most habits, this one requires concentration and practice. But once formed, it rewards us with a sense of well-being and the trust of others.

Four important traits

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I  was reading the book Charles Swindoll "Growing strong in the seasons of life" and this is what I got from the book. Author  had mentioned four traits of those who impact our lives.

  • Consistency

Those who impact lives stay at the task with reliable regularity. They seem unaffected by the fickle winds of change.

  • Authenticity

People who impact others are real to the core; no alloy covered with a brittle later of chrome, but solid, genuine stuff right through out.

  • Unselfishness

Those who impact us the most watch out for themselves the least. They notice our needs and reach out to help, honestly concerned about our welfare. Their least-used words are "I", "me", "my", and "mine".

  • Tirelessness

With relentless determination they spend themselves. They refuse to quit. Possessing an enormous amount of enthusiasm for their labor, they press on regardless of the odds.


Leadership "I"s

-Karthik Gurumurthy

We live in a time where our main topic discussion is always related to I, IPhone,IPad etc. To succeed or lead a team, you still need to have an eye for the following "I"s.

  •  The prerequisite for any one to lead is the Initiative. That  is the first step.
  • If you look at the people whom you admire, they all have Insights. So all leaders have Insight.
  • They exert Influence.
  • They have Impact.
  • Last not but not the least, they exercise Integrity.

To have long term  worthwhile success in any endeavor, we have to work on all these characteristics simultaneously. The first person to lead is obviously ourselves.

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.

Quotable Quotes for today

"I feel that you are justified in looking into the future with true assurance, because you have a mode of living in which we find the joy of life and joy of work harmoniously combined."
-Albert Einstein

"Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful."
- William Shakespeare

"The qualities which the great have to give, they give perpetually. Their gifts are taken into the pattern of life, and they appear thereafter in the fabric of the lives of nations, renewing themselves as the leaves of the trees are renewed by the seasons."
-Robert Trout

"The acceptance of the truth that joy and sorrow. laughter and tears are not confined to any particular time, place or people, but are universally distributed, should make us more tolerant of and more interested in the lives of others."
-William H. Peck

"Never does the human soul so strong and noble as when it forgoes revenge, and dares to forgive an injury."
-Edwin Hubbell Chapin

"Contentment is a pearl of a great price, and whoever procures it at the expense of ten thousand desires makes a wise and happy purchase."
-John Balguy

"Charity is the virtue of the heart, and not of the hands."
-Joseph Addison

"Derive happiness in oneself from a good day's work,from illuminating the fog that surrounds us."
-Henri Matisse

"Rightly conceived, time is the friend of all who are in any way of adversity, for its mazy road winds in and out of the shadows sooner or later into sunshine, and when one is at its darkest point can be certain that presently it will grow brighter."
-Arthur Bryant

"By friendship you mean the greatest love,the greatest usefulness, the most open communication, the noblest sufferings, the severest truth, the heartiest counsel, and the greatest union of minds of which brave men and women are capable."
-Jeremy Taylor

"Reason shows me that if my happiness is desirable and good, the equal happiness of any other person must be equally desirable."
-Henry Sidgwick

"The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper."

Why are we like this?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Photo on 3-1-12 at 9.11 PM


It has been more than three months since I landed here. This is the longest I have stayed in India after I moved to US of A for graduate school. Over the years, my trips to India has always been like hit-and-run operation where I just land, attend a wedding,  pilgrimage visits , landmark bookstore and then head back to US. That was always the case until this trip.

Having had the opportunity and the time to observe what has changed/ what remained the same over the years, it gave me some time to reflect on few things.

Most of my compatriots talk about how incomes have changed over the years where they can afford BMWs, Audis. It is true that incomes/ cost of living/ comfort level has changed over the years. More time is spent on convenience than haggling. What has not changed over the years and Why?

Sometimes when I bring this topic up, my local friends here sometimes gets defensive and shoot this remark, "Karthik, you are an American..You guys would come here and make statements. You have no idea what idea what we go through here?" It is true that I don't live here any more. I am not comparing US to India or vice versa and making conclusion out of that. Both the countries have the merits and demerits which one can learn from. It is definitely not about that at all.  Consider me as a global citizen trying to figure out why things are the way they are. What can we do to make it a better place to live in?

To give you an instance, two months back I traveled by train from Chennai Egmore to Vaitheeswaran temple which is our Kula Deivam.  For people who don't know what Kuladeivam means, Kuladeivam is a deity that has been in the worship by the ancestors of a dynasty or family for several generations. Anyways, during the train ride, I was nibbling a snack (probably biscuit or something) and after finishing the whole packet of biscuits, I was saving whatever was left like the wrapper in a zip-loc bag in my shirt pocket. I did the same at later point of time for another snack. The gentleman who was sitting next to me who was noticing all this, quietly came next to me and made a statement "Aren't you from US, Am I right?". Surprised by his statement, I asked him how he came up with that.  Without blinking an eye, he responded, " You guys all think keeping the trash to yourself will make India clean. It can and it will never happen. " As he was telling me this he was finishing his bag of nuts held in the newspaper and threw the newspaper out of window quietly. It made me wonder how we as a community can brag about how smart we are and how we can be dumb in public. Why do we lack the sense of public hygiene? From the brief chatting, I found out later that the person is highly educated and works in one of the reputed global IT companies making sizeable income. How can we address this issue?

I am not complaining, condemning or criticizing about the current system. How can we change for better? If we are advancing in so many areas, how do we lack this basic sense of hygiene?

To solve any problem, the first thing to do is to accept and embrace the truth. We have to admit that there is something fundamentally wrong with our mindset in the grassroot level.

All of us collect our trash everyday. We have an option of walking to the nearest neighborhood dump where we can drop it off or we can drop it in the street when no one is paying attention. Any sane person would admit that walking little bit more to drop off that dump is the right thing to do in the interest of city as a whole. Yet, personally, it seems such a waste of time, considering that the streets are anyway dirty and the trash of one household is not going to contribute to make much of a difference to the overall sanitation of the city. The sad part is majority thinks in the same way which has a compounding effect resulting in huge garbage of a country of billion + people.

I regularly use auto rickshaw service to get to place and I notice a common pattern. While waiting in line for the signal to turn green, majority of them decide to jump red light and it seems to get ahead of others and make life easier. What does it tell about them? They are privately smart, but then as others  are no less rational, intelligent and smart, everyone start squealing for the same reasons and before we know it, we have unruly traffic, filthy streets, public urinals. And then we complain about a dirty country, a polluted city and appalling traffic which clearly shows we are dumb collectively.

Why sacrifice one's self-interest for the sake of community when one can throw away the trash or jump a red light without any fear of retribution? Maybe fear of punishment can make us be conscientous.

But  how are we going to implement that?  In Singapore, they are strict about enforcing the rules and they are quite successful doing it. Now in the grassroot level, people are extremely cautious and clean which is what is needed here. It was relatively an easier task considering the fact Singapore is lot smaller than India. 

Another observation: I have used the MRTS train to get around the city. It is hard to believe that such a new route with well planned granite structure do not have proper lighting. I can smell of urine the moment I enter the station...How is that possible? These are things that need to be addressed and taken care of.

I had a vision for future where I was able to visualize cashflow from my business which can provide enough money for the Mandaveli MRTS station. I can visualize  the station being well lit, all the bathrooms neat and tidy, and companies in the nearby area can advertise to woo lot of eye balls to their business similar to all the ads in the John Wayne airport, the moment you land there.The advertisements should be able to generate enough cashflow whereby the cleanliness can  be reinforced and severe penalty should be imposed to people who violate these rules. I know it is easier said than done, but all it takes handful of entrepreneurs making the decision to step ahead and make it a reality. There are just handful of stations and if  all the entrepreneurs takes the initiative to do that, it will surely add tremendous value to the city.

This success story can inspire more people to take the initiative which will result in compound effect for better. It starts with the individual writing/reading this blog (me) taking the step to be really clean, accountable and conscientous. Once the example is set, there will be enough people to follow and duplicate the right things. Like Gandhiji said, let us all be the change which we would like to see in the World.

Trust factor: Part IV: The fences we create

Karthik Gurumurthy

In the last entry, I wrote about how the fences we create stops us from being authentic. The moment we lose authenticity we lose credibility.

Sometimes we create invisible fences knowingly or unknowingly. These fences have often been in place for a long time, sometimes a lifetime, and they feel so much a part of us that we honestly don't even realize they are here. There can be many reasons why someone chooses to activate the fences to protect something.  Typically, we build our fences when we lack confidence for some reason.

When we activate our invisible fence, we begin to act in a way that we believe is either more acceptable to others or one that we perceive to be safe-versus being our true and imperfect selves. We learn to trade in our authenticity for acting because we convince ourselves that our act is more acceptable. It can activate in a variety of ways.

A very successful business entrepreneur "Joe" is extremely engaging when interacting with others. He is sociable, humorous, and has very  persuasive communication skills. When first meeting Joe, most people react quickly with, "What a great guy!" He is gifted  at remembering facts about everyone and is impressive with his ability to recall names and facts about people for years! Over time though, people who know him do not describe Joe as being authentic or transparent.  Instead, he tends to send a signal of, "Watch out- I have some ulterior motive for my behavior." After learning more about Joe, many realize that he is inclined to make cruel comments about others behind their backs while simultaneously building their egos to their faces. Those around Joe eventually lose trust in him because he is acting as if he is genuinely interested in others, but his behavior suggests the opposite. Ultimately, others realize that Pete does not demonstrate authenticity- and he loses trust from others.

How about you? Do you struggle with accepting all of you- even the parts you don't really like

Do you believe that others see, know and  accept the "real" you- the one who is blend of positive characteristics along with all your human flaws? Do you spend the majority of your life trying to be better, stronger, happier, smarter, better looking- just more acceptable-than you really believe are? If you believe that you should improve in a certain area- and who doesn't need to do this?-which improvements are you focused most upon? Are you focused upon changing your thinking, your emotions, your heart - or are you focused only on how you can act differently so that you and others will see you in a certain (more acceptable) way? Are there unresolved issues from your past that have caused you to erect this invisible fence? If so, can you honestly say that you have done your part to resolve those differences?

Are you truly authentic- or are you truly just acting? That is the question we have to ask ourselves. I had mentioned in the earlier entry that it is what people do that creates personal credibility which makes people to trust you.  I would like to add one more to that: What you do needs to line up with what you really believe- if it doesn't, then others' inbuilt antennae will go on alert and trust will be difficult to establish.

If you are trying to be authentic and transparent and it is just an act, then that act itself blocks your authenticity. The only reason we activate our fence is to keep ourselves protected from someone or something. Why would we find a need to protect ourselves? It's because we all have some basic insecurities. We regularly asks ourselves questions like: Am I good enough> Do I really know enough? Am I really smart enough? And, based on how we really feel about that, the fence becomes more or less a part of who we are.

Some of us are fortunate enough to know exactly where we stand. We are human-each of us filled with self-belief and behaviors that run the gamut from glorious to not good! We  eventually recognize the only way to experience effective relationships is to deactivate the invisible fence and allow others to see the real person that we are. We finally accept our own positive traits- along with our human failures and warts. If unresolved conflict from the past is creating the fence, we make a sincere effort to resolve the conflict. We commit to working on our warts, and we don't ignore them or run from the fact they exist. When we do this, we are naturally more transparent, and we are able to experience relationships that are genuine and authentic. By doing this, we begin to trust ourselves, trust others, and gain others trust and respect. What are we doing? We are building credibility.

When others know you and believe you are authentic, you are more likely to build trust. And again when you inspire others to believe and have trust in you, you are building again credibility.

Trust factor Part III: In-built antennae

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Continuing on the trust factor, what are all the other factors which builds/destroys trust?

All of us know someone who has had a tendency to brag or enlarge the truth on a regular basis. One of the leaders I used to follow gave a powerful speech.  It was powerful. I can tell his style of delivery was impeccable, passionate. Towards the end of his speech, he quoted Rudyard Kipling(RK)'s If and  instead of giving credit to RK, he said he wrote it. My jaws dropped instantly and I was embarrassed to say the least. This person, over time loses credibility with people. Usually, this person is someone you would not describe as authentic or real.  Over time, you are likely to lose trust in anything this person says. Indeed, this person will definitely lose personal credibility as a result of this behavior. What is going on with the person?

The person most likely wants others to see him or her in a way that is different than what he/she believes about him/herself. One of my business coaches always used to tell " Express, but don't try to impress." If someone does this kind of bragging, your reaction will be , "If you can't be sincere and honest in what you say or how you share information, I can't trust you. You brag and enlarge the truth. You aren't for real. And if I can't trust you, I don't want a close relationship with you."  Ultimately the person has lost personal credibility because he/she has lost your trust.

Another group of people I find it difficult to trust are stiff  or somewhat stilted in their communication with me. It is difficult to get a sense of who this person really is. These are individuals who are likely to open up very little to anyone and reveals little about themselves. They keep everyone at arm's length-almost if there is a wall surrounding them. The result is that others find it difficult  to trust someone who is so unwilling to demonstrate openness and authenticity. The fence they have developed has created a distance with others, decreases trust, and, ultimately, decreases the opportunity for this person to building lasting trusting relationship with them.  Others will say "If you don't trust me to enough to be sincere and open, I really can't trust you either." Without trust from others, the individual loses credibility.

When someone behaves in a way that makes sense to us and inspires to trust him/her as being authentic and real, that person increases personal credibility. And the opposite is true as well. When we interact with someone who is unwilling or unable to be sincere or authentic, we lose trust.

Karthik, how do you know all of this? 

Some of it is by observation from other people. I am guilty for some of these and just like the title of my webpage says, "Striving for Excellence", I am trying to learn from my mistakes and so that I can learn from it and others can benefit from it as well.

I am currently in India and having a chance to observe more people, I am realizing how so many people are oblivious to their blind spots. For some of the people, blind spots can be blind zones. I am thankful to God for making me identify and rectify my blunders so that I can learn from them.

When someone is transparent, we can see through it. Nothing is hidden, no barriers exist, and nothing is covered up. When someone is transparent, we know that we are seeing the 'true' person. But transparency is more than being truthful- it is being truthful in a way that others can easily detect. When someone is transparent, and clearly demonstrates behaviors that others value and trust, personal credibility is much more easily achieved. The opportunity to be transparent and authentic is there for every human on earth.

All of us have an inbuilt antennae wherein we can interact with someone briefly and determine the person's  sincerity, authenticity and comfort with simply being themselves.

Individuals who possess strong personal credibility have an authenticity about them that is detectable. One such person who can think of immediately is my wife "Shobana". She gives an  "I am who I am impression to others." Typically, the more transparent people are, the less inclined they are at trying to impress others. Now, this doesn't mean they don't care about others or the impact they have on them-it is quite the opposite. It means simply that the focus is not on, "What are you thinking of me?' but instead on, "How can I better know and understand you?'.

People who are transparent in a positive and genuine way are typically self-accepting.  They understand that they are imperfect beings. They know they mess up, make mistakes and don't have all the answers, They are strong enough to accept this, and then go about the process of living their life by internally acknowledging imperfections and challenges- and learning from them.

Let us all do that as the bottomline for all relationships is trust. People love to have relationships with people whom they trust and respect. People love to build businesses whom they have trust. Let us work on these and make it happen!

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.

The 'Trust Factor'

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I am enjoying the time in India serving my parents and thankful to God for giving me an opportunity to be with them during these times. Thankfully, I am blessed with an opportunity to teach couple of wonderful students from US during the night time (using Skype). After I am done with the sessions around midnight, I am all fresh and up. During this time it gives me an opportunity to ponder upon few things which had been in my mind for sometime.

Essentially it revolves around the topic of  'Trust'. How important is Trust in a relationship, in a business or in general life. What gives credibility to someone?

When others believe, trust and have confidence in you, you instantly receive their respect meaning you have credibility with them. When you are respected, your self-worth and confidence increases. When you receive respect- from both yourself and others- you are both self-accepting. Self-acceptance allows you to be just yourself, which increases authenticity. When you are genuine, others instinctively believe and trust in you more.

But wait a minute..Is trust based on the type of person that you are, or is it based on the types of things you do?

If you think about it, the only way we can assess people is from our observations of what they do.

To give you an instance, few weeks back my parents had ordered an inverter (An inverter is an instrument which helps you to operate few of your electrical appliances in the event of an electrical power shutdown so that you can operate appliances such as light or fan etc.). The guy who came to our place for installing talked to us as if he is genuine. After he left we found out, he installed an older equipment which didn't have warranty. Anyway long story short, we found that the guy was a phony (even though he looked genuine). His actions showed what he was really made up of. There are two things which are really vital to understand. Character and reputation. Character is what you are and reputation is what other people think of you. Most people worry about reputation than character. 

Actions speak louder than words. It is what people do that forms our opinions, relationships and ultimate decisions of whether to trust and respect them. Our impressions, thoughts, and opinions are constantly being formed and reformed, most often in our subconscious. Although, we might be unaware of it, we stay in constant "observer" mode with those around us, and they say in the same mode observing us! We might not always have all the facts, and our observations might change over time, but regardless it is still the only information on which we have to base our thoughts and opinions of others. For this reason, it is what people do that determines our belief, respect and trust in them- it what we all do that determines our credibility.

Why is this important? At our very core, we want to know who can trust and respect- and we want to receive the same trust and respect from others. However, we are living in a world where it is becoming more and more difficult to discern who deserves our trust and respect. Headlines and TV news are filled with stories of troubled organizations, sports personalities, political leaders for misleading the public. Consequently we find ourselves wondering if personal credibility with public figures is only something of the past. On a more personal level, family, friends and coworkers violate our trust and lose credibility as a result. Most people- regardless of whether they are in the public spotlight-don't intentionally choose a life of being disbelieved, mistrusted and disrespected.

The true reality is that trust either occurs or is damaged due to ongoing decisions we make and behaviors we demonstrate.

For most of us, there is an inherent need to be valued and respected by others, while at the same time, to be comfortable and confident in being who we authentically are. We want to live a life that causes others to say: " Karthik Gurumurthy- now that is someone with  credibility or someone I can always trust!' We all don't experience that type of life though. The great news is this :We all can experience greater personal credibility- if we are willing to take sometime to  honestly evaluate ourselves, look at our own actions and behaviors, and build some new habits. More on this tomorrow.  Good night.

Don't say "never"

-Karthik Gurumurthy

One thing is for sure. I will never say never again. Every time I have said never, I've been wrong.

The classic example was few years back when a good friend of mine asked me before I left to US about my future career endeavors. I told him with a straight face, "I am passionate about science and research and I will never do anything in any other fields." Little did I know  few years from that time,  I changed my area of specialization. Nothing wrong about being focussed in a field or expertise. But when I was born, God did not make an invisible tattoo over my forehead saying "This guy is meant to be Research Scientist..That is it period." Nothing like that.

None of us can ever be sure of anything. Keep an open mind. Different circumstances require different choices. Never is forever and leaves no flexibility, no wiggle room, no balance. One French writer said,  " I tore myself away from the safe comfort of certainties through my love of truth, and truth rewarded me." Try not to say you will outgrow certain beliefs because saying so will close your mind, when you are obviously searching for guidance and direction. There are many roads to truth, and some of them are not the best paved or marked; they are stumbled upon unexpectedly.

Around the corner of every moment is the fascination of the unknown. Because we never know, we should feel the freedom that comes from acceptance. We step into the unknown, accepting what comes, and letting go of what goes. Choose to change your mind when circumstances change and when you have evolved to greater depth and understanding.

Most critical but commonly missed element to succeed

  -Karthik Gurumurthy

This is one of the areas I had to work more than any others but the payoff was worth it.  I still haven't reached where I wanted to be, but I am getting there.  This is one of the common areas which lot of us fall short.




Accountability means being responsible for our actions—to somebody for something.  However, I am not writing about how to hold other people accountable. It’s about us holding ourself accountable.

When we take 100 % responsibility for holding ourself accountable, our performance will shine, our relationships will flourish, our market value will multiply, people’s respect for uswill soar, we will be a great example for everyone to follow, and personally  on top of that, our self-esteem will grow.

How is it that in all these areas of our life we can see such a great improvement?  Because when we hold ourself accountable to doing the things we know we should do, we will distinguish yourself from the crowd.

I am convinced if we want to advance our life personally or professionally, we must hold ourself accountable for our actions, responsibilities, and goals.  Think about it. Why should it be someone else’s responsibility to make sure we are doing the things that we know we should to be doing?

The mindset I adopted more than 3 years ago is this: it is up to me and no one else to make sure I am doing what I know I should be doing. When someone has to hold me accountable, because I failed to do what I should have done, I have a serious conversation with myself. My belief is that no one should have to hold me accountable for my actions, responsibilities and goals. While I appreciate others helping me get better, I am the one that must hold myself to a high standard.

There are three areas in which we must hold yourself accountable:

1.    Our actions and choices.  What actions and choices I am talking about?

  •  How we communicate with others.
  • How we spend our time. If God wants to see what we have done in the last 24 hours and based on how we spent it, if he is going to grant another 24 hours, will we pass the test? Think about it.
  • Our behavior and manners
  • The consideration and respect we show others
  •  Our eating habits and exercising routine (I am working on this!!)
  • Our attitude and thoughts
  • The way we respond to challenges

2.    Our responsibilities—This would include these types of things:

  •  Returning calls, emails, and texts in a timely manner
  • Being on time for business and personal appointments
  • Keeping our home, car, and workplace clean
  •  Spending less than we earn
  • Doing the things we agreed to do when we agreed to do them
  • Executing our job description to the best of our ability
  • Writing things down on a “To Do” list so we don’t forget

3.    Our goals—This would include our:

  •     Fitness and health targets
  •     Financial goals
  •     Family objectives
  •     Career ambitions
  •     Personal goals
  •     Marital enhancement
  •     Any other goals we have set for ourself

Make no mistake about it. We cannot achieve any worthwhile goal, if we don’t hold ourself accountable. The reason is simple. It’s our life!  We are witnessing enough examples in day-to-day life how lack of accountability kills relationships. Eg. Tiger Woods, Arnold Schwarzeneggar...

Holding ourself accountable is nothing more than following through with OUR commitments and responsibilities.  It’s doing what YOU know YOU should do, when YOU should it. Last week I had a chance to listen to Entrepreneur Sugeet Ajmani who said " the bigger gap than Grand Canyon is the gap between knowing and doing."

Irrespective of where we are in our life, let today be the day that we can make the commitment to ourself that we will NEVER again require anyone else to hold us accountable.  After being associated with my wife Shobana, I have started keeping a prioritized “To Do” list which really help focus on holding myself accountable to working through my tasks in a prioritized sequence. Just like any good habit, it is difficult to get started but once you make it a habit, it is worth it. I strongly recommend it.

One life to live..Take charge and live large!

Role Models

-Karthik Gurumurthy


People who start acting in movies, stars in any sports have all become role models for the general public. But the question always arises with regards to being a positive impactful role model or a negative one.

We are always looking for the ideals, the idols we can point to and say "Be like that". I remember my mom in an attempt to promote fruits and vegetables to my brother Aravind would say something like, "If you want to be strong and hit sixes like Kapil Dev, then you should eat lots of vegetables like him." This would make my brother open his mouth little more so that he can munch little more food. I was a big fan of Kapil and his story is a good example of rags to riches. True positive role models are those who possess the qualities that we would like to have and those who have affected us in a way that makes us want to be better people.


What characteristics would you look for in a role model? Leadership Guru Dr. John C Maxwell lists  some of the characteristics of role models.

  • Self Discipline
  • High standard of integrity
  • Desire for higher purpose
  • Willingness to put that purpose before selfish wants
  • Assuming responsibility for all personal actions
  • Ability to listen to criticism and not be defensive.
  • Self Reliance
  • Dependability
  • Strength to tell the truth without blaming other people.

I was a big fan of Charlie Sheen when I watched movies like Wall Street, Major League. I used to hear lot of great things about the consistency of preparation behind Tiger Woods. Even though they were admired for their talents at some point of time, both of them did not learn to consider the consequences of their actions in a broader sense.

The question each of us need to ask is: how are we helping each other grow to become the best that we can possibly be? Who are the role models we look to so we can become the best we can be? What changes can I make now so that I can become extra-ordinary and become someone to emulate? 

Once our behavior is changed in such a way that we adhere to high standards of integrity addressing the character traits in a consistent way, then the success we attain will be of permanent nature.


Are you goal obsessed?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Best selling author Mark Sanborn says, "Goals are great, but there are some few issues one has to watch out for. Technology is great tool but can be used for bad. Food is good, but eat too much of even the best foods and you will experience problems". Once you know about the risks, you can deal with them.

Let us start with a look at the good side of having goals. Goals give us something to aim for. Assuming what we’re aiming for is worth hitting, that much is good. Goals bring focus and structure to business and life. They allow us to benchmark progress or regress, and increase the odds of achieving success intentionally rather than accidentally.


Goals should guide us, but they should never control us. That’s one potential problem with goals. It is really possible to go from  being focussed on goals to being goal-obsessed. Rather than controlling our goals, our goals control us. When we become fixated, we risk paying too much to achieve a goal, or even lose sight of the reason behind the goal. If we get too obsessed, then we leave a trail of destruction in that process where we compromise on the integrity, character and relationship(s). What am I saying?

Let us say your goal is to get A in one of your hard classes. You study hard day and night and still feel that you are unprepared for the exam. But your end goal is 'A'. You feel inadequate about your preparation. So you decide to have a cheat sheet and use it in your exam. What is the end result? You did get an A in the exam. Everybody cheers for you. But you know deep down you didn't earn it.  That is a perfect example of being obsessed with your goal and doing whatever it takes to get it done (even compromising integrity!)

Like Socrates said that the unexamined life isn’t worth living, the unexamined use of goals can prevent us from achieving the success we desire.

One benefit of goal-setting is what we become in the process, whether or not we achieve the goal. I would argue we often learn more from failed attempts than successes.

I believe goals can and sometimes should evolve. While I’m not an advocate of purposeless activity, I do believe, as the old saying goes, that luck favors momentum. I think it better to be in the ocean splashing around than sitting on the beach planning a swim.

Many of the best things that have happened in my life have evolved. I have always been goal-directed, but never goal obsessed. On the few instances where I wanted a goal too much, I found myself disheartened and bitter when I didn’t achieve it. Oddly, once I relaxed my grip on that type of goal, I often achieved it at a later—and better—time. And the goals I didn’t achieve I often found to be far less important than I had imagined.

The purpose of the goal is what powers us; the motivation is in the reason for the goal.
I could give you a goal to earn a million dollars in the next 12 months and it would have little power in your life unless you had a compelling reason to do so.

If, however, you had a close family or friend who needed a life-saving medical procedure not covered by insurance that cost $1 million, you would suddenly and surely be motivated to achieve that goal.

We need to make sure that the reasons for setting a goal are sufficient to motivate us. Compelling reasons result in completed goals.

Can goals slow down performance?

Consider this: what happens if you achieve your goals for the year by the middle of the year? What do you do for the rest of the year? There is something about the security of the achieved goal and human nature that causes us to relax a bit and lift off the gas pedal of achievement. In that funny way, goals can limit our achievement: we stop at goal achievement without achieving our true potential.

If we don’t set them high enough, we achieve them too easily and too soon. As a result we miss achieving more and learning more through the process.

Of course if you set a goal too high, you’ll be demoralized. When you realize your goal is unrealistic and unattainable, you’ll simply quit trying. The hardest part of goal setting is balancing stretch with attainability.

One way to avoid the let-down of goals realized too early or too easily is to simultaneously pursue your potential while going after your goals. Instead of just asking yourself how good you’ve become, ask yourself how good you could be.

And if you get audacious goals—goals you aren’t quite sure you’re capable of achieving—then include some short-term goals that will give you quick and consistent victories. These smaller goals will help you build momentum to go after the big, audacious ones.

Like any good tool used well, goals and goal-setting can enrich your personal and professional life. But the process isn’t perfect and the potential problems I’ve outlined can help you both avoid the downsides and make better use of how you effectively use goals in your life.


-Karthik Gurumurthy


We frequently hear little jokes about gossip, like the two people who were talking and one said, " I can't tell you any more. I've already told you more than I heard." In that line is much of the tragedy about gossip, which can, and often has, destroyed a person's reputation. My mom has always mentioned that "Whoever gossips to you, will gossip of you."  Gossip always damages relationships, specifically with the person you are gossiping about. For example, once you have said something unkind about a person, you will feel uncomfortable around them and your relationship with them will suffer.

Self made entrepreneur Claudia Nardone wisely points out that before we disseminate information that might be considered gossip, we must carefully ponder three questions: Number one, Is it the truth? If it fails the first test, then it is not repeatable. Number two, even if it is the truth, Do you really need to share it? Will it help anyone? Will it hurt anyone? Would it be better left unsaid? If there are no benefits to anyone, then what possible purpose could repeating it serve? Number three, Is it kind?

In our world so full of cynicism and skepticism, will repeating this story be kind? Would it be better left unsaid? Would you really be better off repeating this information? When you analyze it this way, your chances of being gossiper are dramatically reduced.

When you consider the benefits of stopping gossip in its tracks, you'll discover they're substantial. First, you do not damage yourself, which means that your reputation and esteem are untarnished. That's good. Second, you won't harm someone else's reputation. This means that you will have a bigger circle of friends. Since most of us do not have any friends we would like to lose, that's good!

Reference Points

by Karthik Gurumurthy

Last night I watched BWWTV where a 79 year-young man share his wisdom with other entrepreneurs. Yup, Bill Britt is 79 and the self made entrepreneur still has that charisma. Still has the moves. Still has the youth.

As I watched him, I thought of a term “Reference Points”. I heard someone say last week: “I’m in my 60’s – getting near the end of my life”. Not if Bill is your reference point.

Reference points pull us into a new way of seeing things, a new possibility. Steve Jobs is a great reference point on persistence. My father is a great reference point on integrity. TD is a great reference point on living a full-out life.

Often, we have weak reference points so we see the limitations of a scenario rather than the opportunities. With world-class reference points, you will realize far more of your potential and life will have more wonder. You will play a bigger game as a human being if you pick the right people to model.

And I’ll tell you one thing: When I’m 79, I want to be like Bill. Because he’s just getting started.

Traits of Great Leaders

-Karthik Gurumurthy

A great man is always willing to be little.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the arena of conventional wisdom much has been said and written on how to go from good to great as a leader. While much has been penned about how to get to the top it is important to understand how leaders stay there.

John Maxwell said, “Great people have little use for fame or notoriety; they are consumed with productivity, not image. They are content when the moment calls for them to be little, ordinary, or common – as long as the goal is achieved.” While many look to unlock the deep secrets and mysteries of leadership; is it possible to overlook simple characteristics that propel leaders to the top and keep them there? I believe it is, and here are a few observations on how great leaders do it.

Great leaders are comfortable in their own skin; they are authentic. Authentic leadership has a vested interest in the lives and well-being of others. In the life of your organization and the credibility of your leadership style, is there anything more important?

Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” This is at the heart of leaders who make it to the top. Hang around any great leader long enough and you will soon find that you feel right at home around them. Why? When the leader is at ease others around him will be also and productivity will flourish. Great leaders have nothing to prove and care deeply for those near them.

Great leaders are content to ride shotgun; they delegate. By and large, great leaders did not get to where they are by going it alone. Neither will they remain there without being surrounded by a devoted group of leaders with a shared vision.

Jim Collins said, “The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake. The best people don’t need to be managed. Guided, taught, led – yes. But not tightly managed.” A great leader is great because he gives adequate space to those around him to achieve their full potential.

Great leaders understand the greater purpose of riding shotgun. The leader understands that he will not sit atop his perch forever. Success calls for a successor and riding shotgun is merely driver training for a seamless transition. Leaders delegate for the greater good.

Great leaders are careful to share the limelight; they are humble. All that matters to the leader is that the goals are achieved. Robert Woodruff said, “There is no limit to what a man can do or how far he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.” If achieving goals requires the leader to be little, ordinary, or common, then look for the leader to step up for the greater good.

Thomas Merton said, “A humble man can do great things with an uncommon perfection because he is no longer concerned about accidentals, like his own interests and his own reputation, and therefore he no longer needs to waste his efforts in defending them.”

A great leader demonstrates strength in allowing the light to shine on others. For in understanding the big picture he accurately understands his small role.

Great leaders stay on top not by acts of vanity but rather by acts of mercy. Great leaders dare to be authentic, delegate responsibility, and walk in humility. The secret to understanding how great leaders stay on top is found in the discovery that these were the habits formed from the beginning and have been practiced ever since.

The dash and the legacy

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I was browsing through the books at Barnes and Noble and found a book "Watermelon Magic: Seeds of Wisdom, Slices of Life" written by Wally Amos, founder of Amos Cookies. One of his anecdotes really gets you thinking about the meaning of life. Each day all of us work very hard at what we do, but when it's all over, what will people remember about us?

Here's Wally's quote:

"Obituaries always list the year you were born and the year you died, separated by a dash, i.e. 1900-1996. When you were born or when you died is not nearly as important as what you did in between--what you put in your dash."

From a story in Bits and Pieces some years back comes an inspiring story. Years ago a John Hopkins professor gave a group of graduate students this assignment: Go to the slums. Take 200 boys, between the ages of 12 and 16, and investigate their background and environment. Then predict their chances for the future.

The students, after consulting social statistics, talking to the boys, and compiling much data, concluded that 90 percent of the boys would spend some time in jail.

Twenty-five years later another group of graduate students was given the job of testing the prediction. They went back to the same area. Some of the boys - by then men - were still there, a few had died, some had moved away, but they got in touch with 180 of the original 200. They found that only four of the group had ever been sent to jail.

Why was it that these men, who had lived in a breeding place of crime, had such a surprisingly good record? The researchers were continually told: "Well, there was a teacher..."

They pressed further, and found that in 75 percent of the cases it was the same woman. The researchers went to this teacher, now living in a home for retired teachers. How had she exerted this remarkable influence over that group of children? Could she give them any reason why these boys should have remembered her?

"No," she said, "no I really couldn't." And then, thinking back over the years, she said amusingly, more to herself than to her questioners: "I loved those boys..."

How fortunate the men had a teacher who loved them and because of her influence now live productive lives. If you think for a moment I am sure you can recall a teacher, coach, or mentor that had an impact on your life that helped guide you to where you are today.

Tim Elmore said, “Mentoring is a relational experience through which one person empowers another by sharing their wisdom and resources.” The sharing of resources, much like that of the above mentioned teacher, is built through relationship with those you lead. Consider these simple but powerful characteristics of her leadership and how she left her legacy.

The teacher accepted her students. In Life 101, Peter McWilliams said, “Acceptance is such an important commodity; some have called it “the first law of personal growth’”. No doubt her students had already been labeled by others as underachievers or trouble makers, with few seeing any potential in them.

The teacher disregarded the stereo-types about the boys and accepted them not only for who they were but what they could become.

As you mentor those in your organization it is important that you do so with an expectation that the best is yet to come. Where a person has come from is not nearly as important as where you are leading them. Accepting the people you mentor is the first step in impacting their lives.

The teacher believed in her students. Chosen out of the slums and placed in a statistical category of perceived outcomes; these boys faced insurmountable obstacles. Yet their destiny was changed, not by perceptions, but because a teacher believed in them.

Mark Twain said, “Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” As a leader, your success as a mentor comes as you instill hope in the hearts of those you lead. When you believe in those you mentor, they will know it and will respond to it.

It’s hard to say where the boys would have ended up without a teacher who believed in them, but as John A. Shedd said, “Opportunities are seldom labeled.’ You will leave your legacy as a leader when you have faith in those you lead.

The teacher cared for her students. When approached about the boys she had taught in those early years, she simply recalled that she loved them. It was just that simple.

John Maxwell said, “Loving people precedes leading them. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” While tempting to measure success by the bottom line, true leaders understand it is defined differently.

Aesop said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Your legacy as a leader is marked by the time, wisdom, passion, and kindness that you invested into the lives you touched.

How will your legacy be defined?


Absolute Honesty: Avoiding Dishonesty Traps

I got this as a forward and Mark Sanborn (Author of Fred Factor, You don't need a title to be a leader, Encore Effect) has done a outstanding job talking about Honesty. All of us need to watch out for these as it is easy to slide in the white lies. Thank you Mark Sanborn for sharing this great article.

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Absolute Honesty: Avoiding Dishonesty Traps

by Mark Sanborn

Are you honest?

If someone were to ask you that question, you’d be taken aback by his or her forwardness. Nobody wants to have their honesty questioned. Yet in our private hours we’d benefit from asking ourselves that question.

Flash back to grade school: “Did you throw that eraser?” the teacher asks. You knew you’d be in less trouble for throwing the eraser than you’d be for lying about it. It took character to own up to your mistake, and before long you figured out that it was better just not to do stuff like throwing erasers in the first place. It was easy to recognize the boundaries back then.

We inevitably get older, but growing up is a choice. Now you’re an adult, you’re in business, and whether you realize it or not, your honesty is challenged by more complex factors. As leaders, we pride ourselves on having integrity, on shooting straight and telling the truth. The truth is, there are pitfalls and temptations out there that will periodically challenge your best intentions.

Five honesty traps to avoid:


Your spouse, your boss, your customer, or your child asks for something. You aim to please, so you say “yes” – hoping but not really sure you can deliver. Maybe you just want to get this guy off your back, or maybe you really, really want to make this sale. Motives don’t matter: anytime you over-promise and under-deliver, you’ve been dishonest.

What does this do to the value of your word? How many times will you try this tactic before you get called on it? It’s more important to be trusted than to be popular. You can still communicate your desire to serve without making promises you can’t keep. This way, everyone wins. The other person will understand your desire to deliver, your intent to do all you can to make it possible, and your word remains intact.

To achieve absolute honesty, keep promises you make. Period.


This one rears its ugly head any time you’ve got an unpleasant or difficult task ahead. How many customers did you call on this week? Maybe you made a couple hundred calls, but only actually reached a few prospects. So how do you answer that question? You could give the number you called, and look like a superhero – or give the number you actually reached, and be the goat. Sometimes the truth is in the details.

To achieve absolute honesty, be specific about your actions.

Lies of Omission

Sometimes we can be just as dishonest by what we don’t say as if we told a bold-faced lie. There’s the old joke about a lady who spent a fortune on a new wardrobe, hid it all in her car’s trunk, and transferred it to her closet after her husband fell asleep. The next morning, she looked stunning in her new outfit. He compliments her and asks whether it’s new. Her response? “Oh, this – it’s just something I had in my closet.” Sure, it came from the closet, but she’s carefully orchestrated a way to conceal her shopping spree.

While we’re not obligated to take out a billboard ad proclaiming all our faults, mistakes, and shortcomings, it’s still important not to dodge the question or hold back important information. When we try to protect ourselves by what we don’t tell, it’s still a lie.

To achieve absolute honesty, don’t lie silently by withholding information.

Lying to Ourselves

Know that nagging voice buried way down inside? The one that you can usually silence by staying busy? When we ignore that voice, the one that’s determined to get our attention, to make us think long and hard about an issue, it’s like lying to ourselves.

Change is usually uncomfortable if not downright frightening. Auden said most people would rather be ruined than changed. That’s one reason we don’t want to listen to our inner voice.

Socrates was harsh but at least partly right when he said the unexamined life isn’t worth living. Listening to your inner voice is simple but not easy. Instead of justifying, explaining, rationalizing and making excuses, simply consider the implications of what you’ve found by examining your life.

To achieve absolute honesty, listen to everything your inner voice has to say instead of just what you want to hear.

Failing to Take Action

This one comes up at least once a year for many people – in the form of New Year’s Resolutions. It looks like this: This year, I’m going to lose weight (stop smoking, spend more quality time with my kids, get out of debt, etc.). January passes, February passes, March, April, May… December again. Nothing happened.

It’s like the guy who’s in debt. Every time he picks up the phone, there’s a creditor on the other end. When he checks the mail, it’s full of bills and notices. It isn’t that he’s not facing the facts; he’s unwilling to deal with them.

The lie? Failing to take action to back up our words. Failing to honor ourselves by honoring our own words. After a while, nobody – not even yourself – will believe what you say. You talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

To achieve absolute honesty, don’t just face the facts—deal with them.

Whether you’re a leader with or without a title, or just a conscientious person trying to fight the good fight, you know the importance of being truthful. Your word is your bond. Awareness is often half the battle. Look out for these landmines that threaten absolute honesty, and stay strong in your commitment to live and lead in truth.

Do it now

by Karthik Gurumurthy

One of the things that the author and pastor Joel Osteen emphasizes in "Its your time" is about Power of NOW. It is so true.

Procrastination eats potentially great lives. Doing what you know you need to do now – now - is a brilliant strategy to get to world-class. Leadership is all about doing what's right versus easy. It's about aligning your daily actions with your deepest values - and highest goals. And please remember: one of the things that define a leader (and everyone has the opportunity to show leadership behavior each day) is that leaders do the things that mediocre performers don't like doing - even though they don't like doing them either. But their commitment to their ideals is far stronger than the strength of their immediate impulses.


-Karthik Gurumurthy


You can not build a reputation on what you’re going to do.” Henry Ford

I love this quote by Henry Ford. It speaks to me about one of the qualities I most admire in excellent leaders. The quality of walking the talk, of following through and being a person who does what they say they will do.

As a leader, other people watch us. They pay attention to what we do and who we are. They notice when we make mistakes, when we are having an off day and what we do when hard times come. They watch how we interact with others and they notice how others interact with us. And they especially pay attention to our follow-through. They will notice if we do what we say we will do. They will either trust us or not. Our reputation is built on doing what we say – not on what we say we will do.

Our word means something. If we say we are going to do something – we had better do it – our reputation depends on it. And so does our effectiveness as a leader. If our team members do not trust that we will do what we say we are going to do – we lose their trust, morale decrease and our reputation is damaged.

So how do we make this happen? What do excellent leaders know about building an excellent reputation and doing what we say we will do?

It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it” Benjamin Franklin

Repetition makes reputation and reputation makes customers.” Elizabeth Arden

A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” Jeff Bezos

Nitty Gritty about Integrity

  by Karthik Gurumurthy

Couple of months back, I drove to San Jose to show the business marketing plan to few of my prospects who live in the bay area. Irvine to Fremont is about 390 miles.. very long. As long as the weather is ok I really enjoy these drives. They give me time to think… and do I ever think:)  I take this time to reflect and take a mental inventory of my life. Where I have been, where I am and most importantly where I want to go.

During my very long drive I try and use the time to better myself. I am a firm believer in always trying to improve the leader that I am. I read many books on leadership and success, because of my business I am able to hear many different speakers and listen to many different messages.

I picked up my CD case consisting of about 25 CDs.  During my drive back and forth I listened to about 12 CD’s, 10 different speakers, different approaches to leadership. They all talked about one common characteristic of any successful leader… any long term leader. Can you guess what it was? Integrity… the ability to be honest and sincere. To have the ability to follow through and stand up for your beliefs…. integrity.

Earlier in the day I was listening to one CD by Joel Osteen and he was sharing about a recently released study that said the average person will lie 3 times every ten minutes. That is 18 times and hour, that is 252 times per day (based on being awake for 14 hours), that is an alarming 91,980 times a year… almost 100,000 times per year we are dishonest, we lack integrity. Here is the most alarming number… if you live for 80 years and we take out the first five years of your life, you will lie… are you sitting down… 8,898,500 times. That is almost NINE MILLION times in our life.

Now you might say… not me, I don’t lie… ever! Really? Are you sure? This study included those little white lies, lies to “save” people’s feelings, lies to get ahead, lies to look better at an interview or on an application. Lies that may “impress” a girl or a guy, lies to embellish accomplishments or simply to “fit in”. That doesn’t even include blatant hurtful lies.

Take one day… someday soon and make a list of every time you may have lied… even the little tiny ones. Can you stop? Did you really need to? Let’s all try and lead with integrity!

My dad  always used to quote Mark Twain who said…

“If you are always honest, you have nothing to remember.”


Your influence

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Just read an article today about Michael Phelps the multi gold medallist in the last Olympics. It seems that he was photographed at a party, smoking… drugs. Ok, I know it’s not a big deal, an elite athlete, millionaire now, what’s a little puff between friends. I can tell you how BIG of a deal it is. He has now lost over 2 million dollars in corporate endorsements, with many more looking at contracts with a fine tooth comb… for a way out of their relationship.

I googled Michael Phelps today and found over 26,000 images relating to the story, 1,370,000 web links and a new Facebook group. What we do every day, in an instant can ruin a lifetime of hard work.  What we do in today’s world is and can be placed on the internet so quickly that, like a tattoo, it can be hard to remove.

Take time today to reflect and  think about what you say, do, how you act, who you associate with, where you find yourself and what situation you put yourself in. If you know that something you are going to do could cause you possible ramifications then maybe you should just say no… Think twice act once, it may cost you more then 2,000,000 dollars. Here’s a great question to ask yourself… “Is what I am about to do going to make me, my family, my current or future kids proud?” If not, maybe reconsider!

"What you are, speak so loud I cannot hear a thing you say."-Brad Duncan

Straw that broke the camel's back

Most organizations do not fall apart as a result of one big blow. Most relationships do not end because of one grand argument. Most lives do not fall to pieces due to one sad event. Sustained failure happens as the consequence of small, daily acts of neglect that stack up over time to lead to a blow up - and break down.

Remember the idiom "Straw that broke the camel's back". Pieces of straw kept on getting piled onto the camel's back. Each piece – alone - was light and caused little harm. But every hour, piece after piece got put on the camel's back until it was ready to break. And then, one day, a single piece broke it.

It is all about how little neglect inevitably leads to businesses and lives of major disorder. Like what my dad always says "It is the little things that get you". Watch out for those and make sure you fix them before it leads to major issue.

Only you

A person can make you feel high,
A person can make you feel low.
But only you can decide,
Which way you want to go.

A person can hurt you mentally,
A person can hurt you physically.
But only you can place,
A limit on your abilities.

A person can cause drama,
A person can cause a situation.
But only you can create,
Your own reputation.

A person can make you laugh,
A person can make you cry.
But only you can make,
Decisions for your life.

I guess what I'm trying to say,
That when you're living day to day.
Don't live by what people do,
But live by what you know is true.

Self talk and maturity

-Karthik Gurumurthy

What passes over your lips each day?

Are your words typically negative, critical, gossiping, deceptive, illusory, justifying, blaming, manipulative and argumentative?

Are they more uplifting, inspirational, positive, questioning, beautiful, loving, universal, truthful, accepting and supportive?

The throat is our center of expression. Who we are sneaks out in our attitudes and in what we say.

Maturity is

  • Facing the truth honestly
  • looking beyond personal comfort and gratification, to the greater good.
  • dealing with change without falling apart.
  • working hard and completing a job, whether supervised or not.
  • keeping the stresses and worries of life from taking control.
  • doing the right thing regardless of what others say and do.
  • finding more joy in giving than receiving.
  • bearing an injustive without having to get even.
  • relating to others in a consistently positive and helpful manner.
  • being a person of your word.
  • demonstrating respect.
  • showing love in both word and deed.
  • learning to be content based upon internal attitudes rather than external circumstances.

Anti Gossip Pact

-Karthik Gurumurthy

This is from "God's little devotional book" by John Wesley and Friends.

In 1752, a group of Methodist men, including, John Wesley, signed a covenant that each man agreed to hang on the wall of his study. The six articles of this solemn agreement were as follows:

  1. That we will not listen or willingly inquire after ill concerning one another;
  2. That, if we do hear any ill of each other, we will not be forward to believe it.
  3. That as soon as possible we will communicate what we hear by speaking or writing to the person concerned.
  4. That until we have done this, we will not write or speak a syllable of it to any other person.
  5. That neither will we mention it, after we have done this, to any other person.
  6. That we will not make any exception to any of these rules unless we think ourslves absolutely obliged in conference.