66 posts categorized "Mentors"

Distinction between a coach and a mentor

-Karthik Gurumurthy

The distinction between a coach and a mentor is that a coach does not offer advice but instead acts as a support as the individual makes choices that align with their goals. As a mentor, a leader has specific advice and guidance based on his or her own expertise. A leader as a sponsor is someone who tells others of the individuals achievements. Maybe this looks like recommending your employee for a promotion or sharing an innovation of theirs with senior leaders. As a sponsor you are helping others to see the potential in this individual, especially those that may not work with them regularly. Sponsorship is important to employee development because that's how others learn of an employee's capabilities.

So, here's an analogy that may help solidify these different roles. Think about the sport of bowling. In bowling, a person stands at the end of a long lane where 10 pins are set up in a triangle at the other end and the person then throws a heavy ball toward the pins to knock them down. The trick is that the lane is long, so it takes some strategy and skill to throw the ball correctly and along each side of the lane are gutters, and if the ball rolls into the gutter, of course no pins will be knocked down at all. When little kids bowl, there are often rails along the sides of the gutters, it prevents the ball from rolling into the gutters as the kids learn how to throw with strength and precision. These gutter rails are like a coach, they simply keep you in your lane. There's no expertise required to be a rail, it simply exists, but it's there to prevent the ball from falling off the lane and therefore keeps it on its journey toward the pins. Because the ball is heavy and it must be thrown in a particular way the throw needs strength and precision, there's an art to this. A mentor might be another bowler who is bold for a long time, that mentor could show the new bowler how to stand, how to throw it in the straight line or throw it with the right curve and even how to increase the speed of the throw. In this case the mentor is giving specific advice on the skill of the game based on experience.

When you're bowling, your usually only paying attention to your lane and maybe the immediate group of people you're playing with, a sponsor might go to another lane and tell one of the pros to come, take a look at how much you've learned over the course of one lesson. A sponsor might go to someone in charge and recommend you as a member of a league. As you can see, coach, mentor and sponsor roles are all important to the development of the bowler and that's the same as developing future leaders.

So, imagine you're going to run a marathon, right? So if you're running a marathon, you need all three, right? First of all, your mentor is going to be the person that says, I've done this before, hey, here's my advice. So they me give you some advice about how to run this race, what to eat, how to prepare. Your coach is going to be with you every step of the way, right? They're not going to tell you what to do, but they're going to be with you, they're going to facilitate the questions. They're going to provoke thoughts around what you should do, they're going to motivate you, they're going to hold you accountable, so that's the coach. The sponsor what they do is they're finding the best races for you. You don't even know, they're like, hey, I got you in the boston marathon, your sponsor might do that or, hey, I talked to my friend, they're going to get you in the Boston marathon or whatever or the Chicago marathon and so those are like the three distinct roles.  Any given leader is going to play all of these roles to differing degrees with their employees. And the question to ask yourself is when does this person need you to be a coach? When do they need you to be a mentor? The leader-follower or leader-employee relationship is in and of itself complex, and at any given point the role of the leader should consider what employees need the most to effectively solve the problems they were hired to solve.

Happy Birthday Dr. KSV (Dr. KS Viswanathan)

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Dr. KSV_99

Today is my Prof. K.S. Viswanathan's Birthday. It is no coincidence that it is also celebrated as Teacher's day. One of the best things Dr. KS Viswanathan did for me was say " I don't know the answer to that but I'll do some research." It modeled a more honest intellectual discourse. You don't have to pretend like you know everything and you don't always need to have or share an immediate opinion. Thanks Dr. KSV for your amazing example.

Review of The Test: A New Era for Australia team: Season 1

-Karthik Gurumurthy

 About two years back, Australia’s Test cricket team became entangled in a ball-tampering scandal during the third Test of a series in South Africa. Captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft were the key figures involved in an incident dubbed ‘sandpapergate’ and one which would cast a dark shadow over the sport. Steve Smith was stripped of captaincy and handed a ban along with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.  The Australian cricket authorities were forced to make changes in personnel. Justin Langer, a retired top-class batsman, was brought in as head coach and Tim Paine was made team captain.

For all cricket lovers, who are in desperate need of some decent viewing during this time of isolation and lock-down, the newly released Amazon Prime"  "The Test: A New Era for Australia’s Team" is worth the watch.  This  is an in-depth, behind-the-scenes, eight-episode examination of a cricket team in crisis. It chronicles 18 months in the travails of the Australian national team, from the squad’s all-time lowest point to its return to relevance in the 2019 World Cup.


Born in India I have been passionately following the game as much as I can from the late 1970's and 1980's and it continues to provide non-stop entertainment and excitement. Australia has been one of the most successful cricketing team and been a dominant force for decades winning multiple World Cups  and other ICC trophies. I always admired Aussie team for their fighting spirit but  never liked them as a team as most of the team members were arrogant, offensive and knew that these players would do anything to win and I strongly felt that what happened in Capetown was something they totally deserved.

 With regards to this documentary..Where do I start?

The series takes a deep look at coach Justin Langer’s ruthless yet humble characteristics and attributes, both as a former player and as a potential manager of a team that had hit rock bottom in 2018. Coach’s vision was also quite clear and obvious from the start – " that is to build a team that will earn the respect, not only of their own country, but of the cricketing world once again".

This documentary showed all the raw moments of the players and coaches and this showed you the person behind their own titles. It brings forward the real people, real emotions and real drama that unfolded after what happened. The series was thoroughly enjoyable, it's rare for outsiders to see inside the inner sanctum of a test dressing room and that was great.  Everybody in the Aussie dressing room was very passionate and charged up and not afraid to show their frustrations. The camaraderie was almost tangible and the way the team stuck together through thick and thin was amazing to watch. The behind-the-scenes footage shows all the drama and emotions of winning and losing matches all before Australia departed for last year’s World Cup and Ashes series in the country of their biggest rival, England. After watching two of the episodes,  cricket fans will have a completely different perception of the Australian cricket team. First time in my life I will use the word respect and Aussie cricket team in a sentence.  It was great to see what Aussies thought of Virat Kohli and the Indian Cricket team. However, I am surprised that they didn't include the part when Virat Kohli  pleaded to the fans to stop abusing Steve Smith when the crowd booed him constantly during the India-Australia World Cup  2019 game played at the Oval.If you're a true lover of the game, if you can put aside team loyalties and just applaud the 'Rising from the Ashes to win the Ashes', this series is for you. 

The New Normal

-Karthik Gurumurthy

And so we enter a new world of social distancing, people stocking tissue paper, and limitations on how we can gather. Borders are closing, airports are shutting down, and in some countries, police and armed forces are getting prepared for handling this new situation. How are we going to handle this new normal?

  • Nothing concentrates the mind more than an existential threat. At our core, we all want to survive. We will check we have the fundamentals in place and learn to live without the non-essentials we used to rely on.
  • Social distancing is vital to slowing the spread of COVID-19, but it also pushes against human beings’ fundamental need for connection with one another. Especially during difficult times, people feel an urge to commiserate, to comfort and be comforted by each other.
  • We will see the best of human behavior. We will see extreme acts of kindness as our streets connect up and we look after the elderly. Volunteer networks will spring up across the country and across the world. We will witness the selflessness of our health workers who will continue to turn up, day after day, exhausted and exposed. We will owe them our lives.
  • We will see the worst as well. Absolute greed as families hoard months supplies of tissue paper while others can’t find any. Price gouging. Thankfully, it will not stay that way for long.
  • There will be misinformation and rumors, because these things thrive in a time of crisis. Social media aggravates this and gives oxygen to sensationalism/ quick cures. If you can, counteract the nonsense that is already spreading, and call-out the worst to get it shut down.

We have known times of adversity before. And just as we have come through those difficult times in the past, we will come through this one. It’s who we are and it’s what we do. But before we complain too much about this new normal, how about taking time to count our blessings. Write down 3-5 things you are grateful for at the end of the day. They can be simple things like when someone smiled at you.

This is the opportunity to be more thankful for what we have ,  to show courage and kindness and act with common sense. Our example matters.

If we do that, we will sustain, survive individually and collectively. This is the time to slow down everything,  act with empathy, kindness and reflect. Not sure when we will get this again.

Circle of Influence

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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


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

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

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


Keep moving forward

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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


Fear of the Unknown

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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


Lessons learned: 2019

-Karthik Gurumurthy


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

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

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



Giving 100% effort

-Karthik Gurumurthy

In high school at one point of time, I struggled with Math. Try as I may I just never seemed to get the grades I desired. I was attending all the classes, doing my homework on time, studying for my tests and yet falling short. I got increasingly discouraged. One session my Math teacher  NR said “What matters is that you put in your 100%, the result you get may or may not be the best, but that does not matter.Hard work will always reap rewards." It is the best piece of advice I have ever received but it is also the most difficult to follow. We live in a time where results matter most. We are being judged by our test scores, GPA, class standing, school ranking. We are result oriented. When we put in efforts we expect results in accordance. But sometimes it is good to take a step back and enjoy the journey. It is good to appreciate ourselves even when things do not go our way. Efforts matter more than results.

Guru Purnima


Image may contain: one or more people and text

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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



Get out of comfort zone

-Karthik Gurumurthy

What I say is not adding value. I have some experience but not enough…. I will be found out. And made fun of. I don’t want to sound or be branded a phony;

Look into the mirror. You’ve been through it. Or experience this every  time you’re asked to take something up: Speak at an event, lead a team, solve a problem...

The first thought that comes through is “hey, I’m not ready. Perhaps next year. I will direct you to an expert, I’m sure he will do a better job!”.

You’ve had successes in the past, have exhibited brilliance and leadership but internally, you write it off as luck, the team and some heavenly intervention! This is called Impostor Syndrome

The only way to counter the impostor syndrome is to  get out of the comfort zone take it head on.

Do not let your own fear that you are not good enough stop you.

Say what you have to say.

Do what you have to do

What you have to say or do, do it; there is someone who needs to hear it. It will resonate and those who listen will get back to you. Feedback. It will substantiate what your doing.

Keep doing it and you will become better at it.

Two other methods that work:

  1. Talk to someone who is experienced in that field or a mentor who can help you get out of this syndrome and set you on the right track- your track!
  2. Write your accomplishments and showcase your successes.

Responding to critics

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

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

Miss you NR Sir

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

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


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


Why do great people leave/quit an organization?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

No Backbone

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

No Vision

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

Cheap talk Manager

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

Not Adding value

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

No accountability

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

Low standards

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

No Integrity

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

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

Who is your hero?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

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

Asking the right questions

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lesson on integrity

-Karthik Gurumurthy


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

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

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

Picture courtesy: ESPN Cricinfo

Good thoughts

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

Isn't that so true and powerful?

Happy Birthday Appa!

Mothers Day 2011 104


-by Karthik Gurumurthy


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

Six nuggets you shared

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

Thoughts for today: Fear of Failure

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval. Don’t base your self-esteem on their opinions. 

Lot of times we seek approval and sometimes the fear of rejection takes over.If as a leader you are seeking or depending upon the approval of others for your validation as a leader you had better fasten your seatbelt. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. Developing your sense of worth as a leader comes from within. It’s when you embrace your God-given talents and abilities that you can be humble when receiving praise and forgiving when being criticized. Because it’s then you realize that your purpose as a leader is not to make everyone else happy. Be confident in the abilities you have. Be gracious to all. Be the best version of you that you can be!

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.

1008th Post (Remembering Dad)

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I have been writing blogs from 2005 and this is my 1008th posting. I have an average of 25-30 visitors everyday. I thank you all the visitors for your ongoing support and kind words of encouragement. I don't write as much as I used to do. Today being Father's day, I want to dedicate it to my dad. (Below: Dad with S. Venkataraghavan)


It's natural for many to reflect today on what their dads mean to them.  I'm no different.  But I spend a lot of days thinking about the lessons I learned, how I've applied them and more importantly, how they have created who I am.


Dad left us last year and there is not a day that goes by without thinking about him. Everyday is Father's day. This is what I wrote last year about him.  It is difficult to find a proper way to express all that my father has meant to me and to offer a fitting tribute to him which might be profitable to share with others.  I would like to share the lessons learned by watching my dad.

  • No matter what I did in life, Dad was my biggest supporter. He was the guy driving me to play Cricket and telling me how wonderful I was. He was the guy telling his friends in front of me – how wonderful I was. I wasn’t always wonderful. But I sure felt like it. It turns out there is a strong correlation between encouraging your children and a feeling of self worth. I always valued myself and felt like I was special. Much of this came from my dad.
  • My father taught me that you appreciate the things you have much more when you earn them.
  • Dad taught me life is full of gray areas. Don’t be too quick to judge and don’t make assumptions! I have never seen my dad gossip about anybody. 
  • I learned loyalty by watching dad. He was fiercely loyal to his work place (State Bank of India), Cricket Team, Natakapriya and friends. 
  • When I left to US, he mentioned that "your profession or title didn’t matter. How you held yourself and treated others would be how you would be judged by others".
  • Most people talk about how to serve elders and parents. Much of what I learned from him I learned from observation. Through his  live example he showed us how to take care of them with compassion and devotion. We didn't read that in a book. We saw him in action. Everyday he would serve his mother (my Grandmother) with unconditional love and kindness. 
  • There is not a day that would  go by without him mentioning his gratitude to God for providing the best parents, family and friends. I have learned from him how to be thankful everyday for what we have.
  • He would always say, "With determination and dedication, you can almost accomplish anything and everything".
  • His favorite quote was, "Truth need not be remembered". If you are speaking the truth you don't have to have good memory.


I am glad I was blessed to have him as my Dad and a part of my life for 38 years. I look forward to the day I can see him -- standing by the Almighty and welcoming me home once again.


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..


-Karthik Gurumurthy

Last week, I had a tutoring session with one of my students who plays Junior Pro tennis and he shared an interesting story about Tennis champion Andy Roddick.

From what I heard from my student, he was playing final round of a Masters tournament in Rome against Fernando Verdasco from Spain. It was a match point in favor of Roddick. Apparently when Roddick hit his second serve, the line umpire had called the ball "out," and the crowd was cheering for Roddick. Verdasco had already moved towards the net to shake hands, as the match appeared to be done.

But Andy Roddick did not accept the point. Instead, he said the ball was "in" and called the umpire's attention to a slight indentation on the clay court which showed that the ball had landed on- not beyond- the line. Surprised by his act, the umpire allowed Roddick to overrule him and the point was awarded to Verdasco.

Everyone was amazed. In a game not typically played on the honor system- but on the umpire's calls- Roddick has made a call against himself and went on to lose the match.  The actual story is found here.

Though he lost the match he gained credibility and trust which is far greater. My dad would call this as good sportsmanship by Roddick as demonstrated through his action.

One of my favorite chapters in Math is Congruent triangles. For some reason, I always love the word 'Congruent'. Congruent triangles means one and the same.They have exactly the same size and shape. Two triangles are congruent when the three sides and the three angles of one triangle have the same measurements as three sides and three angles of another triangle.

When a person is congruent,  there is no gap between the intent and the behavior. People who are congruent work in sync with their deepest values and beliefs.  When we consistently demonstrate inner congruence to our belief systems and to principles, we inspire trust in both professional and personal relationships. When somebody does that, it tells the world that they are strong, solid and dependable and they are certain to have positive results which instills confidence in other people.


Leadership Trends

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lessons from Norman Schwarzkopf

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

What did I learn from him?

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

  • Character

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

  • Leadership

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

  • Courage

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

  • Success

Success is sweet, but the secret is sweat.

  • Action

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

What career should I pursue?: Part I

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

One thing for sure is to set yourself in motion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To take another example.

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

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

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

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

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

Where should we focus on?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Having the right priorities can make or break one's life. It is a good habit to have the priorities straight and that can make a world of difference. Sometimes we all get caught up with the fancy stuff and the bling, bling, we do not take a moment to pause what is important.

It reminds me of the story which my friend narrated few years ago.

The story goes that a group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress at work and in life. Offering his guests coffee, the professor went into the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups: Porcelain, plastic, paper, some plain looking and some quite exquisite. He then asked them to help themselves to hot coffee. When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: 'If you notice, all the nice-looking, expensive cups are taken, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and your stress. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup but you consciously went for the better cups and are eyeing each other's cups.'

'Now , if Life is coffee, then the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just the tools to hold and contain Life, they don't change the quality of Life. At times, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee in it.'

It is something that all of us should remind ourselves consciously to slow down and smell the coffee.

Lessons from Encore Effect

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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


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

Performance reveals the price you have paid.


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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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.


-by Karthik Gurumurthy

Teaching award 

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

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

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

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

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

Unconditional Serving

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Time drainers

-Karthik Gurumurthy


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

The three major time drainers would be the following:

#1: Not having a to-do list

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

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

Why do they use a chair?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#3: Watching the News

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

Why should you avoid watching the news?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the solution then?

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

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

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

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

I definitely know that you are engineered for greatness.

When are you going to Succeed?

-Karthik Gurumurthy


Has someone asked you when are you going to succeed in whatever you have started? It can be a business or it can be any endeavor which you deeply wanted to pursue towards which gives you complete fulfilment of your existence in this great planet. Lot of people have asked me and even to this day they ask me how things are looking. I have been working on business endeavors over last few years and is going very well. I am still in the active pursuit of accomplishing my goals which I have set for myself through my business opportunity.

What is the time limit you give yourself in order for you to succeed in anything worthwhile? Do you want to know what’s stopping you back from success?

To answer that, I would like to share couple of stories.

…Steve was excited; he had just finished his first book.  He had dreams of becoming a best-selling author after pouring his heart and soul into his first thriller.  Now it was just a matter of time before he found a publisher…

Unfortunately Steve was declined by the first publisher he submitted his book to, however he didn’t get distressed.  He knew that in order to succeed he would probably encounter several obstacles.  He happily submitted his book to another publisher. 

Yet he received another rejection.  And another rejection, and another, and another, he received a total of 29 rejections.  Down-and-out, Steve agreed to try one last time!  He anxiously waited he get the results, he knew this time things would be different; he was excited.

But alas…he was rejected once more.

At this point Steve was depressed; his dreams of becoming a great writer had been crushed!  He hung his head low, and threw his book in the trash, at least this way he would never have to be reminded of the book again.


Somebody say, “But!” …But Steve’s wife went into the trash and retrieved the book…she encouraged him and motivated him to resubmit the book, and the rest, as they say, is history.  Steve also known as Stephen King whose book, “Carrie,” became an iconic thriller, and he has become one of the best-selling authors of all time.

Another story

Walter worked hard at his job; he worked for the local newspaper.  One day while Walter was working, his boss told him that he was fired!  His boss said that “he lacked imagination, and had no good ideas.”

Walter was depressed…yet he picked himself up.  He decided to go into business for himself, but that didn’t last too long, soon he was bankrupt.


But he was only bankrupt financially; he was not out of courage, not out of strength, and not out of faith.

Walter went on to start one of the most imaginative companies in history, the “Walt Disney” company, which today is responsible for $35 billion dollars in sales annually; so much for lacking imagination.

What is the time limit I should give myself to succeed?

So the question remains, “How long does it take to succeed?”  For most people it takes about ten- twenty years of focused and determined living.  It could happen sooner, or it could take longer, either way you’ll have to be determined like Stephen and Walter in order to succeed.

Why so many years?  When I look at people who’ve succeeded, it generally took them about lot of years of focused living to do so.  Ten-twenty years is enough time to discover your passion, to become a master; it’s enough time to fail, and enough time to re-gain your focus.

Why do I even mention this? We live in a microwave world. We want instant noodles, instant coffee, instant popcorn, instant results.. The moment it takes longer, we think it is probably not worth it. Just because you don't get the results which you wanted, you don’t need to think you’re “dysfunctional”.For all of you who are working towards your goals and dreams I want you to be mentally prepared, so that you can understand that success is a science, and that it takes years of work to go from an apprentice to a master. I have worked in pharmaceutical industry. It takes several years and several million $ to go from a research lab discovery to FDA approved drug. That is exactly how any worthwhile endeavor takes.

What about kids who succeed when their only ten years old?  Their parents probably put in a majority of the requisite years for them.  Some years are transferable, that’s why it’s important to keep good company, and to associate with people who are going where you want to go.

Karthik, but why does it take long time?

Success takes time because the requisite for success is that you provide value.  It takes a lot of work to become a person who provides significant value to others.  People pay for value, valuable people succeed.

So how many years have you put in?  You may have more years than you know; you may have fewer years than you think.

It’s kind of like college credits; when you “graduate” depends on how many credits you have towards your major.  If your life goal is to be a successful writer, then those years you spent reading novels everyday probably count significantly towards your experience. It’s possible that the years you spent with the right kind of people will help you to get their faster.  One way or another, you’ll probably need a good time of learning and applying in order to succeed.

If you don’t value the task enough to push until you succeed, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.  You have to remind yourself that there will be setbacks, your success is not based on your ability to avoid setbacks, but you ability to push through those setbacks until you get the requisite years you need to succeed.  If you remain focused, if you put in the time, success will surely be yours!

Power of Association Part -1

-by Karthik Gurumurthy

A Chinese proverb says, “Lie down with a dog, wake up with fleas.” You cannot long escape the effects of the people you associate with. If you insist on associating with a bunch of felons and immoral individuals, you’ll eventually be in trouble with the law or their victim or both. If you hang out at the pool hall every night knocking down a bunch of beers, you can pretty much forget about your dreams of succeeding in life. And if you spend your time with negative, un-happy, do-nothing complainers, that is what you will become.
The flip side is that you can do wondrous things for yourself just by picking the right folks to hang around with. One idea, one suggestion can change your business and your entire life.


Caption for photo: Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, President Warren G. Harding and Harvey C. Firestone, 1921
It is well-known that Henry Ford began his business career under the handicap of poverty, illiteracy, and ignorance. It is equally well-known that, within the inconceivably short period of ten years, Mr. Ford mastered these three handicaps, and that within 25 years he turned himself into one of the richest men in America. Add to these facts the additional knowledge that Mr. Ford’s most rapid strides became noticeable at the same time he became a personal friend of Thomas A. Edison, and you will begin to understand what the influence of one mind upon another can accomplish.

I barely passed my final exam in Math when I was in IX grade and I was promoted to my X grade (sophomore) with warning. I am thankful to all my friends who were smarter than me and pushed me to perform better.  I am particularly thankful to Susi (Dr. Sudarsanam) who really stretched me to do well. I have always valued power of association and have always surrounded people who are smarter than me. I heard from someone," the person you will be five years from now depends on the people you meet (on a regular basis) and the good books you read".

Why do Presentations and Speeches Fail?

This article was written by Mark Sanborn who is an international best selling author and noted for his work in bringing the best from people in leadership. I have benefited quite a bit from this article and I strongly feel that if we watch out for these areas, we can be rest assured our speeches and presentations would deliver the goods. Enjoy!


There are seven common reasons why an executive’s presentations and speeches fail:

1. Disregard for time
2. Unclear purpose
3. Inadequate preparation
4. Failure to capture attention
5. Pomposity
6. Boredom
7. False endings

1. Disregard for time

  • History has no record of anyone who gave a speech that was too short.
  • Speaking too long or taking more time than allotted, seems to be epidemic among high level business leaders.  Many executives completely destroy agendas.
  • The length of a presentation shouldn’t be a function of title or power. If you agreed to ten minutes, do it – especially if you’re a leader.
  • When you start and finish on time, your audience will respect you more and it will prove that you respect them.

2. Unclear purpose

  • The million dollar question of any presentation is: What’s the point?
  • Executives without clear objectives for their presentation usually achieve little.
  • Begin by asking yourself: “At the end of this presentation, what do I want listeners to think, feel and do?”  Good presenters speak to the head, the heart and the hands. Challenging people using lots of information with limited practical application is more frustrating than inspiring.
  • If someone else is writing your speech, it is critical that the speech writer have access to you and your ideas. Your speech will only be written as well as the input you provide.

3. Inadequate preparation

  • The best speakers are always prepared for what they say, even if their demeanor suggests otherwise.
  • You can tell when speakers haven’t prepared – they don’t say anything important. To make best use of your time and the audience’s time, think through and practice what you’ll say.  If you saw a Broadway show in which the actors hadn’t rehearsed, you would demand a refund.

4. Failure to capture attention

  • The scarcest resource in the world used to be time; today it is attention.  What you say and how you say it had better grab the audience’s attention immediately. In the theater, you’ll never see an actor warm-up on the audience. They warm-up backstage.
  • Ensure your remarks are relevant. Post moderns are less interested with the question “Is it true?” and more interested in the question “How does it affect me?” Never forget to prove that your message matters to the listener.

5. Pomposity

  • Impressing people is, for the most part, a head-game and it changes their opinions of us. Influencing people is a behavioral game: it changes what people do because of us.
  • A preoccupation with self is deadly. Self-absorbed speakers present to get their needs met, rather than meeting the needs of the audience. The audience instantly recognizes it.
  • One of the best kept secrets in speaking is: The audience wants you to do well.
  • You wouldn’t be speaking unless someone believed that you have credibility, and something significant to say.

6. Boredom

  • Presentation and perception go hand-in-hand. Entertaining in itself is not a worthwhile goal for an executive presenter, but it sure beats “boring”.
  • “Amusement” comes from two words meaning “not to ponder.” “Entertainment”, on the other hand, is engaging. The value of entertainment for a speaker is that it mentally engages listeners.
  • Telling a joke is risky. When it fails, nothing fails worse.

7. False endings

  • Here’s a simple rule to remember: A good ending happens only once.
  • Each false ending weakens the message that preceded it

Words to live by

-Karthik Gurumurthy


On the occasion of his graduation from elementary school, young John Wooden received a piece of paper from his father, Joshua. On one side his father had copied a short verse, later summed up by his son in these few words: “Think clearly, have love in your heart, be honest, and trust in God.” On the other side he had handwritten a list of “Seven Things to Do.” As he handed the paper to the boy, he said only, “Son, try and live up to these things.” The paper remained in the young man’s possession until it was tattered, at which point he transferred its contents to a card.

In a 2005 interview, the coach shared how much the words had framed his daily life. He said, “I tried to live by this and I tried to teach by it. I haven’t always been perfect, but I’ve tried.”

Here are Joshua Wooden’s seven principles for daily living:

  • Be true to yourself.

Who am I? When no one’s around, who am I? I’m talking about my character, not my reputation. My character is who I really am, while my reputation is merely what others think I am. Are they different? Are there secrets and flaws I don’t want anyone to know about? Have I led people to believe I am better than I am? They say, “You can fool everyone else but you can’t fool yourself.” I’m not sure if that’s true. I can rationalize my flaws and my secrets. I can fool myself.

If I want to be true to myself, me and myself need to have a talk and get things out in the open and on the table so they can be dealt with. “Hey, you know that habit you have? Aren’t you tired of hiding it? Aren’t you tired of knowing, at the end of the day, you’re not the person they think you are?  Then do something about it.”

The foundational, and first, step to living a meaningful and productive life that is an example for others to follow, is to be true to yourself. If this trait is not in place, somewhere down the line, you will fall by the wayside.

  • Help others.

It has been said, “You cannot love others until you can love yourself.” When you are true to yourself, you will love yourself. Now you are ready to love others. Now you are ready to begin a life of meaning and purpose.

A woman was planning a trip to see her friend in another state. Just before leaving home for the train, she telephoned her friend to make sure everything was in order. She asked, “Who will pick me up at the train station?”

Her friend said, “My husband will.”

“But,” the woman said, “I’ve never met him. How will I know who he is?”

Her friend replied, “Oh, that’s easy. He’ll be the one helping someone.”

That husband had a good reputation but, more importantly, he had a life of meaning because he made a difference. The life of purpose, significance, and meaning always involves helping others. 

  • Make each day your masterpiece.

A life of meaning and purpose, a life that others notice and follow, is a day-to-day consistent life.
It is no accident life is divided into increments we call, “days.” Yesterdays are happy memories and lessons learned. Tomorrow is only a faint promise, at best. It is today, that I have and, in order to live a meaningful and productive life, each day must be treasured and taken full advantage of. From the moment I get up to the moment I lay my head down again, I must try to make that day a masterpiece.

The Mona Lisa, The David, and The Night Watch are masterpieces because each ounce of paint or marble contributes, as much as it can, to the beauty and perfection. Likewise, a masterpiece day is one where each minute is spent doing only the things that are important such as in the morning, talking to your loved one over breakfast, reading the paper, perhaps doing a crossword; at your job, being organized, focused to get as much good work done as possible and earning your pay; and in the evening, reading to a child, having friends over, or counseling someone that needs help.

How many days remain in your life? Hopefully you have a lot and that means it’s a going to be a long journey. According to Joshua Wooden’s creed, in order to consistently, day-by-day, try to make each day a masterpiece, you’re going to need help from three outside sources: Those that have gone before you, Close friends, and God.

  • Drink deeply from good books.

On your journey to a meaningful and productive life, if you look carefully to the side of the road, you will see Jesus, Abraham, Moses, Paul, Lincoln, Gandhi, Washington, Edison and more. Through their writings, and the writings about them, they have left a blueprint to show you the way.

Every day, stop and sit fireside with each one and not only hear, but listen. Drink deeply by analyzing, understanding, believing, and swallowing all the advice they give you. Their wisdom will help you live masterpiece day after masterpiece day. 

  • Make friendship a fine art.

Strong friendships are carefully built. When the creed says to make friendship a “fine art,” it means you must work at it daily with the goal of making it something beautiful. Friendships are built through consistent interaction, give and take, and listening. They are deepened by accountability, truth, and understanding.

The wisdom of those that have gone before you and the support of your close friends, will help. But the greatest strength that will help you sustain a life-long string of consecutive days where you attempt to make masterpieces, is God. He will give you the faith to believe.

  • Build a shelter against a rainy day.

Pretty self-explanatory…however, I don’t think Wooden means this literally.

A shelter could be physical, financial or emotional…family and friendship, afterall, are perhaps the most valuable shelter to be building in your life.

  • Pray for guidance, and count and give thanks for your blessings every day

No day can be a masterpiece day if it doesn’t end with acknowledging your blessings and asking for guidance. Thanks acknowledges to God and you, that He is responsible. Asking for guidance and counsel is important because, while you sleep, God is preparing to help you make the next day, another Masterpiece.

What your role model cannot do..

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I was reading the book " 8th habit" by Steven Covey.  It is a must-read book where Steven Covey talks about Character and Competence.  General Schwarzkopf address at the US Military academy says it all.


 “I've met a lot of leaders in the Army who were competent, but they didn't have character. And for every job they did well, they sought reward in the form of promotions, in the form of awards and decorations, in the form of getting ahead at the expense of someone else, in the form of another piece of paper that awarded them another degree, a sure road to the top.

You see, these were competent people, but they lacked character. I've also met a lot of leaders who had superb character but who lacked competence. They weren't willing to pay the price of leadership, to go the extra mile because that’s what it took to be a great leader.

And that’s sort of what it’s all about. To lead in the 21st century – to take soldiers, sailors, airmen into battle, you will be required to have both character and competence.” And this is the challenge for leaders today.

A leader is a person with a magnet in his heart and a compass in his head.
- Vance Hainer

Developing leaders can read the latest books, attend trendy conferences, and attend seminars, but at the end of the day, the great leadership speakers and writers cannot do anything for you until you take action for yourself. I have identified five specific things your role models cannot do for you and why this is good.

Role Models can’t speak with your voice. And this is the challenge for emerging leaders - to speak in their own voice. For years I have looked to and benefited from leadership role models. And as influential as they have been, I would never be fulfilled as a leader if I lost my own voice in the process.

As you develop your leadership skills it is imperative not to lose your voice. Benjamin Disraeli said, “There is no index of character so sure as the voice.” Great leaders don’t speak with your voice nor do they speak with your passion. Own it. Develop it. And speak it.

Role Models can’t pay your dues. Role Models/Mentors can challenge you, motivate you, inspire you, and help you renew your sense of purpose. They can impart hope and encourage you to fight another day. And as wonderful as these things are, you still have to take your personal journey in the school of leadership.

Your development as a leader evolves the way it does for all of us – through life experiences and paying your dues. Albert Einstein said, “There is only one road to true human greatness: through the school of hard knocks.” Take solace from the great leaders who have walked the trail before you, but understand that their dues are not transferable.

Role Models can’t see your dreams. Your mentors/Role models can motivate and encourage you to pursue your dreams. They can give you formulas based on their successes and failures that can give you wisdom in your daily decisions. But you alone are the guardian of your dreams and what is required to turn them into reality.

Henry David Thoreau said, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.” You see what the great leaders cannot. Hold true to your dreams and valiantly pursue them.

Role Models can’t feel with your heart. Personal leadership is not just a product of what is in your head, but what is in your heart. Your leadership is manifest in ways that heal, inspire, build, promote, and touch your world in ways unknown to great leaders. Your mentors/role models can show you the tools, but you are the one who must use them to create a masterpiece.

Helen Keller said, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” And this is the power of your dreams and who will be touched by your leadership.

Role models can’t reach your potential. Your influence as a leader exists by maximizing your gifts and abilities where you are planted. To the extent that there are things your mentors cannot do for you, you are in the driver’s seat as you fulfill your purpose as a leader.

As you speak with your own voice, pay your dues, see with your eyes, feel with your heart, and reach your potential, you will achieve a level of success that is worthy of distinction. This is where all great leaders begin.

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.

Leaders Develop Daily, Not In a Day

-By Dr. John C. Maxwell

A group of American tourists walked through a quaint English village in wonderment. They were enamored by the town's winding cobblestone streets, the beauty of its courtyards and plazas, and the sense of history emanating from its ancient churches. While strolling through the local park, the tourists struck up conversation with an elderly gentleman and found out that he had lived in the town for his entire life. One of the Americas, eager to hear more about the town's history, asked, "Sir, have any great men been born in this village?" "Nope," said the old man, "only babies."

Personal Growth Is a Process

In our twenties, we think ahead to when we'll be ideally situated in our career, positioned to do exactly what we enjoy, and enjoying immense influence in our occupation. Like children on the way to Disneyland, we impatiently await arrival at our destination instead of appreciating the journey there. However, as we age we encounter an uncomfortable truth: growth doesn't happen automatically. We cannot coast through life hoping one day to stumble across our dreams. Unless we set aside time to grow into the person we desire to be, we'll not reach our potential.

Leaders develop daily, not in a day. They commit themselves to the process of growth, and over time they reap the rewards of daily investments in their development. In this lesson, I'd like to share five principles to encourage you to adopt a lifestyle of personal growth.

#1 Growth is the great separator of those who succeed and those who do not.

When I went to college, there was no gap between my peers and me-none at all. We started on the same level. However, at the age of 17, I made a commitment to spend an hour a day on my personal growth. I studied and read, filing the lessons I learned along the way. Now, in most cases, the gap between my former classmates and me is pretty wide. Am I smarter than they are? Absolutely not. Many of them got better grades than I did in college. It's the growth factor-my commitment to the process of personal growth-that has made the difference.

#2 Growth takes time, and only time can teach us some things.

When it comes to personal growth, you cannot substitute for time. Yet, the mere passage of time doesn't make you wise. Experience is not the best teacher; evaluated experience is the best teacher. To gain insights from your experience, you have to engage in reflective thinking. I have a habit of taking ten minutes every evening to look back on the day. As I reflect on what happened, lessons emerge, and I capture them in my notebook so that I can learn from them.

#3 Growth inside fuels growth outside.

The highest reward of our toil is not what we get for it, but who we become by it. At the age of 17, I decided that I would read, file, and begin to prepare lessons. From that simple discipline I accumulated a wealth of content that fueled my speaking and writing. I never set out to be a leadership specialist; I was simply diligent about reading, filing, and studying. With respect to personal growth, take the long view on results. The most important question to ask is not "What am I getting?" from the discipline of personal growth, the most important question is, "Who am I becoming?"

#4 Take responsibility for your own growth.

For 15 to 20 years, the school system holds us responsible for growth. Educational curriculum clearly spells out, "here's what you do next," and "here's the next step." Then we graduate with diplomas and certificates, and we no one longer have anyone to map out the next step for us. If we want to continuing growing, we have to do it ourselves. We have to put together a game plan so that we become students of life who are always expanding our minds and drawing upon our experiences.

#5 Determine the areas of your life in which you need to grow.

You've probably heard someone say, "You can do anything as long as you put your mind to it." Sadly, as nice as that sounds, it simply isn't true. In watching people grow, I have discovered that, on a scale of 1-10, people can only improve about two notches. For instance, I love to sing; that's the good news. The bad news is that I can't carry a tune. Now, let's be generous and say that, as a singer, I'm a "two." If I put lots of money, effort, and energy into developing my voice, perhaps I can grow into a "four." News flash: on a ten-point scale, four is still below average. With regards to my career, it would be foolish for me to focus my personal growth on my voice. At best, I'd only become an average singer, and no one pays for average.

Don't work on your weaknesses. Devote yourself to fine-tuning your strengths. I work exceptionally hard on personal growth in four areas of my life. Why only four? Because I'm only good at four things. I lead, communicate, create, and network. That's it. Outside of those areas, I'm not very valuable. However, within those areas of strength I have incredible potential to make a difference

Nuggets from "Go Givers Sell More"


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

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

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

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

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

Urgent & Important

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I got a chance to listen  to a successful entrepreneur and what  he shared during the training is extremely important and vital and can make a big difference between being successful and an average mediocre person. He asked us to do a matrix of urgent and important.



  Everything you do fits into one of four categories determined by your own values and circumstances:

  •     Important and urgent — fighting daily fires. Most people spend here much of their time. What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important. Try to minimize the amount of tasks here and complete them as soon as possible.
  •     Important but not urgent — this is the "big picture", strategic plans. This is where you need to spend quality time.
  •      Not important but urgent — these are the tasks with near deadlines but not relevant to your own goals. Delegate them and give them as little time as possible.
  •      Not important and not urgent — this is where you waste your time. Try to minimize, or trash them. Examples: Web browsing.

The difference between someone who is successful and the one is not depends on which quadrant they spend most of their time in.

Let us focus on WIN.

WIN stands for What’s Important Now? Not what was important…last week, last month, last quarter or last year.

Use your best thinking and intuition to determine and then implement the things you should be doing now.


I always understood this intuitively and if you examine your day you usually will find all 4 quadrants at work. But even if you understand it and recognize your tasks as important and urgent, how do I profit from the matrix? ;) How can I make practical changes to get better in my productivity?

The value lies mainly in the awareness of what is important and what not. And then in moving more and more into Quadrant 1 (important and urgent) and with all the rest into "The Zone" (Quadrant 2): into what is important but not yet urgent.

If you do this, you will master time-management and produce not only good results but also balance. Success will be much likelier and seem more natural and effortless. Someone who is good in time-management is not someone who is constantly managing the tasks in stress. In fact that is definitely a bad time-manager, since he is constantly in quadrant 1 and possibly 3. It may be important, but it is urgent for sure. That is bad time-management and the "cure" is in quadrant 2 – The Zone . Let us focus more of our activities towards Quadrant-2.