954 posts categorized "Motivation"

Code of conduct

-Karthik Gurumurthy

In light of COVID 19, the related crisis and challenges and the normal every day difficulties we all face, what should be our code of conduct?

I believe the question of our time is, “How can I help?”  The first and obvious answer is to take care of yourself and stay safe so that you are able to help others. 

But if you stop there, you’ll limit both your impact and your happiness. The best way to beat self-absorption is to answer the question, How can I help?

Here are  some possible good answers:

  • Share good ideas if it can add value. Just be careful you don’t spread disinformation. Focus on what you’ve learned and know from experience. (Unless you are an epidemiologist or a medical professional who understands and worked on virology, it is risky to speculate about specifics of the virus.) We can all grow through this experience if we share great ideas and learn from each other.
  • Offer encouragement. A phone call or an email with a kind word, a positive comment and whatever reassurance you can offer means more than ever now. You don’t need to offer solutions (unless you are confident you have really good ones). The goal is to lift the spirits of anyone who is down, lonely or discouraged.
  • Check in with others. Ask how people are doing. Let the person know you care for them and are thinking of them. Go deeper than the normal conversations you have with people that are often rushed.
  • Reconnect. Dust off old relationships you haven’t had time to re-establish in the past. For most of us, there is no pressing agenda or no time crunch that keeps us from doing so.
  • Donate Time. This one is tricky as nobody wants to risk exposure. That is a personal choice. But you might not necessarily have to leave your home to help if a charity needs skills you have that can be applied virtually. To find out your options, call and ask what you might do to help. It is equally important not to spread the virus knowingly or unknowingly by restricting trips outside your home (And my deepest gratitude and respect goes out to the first responders who are there on the front line for us at their own peril.)
  • Donate Money. This is the least risky thing to do, and how much you donate isn’t the point. Any and all donations are appreciated. Take care of your family’s financial needs first. But if you have something you can give where needed, consider donating. But please do your homework so you don’t become a victim of a scam.

There are no quick fixes to the problems we face. But enough people doing what they can to help will indeed make a big difference.

God bless you, and please be safe.


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.


Superstar of my school departure

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Rajinikanth Veeraraghavan:(June 28 1974- March 6 2020)

Rajinikanth

Circa' Nov 2015: Three Quarter Chinese restaurant , Church Street Bangalore

This is my good friend Rajinikanth (also known as Superstar) from school who went to be with Almighty today (March 6, 8:10 AM IST).  Our school friends and I  are still coping with this tragic news and we are recollecting all the good memories we have had with him. I have known him from VI grade and he was one of the math whiz who did very well in academics in school. He was in the same section from VI -IX grade. I  took language classes and  he was very thorough and complete in his approach towards acads and was jovial too.  He lived in a place called Velachery which is quite far from where I used to live and thus I was not in regular touch with him. After high school, I found out from my other friends that he got admission to one of the premier institutes named BITS Pilani. 

All of us went our merry way to do our undergrad and lof us decided to come to US to pursue Grad school. While we were here, we tried reconnecting back with our school folks and tried to get back in touch with most of our friends.  Slowly but surely we finished our grad school and  got married and some of them started family as well. We got back in touch around 2005 and started writing back and forth via email. (Googlegroups). He was very quick to respond and  started sharing the funny incidents in school and always took time to correspond via email. With most of my school folks, there was always a sinusoidal pattern where all  of a sudden,  all the team members felt the need to correspond sharing their nostalgic moments  or about the birth of their son/daughter and suddenly it will soon ebb.  In the year 2014, suddenly with the advent of WhatsApp groups, bunch of school folks started reconnecting and ended up finding almost of our school friends and it was like frenzy catching up with the school folks all over again. Thanks to the initiative of my classmates Maya , Ram Pai and  other networkers we all got back in touch. After 1991, I got a chance to speak with Rajini only in 2014. I vividly remember running downstairs to call him during my lunch break and was so excited to hear his voice and we were so happy to catch up on lot of stuff. Needless to say that the lunch break was long. After that we were in regular touch and I am thankful that I got to meet lot of my school folks in 2015.  Thanks to my school friend Anu's initiative, I was able to meet Rajini in person and had dinner together. It was wonderful to meet and that was the last time I met in person.  That was the time I  captured the picture posted above. We did talk over the phone  regularly and Rajini went through lot of challenges at work and I tried my best to help him out with the best of my ability and was in regular touch till Oct /Nov 2019.  

Yesterday, all of a sudden, I received a message from a great friend of mine, GB that Rajini has been  battling a health issue and is not looking good.I was totally shocked to hear that as I wasn't aware of the same and my friends started sharing about the health challenges that he had been facing last few months. I was at first incredibly confused. “How could this happen?” I wondered. Not comprehending in that moment that life does eventually lead to inevitable death. Even our highly intelligent, self-aware species can’t grasp the idea of a guaranteed future demise. I just couldn’t process it, until I finally did. Then the shock came. I stared at my computer in complete silence as my brain began to rewind ancient memories through my eyes and into my bones at a rapid fast-forward speed. Death is always an unexpected earthquake, regardless of whom it happens to or what your relationship was.  The sudden impact of receiving this news made me aware that I had absolutely no idea he was suffering.  Our group of school friends still prayed hoping a miracle can happen which will make him live longer. Few of my friends who live in Madras decided to meet him in the hospital and today morning as they reached the hospital found out that he just departed. As soon as I saw the message from Mana (Anand) from the hospital, I  started to sob uncontrollably quietly.  I texted a couple of high school pals who I remained tight with and asked them if they knew. They did. They expressed their shock and anguish as well. Like me, they seemed to be in regret that their grief was so consuming, considering they also were not aware of his health issue. I guess he has gone from being a super star to a shining star. This poem written by the unassuming anon. sums it all.

"The angels looked down from heaven one night.
They searched for miles afar,
And deep within the distance
They could see a shining star.

They knew that very instant
That the star was theirs to gain,
So they took you up to heaven,
Forever to remain.

Look down on us from heaven.
Keep us free from hurt and pain.
You'll always be within my heart
Until we meet again."

-Anon

P.S; I  have added a GoFundMe site supporting Rajini's family kids. Whatever you could help would help his family/kids. Thanks in advance!


Value of Inquiry

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

What I got from the book:

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

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


Circle of Influence

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

Circle_StephenCovey

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

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

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

 


Seeing the Goodness in everything

-Karthik Gurumurthy

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill

Train

What we focus on expands. It is a choice. Take every thought captive and redirect.

Who is in charge of your mind? If you don't lead your mind, you'll find yourself enslaved to the automation of your younger days. Our minds develop patterns. When we lead ourselves, we disrupt thought patterns that don't serve us well.


Keep moving forward

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Few months 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.

MLK


Fear of the Unknown

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

 


Kobe Bryant

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

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

IMG-20200126-WA0017

 

#WillmissyouMamba #ReturnIfPossible


Lessons learned: 2019

-Karthik Gurumurthy

IMG_20190327_200927__01

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

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

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

 

 


Fight like James Holzhauer

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I have been watching the show "Jeopardy" for the last 20+ years. Why am I talking about the show now?

Screen Shot 2019-06-04 at 2.48.21 PM

Let me give a blurb about this gentleman James Holzhauer. He has been unstoppable for the last 32 shows  and his total winnings were  $2,464,216 until he lost to a librarian from Chicago- Emma Boettcher yesterday. Eleven times during his winning streak, he went a whole game without buzzing in incorrectly. The way James took control of the game for the last 32 days left most of us in awe. I am sharing today what I learned by watching and observing James which all of us can benefit from.

  • Don't just follow the pack. Most  players begin at the top of the board, where the more straightforward questions are located and work their way down. They do this to get some wins under their belt. That is not the case with James. He starts at the bottom of the board, so he can accumulate the wealth needed to make significant bets when he hits a daily double. He also does this to unsettle his opponents. What's the lesson here? Just because everybody does it doesn't make it right. We need to be fearless. We need to stop  looking for easy tasks and it pays well to go the extra mile to get challenging work.
  • Be relentless. Every now and then James answers a question incorrectly but when it happens, he doesn't dwell on it and lick his wounds for a long period of time. Instead he keeps charging ahead to the next question.
  • Playing to win. There is a huge difference between playing to win and playing not to lose. James does have to play defense, as his offense is so fine-tuned, others can't keep up. We have to create a strategy that will put us in a position of dominance.
  • Creating a buzz. Everyone who watches this show talks about James. Is anyone talking about you/your work in that way? We have got to change this and we have got to do that now.
  • Go all in.  I love it when James hits a daily double, and when asked how much he’d like to bet, he cups his hands and pushes them forward while saying, “all in.” This guy knows that to win big, he has to bet big. He’s confident that he’ll come up with the right answer, which he did! Let us think about your work..Are you all in or partly in or sorta in? That makes all the difference. Isn't it?
  • Continuously upgrading the knowledge base. Few weeks back, the program host Alex Trebek asked James how he prepared himself for ‘Jeopardy!’. He said he spent time in the children’s section of the library reading children’s books. Proper Prior Preparation is the key. He had prepared himself to succeed. How are we preparing ourselves? Are we still talking about what we did 10 years back or are we constantly upgrading ourselves?

James kept winning and dominated for 32 days mainly because of the above factors. For us to be in the cutting edge in our chosen profession, we need to do the same and let us challenge ourselves to get better everyday. Let us do it!


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.


Daddykins

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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


Choices make the Man/Woman

-Karthik Gurumurthy

As young adults prepare to go off to college, most on them on their own for the first time, having to make important choices and do their own laundry, I like to pass along these simple rules:

  1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  2. If you have to ask, "Is it legal?", it probably isn't.
  3. If you cannot tell your mother (or father) don't do it.
  4. We are our choices…choose wisely. and of course, make sure you know how to do your own laundry.

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.

Priorities

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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


Getting prepared to go to college

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Junior year, in my opinion, is the most important year for college-bound students. This is when students start researching and narrowing down which colleges they are actually going to apply to.

Junior year is the hardest academically for most students. This is also the last year that grades will be listed on your transcripts that are sent to colleges along with your applications. Therefore, it is important to stay on track with your grades, make sure you are meeting any special requirements, and remain motivated to finish strong.

Junior year students can start to finalize their college list that will consist of at least 2 reach schools, 2-3 target schools, and 1-2 safety schools based on the research they have been doing unofficially since Freshmen year.

Usually I recommend students to take their SAT/ACT beginning of Junior year which means the preparation for the same should start beginning of Sophomore year which gives them enough time for taking practice tests and work on the areas that needs more practice.  It is important to create a testing plan that ensures you know not only the dates ACT/SAT test are administered but the deadlines for registration for the dates students plan to take the test and continue preparing to do your very best on these test while you are in the sophomore year.

And last but certainly not least start to think about and draft your personal statement. The Common Application also referred to as Common App, usually provides the personal statement prompt questions for the next years application cycle sometime in February but no later than April.

What is the Common App you ask? The Common Application is used for undergraduate admissions by nearly 700 colleges and universities. The Common Application is an electronic college application system that collects a wide range of information: personal data, educational data, standardized test scores, family information, academic honors, extracurricular activities, work experience, a personal essay, and criminal history.

Because of the popularity of the Common App many high schools use the common app prompts as a starting point to help our students draft their personal statements. Students often think writing a personal statement will be simple but it is probably one of the hardest essays your young scholar will write.

Getting started early allows time to create multiple drafts, to have teachers, parents, and older siblings to review and make suggestions to improve your essay and finally getting an early start will allow more time to address supplemental essay questions most colleges ask in addition to the personal statement essay, which you typically won't have access to until you are ready to apply.


Nuggets from Option B

-Karthik Gurumurthy

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Significant Progress in Insignificant Moments

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Most of us living on earth today will not win a Nobel Prize, Magsaysay award or a Medal of Honor. Most people will not receive a lifetime achievement award, invent something groundbreaking, or change the landscape of the world. For most of us, things like getting married, making a lifelong friend, having a child, buying our first home, or retiring are large moments in our lives.

For all of us though, it is not the moment that we receive that final reward that makes up the significance. Progress is not achieved in large, momentous occasions. We are not defined by those big moments in life. We are shaped by the 100,000 moments we experience, not the 1. In every moment, you have an opportunity to make an impact, and it is significant. In order to move toward those large goals, you have to put together thousands of great moments.

Don't wait today for that significant thing to happen in your life to feel as if you've made progress. Make every moment count today. It is in those 100,000 moments that you will shape your progress in this life. Significant progress is made in what some would call "insignificant" moments. Make them count and make it happen.


Interesting perspective of life from a someone who is 100 years young

-Karthik Gurumurthy

  • Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
  • When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  • Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  • Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
  • Pay off your credit cards every month.
  • You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
  • Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
  • It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
  • Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
  • When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
  • Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
  • It's OK to let your children see you cry.
  • Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  • If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
  • Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
  • Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
  • Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
  • Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
  • It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
  • When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
  • Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, and wear the fancy clothes. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
  • Over prepare, and then go with the flow.
  • Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple or blue or green.
  • The most important organ is the brain.
  • No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
  • Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'
  • Always choose life.
  • Forgive everyone everything.
  • What other people think of you is none of your business.
  • Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
  • However good or bad a situation is it will change.
  • Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  • Believe in miracles.
  • God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
  • Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
  • Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
  • Your children get only one childhood.
  • All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
  • Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
  • If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
  • Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  • The best is yet to come...
  • No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  • Yield.
  • Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Contentment: Art of being satisfied

-Karthik Gurumurthy

There is an age-old idea in the business world that one should never become completely content, or satisfied, as this will lead to complacency and lack of growth. We are taught to constantly seek something greater, bigger, and better. We start at a job, and immediately we begin seeking to acquire a greater position with greater authority. Once we have that new job, we seek the next level, and so on and so on. This cycle never stops. This transcends the business world and runs many of our lives. Before we buy the car we have always wanted, we say "if I only had that car, I would be happy." The new car smell and feel wears off in about a month, and we are looking to the next best thing. The world teaches us that we need the newest model of everything: phones, computers, watches, houses, clothes, jewelry. Funny thing is, most of us never find any long-term contentment in these things. The new job promotion gets old quickly, the new house is nice but we really want a bigger yard, a larger LED TV, an extra bedroom.....you get the picture.

What we need to learn is how to live today with contentment. This doesn't mean we don't set goals, strive for greatness, or do our jobs excellently. What it requires, however, is that we do not tie our identity to what we have, how much money we make, or what our job title is. We must learn to be content in whatever situation we are in. There are lessons to be learned in every stage of life. We learn tremendous lessons when we are broke, tired, and worn down. We also learn tremendous lessons when we are wealthy, energized, and have great position and authority. No matter where you are today, seek to be content in that place. Look for the lessons you can learn and take away from the stage of life you are in now. Strive to do things excellently, but don't get caught up in the quicksand that is awaiting you when you convince yourself that you will find contentment in the "next thing".

If you're not happy with what you have today, you won't be happy with twice as much.


Responding to critics

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

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


Miss you NR Sir

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

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

Sukumar_NRSir

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

 


What matters

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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


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


Rest in Peace Ramesh Mahadevan

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

Whom the Gods love die young.

Rest in Peace, Ramesh.


Nuggets from the book "Presence"

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Maturity

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Got this as a forward.

What's maturity?

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


Happy Birthday Bapu

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

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


Why do great people leave/quit an organization?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

No Backbone

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

No Vision

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

Cheap talk Manager

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

Not Adding value

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

No accountability

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

Low standards

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

No Integrity

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

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


Who is your hero?

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

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


MS Dhoni Sixers (Leadership Lessons from Captain Cool)

-Karthik Gurumurthy

MSDhoni2011

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

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

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

MSD2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture source Courtesy: Reuters


Asking the right questions

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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

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

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

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

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


Notes from the readings today

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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

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


Lesson on integrity

-Karthik Gurumurthy

  SRT1

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

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

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

Picture courtesy: ESPN Cricinfo