Home is Where the Heart is!


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When I am on Yahoo!, I tend to browse through the hundred odd newsreel items on the homepage. Generally, it’s one or two of them that catch my eye to read further. Today, I happened to click on an interview by Zoe Saldana, the actress.

As I read through it, one of her comments stuck with me. She said, “You just gravitate naturally to what your heart yearns for.”

That is so profound.

As a child, you are like a sponge; ready to absorb and learn everything you come across. You start to form opinions, likes and dislikes. Somewhere along as you get introduced to the world around you, you fantasize about everything you aspire to be when you grow up. Through the years, you develop stronger preferences and are left with a few choices that you want to be when you grow up. Later, as a confused teenager, you look around at what’s in demand and what professions are doing well and that dictates your aspirations. By the time, you gain clarity, you are down the path of what you will eventually graduate in and take on a profession. If that clarity comes to you sooner in life, you are one of the lucky few doing something you really enjoy. If it comes later, you would have bumped around doing a few things that you got into for one reason or the other before you realize where your passion lies. In some instances, you have to continue with what you got yourself into although your heart might be somewhere else.

And that is where what Zoe said, so aptly applies. No matter what you do or where you are in life and how impossible it may seem, you WILL gravitate toward your heart’s natural desire. You will find a way to do what you enjoy most. And when you work in the realm of what you love, it is no longer work. You lose the sense of time and effort and produce your very best, naturally and easily. So, no matter how insurmountable your life’s challenges may seem, keep dreaming, my friend and keep trying. Do not give up or give in! You heart will draw you toward your passion and you will be one with it. This is not my promise, but that of your own heart!

Image Courtesy of FreeMediaGoo

Befriend Uncertainty for it’s certain!


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Uncertainty is your friend, a friend you fear. Moreover, you might not see it as a friend at all.

Uncertainty is such unpredictable territory. What will happen next? What will tomorrow shape up to be? What does the future hold? The anxiety these questions set off and sustain in the background is what most people experience. Once in a while, this anxiety flares up to disrupt life, as you know it. Eventually, you learn to tame it, to be just that little flame flickering away in the background while you anxiously act to keep it from flaring up again.

That’s how many have come to accept and treat uncertainty. As a result, we are cautious with what we do and live in the light cast by our yesterday. Generally, many are risk averse, play out their fears and live within the confines of their comfort zone. As a result, there is not much to expect in terms of change since comfort breeds stagnancy. Over time, it dawns that there is not much excitement and zest for life when it’s the same old life day in and day out.

Uncertainty has turned into something we are fearful of, avoid in all circumstances and cannot image to even skirt with it.

A cautious approach is good but to the extent you can see it. Being prepared is a virtue, but you can only be so much prepared.

Hence, learn to embrace uncertainty. Probably, cautiously at first! But, do give it a try. I assure you, you will be addicted to the fun and excitement that you experience along the journey. It’s exciting to not know what’s around the corner while you toil away at what’s in your control. You follow through logical steps to complete tasks, execute plans and then, do enough to assure yourself of the outcome you desire. Sometimes, you confront unseen roadblocks that you have to work around; at other times you come across unsurpassed surprises that galvanize the outcome way beyond your expectations. And, at other times, you simply get just what you expected. However, you feel more in control, as you no longer fear the outcome.  You feel more confident and self assured, since you put your best leg forward. The rest just follows through as an outcome of your actions. Life will feel richer and well lived when you look back; no regrets or should haves, could haves staring back at you. What you do will be worth the effort. Among other things, you will discover a nugget or two of your own innovative and creative capabilities.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

#IfIWere22 – Wouldn’t Change a Thing


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One thing I have noticed is that as you grow up, I mean as you age, life seems to pass by faster. I am not sure if that is, because of the number of pursuits you setup for your self and are so engaged in them that life just seems to fly by. It definitely was much slower when I was younger, perhaps because things were new to me to learn, experiment and enjoy my leisure. I also do not know how it will be when I get to my 60s. But, that’s for another day to talk about.

My 20s were a great time in life. When I was 22, I was in grad school working on getting my dual masters. Life was great as I was working and playing hard. I was like a sponge just soaking in whatever I came across, studying at a coveted university while living in a new city. It was time for exploration, in life, at school and trying to strike it out on your own.

It was in my 2nd year at grad school, when working on getting my MBA that I chose to go down the less trodden path. While my friends pursued studies diligently, I decided to explore new avenues at the same time while studying. I took up a direct sales job at an MNC that had just established in India and was expanding across the country introducing direct sales of consumer durables. The commission was handsome and I would be able to earn enough to be self-sufficient. But, I didn’t join for the money. I joined for the promise of a brighter future. It was a pyramid concept where you built a team, trained them and consistently generated enough sales for a certain period before you struck it out on your own. Then, you proliferated your network and made residual income on other locations you opened up. I must tell you, it was enticing enough to make me work full time when I had started, assuming it would be a good part time gig. I was always a good student and hence, my studies didn’t suffer.

I remember the very first day I went out by myself to make some sales. I picked up a heavy bag and went door to door for about 4 hours until noon. I must have knocked about 100 doors, not a single sale! I had experienced people who closed the door on your face, frustrated people who shooed you away and not so pleasant smirks from un-obliging customers. That was it! I was broken and returned to the office dragging my bag behind.

My trainer, whom I had shadowed the last three days came over and listened patiently to me, venting. I was angry, unhappy and just didn’t want to do this anymore. I thought I deserved better. My trainer explained the law of averages to me and said that in order to get 30 yes’s, you need to learn to go through 300 knocks and 270 no’s. He taught me how to take in each “No”, and make your pitch a little better with it, your demeanor a bit more pleasant and your resolve, stronger. After that he gave me two choices. He said that I could either walk away from all this and he would consider me history or I could go out there and work it one more time and put into action what he said. At the most, I would be a tired guy by the end of the day but the law of averages had to work.

I mulled over this for several moments, had a glass of water and stepped out to try, one last time. I went back to the area I was working. I was curious to try the law of averages and worked through that neighborhood for the next 4 hours. I kept knocking doors, became thick-skinned to all the negatives and just kept going. By the end of that day, I had sold 10 pieces! That changed my entire outlook toward struggle and achievement!

I went on to build my team, open my own location, start my own direct marketing company and open up about 12 locations in a year!

I wouldn’t change a thing about when I was 22! And my advice to you, seek your own adventure and blaze your own path to triumph. One piece of advice, never ever give up. It may come to you late, but it will!

#IfIWere22

The power of “I”


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“I will _________________.”

“I deserve _____________.”

“ I need _______________.”

“I want ________________.”

“I can _________________.”

“I am going to __________.”

“I demand _____________.”

“I” is a very powerful word. Yet, it is not encouraged & celebrated as much. Infact, it is a word that has been associated with a certain negative connotation. In environments that we congregate in, at school or at work, it is teams that are encouraged and one being a contributing member is looked upon in order for the team and everyone associated with it to succeed.

I have seen and heard so much about being humble, not tooting your own horn and no matter how successful you are, never let it get to your head. Not all, but some of it is great advise. But when it comes to the use of “I”, the general treatment of what it represents has been misunderstood. It doesn’t necessarily stand for ego, pride and glaring self-centeredness in all cases. “I” has the power to elevate you to your super self. It represents and promotes self confidence in who you are, what you do, reflects your aspirations and helps reaffirm that assuredness, showing you are thinking and doing what you deem right.

Here’s a small exercise I would like to propose that you try out to test the immense power of “I”. Every morning, before you begin your day, stand straight with your head held high in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eye & say the following out loud so you can hear your own voice clearly.

“I will have a great day today.”

“I will be successful today.”

“I deserve __________.”

“I will ______________.”

For the last two sentences, you can fill in what you aspire for. Do this for a week and see the change in your attitude, your confidence, your interactions with others and the results thereby. What the repetition ensures is your belief in your own aspirations which leads down  the path of you making them happen.

You will also see a positive change in how you deal with your day to day activities. You will be more vocal of your needs, aspirations, thoughts and opinions. Your realization of what matters to you is infectious and ensures that those around you believe as well. As a result, you get more out of your life.

Go out there, be confident and fear not to use the word “I”. After all, you deserve every bit of success and fulfillment that you aspire for.

To Err is Human, To Forgive Divine!


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Boy, it’s been almost a year since I last published. Sincere apologies for being such a procrastinator. I know, I had said I would keep up with my blogging before & yet, slipped. To err is human and to forgive divine. Well, please be divine for I am human. I shall try not to err again.

With that taken care of, let’s jump into our discussion for today. I would like to talk about the aspect of us being human and what that means; probably more so for myself than you.

From ages, the being human aspect has been passed onto us as some sort of weakness. We are only humans; mere humans, etc. are things that we hear frequently. As though, that entitles us to err, slip, fall and fail, time and again. Being human doesn’t make it okay to err or fail. Its time humanity is representative of strength, resilience and domineering spirit. A glimpse of this new human spirit is seen in our frequent achievements; our innovation, our growing technology, space research, health, education, sports etc. But, this is not treated as representative of human spirit in its completeness, as second nature & fostered for being more frequent. Such achievements are glorified as something outside human reach and when reached should mean so much more to us, mere humans that they should be celebrated. I think we should celebrate everything we do, everything we achieve, for that should be what being human should be representative of.

This self-deprecating attitude is exactly what I think needs to change; the mere humans syndrome. So long as we pity ourselves, generations to come will see new achievements, as insurmountable tasks that happen only one in several and which, when happen should be celebrated. We have made such immense strides in various fields over the decades. The frequency of our achievements has also kept up. Time we regard them as the new thresholds and expect more from ourselves. Time being human is synonymous with strength, resilience, achievement, higher expectations and stronger integrity than with weakness, occasional success and trepidation.

Who do you work for?


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When asked the question, some of the common answers are – myself, my family & my company. There are those that refuse to acknowledge they are working for anyone, be it a person or an organization and use the word “with”, I work “with” xyz. Semantics, I guess. And then, there are those that state they work for their boss.

We all work to provide for our dependents and ourselves. The question is not what do you work for, but who.

If you are an entrepreneur and pride yourself in working for yourself, there is some truth to that, but ultimately, the superior power that determines your actions lies with your customers, suppliers & investors. They can dictate the terms of your work. If you work for an organization, ideally your work and its attributes should be focused at fulfilling your organization’s obligations toward its customers and shareholders. Each of us that works in the corporate world falls somewhere on an organizational ladder with a “boss” that we report into. The boss has the power to determine your paycheck, your upward mobility within the organization and responsibilities you’ll handle. Some bosses are company focused which means your expectations fall in line as well. In such situations, there is more transparency built-in between levels i.e. employee reach extends beyond the immediate boss and through a couple of levels above. This is healthy as hierarchical stress is not as much and opportunities open up for those truly talented and doing the right thing. Others are self-serving and that’s when conflict may arise. That’s when one may end up working for a boss. Corporate politics can dictate where ones’ loyalties lie. Much depends on the employee-boss relationship & the personalities involved therein. Many employees are in the process of pleasing their bosses than in the actual performance of their job to meet the objectives they signed up for. And, these employees cannot be blamed altogether for it since they are acting in defense of their position and in many a case, they themselves are the only defense they may have.

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There have been arguments that state flat organizational structures may be the answer to curb such influences, where employees work in teams and natural leaders emerge as a part of the execution strategy. The emphasis is on actually getting things done to meet common objectives sans a hierarchy within the organization. Well, it may work to an extent in smaller organizations but flat structures are not scalable for growth. As organizations grow, flexibility & controls need to be established using the hierarchy model. And, in every mid to large organization, there are numerous rungs on the corporate ladders. Then, what is the optimal strategy for ensuring that the focus of every employee is truly on corporate goals and not hijacked by personal corporate politics? A strong HR policy propagated by a strong HR team with the support of top management can achieve this to an extent but in a complex business environment, it is difficult to altogether do away with it. Again, having an HR team that functions independently is a difficult thing to achieve in an organization. The HR team too falls on the corporate ladder. There will always be employees serving bosses for various reasons. Although, not completely healthy, this is a true fact in the corporate world and should be managed to optimize it.

When faced with such a predicament, employees who find it detrimental to their principles & career might look for other opportunities so as not to sacrifice their potential & aspirations catering to the whims of an overbearing, self-serving boss. There are also employees who do the boss’s bidding and focus on keeping the boss happy in order to safeguard their jobs. In both cases, it’s detrimental to the corporation, whether through the loss of productive employees for the wrong reasons or by having unproductive employees stay just managing their supervisors. But, at the same time, such bosses are a more serious predicament since their influence and its effect tends to be on a larger scale. It’s the prerogative of every organization to take this issue seriously and work through its channels to monitor and minimize such situations, if not totally eradicate them to ensure optimal productivity of the employee base. Much of it comes from encouraging true transparency throughout the organization irrespective of reporting relationships. And such transparency can be propagated through frequent top-down-top communication, more objective 360 degree performance appraisals, employee reviews as well as supervisor reviews, career pathing, ensuring employees with the right skills are not in wrong jobs etc.

That’s a starter list of ways to nurture healthy employee-work dynamics within organizations. I look forward to see you add to it.

What keeps you awake at night? Not an issue, I hope!


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What does your daily life comprise of?

A regular scheduled work week, chaperoning the kids to their after school activities, a family dinner night, a date night, drinks out with friends, some TV time, a weekend movie perhaps, so on and so forth.

But in between these regulars that we call “life”, is there anything else you do that actually excites you? Most people may find their calendars full and their strength & resolve exhausted just keeping up with the daily rigmarole. It may sound daunting but you can actually find rejuvenated energy by pursuing some exciting moments during your daily schedule that eventually will provide you with the excitement, the fuel and as a result renewed strength to refresh yourself and truly “live” unbounded. If you have heard the old adage of adding life to years and not years to your life, this is exactly what it is.

It could be gardening, golfing or spending time discovering the world with your loved ones. It could be doing service, reading, writing or singing and it could also be something totally unrelated to what you do daily. Perhaps a hobby,a project to the side or anything that piques your interest. Something, that takes your mind off your daily life, keeps you highly engrossed where you hardly notice the time spent and are not so much focused on results as you are in the act of pursuing it. And you do it, for the sheer joy of doing it. Some of us are lucky whose regular work is their passion too. For those pursuing an interest outside of your regular work, you will find renewed energy and zeal for your regular work as well resulting in better influence in that sphere. Not just your hobby or work, your life in general will be holistically vigourous.

Excitement, adrenalin pumping and pure joy are to be experienced. When I say that life is to be lived, this is exactly it, this rush of excitement is to be experienced and it only comes from your pursuing something for the pleasure of it. When work is not really work anymore, it is exciting, you want to pursue it further and this interest leads to your perfection and mastery in this pursuit of your choice. All of this sprouts from your interest in the pursuit and without you even knowing it, you excel in your choice. While you enjoy the pursuit, it further fetches you success unimaginable without your asking for it.

What is unique about us humans is that we are all wired so differently that we share a variety of interests. Imagine all of us pursuing our own excitement and as a result, we have every field flourishing due to the passion each one shares for their pursuits.

As I always say, seek & do things exciting enough to either give you a great night’s sleep or rob you of it, that’s when you know you are living!

Who are you? Clark Kent or Superman? Peter Parker or Spiderman?


It’s often said that you are a sum total of your aspirations, beliefs, thoughts and actions. Yet, we often tend to forget this as we work ourselves into the rigmarole of our daily lives. Idealistic pursuit of life and its goals starts with zeal as we embark fresh on this journey, equipped with skills, academic credentials and a bountiful heart to make a difference. And as we trod down that well traveled road, there are several alleys we come across, pass over and leave behind, each influencing us to shape our convictions and future journey. Some may be positive and some, not so positive but the journey nevertheless continues ceaselessly.

Somewhere along this journey, you realize that the path is not what it had always seemed to be. You are dealing with others like you and hence, have to master and manage these interaction dynamics in order to sustain the journey you began. This is where you see the danger of the dynamics at play and your involvement in the same taking over the idealism that you set out with. Slowly, there is the chance of you being a sum total of your achievements, position and its entitlements. If you succumb to it, beware, for you now have a skewed vision of the world in front of you and your position in it. This skewed vision can play a detriment to you, as a person, a professional set out on an illustrious career and your relations at home & at work.

There are several examples we see on a daily basis where such skewed vision has played havoc with people who soared to immense heights in what they endeavored, but ultimately their change in perception of themselves as the invincible has brought them crashing down. The insider traders cooling their heels in prison, the military generals who resigned once the skeletons fell out of the closet, the politicians who did not know where to turn to seek shelter and the sportsmen and celebrities who thought their stature meant they couldn’t be touched by their foibles are all examples of a lost identity in the glamour that beset them.

Remember, you and your uniqueness provide the sheen for the position you are in, the insurmountable tasks you take up and come out victorious. It is you that adorn your entitlements, not the other way round. Stay grounded, no matter where you go and what you achieve. Always, go back to the values with which you started. Along the journey, if confused, seek refuge in your moral values and they will always guide you to your destination. All the emoluments and successes that adorn you are because of you abiding by your values, never lose them in the reflection of your progress, for that is what got you where you are and that is what will hold you in good stead all along until you finish. It’s these values that make you unique and you will never lose your shine as a result, no matter where you are in your journey.

Who’s Got Your Back?


You got my back and I got yours!

Individuals, Teams & Organizations the world over seem to have taken this adage to heart as they strike deals and alliances, a few in writing, more in word & much more as an untold principle while they work feverishly to be successful. In order to embrace this principle, you do not necessarily have to be on the same side; rivals are known to have leveraged this undercurrent as well. 

Glance at the world of business and politics around you. You will find examples galore. It is just that those who are outside such an alliance are not too pleased. Well, if you are the one left out of a party, how would you feel? 

In every realm of society, be it corporate, social or political, forming such alliances and moving forward has become a norm. I don’t have anything against them. In order to progress and make better, it is important to have, know and work toward these unpublished agendas. But, on the contrary, as we have often seen, these alliances can be exploited to get more than a fairly deserved share. But, that’s another discussion for a different day. 

Today, let’s look at the positivity of these totally present, some visible but mostly invisible relationships. Together, as a team, one can grow and help others in the team grow as well. There are so many corporate examples of executives & their teams built over years of working together, and the end result, all of them growing together. You can see that kind of symbiotic relationship in government as well. Further, there are several family businesses that have grown and flourished so long as the family remained united and stood together. Once they break up and try growing their individual shares, they have discovered how difficult and slow a process it can be. Besides, the vultures waiting to nibble away at their pie take flight and there are none but just them guarding their pie. 

There is an interesting observation that comes to mind. Frogs in a well; when one of them tries to climb up, the others pull the one down by moving from beneath him. In the case of ants, in order to reach up to anything, they form a chain and help each other by walking over other ants. That’s the spirit of winning as a team first, and then as individuals of the team. 

As an old saying goes, “Unity is Strength”. As an individual, there is only so much you can do to influence your own progress. Find people who can complement your skills, find true partners and well-wishers in your friends, peers and mentors and form your team. Work together, work with and work through them to reach your goals and at the same time help them reach theirs. It could be an active partnership or one of those in principle, where you have their back and they have yours. Together, you form a formidable team and will succeed beyond your wildest imagination.

After all, you create your own legacy


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I saw an interesting facebook post by a cousin the other day. He, being around 40, concluded that he might live for another 20, perhaps 30 years which he stated turn out to be roughly 10K days. He realized its time to have a plan in place and ensure none of these days are merely wasted. Now, that’s an interesting way to look at the future; 30 years vs. 10K days. Suddenly, things seem to fall into perspective, don’t they?

One of the secrets to a zestful life is having an aspiration and a strong determination to follow through, no matter what your age. It doesn’t necessarily have to be just one or something lofty. It may be numerous aspirations, which are perhaps simple pleasures in life. Some of you, my friends may prefer to call it the bucket list.

Once you aspire for something, to plan for it meticulously, executing on that plan while ensuring you aren’t deviating from your goal, impromptu decisions to tackle unforeseen obstacles and finally, achieving what you planned to accomplish have their own unique sweetness and sense of fulfillment that each must cherish.

Change in perspective only helps put us back on track where we might have indulged in inertia for too long. I believe that such incidents or differed views only help refocus on a track previously treaded on and perhaps you meandered away from. Although, such wake-up calls are necessary, one in pursuit of a burning aspiration should never need them. Constant focus is imperative but, being human does come in the way and that’s where they bring you back on track.

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While doing this, you will time and again come face to face with your persona, will be able to review and improve upon a better self, will cross your achievements and cherish that sense of fulfillment I related before.

Not just professionally, but aim to have these aspirations in your personal life as well.

Seek to be a better parent, a better spouse, a better brother or sister, a better friend, a better you.

After all, you create your own legacy.