Have your daily life themes planned for 2013?


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You wake up early, probably get some exercise, freshen up & get ready, have a quick bite and grab your coffee on the way out to work. Then, at the office, you spend an entire 8-10 hours tackling what you came for, work. Somewhere in between, you grab a bite for lunch and if you’re lucky, get a coffee during a break. You leave and on the way back, review the day’s proceedings in your head or perhaps, brood over that nasty meeting you endured that noon or mull over how to tackle that timeline problem or resource issue, take your pick. You make it home in the evening, acknowledge your family with a faint smile and go over to freshen up and change. Next, you grab a cup of coffee or your favorite beverage, park yourself in the couch and hit the TV remote. Your spouse wants to share their day and your kids cozy up to you and want to play with you or need you to help with their homework, but you hardly have the energy or the willingness to spend time away from relaxing. You may force yourself, once in a while to engage with the kids or the family in activities. Or you want to get down to completing the work at hand, personal or work related, that has been lagging behind.

Bored yet? Hey, this is the regular life of an average adult. Don’t you see yourself somewhere in there? Well, its regular, its average & it can be boring. That’s where you come in. How do you go about adding the zest into it? There’s not much you can do about how regular life is structured but you can slowly but surely make amends to its nature by consciously making changes. Resolve to change your day to day life for the better in 2013, conscious change for the better. What changes, you may ask?

Think and make a list. Then, follow through with the execution of that list. For example; spend time with your family & kids, get them involved in your life and you involve in theirs. This strengthens the bond between you and cultivates positivity in mutual involvement. Instead of spending time with the TV, play a game of chess or scrabble with the kids. If there is an activity you are inclined toward, perhaps there is something that the family can contribute to. Delegate to them, no matter how small and complete together. Togetherness is key here.

You don’t want to sacrifice your TV time? Find a time that works for all and watch a favorite show together. Make it a habit to have dinner around the table as a family and discuss the day or any topics of choice together. Communication is key here.

Have a hobby and encourage everyone in the family to have one. Pursue hobby time together. Variety is key here.

Just the way you plan your career and work toward it, plan your daily life and work it. Trust me, it’s as important, if not more as your career, for a healthy home life ensures you have a happy and successful life outside the home. Find the themes you want to pursue in your and the family’s daily life, set goals, milestones throughout the year; plan for togetherness, happiness & sharing; cheer for each other while building a great quality of life. Act consciously and track progress. You will be surprised at how much more time and variety you can find within the 24 hour day. Don’t let life fleet by at its own pace and will. Take Control. Well, what are you waiting for? Get started!

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Let bygones be bygones, I don’t think so!


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12/14/12; Newtown, Conn. school incident – Children & Adults killed by an “unwell” 20 year old

It’s been done. All any of us can do now is regret what has happened and try to console ourselves, those around us and those affected; and more so the ones who survive the departed. It’s the cruel truth of the matter for an incident bygone.

But, this shouldn’t be the end of it. There have been too many of these ends. This should be the beginning of introspection. Introspection of our own selves, of the society we live in, how it’s being shaped and what kind of personalities it’s creating. At one end are those that take us, as a civilization to greater heights and on the other end are those that dwindle down into depths unseen before. But do they end up there? No. They drag others along into those depths or leave ugly marks for others to mull over after they have left. What is the cause for such darkness of character, such ugliness where one doesn’t just suffer in silence but goes on to inflict harm on innocent others while on their path to dereliction? Are the trials of achieving more than before, taking steps toward an advanced world creating a wider chasm for the failed ones as well? Are we so focused on the modernization of the world we know that we are neglecting the basic tenets that make us human?

Things we have learnt throughout our lives; courage, passion, kindness, warmth, love & compassion, are they just mere words in a book today? Have we been unsuccessful at passing these values to the younger generations? What is going wrong? How do we rectify it so we do not have to deal with the ugly side of humanity gone wrong anymore? We have had too many of these incidents that at times, I fear that we have developed a pretty thick skin since we move on from incident to incident regretting the wrongdoing. For once, we need to take a stance. Pause for a moment and think. How do we revive “humanity” as we have known it, pass it down the generations and safeguard it with every inch of our being? How do we route out the ill and nurture the sick back to health? How do we enrich compassion for each other and learn to take control of our issues so that we move ahead in our pursuits of tomorrow as one global family, the human kind?

I am keen on learning & sharing. Pray, tell!

My prayer for tonight as I hug my kids – May all those affected by the recent disaster find peace.

Mind What You Hear & Speak Your Mind!


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Greetings, Folks!

I have been out of the loop for a while. Sorry about that, had several things competing for my time over the last few weeks. However, I shouldn’t let this suffer, our interaction.

Last week saw the demise of a great motivational guru, Zig Ziglar. Zig has lived a rich and diverse life, a well-deserved one, one that he chiseled the way he sought; as you can gather from several of his talks & writings. I have always been deeply inspired by the simplicity, yet profoundness of his words. I love the way he gets his point across, through simple stories from parables to his vivid experiences. In my mind, he is the father of motivational speaking of this era. I spent some time reviewing some of his videos and talks today. They are as inspiring as ever, every time you listen to them. Here’s wishing him peace where he rests today.

LinkedIn has started sharing a smattering of posts from various popular print media that have been termed as posts by “influencers”. In the current information age, there is abundance, a tsunami of information of any kind that you choose, coming at you from every direction. A few decades ago, before the spread of technology as we know it today, collection of information was a big deal. Any access you had to any kind of media was much appreciated in order to increase your horizon. Today, there is a huge influx of information coming at you without your asking for it. The issue today is very different; it’s about sifting through what comes at you, selecting what you want to spend time on and then, deciphering what is fact from fiction, and finally, assimilating the facts to help with the enhancement of your horizon. At the same time, it’s also about interaction. You can no longer just be the receptor of information. Technology places immense power at your hands to help you react within a matter of seconds, if not minutes and share the same with millions across the world. The fall of Egyptian & Libyan autocracies from the recent past are examples of the influence of information exchange among the masses.

Although there is abundant information out there, some fact and some fiction with effort needed by us to review and validate before we assimilate, the advantages of having access to an abundance of information at our finger tips outweighs the problem of validation of what’s available.

Most importantly, do not just be one that is absorbing and assimilating information of your choice. It’s time that you start providing a voice to your thoughts, your reactions as you take in what the world has to offer you. Take your stand, make your statement, and let your voice be heard. That is what makes the dialogue meaningful and ensures its authenticity and growth on the rightful path. It’s beneficial to you and everyone else.

A little self-restraint can save you some precious “Ahs” and “Ohs”!


                                           

One would think that one can be a free soul in certain scenarios; be yourself in the midst of your loved ones, primarily your family. Well, sure. But, every situation has its own rules and tenets. After all, we are humans. How did you ever think there would be a situation or scenario where all rules could just be blown away?

In any case, what we are discussing today is about self-restraint. Every person has a unique temperament. I know “spur of the moment; say it on your face” folks as well as “duh, were you talking to me?” folks. There are those that just absorb a situation and do not react to it at all versus those that absorb, analyze and then, come out with a self validated reaction based on their experience. And, then there are those that first react and then, go on to analyze what just happened.

There are several situations you tackle every day, be it at home, at work, in a social circle or even, in your virtual world, you know what I mean, social networks on the web, your e-mail etc. With the rapid exchanges these days and a horrendous influx of information to assimilate and analyze, it somehow seems that impromptu reactions are the best way to keep on top of such daunting interactions. As tempting as it might seem, it is in your best interest to exercise some self-restraint. If an interaction is important to you, take a moment, pause, think and store your reaction away to come back to later. That “later” might be a few minutes away, a few hours away or if possible, a few days away depending on the urgency of the matter at hand. When you come back to react at this later time, you will be amazed at your self and the vast difference in your reaction then, and now. Time is a great healer and brings about the balance in your reactions, the right balance that just probably saved you a job, a relationship, a life.

I am not saying that there should not be instant reactions at all. There are situations that definitely need these to save the day or cherish a moment, but judge those and react accordingly. But, if you feel hurried before reacting or feel that your urge has gotten the better of you, STOP! And follow the wait and react approach. You will never have to cry over spilt milk!

Would you rather lead from the front or follow through?

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Leaders and Followers are both vital to the fabric of any organization. As much as you need leaders to set the path and motivate others to follow through, you also need productive followers who are willing to listen, learn and execute on the plan set before them. No organization can do without one or the other.

The world is mostly made up of followers and a subset of leaders. Of course, leadership is a learned trait and most of us play both roles within certain limits.

Leadership is about:

  • Developing a vision, sharing it and building support around it.
  • Strategizing and planning execution to realize the vision.
  • Leading execution of the strategy while overseeing the completion of planned goals.

These tenets are universal to any organization and are mostly measured through fiscal success, I mean EBIDTA, profits, market share, stock value etc.

But, true leadership has other dimensions as well; corporate social responsibility and emotionally intelligent people management being two of these.

An organization that aspires for success ensures that every associate in the organization knows and lives the true reason of its existence. In order for this to happen, every leader in the organization, from the CEO to line management needs to imbibe and practice the principles of valuing the people assets of the organization. Customers and those that serve them are equally important to the organization. Motivating associates to perform to their potential by managing their individual hot buttons and then, channeling this work to meet the needs of the clients is the salient execution principle of any successful organization. This ultimately leads to the realization of organizational goals, the yardstick it measures its success by.

At all levels of management, a prime factor of success is optimal people management. The amount of effort put into strategizing and planning an organization’s path also has to be put into managing and growing the people assets who are instrumental in realizing the plan. With leaders that share in the vision and willing followers, any organization is destined to meet its set goals!

Finally, an organization has to think and act beyond itself.  Making an impact in the community it thrives in and standing up to be a pillar of the community’s progress enhance the perpetuity of the organization and take it beyond the plans it was conceived with. That, in sum is the true culmination of its existence and success.

Now, ask yourself some key questions to understand where you are and how you need to fine-tune your work style to get where you want to be;

  • What do you do for work? Do you believe in the vision set forth by your organization?
  • Are you a leader or follower?
  • As a leader,
    • How much do you value your team? Do you take time to listen to them or are you just giving instructions most of the time expecting follow through?
    • Do you treat your team with the same respect that you expect of them?
    • Is your team totally sold on your idea of execution so that it will be a success?
    • Do you know your team members’ hot buttons so you can work on keeping them motivated and provide direction and help in the realization of their goals?
    • Do you exhibit enough appreciation for what your team does?
  • As a follower,
    • Do you truly believe in the vision and plan set forth by your leadership? If not, do you question and make suggestions?
    • Do you listen and follow through per expectations? Do you go beyond?
    • Do you feel a valued member of your team? If not, do you express concern and work with your leader to ensure mutual transparency and work to build a plan to help get there?
    • Do you offer suggestions and new ways of doing things?
    • Can you be the best lieutenant your leader can ever find?

Find your answers, make your course corrections and let me assure you, the journey towards your goals will be as fulfilling as attaining them!

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Stupid and childish, I don’t think so!


In the recent past, we have seen several scams and high profile issues where the accused come out and say how much they regret what they had done and that they were stupid and childish to have done so.  Stupid, yes; I can understand that but, why is stupid followed by “childish”. They were guilty and highly irresponsible and in no way childish.

This generation’s children and for that matter, of those before are/were hardly irresponsible. Stupid and childish should not go together. Children in fact are responsible for their age, are innocent, endearing and have all the right qualities that adults aspire for. Children are smart in ways beyond we can imagine. They are like sponges, always learning and imbibing from their surroundings. They may be naïve and lack experience in the ways of the world, but their heart and mind is in the right place. These scamsters and wrongdoers are in no way inexperienced or ignorant of what they were doing. Only when caught, they express their regret which once again goes to show their lack of true remorse. How can such actions be considered childish?

The character of children is malleable. As I stated before, they are like sponges, always learning from their surroundings which further helps chisel their character that goes on to shape their lives. All children are innocent and have an affinity for what is good and right. It’s amazing but, there is a lot we can learn from our own children. It is not about age or experience, it’s about a clean mind and heart and an affinity for love, peace, togetherness and harmony in life. First, its these basics one can learn from them. Further, we can learn transparency, tenacity, conviction and other such virtues from children. On second thought, it is actually a blessing to be childish. The definition of childish should not be representative of immaturity that is used to depict immature acts of adults. That surely needs to change! Don’t you agree?

Don’t rob yourself of life’s simple pleasures…


Of late, I have been pretty busy with work in general.  There have been several instances where I am tied down at the office and then, pick right back after I return home. Sound familiar, eh! My 4 year old daughter is a definite attention seeker. If she wants me to listen to her or watch her, she sure means it. Over the last few days, I have tried to feign attention while doing my work. She knows it the moment I try. She stops saying what she started and tells me, “Dad, Listen to me.” And until she is sure that I am listening, she will not continue.

The other day, she wanted to show me that she could jump over her mat on the floor. She jumped over and said, “Dad, did you see that?”

I said, “Hmm…Yeah, Great job!”

She replied, “Dad, Look!”

I lifted my head and looked at her feet as  she got ready to jump again. She said, “Dad, look at me….and keep looking.”

While I looked into her eyes, she jumped over the mat a few times, all the time, making sure, I was watching.

I made sure, I watched and then, exclaimed over her feat!

All the time, I was thinking of how quick the kids are to notice if you are truly attentive or not.  Next followed pangs of guilt for feigning attention that they seek and truly deserve.

It is important to plan your time judiciously between work and life and give each of these the true attention they deserve. Of course, there will be times when one will encroach upon the other, but even during such times, it’s vital to minimize and if possible, avoid inattention or neglect.

I made a pact with myself to spend some pure unadulterated time with my kids the next day. And, that was the best possible time I had with them in a long time. I learnt so much about my own kids and we had much fun together. And the best part, we bonded tremendously.

I am sure you juggle multiple roles in your daily life too. Make a decision to treat work and life with similar passion. Come back and tell me about the exciting surprises life threw at you!

 

Tell a story…each time….every time!


A universal truism the world over is that every one loves a story. Doesn’t necessarily have to be a good one. It’s another thing that if the story is good, you have more eyes peeled on you and more ears perked up than when it is not. In fact, story telling has been an age-old pastime that has enamored generations of humans. This is reiterated today in the success of Hollywood to Bollywood and all the woods in between. Also, there are channels galore cropping up each day the world over; everyone has a story to tell.

The story telling talent is one you need to develop, to inspire others’ interest in you and what you have to convey. In today’s age of social media and online networking, sharing tidbits of your life makes you more approachable and interesting for others. In fact, it gives a sense of familiarity to even those you have never met. Cultivating this talent accelerates success in both, your professional and personal lives.

On the professional front, it helps to build and leverage your brand. Privacy is definitely something that should be fiercely guarded and cherished. But, there are aspects that compliment you as a person and professional that should be shared with the world. That is how you enhance your professional stature and add value to your contributions. It’s important that these aspects are showcased to help build and share your unique personal brand. What you can expect as a part of this personal branding is more and better work, respect in your professional community and recognition for what you do and represent.

As a person and a professional, embrace story telling as a part of your communication techniques. It is bound to draw more attentive listeners and will ensure you leave a mark with your listeners. Whether interviewing for a job, leading a conference call, addressing a meeting or talking to your team, use the story telling approach. Mind you, it should be short, crisp and to the point.

Now, let’s discuss this technique further;

First, set the stage. Discuss the situation and characterize those involved. Develop the scenario.

Next, relate the conflict. Talk about the abrasion. It’s human nature that a conflict perks up our interest and then, the human mind starts to think in terms of solutions.

Third, describe the struggles, trials and tribulations in facing up to the conflict. Give listeners the unexpected. Tide over their expectations to peak their interest and encourage involvement. This keeps the listeners engaged in the dialogue around the conflict and will even encourage interaction in terms of the listeners’ ideas about solutions to mitigate the struggle.

Fourth, drive the listeners through the interesting discussion that began with the statement of conflict. Drive toward the end, towards a resolution of the conflict.

Finally, state the change in the situation. Ensure the listeners have assimilated the finality of the solution.

Your attendees will leave with appreciation of the exercise and will look forward to future interesting interactions with you. And, when in one, you can be rest assured that they are at their attentive best!

Where does the world’s “keeping in touch” platform go from here?


With the recent Facebook IPO, the internet’s latest phenomenon is front and center.

The world is wondering on various topics. What will the newly minted billionaires & millionaires do with all their monies? Has the free publicity by the media over the years turned FB into the household name it is today? Is the company really worth $100 billion with only about $4 billion in revenues and $1 billion in profits? What kind of person is Mark Zuckerberg? Will his focus now shift to catering to his shareholders and making more money for them? Will he now start selling your and my information to companies looking to leverage the data for various reasons including selling us what we may or may not want? How much information should we make public on social networking sites? Is anything ever private? What is the future of Facebook (FB)? What modes will FB adopt to grow its revenues and what controversies will that cause? Do I still want to continue on FB? Is spending a few minutes to an hour daily on FB a waste of my time? As a user, how is it that I am not making a single penny while my data is worth something to someone out there? So on and so forth……

True, there are a lot of questions and a lot more new ones may evolve over time. But, let’s take a step back. Eight years ago, when 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg was building “TheFacebook” product, even he wasn’t aware that it would grow to be what it is today and perhaps much bigger in the future. He probably didn’t envision building a social networking site just to benefit mankind but had thoughts of making money off of it, as any youngster venturing out at that age would. It’s an undeniable fact that Facebook, as it is today is the result of investments and hard work from all those in line to gain from its IPO. There have been and are other companies in the same space that have not tasted similar success. Well deserved, indeed. And of course, scores of people like you and me are the reason FB is such a big success today.

At its core, FB is a connector, a platform for connecting, networking and relationship building, both at personal and professional levels. That is where the draw is for businesses to reach out to people through FB. Earlier, personal and professional spaces were clearly defined and segregated. With FB, that line no longer exists. A company can pitch its products and services right to you and in your face and that too very quickly. Now, that is immense power and reach, if you have something to sell.

Today, we live in the age of instant gratification. Success and failure can happen overnight. You do not have to wait a lifetime to become a success and attribute all that you did over time to it.  You put your case in front of the audience and the verdict is instant. In one way, it’s good since that allows you the time to step back and act on your next endeavor before a lifetime has passed away.

Well, back to our initial discussion. FB has thrived as a result of the team’s focus on the product and maturing it over time; and, people’s affinity to interact. It’s basic human nature to interact, share, build and nurture relationships and here is the ideal platform to do so in today’s age. When the platform showed up, people jumped at it. There are those who say that I’d rather meet and talk than use FB. True, face to face interaction or talking over the phone trumps over using a screen in between but, it’s not possible in all cases. FB has let us find relatives and friends living across the world and lost over time. It has become a valuable medium to reconnect and cherish these relations.

Talking about the impact of the IPO on the company’s future, the FB team had to cater to the stakeholders before the IPO and it will continue to do so in the future too. Earlier, they were a very product focused team whose sole aim was to evolve the product while finding ways and means of making money. About 85% of the FB revenues come from the sponsored ads you see on the right hand side of your FB page. Of course, there may be a very small percentage of people who actually click on them. Nevertheless, these are sponsored ads. There is talk that each FB user’s data may be sold to buyers for about $120.00 per head. This has been portrayed as another way the company will make money. Concerns over what is being sold, user privacy and user consent have arisen. These are valid concerns and over time, we will hear more about them. But the bottom line is that FB succeeded because of its product and that’s where the focus should lie. The product needs to be evolved and related innovations need to occur to ensure user stickiness and to find new realms of revenue.

Of the 845 million member base that FB enjoys, over 80% is international with India attributing  to 46%. The US membership base has trimmed by about 15% over the past year. Now, those are serious things to consider. International growth is good but domestic membership has to be healthy too to attract and sustain national advertisers. Loss in membership has to be researched to determine causes and to act on them. One thing to remember, in the internet world, if membership numbers can grow overnight, they can drop overnight too. Hence, it becomes all the more important that product innovation and customer service (whether direct or indirect) are prime considerations in the future FB growth strategy.

Here’s to the continued growth of the world’s beloved “keeping in touch” platform…..

Have you smiled at yourself lately?


It’s a tough world out there, getting up to fight the everyday battles of life, at work and at home. Sometimes, you may even feel that you are all alone in your daily battles. This is the time to take a step back and smile at you.

Smiles are magical. They can lift your spirits in a jiffy. I come back home every night after a tiring day and, there is my little 3-year-old rushing to the door as she hears the click of the lock, all smiles and wanting to hug. That just melts away the trials and tribulations of the entire day! For some of us that are far from family or caught up in the tussle and bustle of life, it’s important to find a smile. It’s as close as you looking into a mirror and giving yourself one. Seriously, how many of you actually smile at yourself each morning when you look in the mirror. If you do not, try it.  It can mean the difference between dredging through a tough day versus having a spring in your step and your heart.

A smile relaxes your muscles, the frown on the forehead just disappears and the face is at its best. Smiles are infectious. You smile and look at someone, they smile back. It’s the easiest way to pass some happiness around.

You might say, my situation just doesn’t let me even try to smile. Well, you remember that plastered smile you have seen before where you doubted the genuineness behind it. That will do. It may sound funny but that is a good start. Try it and keep at it. Before you know, you will have a genuine one on your face and this will be there to stay as you work through your issues, but now with a smile on your face! Moreover, now you are spreading it too.

Smiles helps activate the “happiness” biochemical in our bodies, a very vital ingredient for sustained happiness and a healthy and long life. Now, isn’t that a treasure to pass around to friend and foe!