Think Outside the Box!


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Over the last 2 decades, the word “disruption” has been thrown around quite a bit. “Innovation”, the act of creating something new and “Disruption”, the act of changing status quo with something better have gone hand in hand. These terms are interchangeably used or used together when talking about making the world a better place with a new invention or discovery.

If you really look into it, access to technology and our handle on it to make it do things that were never imagined possible has been key to the familiarity of these words over the last 2 decades. The world, as we know it has probably seen frequent and much innovation & disruption in the last 20 years.

Innovation doesn’t necessarily have to be something very dramatic. It can be subtle, slow, even making something that already exists just a tad bit better.  What’s important is the mindset to make things better, which I believe, is more prevalent with those living in current times than ever before. Not for the emoluments it may bring but more so for the sheer joy in transforming the way we live to be that much more efficient.

History has shown rich and varied times of innovation as well, but more in the mechanical and automation areas than technological as is now. Those were difficult times and I have much respect for the inventors of the time who gave us what we consider our basics today and, not so much as give a second thought to it. The electric bulb, telephone, automobiles, etc., things that we take for granted, were invented by people who had many odds to face but just kept up with their dreams until they were realized.

Today’s entrepreneurs & innovators fight against odds as well, albeit of a different kind than older times, to realize the dreams they set out with. Much is possible and sooner too in our times, especially with the entire world being fertile ground as one global market for whatever these adventurers come up with. Its instant validation of their hard work, if the world acknowledges this work, ensuring great returns for them. Such results make it possible to encourage more to take the journey while the ones that succeeded continue down the path of another great adventure.

What is interesting and refreshing in our times is that great returns in terms of money and popularity no longer tend to be the end goal of success, people set out to achieve. Our innovators still continue down the path of doing more, discovering more and continue to tread the path of making the world better. Money and fame are seen as simple outcomes of succeeding at what they set out to achieve and that is truly remarkable.

For all the inquisitive minds out there, go on and embark on your journey of innovation and disruption. There is no telling what is under which rock. And, while you are at it, enjoy your adventure thoroughly for that is the most precious aspect of it all!

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What does success mean to you?


Yesterday, I called an old friend in India. His 6 year old son picked up the phone and we chatted for a few minutes. The kid was animated about an event at home from a few days ago and started relating it to me. His grandpa was felicitated by a group of people who came from different places. I asked him who they were and what did they felicitate him for. He replied that they were a group of 60, some seemed young and some older and they had come from different places in India. Some were from abroad too. They came together to honor his grandpa, their teacher from years ago. The little one was thrilled to see the happy crowd and a happier grandpa. My friend took the phone next, had an equally excited tone and talked about how thrilled everyone was to come together and honor his father! Sept. 5th was teacher’s day in India and these students of his dad from over the years, took the time to come over and meet his father and the family; reminisce about times they had spent together and thank him for shaping their lives. By the time, I let go of the line, I was excited too!

Isn’t it amazing? These erstwhile students made an effort to get together, meet and greet their teacher and show their gratitude. He must have been a wonderful teacher to have left such an indelible mark on these students that they came looking for him. I consider him a very successful teacher.

Success means many things to many people. What does it mean to you? Revenue, profits, bank balance, power, position, a luxurious lifestyle, large cars, bigger homes, etc.

When you really look at the core of any job done; there are two things that matter. At the point in time, do you enjoy what you do and are you giving it your best? Your ultimate goal might be to become a CEO and run your own company or more generically, is at the pinnacle of your career, but you may not be there yet. Right now, this moment, there is a job you do and you are responsible and accountable for it. Do you take that seriously? If you do, you ought to give it your best. Your best will translate into the best possible results on the job no matter how they are measured. With this affable demeanor, you will make associations that take note and these combined with the results you show pave the path to your dreams. Going back to the two things I mentioned, they are enjoying what you do so you can give it your best. That itself is true success! Everything else is an outcome.

The emoluments of a job and the perks that come along with it are outcomes, not success. Success lies in the relationships you make along the way, the lives that you impact and improve, the lessons you learn and impart, inspiration you provide and the respect you command. What one would consider as success in terms of material wealth or better lifestyle are all outcomes of the success you cherish.

Outcomes, as we discussed are natural results of a job well done. Is it a crime to aspire for outcomes? Not at all, but when you focus only on outcomes instead of enjoying what you do and giving it your best, the success measures get compromised and it all remains just that, aspiration and never a reality.

True success is in the relationships you build and maintain over time. There is an old saying that inspires us to count our blessings in the friends and supporters we have. Look for success in your friendships, camaraderie and in a job well done. Trust me, all else that shapes a happy and fulfilled life must and will follow through.

Do “nice” people make poor leaders?


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Definitely not! Well, let me start with that so you know where my sensibilities lie right at the beginning.

Niceness is a very valuable trait in any person, something that is becoming rare in today’s competitive environment.

“Nice” character traits most generally include agreeableness, trust, being a straight shooter, modesty and kindness. A person with niceness as a part of their personality generally tends to stay the same through life. Character traits are the blue print of a person and very rarely change unless the person experiences certain very hard life situations. As a result, the person develops a shield that they try to use to cover up their original personality fearing a recurrence of the bitterness that affected them.

It’s also a fact that more often that not, nice people are taken advantage of. But, that is where the use of personal charm comes into play so as to ensure that one is not abused. People in general are subtly biased towards niceness and feel that a nice person wouldn’t mind being pushed a little. Again, being nice is one thing, but you should also hold your stand and be firm. Niceness is not a weakness; it’s a virtue that is bolstered by being firm.

So, being nice is not always about putting others before you but is about putting yourself before others where it would benefit you as well as the others.

Leadership is about setting example, being a role model and leading the way towards mutual success. What better example to set than being nice yet being firm for a leader’s traits tend to permeate through the organization.

Any organization has

  • a responsibility towards its shareholders, employees and customers; its corporate responsibility;
  • a responsibility towards the community it thrives in and where its people resources live, its social responsibility and;
  • a responsibility towards the business it is in, towards the intellectual capital used; which in today’s time translates into intellectual responsibility.

It’s a leader’s duty, no matter at what level within the organization to safeguard and work towards the fulfillment of these responsibilities on an ongoing basis.

There are leaders that consider that corporate responsibility trumps it all. Again, there is bias towards the shareholders or the customers over employees and vice versa.

If employees feel neglected, their morale goes down and as a result, customers and shareholders suffer. If customers are neglected; no matter how much you may focus on the employees, the business as a whole suffers paving way for not being able to support those employees at all. If shareholders suffer, it has a ripple effect on the well being of the employees and customers.

Not one of them is exclusive. Hence, sound decisions have to be taken in consideration of the business as a whole. That is where the trait of niceness kicks in. A “nice” leader tends to see the big picture and contemplates about the morale and well being of the employees, the health of the business, the focus on shareholders as well as the top notch service that the customers deserve. The key is business health, not purely the financials or what the shareholders seek in terms of financial gain; which can at times happen at the expense of employees or customers. In such unharmonious situations, the rewards are short-lived.

Investing in the community where the organization lives and safeguarding and investing in the growth of intellectual capital are equally important to the long healthy life of a corporation.

As a business leader, it is important to have a sound mind and make sound decisions. There are 2 schools of thought; one that suggests the importance of empathy in business and the other, which states that business decisions are to be devoid of emotions.

I am of the opinion that a balanced approach to decision making is important. Too much or too less of anything can hurt. After all, a business is not just about money. It’s about the knowledge capital invested, the people and their skills that come into play to serve the customers that pay and expect the best possible service for their dollar. Each of these is vital and more important than that, the harmoniousness of their coming together to form the corporation and all that results from it is unique and truly admirable.

Someone who truly understands this and keeps it top of mind while imparting their duty makes the most ideal employee, the most ideal leader.