In Pursuit of “You”


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It is said that as you hit middle age, you start to come to terms with yourself. Well, in some cases, I believe you struggle to do that. However, I have seen that most people start looking back and introspect to find themselves, their purpose, start to analyze if they are on the path to what they have always wanted to do. If not, they make plans to adopt the path they are on. Overall, everyone looks to make peace with his or her existence.

There are a lucky few, who get to do this much earlier in life. They are blessed. Blessed, because, this sets them on the path early on where they set out to do what they really wanted to. For most, the realization itself takes time.

The first ten years of life pass in playful abandon, blissfully ignorant of a higher purpose in life. The second decade brings along with it, the pressure of growing up. We set out on a path that we have grown to recognize during the first decade of our life; a path traversed by our parents, relations and other elders we see growing up. We are unsure; if this is our calling, yet trudge along on what is in front of us. The third decade brings with it the responsibilities of life: work, relationships, marriage, kids and all that raising a family entails. There is hardly time for anything else. Toward the fag end of this part comes the retrospection and introspection I talked about initially.

Better late than never, you correct course and proceed.

Life is actually very simple, yet we make it so complex for ourselves as we pass through it. Part of it is due to the continuous influx of all that life has to offer and the rapid pace at which we pass through it, that we never get a chance to catch a breath and look at it from an external vantage point. And, part of it is due to the fact that we have never known it any other way. Of course, there are those lucky few who catch a break early on and are thrown on the right track to begin with.

Life’s simplicity lies in not taking it seriously and just knowing that, you need to take it one step at a time, living in the present. Its like when you learn to walk, take one step at a time. Put your first foot forward firmly, and then lift your second foot to put it in front of your first. Once you do that, repeat the process.

At whatever juncture of your life you are at now, just remember this and follow through. You will be happy and fulfilled. Do not overthink or over do, just focus on what is in front of you and do it with utmost sincerity. Although the future may seem uncertain, as long as you are in control of your steps, the path you seek will reveal itself, guaranteed.

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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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.

“Out of Sight” is “Out of Mind”


It is said “out of sight” is “out of mind”. Don’t you agree?

As a professional, the day job each one of us carries on with is an everyday reiteration of this. You are only as good as what your contribution is for the day. Yesterday is in the past and tomorrow didn’t arrive soon enough. Hence, it’s important to ensure that you are at your very best each day. Bring your best attitude, your acumen and collective experience to execute on your expertise each day. Never rest on the laurels of a day gone by.

At the same time, ensure that you leverage your accomplishments of the past. Carry them with you and reflect upon them yourself as well as reflect them on others you interact with to ensure that you gain the maximum benefit from your past laurels. Although, these are from a time gone by, they are useful to provide a vision of what you have to offer and are capable of. Hence, never let your past accomplishments go stale. It’s not just for you to value but to reflect on others so they value them as much, thus helping you make significant strides in things you are set out to do.

Tell your story to anyone who is willing to lend an ear. Get excited about your story each time you relate it. Excitement is contagious. Your passion will rub off on your audience and will benefit you in the long run. Remember, you are your best spokesperson. Passion and Attitude you carry will pave the way for greater accomplishments you are set out to achieve. After all, the journey needs to be as wonderful as the destination.

In your personal life, it is vital to ensure that you live and renew your relationships each day. Never take a relationship for granted. The more you put into one, the more you get out of it. Once in a while, get nostalgic. Remember those who have had an influence on you and continue to do so. At the same time, there might be certain bitter experiences you’d rather forget. Do so, but remember the lesson you derived from such experiences.

Keep the best of your past and most of your current fresh, in your mind and your heart for these shape the future you aspire for.

As I said, out of sight is out of mind.

You just cannot please everyone…


There is a story that I came across recently. You might have heard it before, but let me relate it to you.

There was on old couple riding along on a donkey when 2 onlookers commented on how cruel they were to overburden the animal. The husband got down and walked while the wife rode along. After a short distance, some other passersby laughed at them and wondered what a fool the husband was to walk and let the wife ride. Immediately, the husband asked the wife to get down and walk while he rode the donkey.  A few minutes passed by. They came across some more onlookers who thought it was very harsh on the part of the husband to ride the donkey while his wife walked along. Finally, the couple decided to walk along with the donkey. After another half a mile, a few people passing along laughed at them for having a donkey and not riding it!

What did you learn from this story? That, you just cannot please everyone no matter how hard you try.

In your personal life, you want to ensure your family’s happiness. Fair enough.

In your professional life, it’s about pleasing your customers but that again, has to be done within some reasonable limits. When you try to please each and every customer by agreeing to every one of their demands, you are not pleasing anyone since, what you offer does not meet the needs of anyone in particular. Hence, saying no to a customer is not taboo. You have to choose your customers so that they are a cultural fit to your organization and then, give your best to keep them.

Other than that, there are a myriad of professional relationships you balance as a part of your work life. It’s a learned skill to successfully maneuver these. Again, the fact that you cannot please everyone trumps. And the only way you trump in a professional setting is with sheer smarts, integrity and acumen to deliver results. Be yourself, be answerable to your inner self and experience confidence in what you say and do. You succeed as long as you are your true self. Any deviation from this to please anyone other than you results in a conflict within. And, conflicts with self do not nurture all that is needed to truly succeed. So, simply, be yourself and enjoy all that it brings your way!

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…..