Wednesday, March 31, 2010

1 Day Team Building Workshop at Alankrita

Headed off at an early hour with Rama Raju for the long pending team building workshop for Gap Miners. We picked up Rags at Balanagar and drove off to Alankrita, a fine resort on the Shameerpet Road. The rest of the team had already arrived - Nagesh, Anirudh, Rohet, Sundeep, Aravind, Srikanth, Dayakar and Srikanth Reddy. We wolfed down a standard breakfast of idlis, vadas and omelettes and headed off to the class. The teams were formed and the rules explained and off we went to the cricket ground.
The first game lasted an hour. Team A led by Srikanth, and consisting of Rama Raju, Nagesh, Srikanth Reddy and Aravind batted first and piled on 51 in 9 overs. Team B led by Anirudh, and comprising Rohet, Sundeep, Dayakar and Rags, started well enough and scored 20 in 2 overs. However they started losing wickets regularly and wound up at a net score of 20.
We headed back to the classroom for some paperwork. All members answered questions such as why they were playing, what the team goal was, what their role was and whether their performance could be bettered. They felt they could better it. After some discussion about the team goal, their own roles and their commitment to a common cause, the teams made a strategy to compete harder in the second game.
The second game started off with Team A batting first again and piling on 56 runs. Team B started badly and never recovered; barely managing a positive score.
A tired lot, we headed back to lunch, a nice spread with besibele bath, rice, roti, Andhra chicken, dal, Qubbani ka meetha and ice cream.
Post lunch we compared learnings from the games and how we could have performed better. We wound up the discussion with the characteristics of champion teams, the principles of team building and finally what everyone felt were their takeaways to the workplace. We ended the day at about 430 pm, tired and hopefully with some learning about team dynamics.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Champion's Mindset - Knowing Your Goals

The champion is clear about what he wants. This clarity itself differentiates him from the others more than any other quality.
So, to inculcate the Champion's Mindset, we must be clear about what we want too. Even things other than those that the world has planted in you of course. What do you really want?
It seems like a difficult question to answer for most. I had a tough time figuring out what I want. Still do sometimes. If we don't know what we want, then even if we have all the tools to get what we want we will not get it! Like having a car at our disposal and having no where to go!
In my workshops also I find that people do not know what they want. A house, a car, success etc are some of the things that come out with some prodding. But again with no clear idea. It is time to sit down with ourselves and get a clear idea. A house by a lake, a home by the sea, an office at Cuffe Parade, a Merc, a position as a Vice President in an MNC, a cricket commentator, a test cricketer, a star actor, a music composer...the clearer one is, the more the chances of it coming true.

How do I get clarity? What do I want?
One way is to go back to our childhood dreams. For example, I knew somehow, vaguely though, that I wanted to be a writer. And there were dreams of playing cricket as well. I see interviews of people in magazines and they say, 'I always wanted to be an actor, or a singer or a whatever...'. This is something that is quite evident in us.

Write, Verbalise
Anyway, it helps to write down the dreams that really drive you, that you would really feel good about. It could be earning pots of money, establishing a great company, being a great scientist and discovering great inventions, creating a great recipe, owning a bakery (mine), but it should make you feel good! It should charge you enough that you feel like working on it 15 hours a day!

Being In That Space
A home by the sea, a ride around India, ideas that make a difference to the world, great health, great relationships, wealth...give it a shape, a number, a color, a smell and visualize the dream. Many champions see themselves breasting the tape, lifting the cup, racing away to glory before they actually do it. It is that clarity, the being-in-that-place that propels them to their dream.

Make That List
So list what you want - the big ones, the small ones, the material ones and the spiritual ones. Make the list of what you really want for yourself. More importantly, get comfortable with the thought and feeling of enjoying that which you have achieved. If your dream is to earn 10 lakhs, get comfortable with handling a cheque for 10 lakhs responsibly instead of shutting the dream off at the starting point. So what would you do with 10 lakhs, what would you buy, where would you invest etc.
The Champion's Mindset is about being clear about the goal. And desiring it badly. And enjoying it when it is achieved!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Champion's Mindset - Knowing One's Strengths

The first step to developing the champion's mindset is to take an honest appraisal of oneself and one's strengths. Someone mentioned it to me yesterday (and I do believe it myself) that the hardest thing is to know one's strength. One may not recognize one's strengths by introspection, so it may help to get the perspective of your friends and family, of people who know you well. I normally ask participants to find out 5 strengths from 5 known people, including one's parents to get a bunch of strengths. From these strengths, we must identify the stuff that makes us the champion. One can ask for that one quality as well, that is champion material to get an idea of what it is that makes you a champion.

Introspect On Strengths
This is an exercise that needs to be introspected upon. One needs to get comfortable with one's strengths as in being able to say 'I am a balanced individual, who is a good writer, a good communicator, a resilient person, a people-friendly person, a thinker, a cricketer, a dream chaser, a tryer....'. That is what comes to me as I write now about myself. But I am sure I will find someone saying something that will surprise me.

Verbalise It - Get Comfortable Saying It
I also realize that the more I verbalise this statement - I use this method of introducing myself elaborately every time I speak in a lecture or in a workshop - and now I do feel quite comfortable with myself as a person who can speak management, life skills and cricket. Somewhere in the set of strengths lies the strength or the combination of strengths that will bring out the champion in you.

Which One Is It?
It is normally pretty obvious. It is what everyone tells you that you are obsessed with. It is what you are obsessed with. It could be playing cricket (so you think you will be a Tendulkar huh, stop wasting your time), electronics (that guy's crazy, it's like he will win the Nobel Prize or something), dressing up dolls, cooking, acting. miming, singing, dancing, painting, making could be just about anything. People make a career out of anything, it is just that they need to feel that yes, this is what makes me tick, this is what I will do even if the whole world laughs at me, this is what I will do for hours and hours...
I could play cricket for hours one end. When I found someone I played with them, when I did not find someone I'd play with the wall. I'd play imaginary test cricket with my brother and kept detailed records of all the players I played and calculated their averages.
Similarly I could write letters to everyone I loved (it was easy to love everyone sometime ago), long, funny letters to my friends who I'd think needed a laugh. Sometimes I'd write letters to my friends abroad on borrowed money. But I loved writing letters, then articles, then stories and then longer stories.
You know your strengths somehow, you know what you're made for. Ask yourself if the cause is worthy, pick up the relevant strengths, and go for it!

The Champion's Mindset

One of the things about champions is the quiet resilience they show in the face of adversity. The champion always looks at converting the slightest opportunity to his advantage. Maybe the entire game has not gone in his favour, maybe they got off to a bad start, but the champion stays his ground till the end instead of throwing in the towel or getting angry at his teammates. Somehow, in his mind he seems to have the thought that says, okay, we haven't done well so far but give me that one opportunity and we'll come back.
In a team game, the captain needs to understand that he cannot get into a mindset where he thinks that the others are not putting in their best. It has to be always with the thought that everyone is trying their best, everyone is looking for that opportunity and everyone will convert that opportunity. one look at an MS Dhoni or a Shane Warne on the cricket field, gives you an ample example of how champion leaders behave in times of duress.
Given that space, even on a bad day, the players who are not having a good day can pull themselves back which is so important. But if the captain does not have this mindset and gives up on his players with a - I have to do everything, or a they are not trying hard enough - it somehow gets transferred as a vibration and that is when you see that drooping shoulder syndrome (and you can sense it in your bones that the team is going to lose).
It is a thought. But the champion holds on to the thought till the end. Like a weed to a drowning man, it can make all the difference. It is a good quality to practice and add to your repertoire.
The champion never gives up - in his mind, whatever the stakes, whatever the score, he is looking for one opportunity to turn things around!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Champion's Mindset - Workshop on April 3 and 4, 2010

I am attaching below the content for the workshop on developing the 'The Champion's Mindset' which I propose to do for a small group on April 3,4 2010.

The Champion’s Mindset

“Their discipline, sense of responsibility, total focus on jobs… and the seriousness with which they approached practice was clearly the stuff that separated champions from ordinary mortals.”
- Harimohan Paruvu in ‘The Men Within’

‘The Champion’s Mindset’, is a state of mind. Primarily, it recognizes excellence in oneself and pursues the path of excellence leading to intensely fulfilling lives on all planes, viz. personal, inter-personal, financial, material, moral, spiritual…
Many of us, however, meander hopelessly. We start living a life of compromise, a boring routine, a rat race… however much we earn or are recognized, we are happy only in bits and bytes.

Program Rationale
‘The Champion’s Mindset’ is a 2-day workshop that aims to bring out the best, the potential in each individual. The workshop is a reflective, experiential program that combines cricketing, life and corporate analogy. It works on knowing the self, recognizing one’s strengths, knowing one’s goal, finding the gap, fulfilling the gap and achieving the goal.
It involves taking responsibility for oneself, understanding that excellence is a part of everyone and sustaining that part in whatever one chooses to do – at work, at play and at life. It is about giving the best that one has, the 100% to life.
Learning Objectives
 To bring out the best within each individual
 To kick-start the development of the champion’s mindset and
 To start mapping plans to achieve high results in chosen area of work

The workshop employs dialogue, reflection, collective experience sharing and activity to promote development of the mind-set for excellence in performance and work, through rich use of analogy, metaphor, examples and shared experience drawn from life experiences in cricket, writing, career, team building, management, leadership…

Who should attend
All who desire to cultivate a champion’s mindset in life and achieve results they desire… Careerists, practicing Professionals, Entrepreneurs, Sportsmen, Organizational Team members…anyone with a dream and a goal to achieve…

Program Structure
The program will consist of 9 sessions, over two days:

Session 1: Concept of Excellence
Session 2: Identifying Champion Material Within
Session 3: Identifying Goals to Champion
Session 4: Detailing the Planning Process
Session 5: Steps to Reach the Next Level
Session 6: How to Increase Self-Worth
Session 7: My Winning Formula
Session 8: Ways to Sustain the Process
Session 9: Debriefing and feedback:

Key Takeaways
Participants will be prompted and facilitated to:
 articulate their personal and professional aspirations
 become aware of their strengths and how to use them to excel
 develop clarity on their personal and professional goals
 prepare detailed action plans to achieve their personal and professional goals
 understand and use tools to achieve self-developed goals
 understand and use tools to reach and sustain peak performance, repeat patterns of excellence
 develop follow up plan and support system to monitor and stay on course

Program Facilitator
About Harimohan Paruvu
Harimohan Paruvu is a novelist, motivational speaker, workshop facilitator and management consultant based out of Hyderabad. His first novel ‘The Men Within – A Cricketing Tale’, published in 2007, is a bestseller, and the first work of fiction on cricket/sports in Indian Writing in English. It is being made into a movie shortly. The novel has been appreciated for its inspirational content that is relevant not only to cricketers but is applicable to business and life (for reviews please visit As a freelance writer he has published close to 100 articles in various newspapers and publications on subjects as diverse as humor, management, cricket and lifestyle. He is also a motivational speaker and has delivered several lectures on motivation, team building and leadership through cricketing analogies.

Harimohan Paruvu is a Civil Engineer and MBA from Osmania University. After his MBA, he worked in the corporate sector for about 13 years, most of them in an investment bank, the IDBI, dealing with corporate finance. He quit the corporate sector in 2004 to become a fulltime writer, speaker and facilitator. Harimohan is also an accomplished cricketer, having represented Hyderabad in the Ranji Trophy in 1985-87, the period when it won the Ranji Trophy. He draws from his experiences on the cricket field and his experiences in the corporate sector dealing with large scale business projects.

For more details write in.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An Interview In The Hindu

Yesterday's Hindu's Metro Plus edition carried an interview of mine with Prabalike Borah.


We had met a couple of weeks ago at Minerva Coffee Shop and chatted over coffee. The interview titled 'Cricket, Books and More' turned out well with a nice picture of me posing in front of a stack of 'The Men Within' copies, presumably taken at the Chennai launch of the same.
It is always nice to be acknowledged for a good, hard effort. 'The Men Within' took me about one year to write. I did the plot first, the character sketches and then went about writing chapters, researching for small pieces of information wherever I required them. Reading the Gita, the Art of War, Cricket coaching manuals, Management books, Books on leadership and team play, googling information on several small details that stuck in my head, and then recalling incidents, clearly seeing and reliving what went on in my mind when the incidents happened, it was a highly satisfying experience when I put it all together. I wanted the book to answer as many questions in 'The Art of Winning' or rather 'The Science of Winning' to cricketers, managers, lay persons and give hope to anyone with a dream.
I was vaguely aware of the fact that the book was probably the first novel on cricket in Indian Writing in English but it got confirmed only after a wonderful review of the book by none other than the grandmaster of cricket journalism in India, the late Rajan Bala. A fantastic review that I will cherish forever, in which he mentioned that this was indeed the first work of fiction on cricket in IWE!
The book went into its second print within a fortnight. It hit the bestseller list in the Hindu. Several reviews followed, all of them very positive and more importantly several reader comments cutting across language, age, profession - students, grandmothers, managers, cricketers, coaches etc - who liked the book for its inspirational content. A student wrote in saying that he could use this book's philosophy to plan for his exams and his life, a grandma wrote in saying that her life would have been different if she had read this book when she was twenty, several youngsters wrote in saying that the book has changed their perspective to life and given them hope to dream. One CA picked up 40 copies at one go to distribute to his friends, and I know one eminent management consultant from Hyderabad, who subsequently became my good friend - Amar Chegu - who has gifted even more number of copies as corporate gifts. It is the greatest compliment to a writer I realise, when someone actually gifts your book to another. It is certainly feedback like this that makes the entire effort worthwhile.
A couple of students from Chennai University wrote their doctoral thesis on the book. It made the long list in the 2007 Crossword-Vodafone award. And now it is being made into a movie. With a team like Ram, Mohana Krishna, Sumanth, Swathi, Bharani and Subbaraju, this movie should do extremely well. The book is in its fifth print today. I am doing motivational lectures and workshops based on the content of the book.
I wrote this book to bring out the wonderful parallel between life and cricket. The game taught me much and I wrote it as honestly as I could. I see it touching the 1 million figure at some point or another; there is no way this book will not. It will, sooner than later.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More Praise To The Tortoise

In the Rabbit and Tortoise story, much is made of the rabbit being overconfident - and that it is not the speedy that always win. But to me the biggest lesson from this story is the tortoise's state-of-mind when he/she accepts the challenge. Only a madman would accept a challenge like that and persevere till the end. Imagine taking on a contest when it is loaded completely against you - and winning. I'd say the tortoise won the race for the one act of taking the rabbit on!

Lessons from the story for me:
1) It is never about how good the opposition has been till then, it is what happens that day - everyday is a new one, every race is a new one.
2) Never shirk away from a challenge, the bigger the better. Go, take up all challenges.
3) Focus on your work, and not on what is happening all around (rabbit could have scampered out of sight which does not mean you panic, plod on, old man). Draw your attention to yourself and your strengths.
4) Do what you do best and stick to plan. Give your best, your 100%.
5) Don't imitate the opponent - don't take rest if you notice the opponent taking rest.
6) Don't gloat over the opponent's mistakes - instead carry on with your job.
7) As you get closer to the goal, stop worrying about the other guy and where he is and just focus on your job.

Chances are you may win if you continue to give your best through the race, continue straining against your limits. Stuff that champions are made of!
Go tortoise!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

1-Day Workshop at JNCE, Mahbubnagar

Yesterday morning, March 20, 2010, Vasanth of Business Line, Hyderabad, organized a lecture at Jayaprakash Narayan College of Engineering, Mahbubnagar as part of the Business Line Club lecture initiative to MBA colleges. Since we were going that far I suggested that we do a 1-day condensed workshop of 'Recognizing Excellence Within' which might be more beneficial to the students. Vasanth agreed and the college was more than willing, so I sent out the handouts to be photocopied in advance. The student strength was estimated to be about 80 which was a good number.
We started out at 730 am with Vasanth picking me up in his new Mahindra Xylo which was spacious, powerful and comfortable. We picked up his colleague Mahesh and the Regional Manager of The Hindu Mr. Ranga Reddy and then picked up another resource person Mr. Madhavan of Powergrid who was to lecture at another MBA Institute in Kurnool. By the time we reached Msahbubnagar it was almost 11 am. We were introduced to the Chairman Mr. Ravi Kumar, a young, forthright and enthusiastic person and after the initial interaction with the students we started the session at 12 noon.
There were about 70-80 students - the young ladies outnumbering the young gentlemen, all dressed out smartly in blazers. We did the first two sessions of the workshop - knowing oneself, knowing one's strengths and making a positive statement with all their strengths, knowing one's goals, and the process of achieving those goals - till about 2 in the afternoon before breaking for lunch.
In the post lunch session we worked on the current level of preparation, steps to improve in chosen areas, knowing one's worth, the various talents that can be used, importance of belief in oneself, the state of excellence and how to sustain it - till almost 5 in the evening.
Full credit to the students for having sat through a rather difficult workshop and for working on themselves till the end with good humor and spirit. The student interaction was rather limited to two or three students but then there was lots of hard, new, introspective content and not enough time for the rest to warm up. I only hope that they got some messages to improve their self-worth which is what the workshop finally aims at.
The Chairman Shri Ravi Kumar was insistent that I speak to the faculty as well for a short session and I did address them on the same issues of excellence and giving 100% to the job. The Principal Shri Subhash Kulkarni said that maybe we could do a Faculty Development Program at some point and maybe a longer workshop for the students which is a good idea. We wound up with Mr. Ranga Reddy giving me a fine crystal fruit vase as a gift.
The Business Line Club initiative is a wonderful initiative and the team led by Vasanth is doing a great job. Karur Vysya Bank has now joined the activity as a sponsor which is good news.
I enjoyed the outing and wished that I had a couple of hours more with the students. If we had started at 10 am and did away with some of the formalities, it would have given me more time with the students. Maybe we could schedule that better next time!

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Review, And Another - If You Love Someone

Two reviews for 'If You Love Someone...', one by Dr. Ranjani, my friend and a writer herself, on her blog, the link for which is given below:

Another review, in her introduction of 'If You Love Someone...' at its launch in the Delhi Book Fari, by Smt. Anuradha Marwah, a novelist, social activist and academic. Anuradha teaches English literature at Delhi University.

'IF YOU LOVE SOMEONE...' - ANURADHA MARWAH, INTRODUCING THE BOOK AT DELHI BOOK FAIREverybody loves a good love story – and activists, feminists, professors of English are no exception to the rule. I think I would do grave injustice to the novel ‘if you…’ if I try and introduce it from a theoretical perspective. This is a book addressed to the reader and not to the specialist. So, it is as a reader I speak. Besides, a speaker who approaches her subject from the podium as a specialist is deadly boring anyway!

If you love someone is anything but boring – it is a great read. The story flows serenely through 236 pages bringing to life the 1970s in Mumbai and Goa, moving on to Atlanta, and back to Mumbai and Goa via a detour in Kerala. I use the word flow because the sea/ water is more than mere locale in the novel as is the sun – Aditya. The way Harimohan Paruvu describes it landscape is always symbolic suggesting the immensity and mystery of the cosmos and the relative insignificance of human desires, intellections and intentions. The prevailing tone of the novel is, I think, caught wonderfully in the striking cover picture.

For me the triumph in the novel is the characterization of Meghna - beautiful, intelligent, complex, extremely attractive, yet, instantly recognizable central character. Harimohan makes the reader fall a little in love with Meghna. She is an unusually bright student who matures into a formidable business-executive and entrepreneur - competent and ambitious - yet, so human. He places her in a time period that was restrictive for women in India but a woman like Meghna is impatient and dismissive of restrictions yet compassionate and loving to those who try and bind her down - parents or husband; children or in-laws. That at a point in her life, laughter should desert her, is grievous and unfair. The reader might ask herself: Why did it happen to Meghna? Were her choices wrong? Could she have lived her life differently? The answer might be yes for some; no, for others, but Harimohan has been able to take us through the process of Meghna's decision-making sensitively and non-judgmentally. So, once Meghna decides to love and laugh again - we are completely in sync with her, anxious that nothing should come in her way.

A question I always ask vis a vis a book I read - especially when it is a man writing about a woman is - is it empowering? Very significantly for me, Meghna is not a fantasy woman, even though she is stunning enough to turn heads at fifty. Harimohan has portrayed a real woman with concerns I recognize and sympathise with and in a prose that is never lugubrious, always lively and witty. As an instance, I will read out a paragraph that especially made me chuckle because of the images it evokes. This is Meghna getting ready to go to Atlanta family and friends pitch in to prepare her for the momentous event: (p108-109)

This is of course pre-liberalization India. A lot has changed. A trip to the U.S., for instance, is no longer such a voyage into the unknown. But I'm sure a lot of us recognize ourselves in the doting mother, the opinionated and advice-giving friends. Many of us would appreciate the innovative idea of using a rope to prevent branded air baggage from bursting or would be in sympathy with the compulsive urge to do everything cheaply - at minimal cost to ourselves, at least!

Of such intimate, heart-warming, and eternally familiar tropes is Harimohan's novel 'If you love someone' made!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A To-Do List

I sat down this morning feeling rather listless and wondering what I needed to do to get the zing back into my life. The chat with Vijaya in the morning helped me to focus on doing my workshop sometime soon for family and friends. Though Ranjani has been after me for doing the workshop I have been rather shy at promoting it among friends and family but I think I will now do it. Sooner than later.
Sometime in the evening I sat down with Shobha and we made a to-do list for ourselves. Mine included the following:

1) Writing at least 10 books in the next five years and get them published (The Misfit, The Gulmohur Stories, A new comedy, Recognising Excellence Within, The Men Within - College Challenges, Cricket short stories based on club cricket - 12 stories, A cricket novel on the trials and tribulations of being a test cricketer, a t20 novel, a cricket story based on the Replacements and one like Kane and Abel).

2) To write at least a dozen screenplays in the next 5 years (got a couple of ideas in place).

3) The third is to travel up North, see the Taj, the Himalayas, Golden Temple, Rajasthan and down South to Kanyakumari, Coorg etc.

4) I put workshops on my list - at least 24 a year (corporate, college, sports academies and school), and

5) Lectures averaging 36 a year at least in colleges and schools.

6) I also plan to build a steady revenue stream, and an organization that will support me in keeping this activity running smoothly.

7) On fitness I propose to lose weight until I am sub 90 - 85 kgs ideally by June 2010 (I weighed 105 kgs at the doctor's the other day).

8) I am hoping to get back to playing league cricket next year and need to identify a suitable team for that.

9) On fun, I propose to watch more movies, read quality books, have quality experiences and meet quality people.

10) I promise to give myself a bit more time with myself, Anjali and Shobha.

To begin with then, I shall first announce my workshop 'Recognising Excellence Within' for a group of about 10-12 people over the weekend.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ram Gets a Nandi Award

Ram Gets a Nandi for Ashta Chamma
The big high of this week was Ram receiving the Nandi award, the Andhra Pradesh Government's film awards, for Ashta Chamma on Ugadi day from the Chief Minister Shri K.Rosaiah. To bag the award for his first movie is itself creditable but the praise that the movie won for its values, its clean script and entertainment value and for its ability to balance commerce with good cinema is what makes it more special. 'Ashta Chamma' got an award in the best movie for family viewing category and best actress category which Swathi bagged for her fabulous performance. She will go far, Swathi, without any effort because she has the kind of a talent I have not seen in recent years, and will certainly take home many more awards.
I do hope and wish that Ram and his team bags several more Nandi awards for making wonderful films like Ashta Chamma that are not only commercial hits but also provide great entertainment.

Vinod's Manuscript - Great Read
I read one of the early drafts of the manuscript of 'There's a drought here and you want us to wear ironed shorts..' - Vinod's first novel this week. It was extremely readable, very funny, with great characters and provides a wonderful peek into the life of the government officer in rural areas. His capacity to infuse humor into all kinds of situations, even the most tragic, is almost Sue Townsendesque. Vinod has put the first scene from his novel on his blog, the link to which is given below.

Vinod is one of the few writers I have read who has the ability to make the reader laugh out loud. I am sure this book will find great success since I find it better than 90% of the books written and published by Indian authors.

Friday, March 12, 2010

More Pics And What Bookstores Can Do

Here are a few more pictures of the book event from Landmark. One thing I have noticed with bookstores is that they do tend to discount your estimates. (I can understand that because authors do tend to inflate the estimates of their popularity but it can have a negative effect if the author's estimate comes true.) For example I told the Landmark Store Manager that they could expect 100 or more people (because I am a local and I can expect that many friends and family). But despite many gentle reminders the store was ready for about 60 and that meant that at least 50 guests were left standing in the final analysis.
Due to this, the refreshments that the store offers, also fall short mainly because they tend to estimate everything on the lower side. So when someone in the audience does mention that 'yes, there were refreshments, but they never got to me...' - it does not reflect too well on the store especially if they are keen on footfalls. Events, stores must realize are a wonderful way to get new footfalls and convert them into loyal customers.
Thirdly, I find that there is a lack of preparation in many ways. Media, for example should be shown a predesignated space so that the audience gets to see what is happening. One experience should be enough to fine tune this activity. For example in the World Book Fair, where we launched the book in February, the organisers made it clear that the media cannot stand in the front of the dais and should be at the back of the hall through the event. That way the audience got to see the event and
the press got its bytes after the event.
Another thing that any bookstore could do well is to keep the podium at a place where there is sufficient lighting. This is important because one has to read from the book and if the lighting is not sufficient, it becomes inconvenient. Also picture quality gets compromised if the podium and the dais are in the dark.
I always find it amusing when store managers brush away all attempts of mine to prepare for the event. In fact in several places I have gone to the store and made an attempt to meet the manager and disscuss the event flow, the PR and other arrangements a couple of days prior to the event, and have found them a very reluctant lot. Several made me wait for long and then brushed off the whole affair as something that they have been doing often and know inside out. And then when the event begins, you find that they do not have the event flow properly, names and introductions of guests, no protocol when senior guests are invited, no script which makes them fumble and bumble like amateurs...which makes it all very embarrassing. A few minutes of preparation, an understanding of the flow and people, a written script, makes all the difference between a mediocre event and a good one. It is here that I would like the young managers take the initiative and do a better job because it reflects the store and its professionalism.
For example, the space for the event cannot be made arranged after the guests arrive (which I found in a few places). After we arrive, they start moving shelves to create space and then lay down chairs and stuff while we all wait including the chief guest.
Another thing is that there is no announcement made about sale of books, where the books are available and where to pay etc. Most guests are generally wondering how to go about the process and some go away without buying.
These small things make a big difference in the end as to how the event is perceived by the visitors. For the bookstore, repeat customers can be cultivated only if the guests have a good first experience!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Book Launch of If You Love Someone - Rocked

The Hyderabad book launch of 'If You Love Someone...' at Landmark, Banjara Hills went off extremely well. I reached the place at about a little past 6 in the evening with Anjali, Shobha and Chitra. A few people had already arrived and I remember Mithi, BS Murthy, Madhavi Puranam, Nagender, Nagesh, Rasana, Vrinda, Sailaja, Anjaneyulu, Das, Krishna Prasad, among the early comers. We chatted for a while and deliberated if it was appropriate to sign the copies. Gangaraju, the chief guest for the function landed up well in time followed by Mohana Krishna, Sumanth, Swathi and the show was all set to roll. The media was in place, more familiar faces strolled in and we knew that Landmark would be short of seats and preparation as I suspected. But then we all stumbled along happily, knowing book launches happen this way only.
After we were all invited on to the stage Mohana Krishna introduced me and the book in very warm tones. He spoke of how I appeared to be a person who is organized while also balancing a detached attitude to life, to success. He spoke of how the book 'If You Love Someone...' was a big shift from 'The Men Within' in terms of characters, story, perspective etc. How romance as a genre was so different and interesting. he spoke about how I write visually and in short paras which he likes.
Swati spoke next, in her usual, effervescent manner and spoke in, what makes her so relatable, sincere tones about the book, the earlier book and her impressions of me. She read a passage from the book and read it so well that my eyes welled up.
Sumanth spoke about how refreshing it was to be in a book reading session, how he identified with the character Aditya and how he would, if the book was made into a movie, would like to play him. At which Swathi, said she would like to play Meghna and Mohan said that he would love to direct the film! Sumanth read a passage too and did that very well.
I spoke next and did the reading from my bit. Gangaraju, the chief guest spoke next and said that he is launching what was probably a book that most people seemed to have read anyway. But since he read the book, he spoke about my writing style, the change in perspective and spoke so well and so succinctly that it took me completely by surprise. Not more than 10-15 sentences but it was so well put - something only he could have done and so well.
The book release was the next thing on the agenda and after the photo op, we waited for Mohana Krishna to announce the making of 'The Men Within' into a movie with Sumanth and Swathi as the lead pair. The book signing went on for an hour and I met so many people - my school mates (Vasu, Bro. Joseph), my OU Engineering college mates (Sanjay, Choudhary, Anjaneyulu, Sunil Jyothi, Narasimha, Anil and Sujatha, Rama Raju, Sagarika), my MBA mates (Hari Rao, Sravan, Bharadwaj, Sreeni, Vijay, PV, Ramesh, Srinivas Babu, Puppy), my cricketing mates (Venkatapathy Raju, Gajanand, Noel, Pawan, Suri, Krishna Prasad) my writing mates (Vinod, Major Shiva Kiran, Rasana, Vrinda, BS Murthy, Mithi), students from HCU (Amit Rathi, Sushil, the girls, Mayank, Rathinder), VJIM staff and faculty (Durgaprasad, faculty from across India who are attending the FDP), IDBI (Vidyasagar, Murli, Jayashri). family(Shobha, Anjali, Bavagaru, Peddakka, Ajay, Radhika, Nalini, Mythily, Rambabu, Chanti, Shashank, Ram, Sheila, Vajra, Chimu, Bhave's, Chitra and Prashant, Pratap, Shweta and Naren), Ram's friends (Arjun, LV, Papa, Sanjay Reddy, Sharath Marar, Nagender, Nagesh, Vikram), Mona representing the Jaisimha family, Antharyami (Sailaja, Roopa, Anuma, Ipshita, Urvashi, Reena, Ashok, Ranjani, Shanti, Sarita, Mamta) from the film fraternity (Ravi, RK), journos (Das), from my management side (Amar, Madhavi, Madhavi Puranam, Rao from Badruka), Priyanka from Evening Hours, Suresh, Rajan, Jaleel and Nazneen, Don, Madhav and Treena, Vasu and Geeta, Choudhary and Anu, Dr. Lakhsmi, Vidyanath, and so many more that I need to jog my mind to remember. For all of you, a big thank you for coming and supporting me in this big moment. Will post again later with more details and pics.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Faculty Development Program - A First

Vignana Jyothi Institute of Management, Kukatpally, invited me to speak as a resource person for their Faculty Development Program. The topic was Personal Excellence and the audience of about 25-30 was a young, intelligent lot from all over India - as far flung as Jaipur, Bhagalkot etc. It was a 3 hour session and I dwelt on issues close to my heart i.e. excellence, giving our best, taking ownership etc.
This was a first and I think the next time I have a better idea to make the talk more effective in such FD programs.
Another new, another YES factor!

If You Love Someone - Day of the Hometown Launch

Today is the day! The Hyderabad launch of 'If you love someone...' at Landmark this evening is all set to roll. I have sent out invites, called people I know and left the PR to the Landmark agency. I think Indialog supplied sufficient number of books, Landmark is promoting the event well and we have a couple of nice surprises lined up for the evening. All on the panel have read the book 'If you love someone...' so it's easier.
What needs to be done normally is check and double check with whoever is compering the show about the script they have prepared. Normally they tend to take this preparation lightly and goof up big time which happens more often than not. So that is one thing left on the agenda today.
Will post details and pics of the event over the weekend!