Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ted Talk - Rethinking Infidelity...a talk for anyone who has ever loved by Esther Perel

Why do we cheat? Why do happy people cheat? What is infidelity?


Love Yourself - Making a Difference to Your Life

In many ways, getting into action can get us feeling good about ourselves. Small acts that we can control, that move us out of the reactive state, are creative. When we do something 'for ourselves' i.e. do it whether someone approves it or not, we start feeling good. My secret intention is to start building such a community of people who start doing small acts of love for themselves. 

Some years ago when I first started doing the workshop for MBAs, the concept of ownership, self worth was discussed and I left it at doing 21 things out of your comfort zone for  21 days as a practice of changing our mindset.

Then one day I wrote down some acts which I think I never shared. Initially 21 acts for 21 days. I found that list now, and realised I could use it too. And added some more. 

Some acts - some of them written specially for students so you may have to modify them.

  1. Plant a tree
  2. Gift a plant
  3. Give a lecture
  4. Learn a new word and use it with a friend
  5. Talk to your sweeper, cook, watchman and find out about their lives, families
  6. Talk to one successful person a week and ask the route to success
  7. Make a one page plan for your business and see how it makes a difference
  8. Teach one word, one concept to a small child, teach a thank you, please
  9. Take up one improvement at home or campus and do it 
  10. Smile at one new person, at everyone after that
  11. Introduce yourself to a new person
  12. Walk instead of taking the bus
  13. Organize a tree plantation drive
  14. Organize a clean campus, clean college drive
  15. Donate blood
  16. Donate organs
  17. Make tea or coffee for your parents, friends
  18. Ask your mother her dreams
  19. Clean your room
  20. Get rid of all stuff you don't need
  21. Gift a pencil to a poor school child
  22. Tell one concept to a person who might benefit from it
  23. Teach a school kid one concept he cannot understand
  24. Offer to make a business plan to your canteen wala
  25. Pray with a friend of another religion
  26. Educate a slum about health and sanitation
  27. Pick up trash
  28. Do gardening
  29. Start a book reading group 
  30. Start a book club, a movie club and discuss
  31. Start a political discussion
  32. Start a movement on how to promote honesty and transparency (reduce corruption)
  33. Make a difference with one act every day
  34. Promote peace - speak peacefully for a whole day
  35. Make one person smile
  36. Pay one compliment 
  37. Do one thing that you have been putting off
  38. Call one old friend to say Hi
  39. Visit someone and give them a small gift like a chocolate
  40. Go to the mirror and smile at yourself - you are doing a good job
  41. Write down 50 dreams, then write 50 things to do towards achieving them
  42. Say yes to everything
  43. Tell someone who needs support that you fully believe in him or her
  44. Make a list of all the people you take for granted and thank them - in your own way
  45. Pay money joyfully every time you pay
  46. Buy one thing for yourself for your own enjoyment and enjoy it fully
  47. Make a connection with one new person every day - for 30 days
  48. Give candy to a child begging at the traffic signals
  49. Take a selfie with a cop - like they do at Buckingham palace or in the USA
  50. Write a letter to all the people who made a difference to you

The Tao of Leadership - John Heider

In our many discussions, Suresh and I do discuss leadership as well. So he did what he normally does - gifted me with a copy of the 'Tao of Leadership' which he felt was essential reading. It is an amazing book. I have read it for the last three months and am still dipping into it. I guess I will keep on dipping into it for the rest of my life. It is like a quiet pool or the pond in the valley.

The 'Tao of Leadership' is about the way. It emphasises the nature of the leader, the how. The wise leader is one who facilitates, who grows group members, who gives them opportunities without obligations, who has the consciousness to hold the group field, who has no favorites, no attachments, who speaks less, who shows by being, who understands that things are cyclical, who is still and has clarity, who is selfless, who serves, who lives simply, who understands paradoxes (he gains by placing others self interest over his), who yields and does not push, who does not deal harshly,  who has no point of view. It's an incredible source of wisdom , of how to live and how to lead.

The book has 81 principles, each with a wealth of meaning and knowledge. Some aspects I could not yet grasp, and I felt I could relate to most. A gist of the 81 principles is given below.

1. Tao means How
Tao is a principle. Creation is a process. The How and the What. Tao can be known by meditation, by being aware. All processes reveal the underlying principle

2. Polarities
All behavior consists of opposites. By doing anything more and more, the opposite will appear. Allow the process to unfold on its own. Do not insist on things to come out in a certain way.

3. Being Oneself
Have no favorite behaviors. Be respectful of all behaviors. Thus the group becomes open to all possibilities, open to everything, and not just pleasing the leader.

4. Tao is not a thing
Creation consists of things and events. Creation is vibratory. Of polarities. Tao has no opposites. It is one, is unity.

5. Equal treatment
Behavior – consequences. Awareness shines equally in pleasant and not pleasant. One person is worthy as the next. A leader does not pretend to be special. Silence is a great source of strength.

6. The Pond in the valley
Being open and receptive is yin (the valley). When no fear and desires stir the surface, the water forms a perfect mirror. Go into the valley and watch the pond. The pond will never run dry.

7. Selflessness
True self interest teaches selflessness. Paradox – by being selfless, the leader enhances himself. Enlightened leadership is service. The leader gains by placing the well being of other above self.

8. Water
Water cleanses and refreshes without judgment. Free and fearless, fluid and responsive. Leader works in any setting without complaint, with any person. Leader sheds light and creates harmony. Timing is everything. Leader is yielding. Because the leader does not push, the group does not resist or resent.

9. Good group
Teachers shouldn’t outshine the teaching. Settle for good work and let other have the floor. Leader has no need for fame. A moderate ego demonstrates wisdom.

10. Unbiased leadership
Remain open and receptive. Know what is emerging yet keep peace while others desire for themselves. Remain unbiased, clear and down to earth.

11. The group field
In silence. What’s happening when nothing is happening in a group? That is the group field. The spirit is the centre of the circle, when nothing is happening, that determines the nature of the group. Learn to see emptiness. Silences and empty spaces reveal the essential mood, the context for everything that happens. This is the group field.

12. Time for reflection
Endless drama clouds consciousness. Too much noise obscures the senses. Continual input obscures genuine insight. Don’t substitute sensationalism for genuine learning. Allow time for silent reflection. Let the senses rest and grow still.

13. Success
In order to do good work you must take good care of yourself. Value yourself and allow others to value you. If you can live with the fruits of success and care for yourself properly, you will be able to foster success in other people.

14. Knowing what is happening
When we do not understand what is happening in a group or with a person, look gently with your inner eye. When a person is calm, complex events appear simple. See without staring. Stay in the present.

15. The leader’s teachers
Silence and ability to pay attention. Grace and awareness, consideration – did no injury, courteous and quiet, yields gracefully, natural and inconspicuous, open and receptive, give up selfishness, hence could enhance others

16. Giving up selfishness
Let go of your efforts. Letting go is like dying. When you die you give up selfishness. You become one with all. Let go of selfishness and give up the illusion of being separate. I act on behalf of all. I am not resisting the now.

17. Being a midwife
Remember you’re facilitating another person’s process. It’s not your process – don’t intrude. Don’t control. If you do not trust a person’s process, that person will not trust you.

18. This versus that
Remember all creation is unity. This vs that is loss of consciousness of unity. How everything works. Meditate on the process.

19. Self improvement
To improve yourself try silence that will show you true selfless self.

20. Traditional wisdom
Facilitate process and clarify conflicts. A wise leader is relatively desireless, defenseless. Be quiet and reflective. Prefer the common and natural. Being content permits simplicity in life.

21. Tao Is universal
All power and effectiveness comes from flowing, the law of creation. Everything is bound by this principle.

22. The paradox of letting go
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need. When I give up trying to impress, I become impressive. My best work is done when I forget my own point of view.

23. Be still
The wise leader speaks rarely and briefly. The leader’s teachers move through being than through doing. In order to know your inner wisdom, be still. Reflect. What do you deeply feel?

24. Take it easy
Trying too hard causes behavior of insecurity.

25. Tao – Is and Isn’t
Tao is the principle of how everything works. Everything is dependent on Tao but Tao is not dependent on anything.

26. Center and ground
Being centered is the ability to recover one’s balance even in the midst of action. A centred person is not easily excited. One who is not stable can get carried away by intensity of leadership and make mistakes of judgment.

27. Beyond techniques
The wise leader does not rest on techniques or gimmicks or set exercise. The method of awareness of process applies to all people and all situations. Because the leader sees clearly, the leader sheds light on others.

28. A warrior, a healer and Tao
A leader acts as a warrior – yang. A leader acts as a healer – yin. Doing and being. The third aspect is Tao. Returns to silence. Such simplicity and economy is a valuable lesson. Because the leader is clear the work is delicate and does not violate anybody’s sensibilities.

29. The paradox of pushing
Constant interventions backfire. The best group process is delicate. Leaders who push are blocking the process. The wise leader stays centered and grounded and uses the least force to act effectively.

30. Force and conflict
One who understands how process unfolds uses as little force as possible. The leaders touch is light. He neither defends nor attacks.

31. Harsh interventions
Harsh interventions are required when all else fails. The leader feels more wholesome when the group process is flowing freely and unfolding naturally, when delicate interventions outnumber harsh interventions. Harsh interventions are an indication that the leader may be uncentered or has an emotional attachment to whatever is happening. In harsh interventions, success is a failure. There has been injury. Someone’s process has been violated. They may plot revenge.

32. Unity
The leader pays equal attention to everything that happens. Talking about process is one way to block process and lower the energy of the group field. Tao is the single principle responsible for every event or thing.

33. Inner resources
If I am content with what I have, I can live simply and enjoy both prosperity and free time. If I am at peace with myself, I will not spend my life force in conflict. If I have learned to let go, I do not need to fear dying.

34. All inclusive
Leadership is not a matter of winning. Tao is all inclusive. The work is done in order to shed light of awareness on whatever is happening.

35. Keep it simple
Do not get carried away by the group process. The leader who returns to awareness of process has a deep sense of how things happen.

36. Polarities, paradoxes and puzzles
All behaviors contain their opposites. Learn to see things backwards, inside out and upside down.

37. Doing little
The able leader does little, yet much gets done. Tao does nothing at all, but everything gets done. When the leader gets too busy, return to silence.

38. Potent leadership
It’s a matter of being aware of what is happening in the group and acting accordingly. Highest potency is when a conscious yet spontaneous reaction to the here and now, no calculations and manipulations. 2nd highest is trying to do what is right. 3rd highest is imposed morality, should or shouldn’t. The wise leader loses sense of immediacy, becomes quiet. Lets all effort go until clarity returns.

39. The source of power
Act in accordance with how things are. Be. Do not be neurotic or self centered. Know what is happening and act accordingly. Freedom comes from obedience of natural order. Power comes through cooperation, independence through service, greatness through selflessness.

40. Meditate
Silence. What is happening when nothing is happening? How what’s happening (process) arises out of how it happens (principle). Return to yourself.

41. Disturbing wisdom
The wise leader’s only allegiance is to how things happen.

42. The Creative process
The wise leader learns that he needs pairs of opposites to interact and be creative. To lead, follow. To prosper, live simply. Being well defended will not protect you, it will diminish your life and kill you. Be two sided. See the paradox.

43. Gentle interventions
Will overcome rigid resistance. When gentleness fails, try yielding or stepping back. Wise leaders realize how much how little can do. It’s the leader’s consciousness.

44. Owning or being owned
Getting or letting go? Owning is also being owned. If you give up things, you can give up spending your life looking after things. Be still and discover your own inner security. You will have what you want anyway.

45. Appearing foolish
The best work seems simple. Yet a great deal happens. It may look as if the leader is sitting there and has no idea what to do. But it’s just this lack of needless interventions that permits the group to grow and be fertile. Simple minded. Perplexing honesty. Appearing foolish does not matter. The leader’s stillness overcomes group agitation. His consciousness is the primary tool of his work.

46. Nothing to win
It’s more important to be content with what is actually happening than to get upset over what might be happening but isn’t.

47. Here and now
By staying present and aware, the leaders can do less, yet achieve more. Stillness, clarity, consciousness.

48. Unclutter your mind
Forget many options. Allow them to recede into the background. Unclutter. Simplify your work. When you rely on knowing just what to do, your work will become direct and powerful. The quality of your consciousness is more potent than any theory or interpretation. Learn how fruitful the blocked group or individual becomes when you give up trying to do just the right thing.

49. Be open to whatever emerges
Do not impose personal agendas or value systems. Be open to whatever emerges. Judge no one. Be open to all, to truth and lies. Being open and attentive is more effective than being judgmental. People tend to be good and truthful when they are being received in a good and truthful manner. Openness is more potent than any system of judgment.

50. Existence – life and death
Favoring one denies existence – It contains both. Mistakes are far more deadly than existence itself. Everything comes and goes. Don’t grasp or cling, worry or cringe. When you exist with fear or love of death you are safe from harm.

51. Principle and process
Everything is a vibratory pattern, a process. They develop according to a principle. Vibratory energy and the principle make a partnership which produces many forms. There are no alternatives, no other way. The partnership between principle and process is the first fact of life. Of our work.

52. The womb
Creation is about polarities. The fundamental polarity (yin-yang, male-female) produces everything. Knowing that I am a process created out of a single principle gives me stability. My allegiance is not to people, things – only to principle. I know how things work. I also know the importance of staying flexible. I know I am eternal. When I am done I am going home.

53. Materialism
Quiet path leads to conscious existence. Every path to materialism. Becoming more conscious leads to god and a sense of unity with all creation. Excessive consumption is possible by exploiting someone. The wise leader leads a quiet meditative path.

54. The ripple effect
To be an influence in the world, get your life in order. Ground yourself in the single principle so that your behavior is wholesome and effective. If you do that you will earn respect and be a powerful influence. Your behavior influences others through a ripple effect. You are the nucleus. Growth spreads outwards from you.

55. Vital energy
People who surrender all their blocks and conflicts experience a free flow of energy. They are in love with all creation and their energies are as abundant as all creation. Excitement or arousal is not vital enlightenment. Excitement is the tension that comes when stimulation meets resistance. It exhausts energy. Vital energy is a continuous flow. It meets no resistance and goes on without stress. It springs from the eternal.

56. The leaders integrity
The true nature of events cannot be captured in words. But what cannot be said can be demonstrated. Be silent. Be conscious. Consciousness sheds light on what is happening. Since all existence is one whole, there are no sides. The leader’s integrity is not idealistic. It’s how things work.

57. Doing less and being more
Run an honest and open group. Facilitate what is happening. Interfere as little as possible. Fewer rules the better. Coercive – resistance. Manipulative – evasive. When we establish a clear and wholesome climate the group acts in a wholesome manner. When the leader practices silence, the group remains focused. When the leader does not impose rules, the group discovers its own goodness. When the leader acts unselfishly, the group does what is to be done.

58. Unfolding process
Group process evolves naturally. It is self regulating. Do not interfere. Efforts to control process usually fail. Trust what is happening. Let it grow. Storm. Let it rage. The wise leader knows how to facilitate the unfolding group process. The group’s process and the leader’s process unfold the same way. Facilitating what is happening is more potent than pushing for what you wish were happening. Demonstrating model behavior is more potent than imposed morality. Unbiased positions are stronger than prejudices. Radiance encourages people, outshining inhibits them.

59. The source of your ability
Be conscious. Be aware of what is happening and how things happen. Then you can act accordingly. You can be vital and effective. Your life unfolds according to the same principle that grows every other unfolding. Being like everything else means you are ordinary. Consciously knowing that you are like everything else is extraordinary. Knowing how that universally works is the source of your power. Consciousness or awareness is the source of your ability.

60. Don’t stir things up
Run the group delicately. Do not instigate issues or elicit emotions. If you stir things up you will release forces before their time. Do not push. Allow them to come out. All energies naturally arise, take form, grow strong, come to a new resolution and pass away.

61. The Lowly Receptacle
The great leader is not above others. Greatness comes from knowing how to be lowly, empty and receptive and of service. River water is absorbed and transformed In the sea. The wise leader is of service, receptive, yielding, flowing. The leader is aware of the group process, the group members need to be received and paid attention to.

62. Whether you know it or not
A person does not have to join a group or be a wise leader to work things out. Life’s process unfolds naturally – but knowing how things work gives the leader real power and ability.

63. Encounters
The wise leader acts effectively. To be effective, be aware and unbiased. Aware – you know what’s happening. Unbiased – unbalanced and centred. Tell the truth. Neither avoid nor seek encounters. Be open and when an encounter arises, respond while it’s manageable. To avoid encounters – don’t brag about your ability or try to make people be the way you think they ought to be.

64. The beginning, the middle and the end
Learn to recognize beginnings. At birth events are easier to manage. Don’t disrupt the process by using too much force. A wise leader sees things almost before they happen. Once an event is fully formed and energized, stand back as much as possible. Do not try to make an event conform to any predetermnined plan. Many leaders spoil the work as it nears completion. Don’t do too much. Because the wise leader has no expectations, no outcome is a failure.
65. Theory and practice
Not complex theories but practice of life based on consciousness and wisdom. Theories are an intricate view of what’s happening. Instead of complex explanations, if you return to awareness of what is happening, you will clarify and enlighten. If you distinguish between theory and practice, you save much trouble. Practice demonstrates conscious cooperation. Experience the power of universal harmony.

66. Low and open
Leadership is knowing how to follow. Follow as in stay in the background and facilitate other progress. The leader does not push, or shape or manipulate. He has no position to defend, shows no favoritism.

67. 3 leadership qualities
Compassion for all creatures – everyone has a right to life. material simplicity or frugality – has an abundance to share. A sense of equality or modesty – is one’s true quality. Compassion, sharing and equality sustain life. We are all one.

68. Opportunities
Good leadership consists of motivating people to their highest selves by offering them opportunities, not obligations. Life is an opportunity, not an obligation.

69. A fight
If a group member wants to fight with you – never seek a fight. If it comes, yield. Step back. Your weapon is the light of consciousness. Advance only when you encounter no resistance. Do not cling to your past – If you have made it, if you win – be gracious. The more conscious force will win.

70. This is nothing new
This way is easy but not many understand it. As a rule the greatest interest is given to the greatest novelty. The wise leader does nothing new or original. He appeals to few followers, to those who recognize that traditional wisdom is a treasure that lies beneath and ordinary appearance.

71. All the answers
Knowing that you do not know everything is far wiser than thinking that you know a lot when you really don’t. The wise leader learns how painful it is to fake knowledge. It’s a relief to be able to say ‘I don’t know’.

72. Spiritual awareness
Group work must include spiritual awareness if it is to touch the existential anxiety. The wise leader models spiritual behavior and lives in harmony with spiritual values. There is a way of knowing, higher than reason. There is a self, greater than egocentricity.

73. Freedom and responsibility
Tao means how. Not what. No one can tell you what to do. That’s your freedom and your responsibility. Be conscious of what’s happening. You will be able to see and make your own decisions about what to do. What people do is their own responsibility.

74. Judge and jury
It’s not the leader’s role to play judge and jury, to punish people for bad behavior. Punishment does not control bad behavior. Wise leaders know there are natural consequences for every act. Shed light on the consequence. Don’t attack the behavior. Don’t take the place of nature and act as judge or jury. It’s a subtle process.
75. Without greed
The wise leader is not greedy (for credit), selfish, defensive or demanding (hard, critical, strict control). Such a leader can be trusted to allow any event to unfold naturally.

76. Flexible or rigid
At birth, a person is flexible and flowing. At death, rigid and blocked. When growing, tender and pliant. Whatever is flexible and flowing will tend to grow. Whatever is rigid will atrophy and die.

77. Cycles
Natural events are cyclical, changing from one extreme to another. The way of nature is to relax what is tense, to fill what is empty, to reduce what overflows. A wise leader follows the natural order of events and does not take the consumer society for a model. The leaders behavior works because it is based on understanding of cycles and opposites (paradoxes!). Effective behavior only seems backwards.

78. Soft and strong
As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. Wise leaders know that yielding overcomes resistances and gentleness melts rigid defences. The leader does not fight group energy but flows, yields, absorbs and lets go. A leader must endure a great deal of abuse. If the leader is not like water, he would break. The ability to be soft makes a leader a leader. What is soft is strong.

79. Win or lose
If you get into an argument with a group member and it does not come out the way you wish, do not pretend to compromise while withholding your true feelings. Return to facilitating. It is not your business to be right, to win, to find flaws – your business is to facilitate whatever is happening – win or lose.

80. A simple life
To be free, live simply. Use what you have, be content, where you are. Quit trying to solve problems by moving, changing mates or careers. Read and reread. Pen and paper. Walk. Keep a small house. Have an open calendar. Have a spiritual practice. Let family customs grow. Now opportunities will come every day. So what?

81. The reward
Tell the simple, blunt truth than things that sound good. Act on behalf of everyone than win arguments. Wise leaders are helping others find their own success. Sharing success with others is very successful. The single principle – true benefit blesses everyone and diminishes no one. Reward for doing the work arises naturally out of work.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Mother of all Paradoxes

 The paradox of letting go 

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need. When I give up trying to impress, I become impressive. My best work is done when I forget my own point of view.

From 'The Tao of Leadership'.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Little Manhattan - Movie Review

Wonderful, wonderful stuff. This little movie takes on all the big love stories and gives them a run for their money with its breathtaking freshness, honesty and uncorrupted love. Ten year old Gabe gets a new partner in his karate class, his old kindergarten classmate, Rosemary. The ten year old's loathing for girls undergoes a change pretty soon and Gabe falls hopelessly in love with Rosemary.

Rosemary is far better than he is at karate, comes from a rich and successful family (Gabe's parents are on the verge of breaking up) and Gabe's love for her grows every moment. He finds himself circling her house trying to catch glimpses of her, being tongue tied when she is around, wanting to spend time with her and impress her etc. Rosemary likes him too, and they go for walks, practice karate, even go for a music show with Rosemary's parents. He overcomes his shyness and holds her hand, finds his palm sweating and Rosemary withdraws her hand. Gabe is crestfallen, and then Rosemary seeks his hand again. Ah, wonderful. After the show Gabe kisses her briefly and she quickly moves away. Gabe is not sure if he did the right thing.

Gabe is in love, does not know how and when to tell her that. To add to his woes Gabe is separated from Rosemary in the karate class and a better karate fighter, a good looking young boy is paired with her. Gabe is jealous. He gets mad at Rosemary. He knows she is going away to summer camp and probably off to a private school after that, and he cannot stand being separated from her. H does not know why she is so busy in these last few days and cannot meet him. He calls her and tells her he hates her. She is confused and yells back too that she hates him.

And then Gabe cries. Pure, unadulterated pain. 'Rosemary' he screams, tears flowing down his eyes. 'Rosemary' - and its so funny and tragic at the same time. His parents hear him and his father goes to talk to him about girls. Gabe wants to know if love comes to an end always - his is coming to an end, his parents love story is coming to an end too. His father says - 'You know we stopped saying things to each other and the unsaid things started to pile up. Then there were so many unsaid things that we completely stopped talking to one another.' Gabe is surprised. 'Then why don't you just go and say em Dad,' he says. His father nods at the simplicity of it all.

It makes much sense to Gabe too. He runs all the way to the wedding that Rosemary is attending, to get rid of the unsaid things that are adding to the pain in his heart. And he tells her as simply as he can. That he loves her, he loves her, he loves her. Rosemary smiles and says she does not know if she is in love. She is only eleven years old. Gabe tells her he is ten and he knows already. Rosemary takes him to the floor to dance and they dance - one of the most romantic things you'd ever see on screen.

To his credit Gabe also knows that Rosemary will move on and that he might not see her again. And he also knows that it will never be the same again - she will always be the first. When he goes home he finds his father saying some unsaid things and that evening the three of them go for a meal in a restaurant at the corner. Don't pile up the unsaid things, say em.

Whoa! What a movie. I love it. Watch it again. Of course!

ABCD 2 - Movie Review

Nice. Remo puts together a decent story, decent performances and some really nice dance sequences and keeps you entertained through the movie. Full on entertainment except that the second half could have done with some trimming. The story is as old as the hills and Remo makes no effort to do anything different with it. He puts all his energy into what he knows best - dancing - which is fine. No point messing the core trying to be something you are not. Like he says - express, don't look to impress. Express he does, with all that he knows well.

Couple of dance sequences - for me the Bezubaan one and the Ganpati one - worked really well. Varun, Shraddha, Lauren and all dancers pitch perfect. Prabhudeva is himself. Nice to see Pooja Batra again. Why was she not in the role of the estranged wife?

Recommend. Yes. Nice energy. Fun.

'Life is all about the next step' - Guess who said these lines? Watch the movie to find out.

Act of Valor - Movie Review

Could have been better. That's the first reaction. Apparently the film had real Navy SEALS in its cast. No wonder the action sequences looked so authentic. But the storytelling was boring.

Terrorist plot with a big infiltration plan, bigger and more dangerous weapons, damage perceived to be many times more than the 9/11 one, has to be intercepted. The SEALS get into the act and do their job. For an action flick, it was flat. And that's something you keep thinking about long after the movie is done. How can something that looks so authentic, also run so thin? Missable.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

2 Day Workshop at VJIM - 4 Ps and the Student as the Product

The 'Champion's Mindset' program for MBAs applies the four Ps on the student. The idea is to find the right marketing mix for the student. Students look at themselves as a product, identify the place they are best suited for, find the right promotional activities to build the brand and determine their price. It's a valid question after all and an exercise that makes them think.

What am I as a product? Which market place am I aspiring for? How do I promote myself and as what? What am I worth?

The core idea is to shift a mindset of entitlement and no-ownership to a mindset of responsibility, learning and effort. It's difficult. That's why its called the champion's mindset.

Stay foolish, Stay hungry
First we discussed the importance of being foolish. Dropping all pretences of knowing everything and being silent and instead asking foolish questions that will clear ignorance.

Mindset - The New Psychology of Success
Second we had a session on the mindset to adopt - I cannot thank Carol Dweck enough for her wonderful work on the Mindset here (read her book 'Mindset - The New Psychology of Success'. The difference between a Fixed Mindset and a Growth Mindset was discussed and I was glad to hear some of them mention that they would adopt a learning or growth oriented mindset in their feedback at the end. It is purposeful effort that counts in the end and not talent.

A gist of the book on my blog can be read at this link.

Me - The Product
Then the parts that ask questions and seek introspection. What am I as a product? The answers lacked clarity and conviction mainly because we never look at ourselves that way. It's only under duress that we become honest and that's when we look at ourselves as we are. We did a quick exercise on knowing strengths (from parents and friends). They enjoyed it. The idea was to back themselves 80% on their strengths and 20% on addressing weak areas.

We listed the characteristics of  good products and wondered where we fit in them. How can we be the iphones? We concluded that they all had potential - all the spare parts of an i phone were there  - but they had to put them together to be of any use to anyone. The better one can get at putting those parts together and satisfy a need, the better their chances are to get accepted as a product. The question is - how does one put it together?

Goal clarity
We looked at their goals - to see the potential the product has. A list of 50 goals was made - to expand their minds - and also to make one aware of thought processes and their limitations. The goals were aligned keeping in focus the first goal - the one to aim for by the end of the 2 year course. The first goal will be the enabler for all other goals to come true. So we put all effort into getting goal clarity for the first goal.

For more info on the same, a link to a workshop I'd done sometime ago.

Process Orientation - How to achieve goals
The path to achieve the goal was discussed. Goal clarity, planning, implementation, belief, monitoring and achievement - with nuances. The optimum use of resources available was suggested. Time was an important resource - just as energy was. In time we arrived at having 270 days before they go out of the institute. At 10 hours a day the result threw up 2700 hours which were available to them to prepare for their first goal and more. Those who use these 2700 hours well could really make a difference to themselves. A few major steps were written down and time allocated to each - say 100 or 200 hours to learn.

We saw Sean Stephenson's 'The Prison of Your Mind'' talk just to see how their minds can restrict their stories.

All Preparation, No Luck - 2700 hours!
There was some talk of luck and destiny and how one cannot avoid it. I told them it was better not to take such words in consideration and instead focus on effort. Then only good luck comes our way. We looked at how one prepares - skill, physical and mental areas. How preparation is directly proportional to performances and how it throws up opportunities. When we miss opportunities it reflects lack of preparation. When opportunities come seeking us it shows we have prepared more than required. How the 2700 hours can be used is the key.

The making of an expert - link

Where - Place
What the goal setting exercise did was also to identify where one wants to go - i.e. the place. Again we expanded the mind - like all those looking for bank jobs were asked to think about MNC banks also as an option and not merely restrict oneself to what the senior batches had done. This shows the importance of the Place in the scheme of things, in the marketing mix. Working towards a goal of getting a job in an MNC bank in New York versus working in a Grameena bank require different preparation, different levels of ambition.

Promotion - Brand building
On Day 2, we examined how one promotes oneself. Banding oneself through various routes - blogs, digital media, achievements, skills, awards, all show seriousness. Networking with people on the industry, with teachers, with known experts, joining clubs and associations - it all helps. In the end try to find the best way to brand yourself and promote yourself accordingly. Make some noise about who you really are and what you have done.

Value - Worth - Price
We discussed the importance of belief in our own worth. If we have no idea how to value ourselves or what we are worth we are struck. The best way to feel worthy of high value is to keep adding value to oneself. To add value to oneself one has to have a growth mindset, to explore new things, to go out of one's comfort zone. The students were advised to do small acts that grow them every day, where they take on new things and thus expand their minds to new things. This exercise of doing 21 new things every day will help increase their concept of self-worth along with the constant growth path and a sense of ownership.

We discussed the concept of money and our money consciousness. Here I gave them some insight into the book 'The Richest Man in Babylon'. A link to the book review on my blog.

All employers love an attitude of ownership after the basic skills etc are taken care of. If a person is seen as someone who can demonstrate the capacity to take ownership, the person has higher chances. It's better for students to now find or create more such experiences in their 2700 hours which demonstrate their capability to 'own' things. This requires taking up more responsibility etc. If there is one thing they must learn its this. The other two important things are goal clarity and process-orientation.

10000 hour rule for expertise vs Josh Kaufman's 20 hours to learn anything new
We looked at the famous 10000 hour rule for expertise, what makes an expert, what deliberate practice means etc. Then we looked at Josh Kaufman's 20 hour to learn anything TED talk which gave much freedom. To learn anything new he says it only requires 20 hours of deliberate practice. It needs four steps - deconstruct the skill (easier said than done, needs expert guidance), learn enough to self-correct (again expert guidance of a coach or teacher helps), remove practice barriers (use energy well) and lastly put int the 20 hours.

Link to Josh Kaufman's TED talk

Leadership models of Insecure leaders, Personal leaders and Secure leaders
I introduced the idea of personal leadership - one needs no position or power to exercise one's responsibility.  There are no limits there.

Link to my talk on leadership at L&T, Tech

The students shared their feedback about the program at the end in an exercise that was also an exercise at getting out of their comfort zone. Speak at the dais about what they learned.

Action points
Three key action points -
1) Work on goal clarity and prepare deliberately using resources of time (2700 hours) and energy well to achieve the first goal, ideally prepare way beyond what is required to attract better opportunities
2) Do more acts of ownership by taking more ownership for their life thereby building a brand that has taken ownership for itself and is reliable
3) Work on the 4Ps and take feedback from the environment in terms of performances, opportunities coming up, and then use the understanding of process-orientation to work at creating more value for the product

Ideally, the institute should be able to develop a method to measure the student on the 4Ps by the last semester. Let's see if something like that can be worked out.

Link - 2 Minute Video of a Day in a Stray Dog's Life

Don't miss this. It's brilliant. A camera attached to a stray dog in Mumbai.


People. Dogs. It's the same.

Be kind. Don't be cruel.

Show love if you have some.

Cricket of India - Film Shooting at Daksha

As part of the annual Father's Day routine at Daksha Kids I volunteered to speak to the kids about whatever I know. My time was yesterday morning.

In the fourth class which was not really on my agenda I made up a story of two cricketers (they wanted to hear cricket stories) with two mindsets and how the learning mindset fellow plays for India and the other guy - me - does not. Tried to tell them that perfect practice makes perfect, mistakes are a sign of growth, same mistakes again and again shows non-learning and new mistakes are a sign of growth and the importance of seeking help from teachers and coaches. They seemed to have got comfortable with the idea that not being perfect and making mistakes is fine. After all we all fell when we first walked right I asked. Yes, they agreed. We did not stop walking after we feel did we? No, they said. Great.

Then to Anjali's class. Since we had already played cricket and did a session on writing in previous years (we had a small cricket training session once and a story writing session at another time), I decided to do something different this time.

For starters I checked with Anjali if she would be the cameraman since she could work my phone camera better than I can. She said she would. That important issue out of the way I asked the children what we should talk about. They said the usual stuff - cricket, story writing. I asked if they would want movies as a subject. The class was split - little less than half for cricket and a little more than half for movies. So we decided to make a movie with cricket.

The idea was to give them a hang of how movies are made. So I took a quick quiz. How do movies get made? Actors, directors, music, dance they shouted. I told them that we need a story first. So we found a story writing team led by Karthikeya. We found a dialogue writer and a director(s) - Harsh and Saketh (one shouted 'action' and another 'cut'). Then the two cricketers (Keertan and Brahmani) were made into lead actors who have just won the championship for the school. Mansi, Jonathan, Aishwarya, Suvan and gang were the school children who decide to give a surprise to their champion friends. Rishabh offered to be music director and volunteered to sing the IPL numbers in the background. All others decided to pitch in here and there. We even got the teacher Ms. Rohini to give away the surprise gift in the final scene. Anjali was camera person and she took charge of my phone.

The first scene was to pan the class and zero in on a group - Mansi, Jonathan, Aishwarya and Suvan are discussing how their classmates Keertan and Brahmani won the cricket championship. They decide to surprise them. Jonathan says he has an idea. Cut.

The second scene is when the two heroes Keertan and Brahmani walk into class and everyone shouts surprise. They are surprised and pleased at the reception.. Cut.

The third scene is when the two are told that they have a surprise lined up. Teacher gives them the gift and everyone shouts loudly 'Yaay'. Cut.

We got the three scenes done somehow with a lot of coordination. The kids adjusted fast, acted well. Music director gave music well - standing right behind the camera person - background music you see. Anjali did good camera work. I showed the class the first cut of the three scenes. They were happy.

I asked them what we should name the film. They came up with many options. 'Cricket Kids' was one. 'Daksha Cricket' was another. But Harsh's 'Cricket of India' was an instantly popular name and so the name was finalised. Now we are ready to go.

I asked them if we should release the movie. They wanted it in the theatres and on TV channels. I said I'd go about doing that. First I need to edit it. Then someone said we need posters and trailers. Hmm. Now we were thinking. I shook hands with all of them and said I would now leave because I have much work to do if I have to get the film released. And who knows - if the film is a hit they will all become stars. They were happy again.

So ended the 30 minute film shoot of 'Cricket of India' at Daksha. Coming soon to a theatre near you. Thank you Rohini aunty, Prasanna akka, Anjali, Aishwarya, Akhil, Brahmani, Celesta, Harsh, Jashmita, Jonathan, Karthikeya, Keerthan, Mansi, Rida, Rishabh, Saketh, Suvan, Shivani, Shreya and others.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Chronicle of a Death Foretold - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The first sentence in the novel announces the impending death sentence on Santiago Nasar, a young, rich, handsome, flamboyant Turk living in a small town. It goes - 'On the day they were going to kill him..'. The night before his death Santiago is part of a wedding revelry - the fairy tale wedding between Angela Vicario, a pretty girl of humble beginnings, and Bayardo Roman of a high descent from another town. Santiago, in drunken revelry, had been calculating wedding expenses, takes a break from drinking to come home, before heading out to the wedding revelry again.

Meanwhile the groom returns the bride - she is not a virgin. Upon enquiries by her pig-slaughtering twin brothers Pablo and Pedro, she reveals the unlikely name of Santiago as the culprit. The simple twins decide to kill Santiago and announce to all and sundry that they intend to kill him near the village square with their pig knives for the dishonor he has brought upon the family. The brothers are almost waiting to be stopped by someone before they commit the crime but no one does, for various reasons. And so the entire village waits for the inevitable, hoping nothing would happen, until Santiago walks down the street and the brothers carve him up, gutting his entrails in a horrid murder, Santiago looks surprised, hinting that he was not the culprit.

The story is told by a narrator twenty seven years after the deed is done. He has met many people and reconstructs the event through their eyes and prejudices. The twins get out after three months and one of them gets married to a girl who finds him attractive after the infamous deed. Angela becomes old but she pursues Bayardo through some two thousand letters and he, returns after a few decades to her with a simple 'I am back' or something like that with all letters unopened. Some feel that Santiago probably deserved it and some feel he did not. Most feel that they did not think that the twins could really do it because Santiago was rich and they were not. But all of them knew that the murder would take place including the mayor who takes away the twins knives before they get another set.

It's completely incomprehensible to me how someone can write such a tale in 122 riveting pages, having revealed the death, the killers, the reasons early in the book. Marquez keeps you hooked to the details you want to know - is he guilty really (you never know), what happens at the murder actually (revealed only in the end), how the main characters are as people, is fantastic. It drives you page by page, full of interesting characters, observations, scenes, mystery. Its story telling at its best.

The story was apparently based on a real life incident in Marquez's life and happened to a family he knew. There are some changes to the real story but the rest of it is true. Marquez wrote about it almost thirty years later. One can however imagine the scenes as they unfold with great clarity.

But what's even more wonderful to me is the way great writers seep under your skin comfortably and make you start writing and thinking like them. For example Marquez says in his inimitable style - 'Nevertheless, she had so many postponed rages the morning of the crime that she went on feeding the dogs the insides of other rabbits, just to embitter Santiago Nasar's breakfast'. It pretty much paints the picture of the Nasar's attractive, middle aged cook Victoria Guzman and of human nature. Like all classic works it will occupy a space no other creative work has before. And just because of that, no other book or story will occupy that position because it is the first in that space.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hospitals and Stressed Souls

'I hate hospitals, they depress me.'
I heard these words so many times. They need not be said. It shows on the faces of people when they first come to the hospital. Healthy people start cringing, wondering if the abundance of sickness around will find a way into their healthy souls. Distressed souls see those who have suffered more distress and are stunned at the possibilities. The air is thick. The atmosphere grim.

More so if it is a cancer hospital.

Somehow with cancer, the finality of life seems to sink in. Despite the many fine stories one has heard of - Anthony Burgess who wrote his way out of his cancer with a one year time frame and into a life as an established novelist, Stephen Hawking (who did not have cancer) but who went way past his 2 year time frame, to Sean Stephenson who famously says in his TED talk that all the doctors who predicted that he would die in 24 hours (again not cancer) are all now dead and he is the only doctor alive - there is sill that question of how long hanging in the air. If we know we can plan better.

There are all kinds of people at the hospital. Rich, poor, young, old. There are children so small you wonder if there is any justice at all. Patients who are still in shock that god could betray them and those who have accepted the fact that god has added them to that list. But life goes on with attenders in tow, stolid with their suppressed emotions, their fears bundled up deep inside them, going about with hope, trust and a sense of helplessness. Should we do all this? Should we go in for surgery? Do they know what they are doing? And the many who turn away from it with a I-hate-hospitals look.

A day or two at the hospital and things settle down. People find it in them to smile and laugh, go to the canteen and eat. There is a sense of I have seen it all when the new patient comes up and involuntarily pukes some blood. Little traces of bloodied cotton swabs are seen at the wash rooms, young kids with bald heads sit unnaturally still holding a life that seems to have been frozen into a blank stare, attenders who are daily workers struggling with their finances come up. Life goes on.

It is a daily fight between the wills. Those who choose to give in and those who choose to not give in. An entire institution battles on supporting those who want to hold on. Medicines, machines, people, prayers. Its as if the one soul that's distressed, gathers support in a larger unit of family and the friends, and then further on to the doctors and staff and the institution itself.

Defeat, fight, conquer and harsh words. I'd go easy with those words as far as the diseased cells are concerned. If some cells have gone astray because they felt neglected or abused, its time to give them some love. They are already distressed. I'd somehow like to hold them closer and give them some more love.

They are a part of the whole after all. Just as we are a part of the whole too.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Paradoxes of Our Lives - Right And Wrong

Why does it feel so wrong to be right all the time?

And why does it feel so right to be wrong?

How right we feel when we are wronged. And how wronged we feel when we are right.

Thought for the Day - The connection Between Short Attention Spans and Self-Love

Now we have shorter attention spans. "You see, attention spans have reduced drastically. These days we cannot engage anyone for more than a few seconds."

That's it. There's nothing we can do. This generation cannot hold its attention for longer than 30 minutes or 3 minutes or whatever.

That seems to be the accepted fact and we all bought into the story. Stories become shorter (I see posts with two line stories everyday which must be uber cool - wow, see that that satisfies my short attention span), movies get more desperate, social media gets smaller, communication gets even more shorter. On of my favorite nieces got married recently - ten years ago when I had longer attention spans I would write a long letter - but now I just send a Congrats S on facebook. Short you see - proves my point doesn't it?

Anyway, what do short attention spans mean (please spare me the research - if you are even thinking of throwing some research about how in the 1800s it was so and how it is scientifically proven that some tail in our brain has shortened thereby causing shorter attention spans - don't even go there).

I'd think that Short Attention Spans (SAS) mean that we cannot sit by quietly without losing attention. Why do we lose attention on anything? Because we get bored. Why do we get bored? Because either the content is not interesting enough or we are not interested in the content? What is interesting to us? When we feel we can control the content and this process of boredom. How can we do that? If we have something in our hands that allows us to do something and feel that we have come alive.

SASs are helped by the many options at our hands that offer scope to control the environment. Mobiles, computers, social media and all sorts of gadgets drive us to this twitching behavior. Twitching as in glancing at the mobile or at some gadget within two minutes.

Now why do twitch? Why do we glance at the gadgets?

Because we need to know if we are relevant to this world at all. Whether someone in the world has acknowledged our existence, (or liked our posts and pictures, growing more and more outrageous as interest falls outside). Hence the twitch.

It's more than a twitch. It's almost an itch. It's best left alone we know, deep inside, but we scratch and feel momentarily pleasured, then we continue scratching until we have scratched off the skin and mutilated it all. Our itches or twitches with our distractions are not a badge to be worn really. They are not great achievements. Its perhaps time we looked at the basic question. Why doesn't anything other than us interest us for longer than that span anymore (spare me the research again)?

The feeling that we are not important, that we are not being missed grows bigger and bigger. We'd die if we felt that we are irrelevant to the scheme of things anymore.

Put together a world of people seeking acknowledgement and approval from the world, give them a platform to feel wanted and voila you have millions of exchanges, mostly useless, flying about. Me scratching my itch now becomes total strangers scratching every one's itch. So one will post and another will like and another will comment and when  the other posts we have to like because we all must be mutually liked even though its all as affectionate as the air kissing in the page 3 parties and definitely with as much love as in the bowl the jackal gave the soup to the crane.

It is about self love really. Each time we feel the itch or the twitch, its only to see if the world acknowledges our presence. Actually its not self love as I would define self love. This twitchy and itchy behavior is more about a growing sense of insecurity, a lack of trust in our own relevance and capabilities. Mostly I'd think its a lack of love and respect from ourselves to ourselves - which I'd think is self-love in the true sense. If I felt happy with myself I would not need your likes and comments to make me feel good or bad.

The more the twitches and itches, the shorter the SASs. The less the twitches, the more your self-love quotient.

I have a 2 day workshop for a bunch of 20 year olds with little or no media except my stories and my capability to engage. My only weapon is my belief that they are good enough to feel good about themselves. That with the right intent and direction, we may not have too many twitches and itches. We may instead go towards self-love which is a good start. More on this theory later.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Seneca Global Book Club - An Event

Rao Tummalapalli is a successful entrepreneur and one with great many ideas. His new company Seneca Global has just exploded into a bigger company and with almost 500 young minds to work with, he has many plans, many ideas to empower them and make them fly.

One fine idea that the company follows is the Book Club idea. It meets every Tuesday before office hours (830 am). One book is taken up, each member reads it and comes prepared for a fine discussion. This Tuesday, June 24, 2015, the Book club chose to discuss from 50 Not Out and they invited me to be part of the discussion.

It was a lively discussion that went on beyond the prescribed time with many incisive questions, thoughts, discussions on the concepts in the book. Mukul, the driving force behind this event confessed that he personally liked the chapter on humility (wow!). Sharma ji said he liked the format the book had been presented in and added to what I tried to explain about with regards to aggression and patience. Raja asked questions about the subtle difference between patience and aggression. Rao shared freely from his own experiences - high on energy as usual.

I'd love to go back for a longer talk there someday soon. It is an exciting time to share stuff on mindsets.   

Thought for the Day - Relief Is Letting Go

Relief is letting go.

Pain is carrying stuff.

Why then, do we want to add to our burden by wanting to carry more? When it is easier to drop stuff, let go and feel relief.

Things. Thoughts. Principles. Rules. Ideas. Frameworks. Beliefs. Memories.

Let go. Letting go. Gone.


Monday, June 22, 2015

A List - The 5 Types of People

There are different categories of people and how they affect you. Let me make a list - this time not more than 5.

1) The Ones Who Make You Sing
These are the highest grade in my opinion because they invite you to just be yourself. They create a comfortable space where you can allow yourself to express, you can let your heart sing and you can choose whatever song you wish to sing, happy or sad. This is the highest form of friendship in my opinion.

2) Those Who Make you Laugh
Just a tad below the first are these friends who make you laugh mostly. They give you the space to laugh, make you laugh, allow yourself to laugh at yourself, allow themselves to laugh at themselves. The laughter is cleansing and somehow drives all the pain away. These are the ones that one must have, just a call away.

3) Those Who Allow you to Confide
These are those that allow you to confide without judgment (or even with judgment). If you have someone like this, a sponge who can soak in your sorrows you at least have a vent. You won't die of not having anyone to talk to.

4) Those Who Are Unsure But Are Not Really Harmful
These are undefined relationships which hang on because they are not essentially harmful but which have no great positives. We can get together, talk nonsense, offer no real value to one another, certainly not elevate each other, but spend time together because we don't really have anything else to do. Sometimes it's probably better to find something to do by yourself than spending time with these people. Or just go and do your own thing.

5) Those Who Are Toxic
These are certainly the greatest teachers - the toxic ones who only make you feel lesser and lesser. Their words, acts and thoughts are toxic, negative. They are in a state all the time or put you into a state. Tears, fear, shame, guilt and all other lower grade emotions reign in these relationships. Mostly they drive you up the wall.

The last bunch are the greatest teachers. If we don't know how to handle them or make them disappear from our life it only means we haven't made peace with them (and parts of us that resonate with them) yet, or more importantly, not learned our lessons yet. Once we make peace with them (accept them) we can move. Then, perhaps, we make peace with the fact that we can be happy too.

I don't think its possible to say "get rid of all toxic relationships" as some do, because they are there for a reason. When we can see what they are for and learn the lesson, they disappear. Or the pain disappears and they appear beautiful. (It's not them silly, its you!)

If there is one thing that can be done, it's this - have a good mix of all types and balance it all. Now, let's see what I have and who fits where.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Thought for the Day - You Are Free Already, Don't Fight For It

We create nothing. It's already there.

Let's take wealth and freedom. (One material and one abstract - now which one is what is the q.)

There is no permission or qualification to have both. The only permission and qualification one needs to have and enjoy them is from you. No one needs to grant you wealth or freedom. It's a choice.

It's there.
Do you have the courage to take it?

Do you have the courage to be free?

Someone imposes beliefs, rules and barriers that seemingly prevent you from being 'yourself'. You feel shackled. You struggle with lack of freedom. You feel persecuted by some external power.

But you always have the power to be yourself right? How can anyone take that away? You will remain yourself, free, whether you like it or not.

However it appears that we'd much rather feel restricted because it absolves us of the responsibility to choose and decide. The fact of the matter is that we do not have the courage to take that freedom and enjoy it. We'd rather surrender it and blame someone else for that.

In reality there's nothing to fight for - it's already there. Fight if you must but you really don't need to. It's an illusion that you are not free.

Just be.

Wealthy. Successful. Free.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Talk at Vignana Jyothi Institute of Management - A Welcome Initiative

Instead of letting new students lose their steam after their entry into the MBA course, Vignan Jyothi Institute of Management, Hyderabad came up with a new idea - one that I am completely in agreement with. Expose new students early in their course to external speakers, industry experts and encourage fresh thought. Why do I like this idea - it gets the students to open up to new possibilities, thoughts and allows them to orient their mindset before it can get set in some other direction.

So what did we talk about. For starters I shared the highlights of Carol Dweck's Fixed and Growth Mindset. This theory sets the framework to how anyone wishes to approach their work - in a learning mindset that's free of ego and limitations. Its also a great equaliser. From now on I am going to use her theory as an opener. Sets it all right.

We then looked at the value proposition the students bring to the table and whether they had started thinking about their value yet. Some stuff on value, strengths and weaknesses. We looked at their goals and aspirations and I shared some ideas about goals I had seen and experienced. We spoke of process orientation and how it gives them control over the process of achieving their goals. We spoke of preparation and its connection to opportunities. We discussed how all they needed to do now was to apply themselves in a more organised fashion. And how they can all seize the chance to be personal leaders and start making a difference starting now.

They were bang on with their feedback on what they took away from the session. Pretty accurate for a heavy session.

Good job VJIM. The earlier the better.

Wonderful link - A Feeling of Wonder, of Oneness

Connect the Dots - Rashmi Bansal

Here come 20 stories of non-MBAs. Rashmi Bansal provides great stories to borrow from and tell others. Lovely stuff.

From dosa makers to hoteliers, tuition masters to homemakers, agri busineswalas to film makers, dancers to wild life photographers, Connect the Dots connects many dots and puts the grand design before you. You don't need a degree, a qualification, money - nothing - all you need is a passion to work at something, to work hard, think clearly, act and move to your own beat. Some think fast, some think slow, some think scale some think control - it works. Some have built businesses worth hundreds of crores, some have followed their passions - all in the span of two or three decades. From almost nothing.
Westland Books, Rs. 175 335 p

The roll call of heroes here is as follows
Prem Ganapathy of Dosa Plaza
Kumar Sachdev of Su-kam
Ganesh Ram of Veta
Sunita Ramnathkar of Fem
M Mahadevan of Oriental Cuisine
Hanmant Gaikwad of BVG India
Ranjiv Ramchandani of Tantra
Suresh Kamath of Lasersoft
Raghu Khanna of Cashurdrive
R. Sriram of Crossword
Saurabh Vyas and Gaurav Rathore of Political Edge
Satyajit Singh of Shakti Sudha
Sunil Bhu of Flanders Dairy
Chetan Maini of Reva
Mahima Mehra of Haathi Chaap
Samar Gupta of Trikaya Agriculture
Abhijit Bansod of Studio ABD
Paresh Mokashi of Harischandrachi factory
Krishna Reddy of Prince Dance Group
Kalyan Varma, Wildlife Photographer

Prem Ganapathy starts as a dishwasher in a hotel, sells dosas on carts and finally builds an empire of 26 Dosa Plazas across India.
Kumar Sachdev starts as a nobody, helping out his father in his small shop and goes into making inverters under the Su-kam brand - now a 500 crore company.
Ganesh Ram starts teaching students and taking tuitions in Chennai after college and establishes the largest English training institute on a franchisee model VETA.
Sunita Ramnathkar ropes in her IIT educated brother Sunil to build a huge brand Fem out of a garage almost, holding out against MNCs.
Mahadevan balances a college lecturer job and his passion for the hospitality business before he promotes big brands like Hot Breads, Wang's Kitchen, Copper Chimney, Zara etc across continents.
Hanmant Gaikwad comes from modest beginnings to build a huge 300 crore facility management company out of sheer passion for excellence.
Ranjiv Ramchandani takes an idea and his passion and builds a fortune - uniquely Indian t-shirts.
Suresh Kamath's idealism and his social responsibility shine through in his wonderful venture - high on values, equal opportunity employer.
Raghu Khanna is all about the idea - no experience required - he started at 24 and uses all sorts of vehicles to advertise products.
Sriram and his love for books built the Crossword empire (and bought books back into our lives)
Saurabh and Gaurav are doing pioneering work in political analytics
Satyajit Singh and his great story of makhana marketing and sustaining thousands of poor Bihari farmers through his 50 crore Shakti Sudha company
Sunil Bhu's passion for cheese making takes him to Belgium and back
Chetan Maini's famous electric car Reva and its many avatars as he crusades against pollution in his own way
Mahima Mehra's handmade paper (uses elephant dung hence Haathi chaap)
Samar Gupta's agri venture which grows exotic vegetables in India - iceberg lettuce for one.
Abhijit Bansod's designs - bringing Indian design to India.
Paresh Mokashi superb first film Harischdrachi factory.
Krishna Reddy's tale of guts and glory with his dance troupe - someone better make a movie of that tale
Kalyan Varma's passion for wildlife and photography and how it all came together for him

Interestingly there are at least two or three people in the list who are inspired by Swami Vivekananda. How wonderful that he continues to inspire ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Once again, a all MBA colleges could facilitate reading sessions from these books to give students and understanding of what it is to build businesses. Might just take a lot of pressure of placements if you can motivate students into being on their own and being driven by their passions. Rashmi Bansal might just have done the education system a huge favor there - the education system facilitates learning - its not about jobs. Use your learning to do more than just get jobs.  

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Following - Movie Review

This is Christopher Nolan's debut film, funded from his salary (budget $6000), made in 1998. Its shot in black and white (definitely not color). 'The Following' is listed as a neo-noir drama thriller - I have no clue what it means.

A young aspiring writer in London follows people randomly to get some inspiration for a story. One of the many people he follows turns around and confronts him. Writer finds that this fellow is a burglar - a sophisticated one at that. Not for him normal burglaries, he enjoys drinking wine, sifting through the material at hand, placing some mischievous items etc. The idea 'you take it away and show them what they had.' Anyway the writer gets inspired - not to write books - but to commit sophisticated burglaries. A blonde woman comes into the scheme, with bald bad man, this and that and suddenly we find writer has burgled the bad man's safe, killed a man etc and is the perfect set up to take on practically all the crimes that happened that year. It's all been a huge set up my dear. You've been had!

Moral of the story, stick to your original aspirations - like writing. Burgling and killing will land you behind bars. As for Mr. Nolan, he gave early indications of the kind of stuff he was going to make. I had to see this twice, read about it twice to even get some understanding of the movie. Just as I continue to with his other movies. So why watch - ah, that's why this man's a genius. I still feel compelled to watch.

Thought for the Day - Looking for Approval, The Silent Killer

If there is one thing that kills people, its their need for approval from others. This need for approval makes us not do so many things wholeheartedly, makes us physically and mentally ill. All we crave is for this person or that person (the world for us) to smile, acknowledge, or give an encouraging word and our world is right. Vested with this wonderful power (given by us) this person, the world for us, can choose to remain silent, be grumpy, look unhappy or whatever and by just doing nothing, make you grovel, make you beg, make you shake your head and seek forgiveness with folded hands. And also fall greatly in our self-esteem.
I approve of the sunrise! I don't care if you don't.

Looking for approval can be a silent killer. It can make a living wreck of you.

If there is one way to get out of this trap that most are in, its to understand that there is only person whose approval matters. It is our own. Only we need to approve of our acts, our thoughts, our creations. And after that, to hell with the world.

Identify these silent killers in your life. They are the ones who use silence, anger, unhappiness, to make you feel terrible. To make you feel less than. Not their fault really. Because you have given them the power to make you feel this way. Slowly take this power back i.e. stop looking for their approval. Ask yourself if its good enough for you - if it is then celebrate.

I love this affirmation I read in a Louise Hay book - I love and approve of myself exactly as I am.

The silent killers can go take a hike. They can disapprove all they want - who cares. We approve of ourselves.

Signed and sealed by the Department of Approvals.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thought for the Day - How to be free

One oft heard desire is that one wants to be 'free'. To be released from responsibilities one is tied to - the daughter-in-law wants freedom from the mother-in-law, husband wants freedom from the wife and wife from the husband, employees want freedom from employment, kids want freedom from  school and parents etc etc. 

The reason for the desire for freedom is normally this - that the victims are not 'allowed' to be themselves. That they are being moulded in a certain way through structures and rules which go against their natural tendencies. This force fitting them into a different mould causes them to give up, resent authority and want to flee. Someplace where they can be 'themselves'. Where they are allowed to be themselves.

The fact of the matter is that unless one is physically chained or restricted, one is free to be themselves. I mean one is always 'themselves' - we don't lose ourselves because of some rules or structures do we? It is a choice for us to make whether we want to be ourselves or not. In spite of the rules or structures. Or, if the rules get too heavy, to bear with them and still retain ourselves, in other times.

But most times we take our resentment against rules and expectations as the end of everything. We protest against the rule and cease being ourselves as a form of rebellion. We cause immense harm to ourselves in these protests because its more important to prove that we are wronged - than to stay happy, healthy (ourselves!). The resentment eats away slowly and one can well kiss that real person good bye.

None of this is the perpetrator's fault. Whatever the perpetrator demanded is one thing but to take the resentment to all levels is plain stupidity. Instead, it might help to find a way to be free of the 'need to be demanded of such sacrifices' - so one can be oneself. It is better to ask yourself - what is the need within me that makes this person make these demands. If you can address that, you can be yourself.


The Paradoxes of Our Lives - You Control When You Let Go

When you want to control, you lose all control. To gain real control, let go.

By wanting to control the process or the outcome, one uses the kind of force that makes the group mentally sign off. Human tendency is that it does not want to be controlled so much or so less that it feels useless. Though it may appear that the group is exhibiting signs of being controlled and following the set of controls, deep within the group is rebelling. Resenting. Simmering. It's dangerous and ineffective. Certainly there is no control over what the group can really do if it wanted to. Such a group or relationship is lost.

On the other hand, by letting go of control and letting the group find its way, remain true to itself, one finds a million ways in which the group aligns itself. The group is there voluntarily and not to show that it is conforming. It is an energy that one can see and feel. Such energy is possible only when all signs of control are done away with. Then the group submits itself voluntarily to control.

The group can only be controlled when control is let go in the mind.

But since one is not looking to control, everyone is happy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa - Movie Revisiting

I watched 'Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa' again and relived the magic of the 1990s. Kundan Shah's movie made me all nostalgic. Watched it with Anjali whose respect for old Hindi movies has gone up ever since she watched 'Sholay' recently.

When I watched this movie the first time, in 1994, I liked it. (Its very likeable that way.) But there's something about watching these movies after some 20 years - suddenly they appear like classics. Even normal lyrics appears like poetry. And Shahrukh Khan acted well and I wonder how I missed that the first time around. How is he so light on his feet I wonder? So it did appear to me to be a minor classic.

Goa. Shahrukh. The band with Ashutosh Gowariker as Imran, pre-Lagaan days. Deepak Tijori. Suchitra Krishnamoorti. Naseeruddin Shah and his sab rasste bhagwan ke paas hi jaate hain. Satish Shah. Tiku Talksania. Anjan Shrivastav (Wagle saab). And Goga Kapoor as Don Anthony Gomes. I believe every actor has one role that defines him - MacMohan as Samba in Sholay, Raza Murad as the dying poet in Namak Haraam, Shakti Kapoor as Gun Master Go Go in Andaz Apna Apna. This is Goga Kapoor's classic. I even remember his dialogues and expressions. Main tera fan ban gaya re.

Lovely music (Ae kaash ke ham is still a favorite of mine! So is Deewana.). Frothy screenplay. No wonder Shahrukh counts this as his favorite film. This is my best Shahrukh film any day. Wonder what all the others in the cast think when they see this movie now - Suchitra, Deepak etc. Looks like some classics might just get revisited what with the young lass liking these movies - bad prints and all.

Nice Link - 10 Interesting Indian Villages

Here are 10 villages that did things differently. Fantastic stuff.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Anjali - Focus on What's Right

Anjali was down with fever and a headache last couple of days. Change in weather etc etc. Yesterday she recovered quite a bit though she was still down.

'My fever is still there but my headache is gone,' she told me last evening.

'Oh, but why hasn't the headache gone?' I asked.

'Arre be happy that the fever has gone na,' she said in a disappointed tone. 'If you keep thinking of why the headache has not gone even the fever will come back'.

It's a universal principle. What you put your attention on grows. Focus on the good it grows, focus on the bad it grows.

I have spent much time on trying to imbibe this principle. How come she picked it up already?