Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The House at Pooh Corner - A. A. Milne

You could pick this up any day and lose yourself in the Pooh world with a smile on your face. The completely non-judgmental and simple Pooh, the little and perpetually scared Piglet, the bouncy and loud Tigger, The ever busy and important Rabbit, the learned and bungling Owl, the pessimistic and dull Eeyore, Kanga and Roo and of course Christopher Robin who holds their world together.
Dean, 210 p

Eeyore has a house built for him at Pooh Corner by Piglet and Pooh. Piglet meets the scary Heffalumps and survives, Tigger climbs a tree to show off and realises he cannot get down and needs help, Rabbit tries to unbounce Tigger and loses himself, Owl loses its tree and finds a new house (found by Eeyore but its actually Piglet's house and Piglet generously lets Owl live there and goes over to live with Pooh). They are such a loveable bunch of characters with such unpredictable turns of behavior. And funny.

It was written in 1928! This book is the second volume of the Pooh stories and this is when the irrepressible Tigger is introduced.

Ravelstein - Saul Bellow

It was Saul Bellow's last novel written when he was eighty five. It was also a fictionalised account of real life - Abe Ravelstein is based on Allan Bloom who taught with Bellow at the University of Chicago. The novel is about a narrator who meets his friend Ravelstein, a college Professor who asks him to write his memoir after his death.
Penguin, 253p
Ravelstein is an interesting character and is written about with great love and in ample detail. He has an interesting mind and he sees things differently. He has a live in partner Nikki. He is also aware that he is dying. It is quite contemporary because it was written in 2000. There are references to Michael Jackson and mobile phones and other modern day stuff. After his death the narrator sets about writing the memoir.

It is considered to be one of Saul Bellow's great works. For me, far removed from the world, it was not easy to read. But perhaps when I understand that world better, I might appreciate it more.

This Way Is Easier Dad - The Mumbai Launch

It was a miracle that the Mumbai launch happened at all. On the 20th of September Mumbai was drenched with heavy rains that were predicted to last three more days to a week. The airport was a feet down in water, a plane skidded off the runway, all flights were cancelled.
Suhita introducing the book
Thousands of passengers from Hyderabad to Mumbai were stranded and several returned home after spending the better part of the night at the airport. It was not good news at all.
TWIED on display
The rain did not abate all evening. We were told to go early to the airport for our 620 am flight. I was constantly in touch with Miskil and Suhita and we reiterated that whatever best will happen and we will take it one step at a time.
Anjali, Suhita, Sonali, Me and Tarun unveil 'This Way is Easier Dad' 
At the airport on the 21st, Shobha, Anjali and I found very short queues. It was one of the quickest for me through check in and security. A small flight awaited us. I feel many cancelled their flights in view of the predictions.
Sonali speaking about the book
Our flight took off ahead of time and landed ahead of time. Miskil came to pick us up and took us to her new home at Churchgate . Mumbai was overcast but hey, where was the rain? It had stopped. I said nothing. Let the best happen. It held all day. No rain, dark clouds. I called all those I needed to call, sent messages, grabbed a good meal, and showered. The plan was to get to Crossword, Kemps Corner, by 5 pm. At 430 pm it started raining. For a moment I thought, God let it stop, we are so close. Then I realised my attachment to the outcome and corrected myself. Let whatever is best happen and I am perfectly fine with that. The rain stopped.
Sonali and Kaveri, Me and Anjali
Algan was the Master of Ceremonies and he was waiting for us. I met Ketaki of Crossword. Sonal was there from Jaico despite a minor mishap at her house that morning - ever the professional. I met Sheetal and Sharon who help Sonal with marketing, lovely young ladies who clicked most of these pictures.
Anjali reading from the book
Shobha, Anjali and I, Suhita, Jayant, Miskil and Kabir, Prutha, Mangala tai were from the family. Tarun, Shanthi, Akanksha came. Sonali Kulkarni came with her adorable 6 year old daughter Kaveri and her manager M. Shatrujeet, Ankita and Joydeep, all writers (we were on a panel at the PILF), came and I was so pleased to see another prolific writer and good friend Dilip D Souza join us. Who said writers don't support one another?
Sonal, her daughter, Joydeep, Ankita, Parag, Mamta, Boski, Jayant, Krishnan, Sunil, Sati, Sucharitha, Sudha, Sunitha, Manga tai, Maya, Trisha, Mahesh
And add Karan Bajaj to boot, author of 'Keep off the grass' and 'Johnny goes down' and currently Head of Discovery, South Asia, who came all the way from BKC just to support me. It was lovely to see him. Sunitha, Sunil, Sreenu, Birjis, Asha, Snehal, Vishnu, Mahesh, Maya, Trisha, Mrs. Bhogawar, Sati, Sucharita, Sudha. Parag and Mamta came and so did Prashanth Manjrekar. Boski Gupta of Free Press Journal came and the gentle giant Krishnan from DNA came as well. I was overwhelmed that they had all showed up for me, despite the threat of rain, the distance in Mumbai.
A view of the audience
The evening started with Algan introducing us. Suhita introduced the book and spoke of it and us in glowing terms. Sonali took the mike and said she enjoyed reading the book and how she felt assured that there were parents who did not micromanage their children's lives and instead allowed them to grow on their own path. I spoke about my writing process, how the book came about, how the many incidents drew me to study and be more aware of the intelligence of the child, of life.
Post event
Sonali said she most liked the fact that I respected Anjali as a person. Tarun spoke about how the book did a lot more for the cause of daughters than any scheme etc. I tried to clarify it was not so much about parenting because I did not know much about parenting - at best Anjali was doing a good job of parenting us and all I was doing was stay out of the way.
Me. Shobhs and Suhita
It was full of fun and banter, with and repartee.
Me and Karan Bajaj - really nice of him to come
I read a chapter (the dog chapter), Anjali read a chapter in her inimitable way, Mamta read a chapter and we fulfilled a decade long promise to have her read at our book event. (It was in August 2007 that we had a book launch at this same venue for 'The Men Within'. Sanjay Manjrekar and Ayaz Memon were the guests then. Suhita, Miskil (who read a chapter then), Jayant, Sati, Parag, Mamta, Tarun and Shanti were all there even at that event a decade ago.)
My favorite pic of the day - all daughters on  stage - Miskil and Suhita, Kaveri and Sonali, Anjali and me, Akanksha and Tarun
There were a few questions and answers and we proceeded to sign a few copies. Off we went after that to Miskil's house for an after-event party.
Flowers to Miskil - fully deserved
Thank you Sonali for your time and support, Tarun, Suhita without whom this event would not have happened at all, Miskil for hosting us, Sonal and the Jaico team for putting it together, Crossword for the space, Algan for a super job, all my friends and well wishers who showed up to support me.
Algan compering away in his inimitable style
It was humbling in so many ways and I can only say that I am grateful beyond words for the fact that the event went off and went off so well.
A screen shot of Sonali's post - I caught it on whatsapp and couldn't resist putting it here

It was very gracious of Sonali to write about the event on facebook. She was very unassuming, intelligent, graceful and made us all very comfortable. A lot of the credit to how the evening panned out must go to her and to Suhita for moderating the event so well. A huge change from guests who make us all feel very tense.

And so 'This Way is Easier Dad' moves on to Mumbai and beyond. Onwards to Bangalore next and then to Chennai. Thanks all for everyone who came and those who supported us from behind the scenes. Akash, Sandhya, Mugdha of Jaico, Sagar, Abhinay, Anita, Vaishali, Suresh, family, friends, and many more who were constantly in touch and without whom this event would not have happened.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

TIE - Talk On September 20, 2017

I was invited by the TIE (The Indus Entrepreneurs), Hyderabad Charter to speak at their Charter Member Social on September 20, 2017 by the President Pradeep Mittal. Many friends are part of this elite group so it was interesting to share some experiences with a group pf achievers. Suresh, Srikanth, Anil, Venu, Kali were some of the friends I met.

My talk followed that of Jai Krishnan, CEO of T-HUb.
I spoke of the three questions that bothered me.

What defines me?
Each time someone introduces me I feel embarrassed because my introduction is long - cricketer, writer, coach, speaker, workshop facilitator, teacher..a list that clearly shows I do not know what defines me yet. I am not the expert in any one thing and it bothers me that I cannot define myself more clearly and sharply than this vague jack-of-all-trades description.

I was with Suresh the previous day and he asked me a question? What was your best performance ever in cricket? Of all the games I played over the two decades I was active I picked this one game. Clearly we are defined by our choices so I guess my choice explains a bit of what defines me.

This was a match we played in the 1980s. We were part of a strong Under 22 side representing Hyderabad with about 8 Ranji Trophy probables. Ehtesham, Masood, Swaroop, Suresh, Zakir, Rajesh Yadav, Venkatapathi Raju, me, Chatterjee, Charavarthy all went on to play Ranji Trophy from that squad. It was a team that was  expected to win the championship easily. I guess we thought we would, somehow or the other.

We had an easy first round. Then we played Tamil Nadu in the second. Not the toughest side compared to us but no pushover either. We managed 420 batting first, not a match winning total but good enough. Tami Nadu replied strongly on day 2 with 190 for 1 or something to that tune. A mere 230 runs with 9 wickets in hand. And the openers were playing really well. None of the bowlers had taken responsibility on day 2 and we perhaps had hoped someone would strike. None of us did.
It was an uneasy night. We had given away the advantage. In fact Tamil Nadu had their hands fully around the match. But how could we, a champion side, lose? Our collective pride was at stake. The mistake had to be reversed. We had to walk into their den and wrest the game away from them.

Personally I was upset with myself and wanted to make amends. I believe we all felt the same way.
Next day my skipper Ehtesham looked at me as we walked into the field and told me 'Harry, I want you to dry up the runs one side.'. Our plan was to tighten it up and make it difficult for them to get those 230 runs and hope to get wickets along the way. I was game for the task. Grateful actually.

I bowled a spell I will never forget in my life. I bowled unchanged through three sessions bowling 22 overs of fast accurate bowling aimed at a  run denying length. If I beat the bat, the ball would miss the stumps by six inches or so. Cricket, like all games, is a game of angles, and I chose that length and stuck to it all 22 overs. It paid me back. I gave only 28 runs in those 22 overs. It was a superhuman effort, normally a fast bowler would bowl 10-12 overs at a stretch. Not one ball did I try a wicket taking length because all they would have needed was one boundary to break the shackles and we might lose the advantage we secured.

By the time I was taken off, some 40 odd overs later, they were some 290 for 2, an hour after lunch. Then they lost two more wickets before tea. In the last two sessions, in the fading light at KSCA, Bangalore, Venkatapathi Raju took six wickets. Rajesh got three. We walked off after one of the toughest battles of attrition I ever played. I had no energy to celebrate. Just this satisfaction that a wrong had been righted. For a moment I wondered what I had to show for those 22 overs - nothing. But I was glad our team had won.

As we clapped our heroes out, our manager C.R. Chandran sought me out. 'You know we would not have won but for your performance right?' he said. I thought he was being polite. But four days later a fast bowler who got a mere two wickets in three matches made it to the South Zone squad. In fact my manager said I was a unanimous choice, one of the first names to be penned down by the selectors.

Wicketless yes, but I would do it any day for my team. I felt that I could only deliver that because I was driven by the bigger purpose of my team and its pride. And I struggle to explain this idea sometimes that we perform beyond our normal capabilities when we have a bigger cause, that we get rewarded big time and recognised when we pay for a bigger cause. Nothing explains it better than this choice for me. Of that length I bowled, of the choice I made. I'd do it any day. And I'd pick that performance over my seven wicket hauls.

The second question that bothers me is this.
Why did you not play Test cricket after playing Ranji Trophy?
For twenty years after I got dropped from the Ranji Team I believed I was a victim of politics. But ten years ago when I asked myself the question, I knew the answer - I was relieved to be dropped. I did not want to play. Mainly because I was not bowling as well as I did the previous year. I was ashamed that I was not doing well enough, I had no way of going to anyone and asking what was wrong. I was a first class cricketer, how could I ask basic questions like how I lost my swing, how I lost my pace? And I slowly faded away because I was too frightened and egoistic to ask someone to correct me, to help me. All it would have taken for a good coach would have been half an hour with me in the nets since I already knew a lot of my craft.

I had made it to the top 60 fast bowlers in the country, maybe even into the top 30 and I just let it all go when I was so close to the next step. I believe a lot of us do that, get so close and then give it away because we are too proud, scared to ask for help. I was certainly driven by fear - of being found out, of not being good enough. And I let the entire story collapse around me. Now when I look back I know exactly why I did not make it to the next level - because I could not stand my ground and find answers. If I had just stood there long enough and stared into the darkness I would have found solutions. I would have made it to the next step. But I was too scared and gave up too early.

The third question that bothers me is this.
How come you did not write a best seller yet?
I have written four books and god knows how this journey has been. I chose to write despite not having any training for it, not having any specific skill or connection, just the mad feeling that I enjoyed the writing process and that I could do better than a few writers that I had read. It took a long time to write my first book, one lakh fifty thousand words, and it never got published despite making the rounds of several publishers. It took me a long time to figure out that perhaps I was not good enough and it was not the publisher who was at fault. Then I wrote another and then another. None got published. It was my fourth novel, funnily, a story about cricket, an area I was keeping far away from, that finally got published first and even made into a movie. Then I wrote another and then another and another. Now with two fiction books and two non-fiction books behind me, I do not know how to answer that question.

How can I write a best seller? I don't know. I can only write what I know about and I stick to stuff I believe in. I have enough themes and enough stories to write about and I will write about them. I do not know how a best seller is written. But I know one thing for sure - I will not step away like I did with my cricket before I find the answers. I will stay and peer into the darkness seeking the formula. I may finally never end up writing a bestseller but at least I will not give up without trying.

That is my formula to go to the next step, which is what this talk was all about. To persevere, to look into the dark despite the fear, that perhaps you do not know the formula for getting there. I believe that if we stay there long enough and look into the darkness, we will find light, the formula.

A few questions and answers and we were done. It was a lovely evening. I could not stay longer because I had an early flight to catch next morning. Thanks TiE. Thanks Pradeep and Suresh.

The Art of Self-Love - My Article in HANS India on September 24, 2017

Suffering the dangers of self-love gone wrong!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Anjali - Going Through Fear

Daksha school announced a vaccination drive against measles and rubella. The vaccine would be administered at the school and all kids were asked to come if they wanted a vaccine. Anjali asked me if she was to take the vaccine and we checked her vaccine chart and consulted her paediatrician and the good Dr. Sriram said it was a good idea to take it.

There was a bit of banter at home.
'It will hurt Nanna,' joked Anjali. 'I don't want it.'

Shobha and I reminded her about a nursery rhyme she had where a small animal character who is scared of an injection runs away making all kinds of excuses until the kind doctor animal tells it to sing a song where she has to say ouch and that is as long as it needs to take the injection. It all ends well of course. In fact after reading that Anjali actually would go up to the doctor and tell him she wanted an injection. But that was years ago.

Anyway jokes apart, Anjali and I set out to school to join many others who were already queued up. Some of her classmates came out. 'Hi Anjali, it does not hurt at all,' said Harshvardhan as he left. Anjali looked at him suspiciously. Some small kids came to our crying and she looked worried. Then she spotted her friends Mansi, Keertan, Saket and went to play with them.

'Mansi does not like injections,' she came and reported. 'But Kushal, her brother, he loves injections.'

This was confirmed by Mansi's father. After a while we got our turn and both friends, Mansi and Anjali walked in holding on to our hands, apprehension writ large on their faces. Mansi went first and started to cry even before she sat on the chair. Anjali who was with me, held my hand tight and her eyes welled with tears.

'I don't want the injection,' she said. 'Let us go away Nanna.'
I told her it would be over in a minute. But she was inconsolable. The teachers got worried because she is pretty strong otherwise. The doctor took a moment and quickly finished the poke. Anjali would not stop crying. Nor would Mansi.

'It hurts Nanna,' cried Anjali.

I led her away to the car. As we walked away her friends came and tried to cheer her up. Saket, Keertan and others. Saket's father also tried to cheer her up. But she was distressed. I let her cry. Obviously she was hurting. Once in the car she calmed down. So did Mansi, who was also coming home with us. In a short while they started laughing and joking and things were back to normal.

There were several children who did not come that day. Some, mainly because of the fear of the injection. I was glad Anjali and Mansi found the courage to go to the school despite their fears and apprehensions, and went through it, crying, sobbing, and perhaps feeling foolish about their crying. But they did it. And that is what was most important. Like Mandela said, courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but the one who conquers it.'

So well done you two, Anjali and Mansi, sniffling and crying, wanting to go away but holding on, steeling yourself against the poke but hanging on, and getting done with it. I could see the other parents and teachers looking with concern at their tears, but me, I felt nothing but pride. They did it, despite that fear. And if they could do it once, they will find that courage again. When they need it. And that thought is most comforting.

Nice Link - 13 Traits of Integrity

13 Traits of Integrity

  • Value other's time
  • Give credit where due
  • Authentic
  • Honest
  • Never take advantage of others
  • Give people the benefit of doubt
  • Know when something is bothering someone
  • Believe others
  • Apologise first
  • Are humble
  • Do good when they can 
  • Are kind to those who need it.

Nice Link - The Dark Side of Positive Thinking

Nice Link - Living in India on Rs. 39 a day

The Paradoxes of Our Lives - Complaints and Gratitude

What (or who) we complain most against, are probably the ones to whom we must be the most grateful to. They are normally the ones who have given us the most in our lives and - and we still want more and more. We just take them for granted, we are thankless and many times plain angry and bitter for the simple reason that they gave us the most anybody has given us in this life.

Parents, friends, government, service providers, house help - you check your list and see if it works out for you. For me it works out perfectly. People who gave me the most I complain against most. People who give me nothing also get nothing from me.

Could I just be more grateful to those about whom I am complaining about?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Wag the Dog - Movie Review

The President of the USA is caught in a sex scandal days before the election. A fixer (Robert De Niro) is brought in. What can take away people's attention from the sandal? A war he says. With Albania. But we cannot go to war say the officials. Not real war, he says. We will distract the people with the war story for 11 days until the election is over. And by the time the election is done, the public should love the President again.

Who can tell such a story so convincingly? A Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman). So he gets his team of creative people in and designs Act 1, with a young girl fleeing rape, murder and destruction in Albania, complete with a song. Then they design Act 2 with a fictitious soldier left behind in Albania and how they need to bring him back, this time with symbols and songs. Then Act 3 when the soldier is finally brought back home triumphantly (but dead) owing to some technical glitches. In the eleven days, the fixer team fully tells a fake story to the public and gives the President a thumping victory.

But his best creative work will never get recognised as a piece of art and the producer is upset. Well there is no room for upset when the stakes are high. He joins the soldier the next day. There is also real unrest now in Albania but what the hell, the President won the election didn't he?

Brilliant is the word. You have to watch it many many times to catch the superb writing flowing off sleekly from every scene. And an ensemble cast led by De Niro, Hoffman, Anne Heche, Woody Harrelson, Kirsten Dunst and so many others  Watch.

Anjali - Save a Tree

I do not know what inspired this but Anjali wrote this a while ago. About a tree. I guess I'll save it - the poem, if not the tree.

Save a tree, save a life!

Anjali Paruvu

Chop Chop, Bang, Bang,
Goes the woodcutter’s axe.
It is illegal though
He’ll have to pay extra tax!

Oh, dear sir,
What has the tree done to you?
What makes you murder it?
It gives oxygen and takes in Co2

The poor innocent tree,
Has only tried to help
But still he grabs his axe
And the tree silently yelps

Oh no! he’s going to do it!
Was this written in your fate?
Now we can’t do much
It’s already too late

Bang, goes the axe,
What have you done?
Now, you killed one

But soon there will be none

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Thought for the Day - How Gratitude Connects Everything

Ever since I have been doing the daily gratitude exercises that Shobhs is sending out to a small group, I have made some important discoveries (to me). Firstly, it struck me that without gratitude I somehow saw myself as alone - non-gratitude seems to be the first separator from the oneness of the universe. Secondly, how little gratitude I have for the things in my life - good and bad. Thirdly, the chain of gratitude is amazing - every person and experience we meet /have leads to another and to another until it almost seems like the whole world is working overtime to support us and help us. Fourthly, how I take so many things for granted (especially the big things) and am not grateful for them at all. I have conditions - what to be grateful for and what not to be grateful for!
For me - Pic courtesy Parth Gokhale
Now, after a little practice with the idea, I can see that every single call I get on the phone has something to be grateful for, every interaction, every thought, word or deed. Everywhere there are connections beyond connections, people who stood up and made life good for me even when they did not need to.

An example. When I went to the mall yesterday I tried to see both perspectives - my normal reaction - not enough parking, crib about the security check, crib about lack of choice of display in the mall, crib about salespeople who are not making me feel like an emperor.

Then I put on the gratitude outlook. I saw there was enough to be grateful for - there was parking and help to park, there were security personnel keeping me safe at danger to themselves, there was a mall which conceived this need and brought hundreds of brands and hundreds of patient and knowledgeable salespeople, the comfort of shopping in such a mall, the fact that I had the money to pay, the bank that helped me with a credit card, the clients that paid me so I had money to pay, education that allows me this, teachers who taught me, parents who gave me life and an education, incoming leads for business....on and on.

One look at the large crowd before me and I could suddenly see that the customers were all working hard and spending their money in the shopping mall, paying taxes, so we could all have the infrastructure, the power company, the road company, the clothes manufacturers, the building contractors, the lighting manufacturers - so the overall business environment looks up and there is more to buy and sell and the salespeople get more money as salaries...and on and on again.

It's incredible to see how so many are connected with me directly and indirectly and make my life so comfortable. When I feel the connectedness to people, ideas, energy that goes in to support me, known and unknown. I cannot but a wee bit of the phrase 'my heart is filled with gratitude'. When I feel how everything is connected I can see how significant I am and at the same time I can see how insignificant I am. Everything now is a gift, a miracle. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Body - Movie Review

A guard of a morgue sees something scary and runs away. He runs into a car and dies. When police come they find that a body is missing in the morgue and it is the body of a very successful businesswoman. The body went missing before its autopsy. The grieving husband is called to identify the body and finds that there are notes and clues left for him - enough for him to know that his wife is probably not dead. And that she knows that he is having an affair. And that he killed her because of the other woman in his life.

Now, without the body they can prove nothing though the police believe that the husband killed his wife. Now add a highly strung police officer who is recovering from the death of his wife in an accident and we have a recipe for a crazy ride. The husband killed the wife but she seems to have known enough not to die and perhaps even set him up for her murder. Who is the killer? Who is the victim? Absolute cliff hanging stuff until a breathtaking end.

Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe - Simon Sinek

Another wonderful talk by Simon Sinek

Friday, September 15, 2017

This Way Is Easier Dad - Mumbai Launch

Please come. 'This Way Is Easier Dad' Mumbai Launch.

Date : 21st September, 2017
Time 6 pm
Venue: Crossword Book Store, Kemp's Corner, Mumbai

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Babumoshai Bandookbaaz - Movie Review

A hit man in UP who loves his Kishore Kumar (Nawazuddin) and kills for a mere 20k finds a fan of his who is also a rival - the young man is getting contract jobs as well at lower price. Both share a love hate, guru shishya relationship as they discuss pricing, ethics and girlfriends. Both are also being played by the local politicians who use them to bump people off.

Crux of the matter is Babu is in love - true love. Bankey (his chela) seems to have impressed his love though when he visits them. While killing off their targets, Bankey also shoots Babu saying he got a contract for his head also. Babu returns after seven years in coma and kills everyone off only to find that Bankey and his true love have set up a love nest. He kills them both and makes away with his son - who then shoots Babu in the end.

Different kind of a movie. Different kind of people. All of them die except the love child but going by his ways, he will not last too long too.

My Column in Sunday HANS - How Negative Thinking Can Save the World

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How One Honest and Efficient Officer Can Turn Around a Government Organisation

This is the story of how one person changed the fortunes of an inefficient and corrupt government department - The Civil Supplies Corporation (CSC). Given charge of being Commissioner of Civil Supplies Department of Telangana, after  a fine performance as Commissioner of Police, Cyberabad, C.V. Anand, IPS, was offered a post normally given to IAS officers. But the government was keen and felt he was the right person to do the job. After a short span of an year, he won the Award for Excellence from the government having brought in several measures that saved .Rs. 1408 directly and several more indirectly
Image result for C V Anand
When he took over the CSC, the fact sheet read like this - Large outstanding of material (paddy - rice), Outstanding dues (loans and moneys owed to the corporation), loss due to leakages (transport, procurement, gunny bags), millers domination, , low employee morale, corruption (FPS shops), financial mismanagement, cash credit stopped by the bank fro lack of stocks, Rs. 1640 Cr subsidy from Central Government was stopped due to procurement in excess of 25% levy in 2014-15, a Rs. 3288 crore deficit due to non-sanction from the state government (due to non-persuasion by the department). The corporations P&L looked abysmal. Tax payers money was going down the drain and in many cases was being used by unscrupulous elements in collusion with officials. In short, the Rs. 12,000 crore corporation was a royal mess.

To handle such inefficiency and corruption at such a large scale the officer needed the support of the government and he got it amply.

1. Set the agenda and send a clear message
C.V. Anand had to send a clear message that the department meant business. He needed to get the right team on the bus (Good to Great- Jim Collins) which he did and got the wrong people off the bus and sent them to the field. He led from the front, set clear goals, roles, evolved Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs),  recognised and rewarded those who did a good job and kept the team motivated. Promotions were given, recruitments done, transfers were made transparent, long standing deputations cancelled, political interference was reduced in transfers The message was clear - perform or perish - and he would spare no one.

His team now in place, he needed to attack the mischief makers. Other stakeholders included Rice Millers, Kerosene Dealers, Fair Price Shop Dealers, Transporters other than the Farmers and the End Consumers.

2. Changing the currency
To understand the way the Corporation works better, he changed the basic unit from Metric Tonnes (MTs) to Rupees. The message - the Corporation had to be run like a company. What was previously discussed in MTs now became Rupees and that helped bring focus to the medium of exchange and even the way performance could be measured. A column "in Rs. Crore' was added to every single report to see the financial implication of every decision and action.

3. Dealing with the Rice Millers
He sent a clear message to the Millers (o/s of 651 cr) - who get advances worth crores of rupees from the department to process paddy and deliver rice. The average outstanding, which should not exceed two months, was in many cases running into years - some were taking the paddy and directly exporting them as their own and paying the corporation as and when they wished. This non-supervision and non-recovery of rice due from millers on time caused a huge loss. When he took charge the outstanding was to the tune of 1.85 lakh MTs translating to Rs. 482 crore of the previous year and another Rs. 150 crore worth rice pertaining to the period  2010-15, which was not being recovered.
Some millers were returning substandard rice to the government having substituted the original paddy with low quality rice.

Gunny Sacks
Gunny sacks that were given to millers with paddy which are to be returned as per a complicated formula over 2 years as once used and twice used gunnies wit 40% depreciation each year, was not being returned. It was estimated that 5 crore gunny bags  were not returned which were worth about Rs. 66 crores. Transport of bags by road instead of rail brought down the cost by 6 crore.  Prices were not negotiated with millers for purchase of State  pool rice and fine rice for Hostels and Midday Meals, saving Rs. 62 cr. over the previous year.

All millers were asked to return the custom milled rice within two months and any one who defaulted was blacklisted. Four repeat offenders were arrested under preventive detention. Gunny bags sent to millers were recovered which earlier were recovered. Clear Standard Operating Procedures were issued to stop leakage and loss. This included measures like checking electricity meters for average consumption, giving color coded bags for packaging etc. Also allotment of paddy to millers was done on the basis of capacity and not on some whims and fancies.

4. Use of Technology to Monitor and Enforce
The department and the millers in place, it was time to monitor intelligence to help enforcement through use of technology. The department had GPS systems installed on the 1383 trucks with a geo fencing feature where any deviation in route (total 18000 routes) is alerted by sms to the top officials - Commissioner, Collector and District Managers. CCTVs were put in place at mandal level centres, godowns to ensure no pilferage was done. To watch all this in real time, a command and control room with an 18 and 8 feet screen was set up at the Hyderabad office to monitor transportation, and the CCTVs, live. A team watched the operations 24/7. Thus technology was used to increase surveillance, obtain first hand and real time information on where the material was and in what shape. An Online Payment Management System (OPMS) was used to pay Rs. 8100 crores to 11 lakh farmers straight into their Bank Accounts cutting out harassment by middlemen, and can be termed as the biggest welfare activity for them.

5. Use of Technology to Bind Team and Motivate and Appreciate
To enforce the agenda strictly, the entire team of Officers in districts were bought together through 15 Whatsapp groups. Officials used this app to report status on ground. All good work done by the CSOs was recognised and appreciated by name instantly by the Commissioner (Ken Blanchard - One Minute Manager, Whale Done). Awards were given and certificates and promotions recommended (Ken Blanchard - Gung Ho). This simple but little-used technique increased the morale of the officers on the field. Needless to say, it is a practice that consumes much time and speaks of how devoted the officer was and how he invested time in his people and backed them fully. The Millers were taken into confidence and were asked to suggest ways to further bring down leakage and pilferage.

6. Outsourced Teams to Help in IT, Enforcement, Technology, Finance
To bolster the efforts of his team, an IT team, an accounts team, an enforcement team and a technology team (quality) were hired on an outsourced basis. The outsourced teams, comprising of retired officers and others who were qualified, were given clear instructions to conduct raids, check and report malpractices and give no leeway for offenders. They were handpicked after personal interviews.

7. Financial Management and New Online Payment System
The department had not claimed dues, had not recovered material and on top of it, had paid an interest of Rs. 2100 crores. No proper audit had been done since 2011. This was addressed by the finance team. The accounts were audited after many years. Outstanding loans of Rs. 3500 crore were repaid, out of an outstanding amount of Rs. 6000 crores. An online payment system was developed for all financial transactions.

8. FPS Shops and ePoS Machines
ePoS machines were installed in 1545 FPS shops on a pilot basis which reduced leakages by Rs. 250 crore in one year. Now machines are being installed in all the 17200 FPS shops. This will reduce any mischief at the FPS shops. Also, FPS shops never showed any closing balance of rice and other essential commodities which after ePoS, will show at least 15% closing balance. Quality of rice is being ensured and to prevent any mischief, the colour of sacks containing rice for hostels and schools had been changed.

9. Launch of T Ration App
On September 8, 2017, the Department launched the T Ration app which is a boon for the beneficiaries of the ration cards or the PDS system. One can download the app on their smart phone and access details of ration shops, stocks, live activity, quotas, commodities availability, status of applications, loading and unloading details. Consumers can approach any ration shop in their district to take their ration (anywhere ration or portability concept). All shops were geo-tagged and CCTVs installed in godowns. It cannot get more transparent than that. The T Ration App also has 13 services for the officers to access and discharge their duties from anywhere - stock, live sales, receipt, seeding status etc can be accessed at the touch of a button. What was a nebulous business earlier has now become a transparent process which benefits both the corporation, the consumers and the dealers.

Savings and Recoveries After the Above Measures
The savings and recoveries in just one year of operations are estimated as follows - recovery of Custom Milled Rice dues Rs. 715 cr, Gunny bag dues Rs. 175 cr, Savings through negotiation with millers Rs. 62 cr, Savings through transportation Rs. 71 crore, Recovery of long pending dues from GoI Rs. 1946 cr, ePoS savings Rs.260 cr, Savings through other measures Rs. 270 cr. Of a total savings/recoveries estimated at Rs. 4208 cr, the department has in one year saved Rs. 1270 cr. The balance Rs. 2938 crore is likely to be recovered/saved soon.

The direct beneficiaries are clearly the end consumers - people who buy in FPS shops, the hostel and school meals and the farmers from whom the paddy was being procured. They were getting delayed, sub-standard material and artificial shortfalls were created which benefited the millers, transporters, officials, godowns and FPS owners who made merry at the tax payers expense. Now with the system in place and losses brought down by Rs. 1200 crores in one year, the Civil Supplies Department is on the way to a full recovery.

Systems In Place, Hard Work Done - Benefits of a Level 5 Leader
The biggest takeaway from this massive exercise is a great lesson in leadership and how it can cause such a huge impact in one year. To convert an complex Corporation like the CSC into a transparent one through use of technology and other monitoring measures is no joke. In fact it is exactly what Jim Collins talks about in his book 'Good to Great' (a book I recommended and CV immediately ordered it). The first prerequisite to transform a corporation from good to great is ) Level 5 leadership 2) getting the right people on the bus and the wrong people off 3) confronting brutal facts while being clear of the final vision 4) a culture of discipline 5) clarity of the hedgehog concept and 6)technology accelerators. Almost all in place, or in process, and it is only one year into operation but the results are more than 10x. Fantastic.

It is no secret that the reforms will work for a while to come. The hard work has been done and needs to be sustained. Many of the reforms in IT, Enforcement, Finance and Technology can be taken forward (or can be withdrawn) based on the vision or the whims and fancies of the next official.

But what is heartening is to know that so much can be done with one person who wants to do good and who is driven by a purpose. CV's belief has always been this - "Government is a Trust, and the officers of the government are trustees. And both the trust and trustees are created for the benefit of the people.' CV clearly is a Level 5 leader - the kind who can transform organisations from Good to Great.

How one Level 5 leader can change the efficiency of an organisation, that too a government organisation, is a case study for all to look at - private sector or government. In fact two leaders of large private corporations that I met recently and shared this story with, asked if they could meet him and find out how he did it - I guess he should make a presentation on how he did it and release it as a case to study and follow.

His man management techniques are brilliant - lead from the front, use the window and mirror approach i.e. give credit to team and take all blame (Jim Collins), using appreciation and positive strokes instantly (Ken Blanchard), driven by purpose i.e. the cause (Simon Sinek) are all in place. If Google's 'way to build a perfect team' is considered - the impact they made, the meaning they have in the employees life, the structure (goal and role clarity), dependability and psychological safety are areas that need to be examined. An atmosphere of fairness and justice has been established and the team trusts him now as someone who will watch their back. His reputation precedes him and for him that bodes well.

'We can do wonders if we do an honest job,' he says. The evidence is clear as day light. Then we wonder - what are all the others doing. CV also gives full credit for the backing he got from the government and the CM in implementing the changes and measures that he did. If the Government wants to, it certainly can, because there are enough officers like CV who can do a wonderful job. CV has always made a difference to whatever job he has been entrusted - Lake Police at the Tank Bund, drunken driving and traffic enforcement, Cyberabad Women Safety - SHE teams+SHE shuttles and CCTVs, the notorious snake gang and now this. His room is full of awards and pictures with the President Dr. Abdul Kalam and others. Well done CV and hoping you will be entrusted with more such challenging assignments that will help society and the common man.  And I hope you will inspire more and more people in all walks of life to make a difference as you did and continue to do.

Selected Stories - Nikolay Gogol

The book contains stories such as 'Ivan Fyodorovich Shponka and his Aunt', 'How Ivan Ivanovich Quarrelled With Ivan Nikiforovich', 'Nevsky Prospekt', 'The Nose', 'The Overcoat', 'Diary of a Madman', 'The Carriage' and 'The Government Inspector'. Gogol is one of a kind and his characters are too, unique but universal.
Penguin. 330 p, Rs. 299

In the first story Ivan Fyodorovich returns after serving in the army for many years to his estate that was being looked after by his single aunt (and quite profitably too) and how he meets his neighbour and seems to like his neighbour's daughter. The aunt seems to want him to marry. In the second, two great friends and neighbours quarrel needlessly over a rifle and spend many years fighting the case in court and hoping that each will win the case - until they die. In Nevsky Prospekt we relive the experience of this famous street in St. Petersburg and a man's romance. The Nose is simply about a nose that appears one day in some one's bread and well the owner's search for his nose and his frustration in proving that the nose is his own. Incredible writing. In 'The Overcoat' the poor clerk finally gets a new overcoat but it is stolen from him tragically. In 'The Diary of a Madman' we have another young clerk who secretly desires a young girl who he knows is in a class above him and who slowly starts imagine he is the King of Spain - a suitable match for his dream girl. But his behavior as King of Spain causes him to lose his job and entry into the mad house. Not a false step there. In 'The Carriage' comes the young businessman who goes beyond what his brief is and tries to sell a carriage to the army officer and finds himself in a spot - in his very carriage.

The play 'The Government Inspector' is brilliant. It's about this corrupt government in a  small town and how there is a news that a government inspector was coming to inspect. As luck would have it a good for nothing young man is staying in a  hotel in town and the mayor and other top officials mistake him for the inspector and how his life suddenly changes from being broke to being plied with everything including money, food and women.

The stories cling to you briefly and lightly and many times you need to go back to find out what happened. Nothing really happens but a lot happens. Like life. That's' where his brilliance lies.

Being Mortal - Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande explores life and death - or more precisely death from the eye of the living and the about-to-die. He looks at life from the eyes of the old and dying - the sudden oncoming of illness one fine day, the distance from people, the lack of support and care, the feeling of helplessness. He discusses roles of hospitals, doctors, nurses, caregivers and the patients. He comes to the conclusion which to me also defines what marks a thoughtful person - someone who gently helps make a decision for the other person - not seemingly the right one all the time, because the person may not be capable of handling the right choice, but the choice that is best, given the circumstances. In this case it is the decision regarding how and when you may want to die and what is important to you and what is not. Can the doctor help you decide on it yourself to some extent when you still can?
Penguin, 263 p, Rs. 399
There are so many stories and examples - of the fiercely independent Alice who suddenly had to go through many indignities of the illness because no one cared to ask and her life (and death) was taken out of her control. The case of Lou who was well taken case of by his daughter Shelley (Atul says that one is better off having s single daughter because daughters seem to go to great lengths to take care of their parents). Shelley does a great job and Lou's life after his debilitating illness recovers some. Young mother diagnosed with a terminal illness and then his own father, a doctor, with a cancer growing in his spine. Each story heads to a grim end but what Atul is worried about is the period between knowing your life is now finite and choices are now limited and how do we cope best. One example that stands out is the case of Harry Truman, the old man who refused to leave his house in the wake of a volcano about to erupt and who chooses to die with his dogs and in his house - a case where he chose and got an end he wanted.

Atul Gawande discusses nursing care, hospices, assisted living spaces, old age, medical expenses and quality of care. The extraordinary experiment of Bill Thomas who decided to add life into the lives of terminal patients for whom life was fast going out. So he added 'life' in the form of dogs, cats, birds, plants and even children visits and gave them all exposure to life and even a purpose to live. Certainly a fine experiment. Somewhere he says - we seek a cause beyond ourselves. Words Viktor Frankyl would agree with.

The three plagues we deal with in old age are - Boredom, Loneliness and Helplessness. How can we help the old and the inform to counter these productively. A little creativity and more importantly, caring and thoughtfulness.

Atul stresses on the need to have the hard conversations. To state the brutal facts and not sell illusions. That way they can make clear choices and plan their limited time better. I was guilty of not telling my mother the extent of her illness and perhaps her last years were not as fruitful as they could have been. Now I advise anyone who has a parent who is diagnosed with terminal illnesses to give them the facts - it helps them deal with it better because they at least know all the facts. Among other things Atul advocates is to figure out what their goals are - if you lose these faculties what do you want, what would you like to do if this happens etc.

Questions typically asked were like
Do you want to be resuscitated if your heart stops?
Do you want intubation/ ventilation?
Do you want antibiotics?
Do you want tube or intravenous feeding if you can't eat on your own?

Also to look at the trade offs. This operation is doing this to you and this is possible but what do you want? Like someone wanted to be able to watch football and eat ice cream and if that surgery enables that, he was willing to take that risk. Else not. So the doctors worked around that and took their calls accordingly.

'I am worried for you' says Atul to a patient who seems to have fully recovered and is now planning a vacation but whose reports now show that the cancer has come back. He says the words must be chosen with great care. All options presented and course of action taken then. He cites types of ways in which doctors deal with patients - paternalistic information (take it, its good for you) and shared decision making where the doctor helps a clueless and distressed patient make decisions that are most important to him.

It is a book that makes one think about old age and the decisions that one needs to make now in those years when one is losing their faculties. Old people hate losing control over their lives, anyone would I guess. So living away from home in a place that does not seem like home (regimented) makes them die before they die. But they need help because most of them start falling and hurting themselves, cannot drive or perform basic functions by themselves. The assisted living parts really took care of their needs while giving them the independence and comfort of their own spaces.

There is some talk of money and financial planning but then nothing can buy full comfort because the illnesses he describes leave no chance for recovery. A bit of love and care from some - like the Tolstoy story where the servant Gerasim takes care of his dying master with great love, seems to help a lot. Another tidbit I remember, the care of feet when one is sick. And old. Or perhaps even the young.

Wonderful writing on a morbid topic and in a way that sensitizes us to the process. This is my second in recent times after Paul Kalanithi's 'When Breath Becomes Air' dealing with mortality and our choices or lack of them. What stands out is the lack of hope, the anger, the resentment and even the violence of surgeries and procedures. Could we be gentler with our words, our bodies, our attitudes? Could we bring that into the doctor-patient relationship, or even the hospital-patient relationship? Would that then be, like Gerasim's care, an automatic balm, much better than the palliative care and the many invasive methods allopathy offers? Could we let people exit gracefully (like my friend Hari says) and completely?

Anjali - Teacher's Day

There is a deep wonder that takes over me when I see an act of thoughtfulness. So I was taken aback to see Anjali take a lot of trouble to make a card for her teacher on Teacher's Day.  I don't remember ever making anything like this in my school days nor even thinking of such things. I don't get such thoughts even now.

There is a lot of care and thought that goes into many things that she does. When we are sick she instinctively seems to know what to do, which is a hug and a quick 'I am there for you' or 'I love you'. A gentle touch, a deep caring that comes with it, makes us feel better already. Cards are made aplenty, including stuff like this - Just like that.

Birthdays are celebrated with great care and thought - secret cards, plans for cakes, little gifts and small surprises. The same for friends, for her cousins, teachers - I am so glad she has this side to her just as I am glad that she can categorically say No to those she does not wish to engage with.

Much of the credit to her shaping goes to her teachers and I am glad she  acknowledges it far more openly than we do. Good for you Anjali. 

Walk at Taljai

On Sunday morning Parth, ever the adventurer, decided we would walk at Taljai which is behind the Parvati hill. It is a forest area and has several walks that lead in and out and can confuse the first timer. We walked for the good part of an hour.
Neha and I

Then a breather.
Maria, Parth and I
And then I faded into insignificance as I strolled way behind the rest.

The Pune International Literary Festival - Fine Experience

Attended the 5th edition of the Pune International Literary Festival held at Yashada, Pune form the 8th-10th of September. I was originally to be on a cricket writing panel with the highly energetic and enthusiastic Sfurthi Sahare (Think and Win like Dhoni) on a panel called 'Cricket on My Mind' (moderated by Dipankar Mukherjee). but was then roped into a Jaico authors panel on 'Fact or Fiction' moderated by Vasudev Murthy and comprising of the incomparable Shatrujeet Nath, a very gracious and charming Ankita Verma Dutta and the debonair and intense young director of the popular TV series 'Inside Edge' Karan Anshuman. Both went well.
Fact or Fiction - Me, Ankita (hidden), Vasudev Murthy, Shatrujeet Nath and Karan Anshuman
Day 1 began with the inauguration by Chief Guest Ustad Amjad Ali Khan followed by a sharing of their stories by Javed Akhthar and Shabana Azmi (full house so missed both). Then the programs started at four different venues - the main auditorium, two session halls and an open Book Nook. I attended Keerti's session with Rakshanda Jalil on the writings of Ishmat Chightai and loved it. Keeri really loves and knows her craft and it comes across so clearly.

Day 2 began with another session on the fine art of translation by Daniel Hahn, Keerti Ramachandra and Rakshanda Jalil which was moderated by Prashasti Rastogi and once again it was a fine session with deep insights into the world of translation. There was a session by Sagarika Ghose on her book 'Indira; India's Most Powerful Prime Minister' which I missed. Dr. Mohan Agashe was in several sessions and actress Divya Dutta was in conversation regarding her new book 'Me and Ma'. I wanted to see the stand up comedy by Rachan Singh the humour writer but then Yogesh came and took me for a lovely lunch at the PYC Gymkhana.

Post Lunch Vasu (Vasudev Murthy), a very interesting person and our moderator for the panel discussion on 'Fcat or Fiction' launched his book 'Sherlock in Timbuctu'. A high profile session with Sagarika Ghose, Anu Aga and Nemichandra on 'I am what I am' on women empowerment followed by our session on 'Fact or Fiction'. We discussed whether there is a method to writing fiction, how mush research is involved, the process of getting published and I spoke about the genre of cricket fiction. Couple of questions about how possessive we are about our works when they get made into movies. It was interesting to hear the views of Vasudev, Shatrujeet, Ankita and Karan on the subject. It was well received and Shatrujeet made it very lively with his sense of comic timing and high energy as also some fine moderating by Vasu. Our session was followed by a panel on 'Vpoice of Women in Movies' which had Pooja Bhatt, Divya Dutta, Kirti Kulhar (of Pink fame) and Ashwini Iyer Tiwari (of Neel Battee Sannata and Bareilly to Barfi fame). I was keen to listen to Ashwini and she spoke much sense in the time she got because the entire session was hijacked by Pooja Bhatt (who was entertaining and loud mostly) and the rather boring monologue by Kirti. Badly moderated or rather no moderation. We quickly joined a small audience who gathered to hear a talk 'Writers under threat' moderated by Jayant Kripalani with Manjula and Sreemoyee.
Cricket on My Mind - Me, Dipankar Mukherjee and Sfurthi Sahare
On Day 3 I skipped most morning sessions and joined after lunch to see Keerti in conversation with Daniel Hahn again on translation and it was once again a fine session. It should have been for an hour.  There was a Kavi Sammelan and then my session with Sfurthi Sahare on 'Cricket on My Mind'. Since there was Ekta Kapoor on another panel at the same time and another high profile panel that included Sachin Khedekar, Kinjal Goyal, Dr. Mohan Agashe and Deeksha Kalyani on "No Kidding" we did not anticipate much crowd. But the session was well moderated by Dipankar Mukherjee and Sfurthi bowled everyone over with her confidence and her energy and passion. She told the story of how she was impressed by MSD's mindset and then travelled to meet Sourav Ganguly and then MSD himself and many of his pals and family before writing her book on 'Think and Win like Dhoni'. SI shared the process of writing cricket fiction and cricket non-fiction, the challenges and the aspects of leadership, team building etc as I saw them. The festival wound up with a session on the Hit Girls with Asha Parekh that was moderated by Khalid Mohamed.

I met several new writers and people on this journey. Sfurthi, Vasu, Shatrujeet, Ankita, Karan, Dipankar, Mina Rao, Sudha, Amrutha, Neeti, Varsha, Siddarth, Roswitha, Kulpreet, Koral, Daniel, Rakshanda Jalil, Sreemoyee Piu Kundu, Manjula and I am surely missing a couple. Path, Maria, Raja, Milind and Medha came to support me and to participate. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and so did everyone else. It was fun hanging out with the Jaico team - Sonal, Reena, Akash and the rest.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Digital Nirvana - The Cricketing Way of Sustaining Excellence

A talk for four hours, on how to motivate teams and individuals through tough teams, using cricket analogies.

Why me - My experience with winning teams
I was part of winning teams when I played - at various levels, a little more than what normally is experienced. We won every level - Under 15, Under 19, Under 22, Under 25, Buchi Babu, Subbaiah Pillai, Ranji Trophy, Inter varsities, Vizzy Trophy. So I understood some dynamics.

Losing teams characteristics

But before winning, I was very familiar with losing. I understood what was called bad dressing room atmosphere. I asked the participants to name some characteristics - insecure spaces, everyone for himself, no trust, no inspiration, low morale. We lose and sometimes we win, by chance. Or because the other team played worse.

Change - A Product of Losing Over and Over
After losing for a long time, one gets sick of losing. Change happens in two phases - one at individual level, and another at team level.

Personal leadership - I Will Do It
Until then I looked at others to help me win. Then I decided one day to put an end to this. I will make a change personally, even if the whole team did not cooperate. I owned my space, decided and created a victory on my own. I thought it, planned it and executed it. I expanded my role and did the unthinkable. As a Number 10 batsman who had not even scored a 50 till then, I went and scored 158 in a big run chase as an opener and won the game. I decided first, then found a way to achieve in an error free manner. I did it. We won. I knew I had created this moment. By design. I felt I could do anything.

For more lasting and larger change – need a bigger purpose than personal individual glory.

The Team - We Will Do It
Having got used to winning I began to set my sights higher. Now I did not just want to win a match but a whole tournament. Which means I definitely need the whole team with me. I cannot do it alone. So when we went to play Inter-varsity cricket for Osmania University we first shared the vision for the team. We asked for help and sought the team's cooperation. Together we decided to go for it. We could not do it without their help. There were serious team meetings, everyone contributed. Now that the team was bigger than me, I even offered to bowl second. We won game after game, celebrated and then put our heads down until we won the final. Not surprisingly I was the top wicket taker for the tournament, but that was hardly an issue. All that mattered was that the team won. I had promised my captain that I would help win and we did it.

We watched a lovely video of Arnold Schwarzenegger telling us that the self-made man is a myth.

Higher purpose - Bigger and Outside of Us
Why did we win? What made me sacrifice my ego and my survival instinct? What made me run every single run like my life depended on it? It was simply because the purpose was clear - that the team comes first. And our glory lies in the team's win.

Impact of Putting Team First On Personal Performance
Funnily, when I played for the team and not for myself my performances were the best. My best performances in tournaments – league championship (45 wickets), Inter varsity (14 wickets), Vizzy Trophy (12 wickets), OUCE (169 and 5 wickets). Because the team was first I could go through pain, injury, used myself best. The purpose, the bigger purpose outside of ourselves is the best motivation ever.

The magic formula for motivation is just that – the why is so important – the team is greater than us. The team is here to win and we will do all we can to make it win.

We watched the TED Talk - Start with why – Simon Sinek

We did a short exercise as we tried to find the why. Eight teams worked together to come with a statement that explained the why.

Bringing About Change in Teams
We looked at the How - Process and Culture (values). In cricket I explained how we set ourselves a goal of winning the championship for the league championship one year. Then we picked the right people and dropped the wrong ones. Only the best team played. We developed a team culture - time to report, practice sessions, team meetings. The team was bigger than anything else - no reputation, no seniority, no pity. We invested in team rituals, we were fair and just with no compromises. We won. MCC - Winners 1994.

Some learnings About Leading
Apart from the How i.e. the 10x process (decided the end first and then work towards it) and the importance of team culture, we discussed a few things about captaincy. How a captain was best if he was a secure person - he need not know everything. He needs to know what he knows and accept that he does not know what he does not. When he expresses his vulnerability, the team steps in to help. He is interested in getting the best out of his team, so he invests in them, makes them feel secure and allows them to express themselves. He holds the space - does not control them nor does he let them loose without caring about them. He steps back, allows them to find their way, does not control, tells them what they need to achieve and not how, allows them to express themselves, listens, lets them feel in control, like they own their space. He builds a culture of pride.

We briefly discussed different captaincy styles - Sachin, Rahul Dravid, MSD. We discussed leaders who inspire.

Secure and Inspirational Leadership
I shared my thoughts on Personal leadership, Secure leadership and Inspirational leadership.

Briefly discussed the Level 5 leaders of Jim Collins - approachable, vulnerable, asked questions, listened, loved their team members, invested in team, grew them, brought out their best. Level 5 leaders were known for their fierce determination to make the team succeed and for their incredible humility.. We discussed the window and the mirror approach that they were known for.

The Google Study on Perfect Teams and Psychological Safety

Briefly we discussed the Google study on Perfect teams - and the five factors - Impact, Meaning, Structure, Dependability and Psychological Safety. To aspire for a space of psychological safety one must build an atmosphere of trust.

Amy Edmundson’s TEDx talk on Psychological safety

No one has explained TRUST better than Brene Brown in her talk - Anatomy of Trust
So we watched it.

Motivating Your Team – How will you do it? How will you make them want to do it?
Bring them together with a common purpose, a higher purpose outside of us, hold the space, challenge them, make them feel like they did it, let them do it but watch over them, come together, Like a FIST.

Recap and End
We did a quick recap and I realised that I had not planned as well as I should have - I had material for another two hours and I was just past the 4 hour mark.