Saturday, March 31, 2018

Australian Cricket - Lessons for Corporate Cultures

Australian cricket is probably in its worst crisis today thanks to the ball tampering incident in the recent Test match against South Africa. Australia losing the Test was not as big as what they lost here - credibility and respect that they had earned as fighting and tough cricketers over the years. Now they can wear this new label of bullies and cheats and on occasion, self righteous cry babies.

How is it any different from what we see going on all around - politicians and heads of state who do not apologise for their wrong doings ever (Smith at least had the decency to own up) or corporate houses that keep their customers in the dark while they manipulate and misuse their trust like many recent exposes show? Not very different except for the fact that the Aussies apologised and owned up but again (would they have owned up if the video footage was not so damning? I am not sure.) What shocked everyone was that the leadership of the team knew about it. Which means that pretty much everyone in the team knew about it. The technicalities do not matter - the team cheated and everyone can take their fair share of the blame. The question that one must ask is this - how did it come to this? Be it in politics, corporates or cricket - what went wrong?

The Context - School Cricket vs Test Cricket
Let's put this in context. Let's relook at those visuals of how the Australian team cheated by using hard plastic/ tape (where is that piece of evidence now? why is everyone coy about what it really was now?) to alter the condition of the ball to give their bowlers an advantage. A player takes something out of his pocket and does something to the ball surreptitiously. When this is caught on camera, word is sent from the dressing room to the player (which means the dressing room knew). The main accused slips the evidence into his underwear to conceal it (all under the eye of the camera) and act innocent until the umpires ask them. Then they lie blatantly by showing some other object. If this was your son's school team, would you be okay with this? Most would say no primarily because something is wrong if a team is cheating en masse and you don't want your child to be exposed to stuff like that. There's something seriously wrong with that team, its management, its thought process.

It's the Culture Mate
What is wrong with the team is pretty much its culture. Cultures are built on values that the team values most. These values show in its behavior - these teams eat, drink and breathe this behavior. Any transgression is non negotiable because these values are seriously valued. At best we have a minor member or a new member flouting the values - but in a team where the culture is well set - no one flouts the values. Why? Because the seniors embody these values in all that they do and the top leadership exemplifies this through their actions and behavior and everyone follows it.

So what culture and values were the Aussies displaying through their actions? That they will value a win more than anything else - even if it means that they will cheat like school children. They forgot that in that one act they smeared not just themselves, but their teams, their families, their schools, their countries and the game. Think Ben Johnson, Lance Armstrong, Mike Tyson, Trevor Chappell and what their name brings up. Not respect as champions surely.

The culture of the team comes largely from its skipper who is a critical part of enforcing it through his behavior. But in such cases it also comes from other wise heads behind the team organisation. If there is dishonesty in the team, the entire hierarchy is to blame. There is dishonesty in the entire hierarchy. How else would one explain why someone as susceptible as Smith and Warner were entrusted with leadership - people to whom winning had become so big that that threw everything away to win, even if it meant cheating. And these leaders, the coaches and support team have all been chosen by people whose values are now under question. Anyone who tolerates such thought is guilty, definitely those who promote it are guiltier. Similarly those who elect such mavericks who speak something and do something else, who have no qualms about blatantly lying to stay in power or protect their profits are as much to blame as the guilty parties. And we have these cultures all over. In companies surely where dishonesty and lack of transparency, nepotism and you-cover-my-back-and-I-will-cover-yours exists big time. It's about us, and all else can take a hike. Why do you need any patronage?

Blame It On The Aggressive Brand of Cricket
Many blame it on the brand of cricket they are playing. We are playing an aggressive brand of cricket - taken to mean that you are allowed to sledge mothers, sisters, wives and families in the ground (but when someone says it back they hurt deeply), bring race and colour and everything else to mess with a player whom they cannot handle on the field. Play aggressively means to show aggression on the field with skill, with courage, with resilience with guts. Not with your foul mouth.

If Australia thought they were building a great culture by sledging they ought to have been told that they were barking up the wrong tree. Clearly winning was more to them than just playing the game - this was also about demeaning the other person. They lost half the battle there with thoughts and words and now with their actions. Whatever we do, we have to win. That is not the spirit of the game certainly.

But then Governments are doing it. Companies are doing it. Innocent until proved guilty.

How Do We Set It Right
Firstly, is this something we as the paying public of cricket value? Is fair play, honesty, right spirit something we all value? If we do, then any infringement on it must not be tolerated. The action must be swift and decisive - in cricket, orporates or politics. I am surprised that Smith and Bancroft and Warner were on the field after the incident. It shows that as far as they are concerned, it is something that they can sort out officially and legally - like governments and companies do. There is no penitence or remorse. We got caught - so what's the big deal? Australia should have conceded the match - after all they cheated - or even played with 8 - minus Bancroft, Smith and Warner. If I was the coach of a team caught cheating like this I would have instantly conceded. But here we have a coach who appears complicit (and if he is not, what is he doing enjoying a vacation?) Maybe the referee should have done it then. Awarded the game to the opposition - Australia has already conceded the game by its actions. The individual punishments could come later. Not one match certainly but enough for Smith to realise the enormous damage he had done in a position of responsibility. This shatters the illusions of many on whom the world depends to maintain that balance.

What happens to a leader of a company or a country who admits to cheating after he is caught? A corporate head? It is not funny that we see this rot everywhere. Most times they get away easy because the enforcers depend on these individuals more than the individuals depending on the enforcers. Which is why they get away repeatedly.

Decisions Must Take Long term ViewIt's time everyone in the game woke up in all spheres. Tags of 'gentleman's game' and 'fair play' for cricket are a joke now. Make decisions that are not weighed by commercial gains or losses because in the longer term your losses will be much bigger than what you save now. Act right, act swiftly and strongly and show that there is no place for cheats and dishonesty at this level. If you do not reverse this culture, all we will have is a bunch of dishonest teams trying to outdo one another in cheating. Choose the right leaders who have their heads in the right place. Judge them by their actions consistently over a period of time. They will set it right.

It is a label that Steve Smith and his team has to carry for life. Not just his team but Cricket Australia will have to take a hard look at how it has built this culture. The Aussie team consistently flouts the spirit of the game. On top of flouting the spirit with sledging and aggressive behavior, they crib like babies when confronted with oppositions who do not back off. If ever there was an shred of respect for Australian cricket, it is all gone now. And they have themselves to blame for letting it slip to this stage and for entrusting their leadership to people with such dubious characters.

If I were an IPL franchisee, I would think twice about carrying such players on my team. I am not surprised at their weak responses. It's the leadership everywhere and what they encourage which is what brings such behavior on. In a short while we will see Smith and Warner showing what they are made of to our audiences, to kids. They will shoot ads and sell stuff to us. They will spout some well versed lines and continue to behave like this. And such behavior defines our culture. The sad part is that they do not come out openly and say what they value - winning at any cost, power at any cost. They cheat under the guise of trying to uphold truth and fair play. They cheat even there.

It's a familiar story in companies, in society. It all goes back to the leadership. The culture. The values. It's time to stop being so blindly greedy.

Anjali - Don't Say a Word

'I cannot wait for the exams to get over,' said Anjali. 'These days I dream of that feeling when the exams get over and I am enjoying my holidays.'

The fact was that the exams were not over yet. As an adult I felt I must immediately reduce these unwanted happiness and joy at the enjoyment after the exams. It was time to focus on the exams. Not indulge in such fanciful frivolities.

'But first,' I began. 'Finish your exams. Then you can enjoy your holidays...'

Anjali reached out from her seat behind me and closed my mouth before I could say more and completely ruin her fantasy. I stopped as soon as I realised what I had done. She knows it all well. She is doing her best. But I had to put in my two bits and take credit for what she was doing.

How often do we do that? How often do we mess up somebody's beautifully woven dream with such inane, insensitive and useless remarks?

Many times, it is best to remain silent. Let them flow with their happiness. We have no right to take that moment away.

Sorry Anjali. Next time, I will hopefully participate in your happiness. 

Steve Smith - Courageous Leadership Traits Under Tremendous Duress

Steve Smith has already paid the price for his moment of weakness. All leaders face such moments in their lives. It is when the stakes are high that their character is tested. All leaders make wrong decisions - morally, ethically - at some point or the other. Some blow up in their face. Like it did for Bill Clinton. Some escape. But given the fact that they all make some bad calls, what redeems some and what would not redeem some.

In his case, Smith stands neck and shoulders above most people masquerading as leaders today. The way he handled himself after getting caught was exceptional and most leaders can learn from that.

Have the Courage to Own Up and Take Responsibility
That Smith made a bad mistake was clear. His first response was to take up the responsibility - instead of denying it or bullying the youngster or washing his hands off the incident. He quickly took the blame and said that he knew about it and since it happened under his watch he will accept the responsibility. The fact that he owned up shows character - despite all that he would lose including the thing he loved the most. Full points to him.

As opposed to Smith there are many leaders in the world who do not apologise for the things that happened in their watch. Things they actively perpetrated in some cases. They could all be sitting and saying - "hey we did not get caught like Smith yet" - but dude, everyone knows what your moral responsibility was. As head of the organisation it is your moral responsibility - these things happened under your watch. So Sutherland cannot wash his hands off. Nor can any of our Ministers, or Chairmen of companies involved in scams where some small fry is caught. You have to take the blame. You have been given power and authority - and with it comes responsibility. Own up. Take responsibility. That is the true hallmark of a leader. Even as he went down, Smith earned respect because he had the decency to still do the right thing. We make mistakes, and the worst of them can be forgiven. Life is bigger than all these mistakes. But the key is to own up.

Would many leaders do what Smith did? Certainly not. They lie, they will avoid, they will do anything to hang on to power. Look all around you and you can see them on your TV screens, your mobiles.

Have to Courage to Come Out Apologise
Smith then went another step and did what could be the hardest thing for anyone in his position to do. He called a press conference and apologised sincerely for his mistake. Your greatness comes from your humility, your recognition of your humanness and your acceptance of your mistake. As someone in such a responsible position, he had the courage to own up and apologise. Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau apologised for the mistakes of his forefathers in the Komagata Maru incident, German Chancellor Willy Brandt apologised for the mistakes of his predecessors by genuflecting to the Polish at Warsaw in front of the Holocaust Memorial. These are tall men, who do not mind being small, shedding their ego for the greater good. I even loved the way Shahrukh Khan apologised for  his behaviour at the MCA ground in the IPL. An apology does not make you smaller, it makes you bigger. It shows your heart is in the right place. It redeems your folly.

How many leaders in the world today would apologise for things they have done, forget about the sins of their forefathers. Instead they blame everyone else, make themselves small and mean by trying to appeal to the perceived small sense in men, so they can gain. Compared to many such leaders in the world, Steve Smith soars high. They could all take a leaf out of his book.

It's Sad, But All Is Not Lost
For Smith, it's sad. One can imagine an act of desperation and a moment of weakness. It's a tough label to live with. But Smith can take pride in the way he handled himself as a leader and a human being after the mistake was found out and he was punished. He is already on the road to recovery. It was heartbreaking to see the young lad break down in genuine penitence. In those tears he has absolved a large part of his error.

What Then Are the Lessons for Leaders
First, be clear about the values your team will espouse and build a common culture around it. Coach Lehmann should have done that. It was obviously loose as the boundaries stretched too far and what was "play hard" became "play to win at any cost". Second, to develop tough love and put any erring thought or word or action of any team member down with a tough hand. You will have rogue team mates and they have to be curtailed quickly and brought into the culture you want to be known for. Third, own up responsibility to whatever happens in the team - after all you have the power and authority for a reason. It will always be known as your team, your leadership. Fourth, show compassion, kindness and love to all your mates, including those who may err in moments of weakness. Give credit to the team when it does well and take the blame when it fails. And lastly, when something awful like this happens, at least have the courage to accept the mistake and apologise and not try to escape. As President, Prime Minister, Minister, Chairman Managing Director you have the authority, trust and responsibility. So take the responsibility and own up.  Clinton did a pathetic job of it. Smith did far better than him and many others like him. People will forgive  your mistakes but not your lies, deceit and cowardice. You can always come back. People have come back after having done much worse.

And Steve Smith, Find Your Bigger Self Soon and Come Back
Steve Smith, you may have done a few things wrong, but you redeemed yourself well. So far.

And like they say, it is the act that must be condemned not the person. Atone for the act. The rest of you is much bigger and better than the act. Find that, trust that and grow that and you will be soon back where you belong.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Paper Moon - Movie

1973 vintage. Black and white. Hugely enjoyable. Fabulous con artists - Moze and Addie Pray.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Sunday Cricket Lessons - You Can Either Be a Coach or a Father

We were discussing the young 12 year old boy P who comes with his father for practice. I was surprised to hear the father sit next to Baig sir and shout out instructions to the boy - it is not his place nor his job. I left early that day and when I went on Sunday I heard that the father took the young, polite and soft spoken kid to the backyard and slapped him for some cricketing transgression. I was shocked. Baig sir shook his head.

'You can either be a coach or a father,' said Baig sir. 'You must choose. They will hate you later for what you put them through. And if you are not qualified, its worse.'

Truer words have not been spoken. I have seen so many father - son duos go that way. You lose the spirit of the relationship once the father turns coach. Agassi's autobiography 'Open' clearly talks about how much he hated his father.

I hope that these parent coaches realise that it is not for them to coach. They need to step back. Facilitate and leave it at that.

How Challenge Arouses Interest
The younger kids were doing their own thing as usual - knocking and drilling. I thought I would spend some time with them and walked across to the three - Aarav, Sandeep and Anish. Let's take catches I said. They made a face and lined up. After taking a few catches I thought we'd devise a game. 'Ok, if you drop a catch you get a D,' I said. 'Whoever drops the first six will progress to a Donkey.'
The boys were ok with the idea and the engagement increased. But still not as good as I thought.

So this time I made them all into one team.
'I will hit 12 catches,' I said. 'If you catch 6, you win. But if you let the ball go through and it hits the net, I get a boundary. If I get 20 runs I win.'

Ok, said the kids.

I noticed they were too far apart but said nothing. I started to hit the ball in the gaps and picked up runs easily. As I started picking up runs, they automatically closed  the gaps and started playing like a team. I did not have to tell them anything. They lost the first game and wanted to play another.

This time they were diving all over, falling over one another and stopping the ball. They beat me one game. And then Aarav wanted to field in the middle. We discussed who should be fielding where and why. The concept of a left hander at point and a right hander at square leg was explained. Aarav agreed to the logic - Sandeep was the best fielder and he was better off in the middle where most catches were aimed. But just to see what happens we made Aarav stand in the middle and I won easily.

The kids would not let go. Now they dd not want to play bat and ball. They wanted catches all day. The way they were diving I worried that they would get hurt.

In the break we discussed team work, how the team was most important and how only team players get selected. We discussed how to support one another and perform better as a team.

Good session.

Angamaly Diaries - Movie

86 debut actors. All feel. Malayalam movies at their real life best. Beef fry. Pork curry puttu. Dubai dreams. Love and growing up.

Australia - Why Didn't the team Concede?

After watching the visuals of how the Australian team cheated by using hard plastic to alter the condition of the ball to give their bowlers an advantage and how they tried to cover it up by sending information to the team on the field through the 12th man and how the main accused Bancroft slipped the evidence into his underwear to conceal it all under the eye of the camera I wondered about what I would have done if I was coaching a team like that. Not just that - after being caught on camera the Aussie team captain said that the leadership of the team knew about it which meant that he and David Warner and certainly the coaching staff knew about it. Warner and Smith gave up their places in the team and allowed wicket keeper Tim Paine to lead the last day while Australia capitulated to a loss.

Why were they on the field at all after the incident? They should have conceded or played with 8 - minus Bancroft, Smith and Warner. If I was the coach of the team I would have instantly conceded. But here we have a coach who appears complicit. Maybe the referee should have done it then. Awarded the game to the opposition - Australia has already conceded the game by its actions. The individual punishments could come later. One match - what a laugh. He should have been banned for a year. What happens to a leader of a company or a country who admits to cheating after he is caught?

What would hold good in a school game will hold good in an international game. It's time everyone in the game woke up. Make decisions that are not weighed by commercial gains or losses because in the longer term your losses will be much bigger than what you save now. Act right, act swiftly and strongly and show that there is no place for cheats and dishonesty at this level.

It's a label that Steve Smith and his team has to carry for life. Not just his team but Cricket Australia will have to take a hard look at how it has built this culture. What signals is it sending down and to others. I have always found that the Aussie team has consistently flouted the spirit of the game. On top of flouting the spirit with sledging and aggressive behavior, they crib like babies when confronted with oppositions who do not back off. If ever there was an shred of respect for Australian cricket, it is all gone now. And they have themselves to blame for letting it slip to this stage and for entrusting their leadership to people with such dubious characters.

If I were an IPL franchisee, I would think twice about carrying such players on my team. No one has spoken about it yet. I am surprised. And in one way, not surprised also.

But then we are all led by midgets it appears. And not just in cricket. In the corporate world, in politics  - so why not in sport. It's the leadership everywhere and the they encourage which is what brings such behavior on.  

TEDx VNR VJIET 2018 - Prism

I attended the third edition of TEDx VNR VJIET 'Prism' on March 24, 2018. This time my old chum from my cricketing days and a fine IPS officer with many decorations and honours and awards, C.V. Anand, spoke on how massive leaks of public money could be arrested in his one year stint at the Civil Supplies Department of Telangana. In his estimates it was something like 1900 crores - in one department in one year. He said there were 65 such departments and with good governance much could be set right.

Going back to VNR VJIET is like going back home - the students were warm and helpful as always. Shobha was keen on attending so we went together. Abhinay, Meghana - licencees of the past two events 'Unshell' and 'Paradigm Shift' were there and so was Sloka who was very helpful as always. We met some interesting speakers - Akanksha Bumb of F5 Escapes and her lovely talk about living life on our terms "Every act of independence if a declaration of freedom', Jagadeesh Babu who does work on artificial limbs, a calligrapher, a neuroscientist Dr. Ramesh Mishra, CV Anand and others.

It was wonderful to listen to the speeches. I loved the one line 'everyone has goodness in them' from CV's speech and corelated it to what he told me later. How he sat and convinced these tough guys who bled the system and counseled them and told them that it is not worth living a life with the brand of a thief. He said that once they understood him and felt that someone cared for them they actually changed. Most said they do not mind earning less but living an honest life. Counseling he said, is huge. People just need to be told in a genuine manner.

Had a great time as usual. Thanks Vandana - she is the current edition's licensee - the energetic and courteous team of VNR VJIET. 

Jumanji - Movie

Lovely. Edge of the seat stuff. How did I miss it in the first instance? Thanks Naresh.

An Era of Darkness - Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor starts with confessing that this book came out of a debate he was in, at Oxford Union, and how he was pleasantly surprised to find the video of his speech going viral and Indians, well read ones reacting to it as if they had not heard of this history before. Suddenly he realised that what to him seemed like a basic History 101 lesson was a serious revelation to Indians and when David Davidar of Aleph reached out to him to fill this gap, he agreed to the task. The book is limited by the talk's scope and more seriously compromised by the stand taken, but it presents the viewpoint he takes cogently. If there is one question I would have liked to have been answered, it was this: why did India cave in so easily? Are there lessons to be learned there for the future? What are we doing about it? Are we on the right track today and are you as a parliamentarian asking the right questions as we move forward?

Like most Indians I struggled with my history. I learned so much about India's freedom movement from 'Freedom at Midnight' (I wish Tharoor had written its equivalent then, probably still could) and much about Hyderabad from 'The Last Nizam'. Both these book happened when I was past my forties. Before that our interest in history was probably killed by our history lessons. Whatever we knew was probably thanks to the Amar Chitra Kathas which painted a fair view of history - but then we had to piece it all together and put it in context which we could not. Now after reading several history books and making notes, I still find it difficult to get the exact order right. One of the first things that the book does is give a chronology of the period under scrutiny and I am so glad for that. History 101 is not an easy subject.

So it all started in 1600 CE when the East India Company came to trade in India and set up factories in Masulipatnam and Surat (its headquarters). Shortly after the East India Company approached Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb and was granted permission to conduct business in India - or whatever part the Mughals ruled over. The contribution of India to the world's economy then was a staggering 23% which Shashi Tharoor says came down to 3% by the time the British left India which is indicative of the loot they had engaged in.

In 1939 Nadir Shah from Persia attacked a weakened Delhi and took off with him the peacock throne and all the treasures he could, so much so that he announced that the people of Persia need not pay taxes for 3 years. 1751 saw 26 year old Robert Clive, seize control of Arcot and a decisive victory over the French and thus began a new era of the 'Clive of India'. He next led a successful campaign and defeated Siraj Ud Dowla of Bengal in the Battle of Plassey with some help from a betrayer Mir Jafar, and captured Calcutta which was one of the key and wealthy states or provinces. After the decisive Battle of Buxar where the EIC (10000 soldiers) defeated the combined forces of the Mughal Emperor, the Nawab of Awadh and the Nawab of Awadh (40000 soldiers), the Company was well on its way to becoming more greedy and more ambitious. In 1765 the EIC forced the Mughal Emperor to make the British the revenue collectors and he pretty much had no option but to hand over the treasury keys to them.

In opposition to the growing power of the EIC the King of Mysore Hyder Ali gave stiff resistance by defeating the combined armies of the British, the Nawab of Hyderabad and the Marathas. In 1773, the British granted themselves monopoly of opium manufacture and sale. In 1781 Tipu Sultan defeated the British. Seeing the phenomenal success of the East India Company and its rise, it was brought under the Parliament's control. It is important to know that many of the Parliamentarians were shareholders of the East India Company and reaped rich dividends from its sordid business dealings in India. If the company was to be seen against the light of how companies are to be judged today, it falls short by miles.
(This link summarises the talk actually in some 12 bullet points for those who want more concise summaries - appears based on Dr. Tharoor's talk)

In 1793 the British introduced a 'Permanent Settlement' system under which farmers paid not a share of the crop they harvested (which made sense in view of the uncertain monsoon) but as a fixed percentage of the land they owned (which meant that they paid taxes whether there was monsoon or harvest or income at all). Greed at its sickening best. In 1799 they defeated Tipu Sultan through betrayal and treachery again at Srirangapatnam. and in 1835 Macaulay's famous 'Minute' was introduced about how the Indian population must be educated to serve British interests. This included introduction of the English language as medium of instruction and use in offices - which in a weird way led to India as we are today. In 1843 the infamous 'Doctrine f Lapse' was introduced where any king who leaves not a natural born heir and that too a son, will forfeit his kingdom to who else, but the British. The story of Jhansi Laxmibai stems from this injustice.

In 1853 the British introduced the Railways by laying the first rail line from Thane to VT (it was run as a private enterprise that paid huge dividends to British investors costing the Indian railway double its normal cost in Canada and other places and thus ensuring good profits all around). 1857 saw the Sepoy mutiny in Meerut and the bloodshed that followed as an increasingly humiliated India tried to regain independence - a bit too late with too little. The old and weakened Bahadur Shah Zafar was proclaimed the Emperor of India but he lost the battle with the British soon enough and they quickly murdered his sons and thousands others, and packed him off to Burma. From the 1860s labour WAS being sent out to work in British colonies - as slaves, as indentured labour and as convicts - some figures say about 53 lakh of them were sent off by British ships to paces like Sumatra, Mauritius, Africa, Penang, Singapore etc  to build their colonies.

In 1905 the British partitioned Bengal on Hindu Muslim basis and were forced to recall that decision. The British promoted the idea of the Muslim League which was formed in 1906. In 1911 they shifted their capital from Calcutta to Delhi. In 1914 Indian forces fought as part of the British army  and lost 74 thousand of them. Gandhi returned to India in 1915 and in 1919 General Dyer ordered his troops to fire 1650 rounds on an unarmed and innocent crowd of festive revelers on Baisakhi day in Jalianwala Bagh in Amritsar and killed what was an official count of 379 innocents and by unofficial counts thousands. In 1920 Gandhi launched the Satyagraha movement or the Non Cooperation movement which works on the principles of non violence, non cooperation and pursuit of truth or freedom. In 1939 the British went to the World War II and once again committed Indian soldiers to the war. In 1942 came the Cripps Mission and the Quit India movement and in 1947 the British quit India after breaking it into two and leaving 10 lakh dead in the violence of partition.

In the time it ruled India, it is estimated by some sources that the British owe India some 300 trillion. Shashi Tharoor says that when they approached Aurngazed his revenues yearly alone were 100 mn pounds and India contributed to 27% of the world economy which came down to 3% when the British finally left. With 2.6 lakh men at their disposal, the British ruled over India. They used the resources - men, material, riches and enriched themselves. All that they collected they did not invest here and whatever was invested, Shashi Tharoor says, had no charitable or altruistic side to it - they did everything for their gain. Be it the railways, the wars, the education, the health systems, classification of records or castes and religions  - everything was for their gain. They were paid for their stay here and they looted through outright theft or by making laws that killed local competition and entitled them to the business and profits which were sent back to Britain. All this under the Parliament and the Crown's overseeing.

The famines that devastated India (in 107 years of war across the world it was estimated that 5 million died and in ten years of famine in India alone, 19 million died). Churchill's famous decision to divert wheat to British forces when Indians were dying of hunger in the streets of Calcutta (40 lakh  or 4 million died of hunger) and his insensitive remark that it serves them right for breeding like rabbits showed the Raj's attitude to Indians. It was not that food was not available, it was not made accessible by diverting it to stockpile for British troops. The brutal nature of the Raj comes through not just by the Jalianwala Bagh incident but in the many ways the British would kill off Indians - after the sepoy mutiny hundreds of Indians were blown off from the mouths of cannons, satyagrahis were subjected to all kinds of torture, and many murders of Indians by British never acknowledged or tried. The boot and spleen stories were a part I had not heard of - apparently there would be several cases of Britishers kicking their Indian subordinates in their stomachs and most would die of a ruptured spleen - mainly because their spleens enlarged due to malarial attacks. From tea to opium to textiles to iron to locomotives to diamonds and taxes the British paid themselves at India's cost and sent it off back to England.

There were some voices from the British empire and notably Will Durant who wrote about the British loot and greed.

Shashi Tharoor's case only validates what we knew - only he delves deeper so we understand the extent of the Raj's greed. That it was greedy and manipulative was well known. They did that with most of the colonies they colonised. How they were allowed to do it so easily was my question? How can we learn from it? How can we use those lessons for the future?

I suspect that all those who get to wield power behave in a similar fashion. Most are lesser mortals and are subject to the pitfalls of the intoxication of power, especially that which is not accountable as has been the case in India after Independence. It could be the invaders from the North, the Muslims or the traders from the South - when people find a way to take advantage they will. That way I do not have a problem with those who do bad - because human nature is to do bad if given an option. But then what has the victim done to land himself or herself in that situation. What are the enforcers doing? What could they have done? In being open to bribes, to infighting, in looking after their own petty interests and not that of the people, in dividing the people for their own gains - how is India post independence different?

The book was an interesting read and Shashi Tharoor was convincing enough but not to the extent that I feel he would be satisfied with the effort. However as History 101 - Indian perspective, it works very well. The production by Aleph was ordinary - the copy I have looks a shade better than a pirated copy you pick on the street with its offkey and misaligned printing.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Principles - Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio is described as one of the great investors and entrepreneurs of our time who founded Bridgewater Associates in 1975 and built it into the largest hedge fund in the world in 40 years. Dalio shares his principles - in life and at work. Here are some that I found useful.


On Reality
Embrace reality and deal with it. Don't get caught in how things should be instead of how they are - you'll miss out reality.

To be good, something must operate consistently within the laws of reality and contribute to the evolution of the whole. that is what is most rewarded.

The individuals incentives must be aligned with the group's goals. Reality is optimising for the whole - not for you.

Dreams + Reality + Determination = A Successful Life.

Open Mindedness and Transparency
Be Radically Open minded and Radically Transparent for effective change. If you are open minded and determined, you can get anything you want.

Ask others who are strong in areas where you are weak to help you. It's a great skill you should develop as it ill help you prevent you from doing what you should not be doing.

Look to nature to learn. Evolution drives everything - evolve or die.
To gain strengths one has to push over limits which is painful. Pain + Reflection = Progress
Go to pain rather than avoid it.

Embrace tough love - deny them what they want.

Ownership is Happiness
Own your outcomes (happiness is owning it). Compare outcomes with goals - modify your process.
If you do not see yourself and others objectively you will bump into your own and others weaknesses again and again.

Successful people go above themselves to see things objectively and manage things to shape change.

5 Step process to get what you want

  • Have clear goals
  • Identify and do not tolerate problems that stand in the way of your goals
  • Accurately diagnose the problem t get at the root causes
  • Design plans that will get you around them
  • Do what is necessary to get through to results

Clear goals - Prioritise, Don't confuse goals with desires, Don't mistake the trappings of success with success, Never rule out a goal, Great expectations create great capabilities

Nothing can stop you if you have 1) Flexibility 2) Self accountability

How to Design a plan 

  • Go back before you go forward 
  • There are many paths to reach your goal
  • Plan like a movie script - Visualise
  • Write it for everyone to see and measure against
  • It does not take a lot

How to Overcome Problems
  • Weaknesses do not matter if you find solutions
  • Recognise your two barriers - Ego and Blind spots. 
  • The most constant struggle is between feeling and thinking. Reconcile them. 
  • Choose habits well.
  • Right people in the right role is key.
  • Making decisions effectively. Watch for 1) Harmful emotions 2) Learn and then decide
  • Know your 80/20
  • Simplify - Use principles - Algorithms
  • For the best life - 1) Know what the best decisions are 2) have the courage to make them


Organisations are about
1) Culture a) work at problems and disagreements and solve them b) build things that haven't been built before)
2) People a) character b) capabilities

Great partnerships are built on
1) common values and interests
2) similar approaches
3) being reasonable
4) having consideration

Tough love - Great work,  Love - getting the best out of people

Building an Idea Meritocracy
Ideal meritocracy = Radical truths + Radical transparency + Believability
Radical truth (talk openly about our vision) and Radical transparency (ability for others to see energy)
Make your passion and work the same, for you and people around you

To have an ideal meritocracy 
1) Put your honest thoughts on the table
2) Have thoughtful disagreement
3) Abide by agreed upon ways of getting past disagreement

Trust in Radical Truth and Radical Transparency

Radical Truth
  • You have nothing to fear from the truth
  • Have integrity and demand it from others
  • Never say anything about people you cannot directly tell them
  • Don't let loyalty to people stand int he way of Truths and well being of the orgnanisation
  • Create an environment where everyone has the right to understand and no one has a critical opinion without speaking up
  • Speak up, own it or get out
  • Don't be naive about dishonesty
Radical Transparency
  • Use transparency to help enforce justice
  • Share things that are hardest to share
Cultivate meaningful work and meaningful relationships
"Is one where people care enough about each other to be there whenever someone needs support and they enjoy each others company so they have a great time together both inside and outside of work

  • Be loyal to the common mission and not to those not in sync
  • Be crystal clear or what the deal is
  • Make sure that people will give more consideration for others than they demand for themselves

People have different motives
- but strive for meaningful relationships
- treasure honorable people who are capable and who treat you well even when you're not

Create a culture in which it is okay to make mistakes and unacceptable to learn form them
- mistakes are a natural part of the evolutionary process


  • Fail well. Love your mistakes.
  • Don't worry about looking good.
  • Observe patterns of mistakes and see if they are coming from weakness / limitations

On Weakness and Pain

  • The fastest path to success starts with knowing what your weaknesses are and staring hard at them.
  • Find the one big challenge - the weakness that gets in the way of your getting what you want
  • Reflect when you experience pain - confront the pain. In pain instead of fight or flight, reflect.
  • Confession precedes forgiveness

Feedback - Helping Others Grow

  • Help others learn about themselves by giving them honest feedback
  • Hold them accountable
  • Solve their disagreements in an open minded way
  • Know what mistakes are acceptable / unacceptable
  • Conflicts are essential for great relationships
  • Spend lavishly on the time and energy you devote to getting in sync

To Practice

  • Be open minded and assertive at the same time
  • Distinguish between open minded / closed minded. See how open minded are those in charge.
  • Paraphrasing helps to communicate better - did I get it right
  • Go to great lengths to hire the right people - they should have the ability to self assess - including one's weakness
  • Have someone to report to

  • Be clear about people / Develop systems for evaluating people
  • People who can think independently/ argue open mindedly
  • Those who value pursuit of truth and excellence
  • Rapid improvement of self and orgn
  • Match person to the design
  • Values / Abilities / Skills
  • Choose systematically and scientifically
  • Look for right fit between role and persons (understand role first)
  • People are built differently
  • Look for people who are willing to look at themselves objectively
  • Teams are like sports teams
  • Character - capability
  • Pay enough - north of fair
  • Tie performance metrics to compensation
  • Consideration and generosity are more important than money

Train, Test and Evaluate

  • Assess Strengths and weaknesses, mitigate through training and role
  • Personal evolution should be rapid
  • Teach them to fish
  • Experience is better than learning
  • Provide constant feedback
  • Evaluate accurately, not kindly
  • Don't hide your observations about people
  • Clear metrics/ let them reflect objectively about their performance
  • Frank conversations about mistakes / root causes
  • Help people through the pain of exploring weaknesses
  • Know how people operate
  • Poor performance - either about learning or ability
  • People with less values / abilities
  • Don't lower the bar

Think like an owner

  • A good leader seeks the best answers / bring others along as part of the process
  • Hold yourself and your people accountable
  • Be specific about problems
  • Force yourself and your people to do difficult things
  • Don't treat everyone the same - treat them appropriately 
  • Care about your team 
  • beware of Group Think - if no one seems concerned it does not mean there is no problem
  • Ask for regular and honest feedback
  • Fix difficult things
  • Diaignose problems to get to the root cause 
On why managers fail
- They are too distant
- have problems perceiving bad quality
- lost sync of how bad things are, have got used to ti
- Big egos and cannot ask for help
- Fear adverse consequence of failure

On Justice, Responsibility and Quality

  • Principles cannot be ignored by mutual agreement. the same standards apply to everyone.
  • If people who have the power don't want to operate by principle, it will fail.
  • Who is more important than what. Who have you chosen as your responsible parties - the one where the buck stops.
  • Know what your people are like and what makes them tick because people are your most important resource. Develop profiles of your people based on their values, abilities and skills.
  • Clearly assign responsibilities.

To not lose the team - don't be too distant, use daily updates and check if you are an approachable person
Build organisation around goals than tasks
Build top down
Pay attention to how your job will be done when you are not around
Work for goals you and your organisation are excited about

My conclusion
Most principles are stuff you have heard about. But to build an idea meritocracy, one must be clear about the culture and the people. Building the culture requires one to adopt the practices of Radical Truth and Radical Transparency, both of which are easier said than practiced. Dalio talks of pain, of looking at weaknesses, at asking for help, at being accountable, at being flexible and open minded and at being non judgmental and being open to listening.

Interesting. I somehow felt it could have been structured better. But it's simple and easy to read. Except that one part about Decision Making which i could not get. Sometimes I got the feeling that maybe certain things are being repeated. But its all there.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Anjali - I Love Those Last few Extra Minutes of Sleep

One of my favorite questions in the morning to people - I don't know why I ask this - is "Did you sleep well?' Mostly they say yes and that's done.

I asked this question to Anjali as usual and she was already up and about so she was chatty.
'Yes, I slept well Nanna. But you know what I like best? It's the few extra minutes that I sleep after you wake me up that is the best. I really enjoy those extra minutes.'

I smiled. Yes, those few extra stolen moments. Is that what all happiness about - those extra stolen moments where you feel you broke away on your own?

She had more to say.

'Because its a short time, I get dreams,' she said. (She has some theory of how you get dreams only when you are not in deep sleep - she told me this many years ago in some interview of hers).

'Today I got the best dream of all. We were playing kho kho at school and no one could catch me. There were 70 people and none could catch me. I was so happy. In reality I get out really early in our school games.'

She was pretty pleased with the dream.

Maze - Movie

IRA. Loyalists. A prison built like a maze. A point to prove. A true story of desperate men. Nice.

The Question Series - What Comes in the Way of Making Connections?

So what comes in the way of making honest connections at home, work or other places? Why are most teams - especially at work and home so fake, lifeless and shallow?

These were the questions that popped up while in a leadership coaching session. We were trying to go past the we-know-each-other and let's-be-civil-to-one-another and get-on-with -the-job attitude which is fine but not a great one for building trust and feeling fulfilled and connected at a deeper level with a team on whom we are letting our lives ride. We need to do something more and take a leadership stance here. All great leaders do make an effort to build those connections.
The light of honesty shines beautifully against the contrast of vulnerability
Simply put, can we just make this a more fulfilling journey with some trust, some honesty, some understanding, some compassion, some support and do some great work with people who I feel connected to?

In our leadership coaching session we tried to do some empathy exercises, some honesty, some vulnerability but we made no head way. We spoke in measured and guarded tones, in broad and noncommittal manners. There was zero spark in the air.

Seeing that it was going nowhere we decided to share some personal stuff  to questions as simple as - what's your favorite  movie, song, person, book, author, role model, your big dream, your biggest achievement, your big fears so on. Suddenly the room came alive, was charged with emotion. People seemed to wake up, some invisible energy filled the room and we all connected to every word that was being said.

Every word, said and unsaid, came from a deeply personal and honest space and we all felt like we know the other person better instantly. Time flew, people stopped checking watches even though it was way past time and lunch time at that. They were smiling, supporting one another and revealing themselves.

What got me wondering was this - just on the basis that we shared some basic personal stuff, we suddenly became alive. We became real people. Once we become real people, others start to acknowledge us. I wondered what would happen if we shared deeper stuff - our saddest moments, our one regret, our one weakness, our one failure, that one thing we could set right in our current life which we are avoiding. Maybe we could become even more real.
I think by opening ourselves up, we give enough space for the others to latch on to us. To help us. To connect to us. Otherwise we are like a stainless steel cylinder with no chinks, no openings, just a smooth, strong, impassive structure that people cannot do anything with, least of all help or approach for help.

If there is no opening, there can be no connection. If we open up, we others can connect.

Next session we decided to devote more time to this. Once we understand the importance of making connections, most things happen by themselves. The leader has less to do after that because the team feelS connected since they have opened themselves a bit.

What is critical however is to honour those vulnerabilites. If we listen to their dreams and fears, we are saying that we acknowledge, that we care. But if we use it to manipulate them and forget their dream and their fear and move on with our lives, we could leave them with hurt and distrust. It is important to genuinely be interested in them and their life and help them by listening, by asking questions and by offering emotional support. Most times that's all that is needed.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Anjali - A Poem on Poverty and Labour

There is some serious angst behind the condition of the poem but I liked the poem. It's a poem she wrote as part of the assignment at school on poverty and labour.

So here goes young poetess.

"I am a young child 
Who works at a tea stall
All dreams are vanquished
Like going to a mall

I don't want to do this
Oh no, no, no
We don't have food
We children cannot grow

To provide for the family
We all have jobs
We don't go to school
Along with the mob

If we were provided for
With money and education
My family wouldn't die
With starvation."
- Anjali Paruvu

Anjali - I Am Not Good At Good Luck Games!

Anjali was talking about some game they played at school today.
Crayon art by PHM
We played the Magic Carpet,' she said. Seeing my expression she explained.'We pull all the tables together and make a big table and stand around and when the teacher rings the bell, whoever is not on the carpet is out (or something like that)"

I nodded.
'Suvan won,' she said. 'Though its not fair. He joined half way.'
There was a moment's pause and then she laughed.
'I was out very early,' she said. 'I always get out very early in these luck games.'

'What luck games?' I asked.
'You know where the bell goes off, like Musical Chairs.'

Hmm. Interesting. I used to believe that about myself too.

'I think there are three ways we can approach these games,' I said. 'One is to win at any cost which means pushing people and rushing and falling over etc. Another is to resign ourselves to lose thinking we are not lucky anyway and looking ahead to lose and putting in only a little effort. But I think there is a third way which I found recently.'

She listened intently.
'The third way is to play without getting attached to winning or losing. It is about playing and being open to all possibilities, whatever possibility happens is fine. So you enjoy the game, give your best and be open to whatever happens. There is a good chance you may win more like this and whatever happens you will enjoy the game.'

She nodded. Being open to all possibilities. Not being attached to one. Letting go. Enjoying the moment. Giving your best with no gaining idea.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Lady Bird - Movie

Super stuff. Go Ladybird. More power to the likes of you.

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Feast of Vultures - Josy Joseph

Josy Joseph is an award winning investigative journalist and the National Security Editor of The Hindu. Some of his stories are on the Adarsh Apartment scam, The Naval War Room Leak, Commonwealth Games scam, 2G Spectrum allocation scandal etc. The book's blurb quotes him - about how he was offered a bribe by a company that was facing criminal investigation to be silent because an article he had written had dented the chances of the company's raising a 3000 crore FDI - '..boss wanted me to tell you he can take care of whatever your needs are - car, house, whatever...' says the company representative Such is the power the media wields, such is the money that is involved. All it needs is a curtain of integrity to separate the right and the wrong, legal and illegal, ethical and unethical - and just do what you are supposed to be doing. But then, everything has a price, there is no pride of respect left once you have taken a rupee as a bribe. And if any information that is backed by evidence has not been reported because of fear or because of greed, that is the day one should resign and join the enemy.

Josy Joseph starts tentatively (and with good reason) with a prologue about a small village called Hridaychak in Bihar that suffers for lack of roads, access, etc. One person from the village, Anwer, who works in Delhi, through his persistence gets some work done for the village. It is a story that most Indians are familiar with - endless applications, visits, betrayals, bribes, red tapism, blatant corruption - until finally the job is done. In most cases the job is already done on paper, as in the movie 'Well Done Abba', and we need to get it really done now - only now there are no funds for it because the paper shows the village already has a road. Does not matter  if it is clearly shown that there is no road. The paper is stronger.

From that sedate start Josy takes us into the world of middle men who can organise and fix anything in the capital for a fee. They know everyone and can get anything done - clearly they form the layer of communication between the system which does not have the time for the people and the people who somehow need their work done by the system. The middlemen will listen, will open doors, will get work done - all for a fee. Goes without saying that a part of the fee will go to the babu who will finally sign the papers - for which he is already getting a good salary and benefits from the tax payers money already. We get an insight into the rise of R.K. Dhawan, Indira Gandhi's typist and confidant, who rose from nothing to being one of the most powerful men in India. Where the typist amassed his fortune is for anyone to guess. Interestingly Dhawan was present with Indira Gandhi when she was gunned down by three bullets from her bodyguard Beant Singh who was guarding her for ten years and thirty rounds from Satwant Singh - Dhawan was hardly two feet away - and not a bullet grazed him. Then comes a chapter on the corruption in the procurement of arms where the decisions involved are taken by the Chiefs - certainly they are not innocent in the manipulations of tests and results. From Bofors guns to purchase of helicopters, one can see the system has been manipulated and in may times, compromised, to line many pockets. The case of Admiral Nanda's son (his grandson Sanjeev was the famous BMW case where he ran over people sleeping on the roadside after a late night party and killed seven of them) and his involvement in some deals comes through. Anyone who believes that the army is fighting with the best they are supposed to get from the money the tax payer is paying needs to think twice - our patriotic politicians and some top level brass are not letting those chances go. There is talk of Quatrocchi and how he fled the country hours before he was to be arrested, of Ranjan Bhattacharya, Vajpayee's son in law, of Robert Vadra.

For those who think that Modi's campaign against black money is on track - here is a nice story. Modi constituted a Special Investigation team to probe black money.  The biggest black money case (until the time the book was published) ironically discovered by the SIT was Gautam Adani's Adani group which is involved in a Rs. 5000 crore plus siphoning off of money to tax havens. According to senior ED officials it is a water tight case with a trail of documents showing how the group diverted Rs. 5468 crores to Mauritius via Dubai. With penalties the group will have to pay Rs. 15000 crore to the government "if the case reaches its logical conclusion". The ED registered a preliminary case in Ahmadabad. But since the Modi government came into power, the officer heading the Ahmedabad branch of the directorate was raided by the CBI on charges of possessing disproportionate assets which it failed to prove. Two senior officers who oversaw investigations were forced out of the agency. The tenure of the person heading the directorate was cut short abruptly. Now to put it in context - Modi's hectic campaign for the 2014 elections was made possible thanks to Adani's chartered aircraft. Also, Adani is the first big black money case that the SIT has found and the government has done nothing to take it forward. In fact despite all the talk of corruption and black money all these names we hear about are still free and continuing with their lives while the common man is fighting a hard life with no cash.

The rise of East West Airlines and its promoter Thakiyuddin Wahid who made it big in the airline industry and his murder by the underworld in 1995 comes up. I was under the misperception that he was connected with the Dawood Ibrahim gang as most media led us to believe then and even the investigative agencies said that he was killed by Chota Rajan's gang to retaliate against him being Dawood's man. But it emerges and with substantial proof that there was more to it than meets the eye. The family claims that they had no connections to Ibrahim and that the false news item published by Times of India that Tiger Memon left India on tickets purchased from East West (it was a different company and not this entity but the damage to its brand and credibility was huge - I wonder of ToI even issued a correction!). Turns out that a business rival and from the book it appears that Naresh Goyal of Jet Airways seems to be closer to Dawood and perhaps knows more about this sordid story than most. There seems to be evidence linking him to the underworld. Naresh Goyal, now in London, and a dollar billionaire, seems to have enough reason to live there. His life is constructed in the chapter 'Fly By Might Operator'.

In the last section titled the big league we deal with Vijay Mallya and his 9000 crore bank default and how as an MP he was on the parliamentary committee for civil aviation. Whoa! Here is an owner of a private airline sitting on the parliamentary committee for civil aviation! Josy cites several such cases where there is a clear conflict of interest but where such people have been on such committees. The story of Anil Agarwal of Vedanta and his visit to his school - he gives them away 1300 bags and watches with the Vedanta insignia on it and a promise to build a new building - not honoured yet. Parimal Nathwani a group President of Reliance won elections from Jharkhand and sits in the Parliament. The case of the Jindals and the exploitation of coal mines in Orissa and Chattisgarh. The coal mine scams and the beneficiaries all seem to be well.

And finally the building of Mukesh Ambani, Antilia, and some more stories of the growing Reliance empire. Mukesh Ambani, Josy says is estimated to be worth about Rs. 150000 crore so for him to build a Rs. 10, 000 crore, 4,00,000 sqare foot, 170 metre tall, home where about 500 employees work, seems a small thing. But the issue I think is that this house stands out in sharp contrast to the poverty around it. The stories of how the small eyesore shops of 100 sft near the house were offered or bought out for Rs. 3 crore are interesting. But what's more interesting is how the land came up to be bought - 4532 square metres of land on the prime Altamount Road.  An older member of that neighbourhood says that a Muslim orphanage stood on that land (and before the orphanage there was a graveyard) - there was some confusion on the fact that it was Wakf land - which cannot be sold. Antilia Commercial Private Ltd apparently bought the land for Rs. 21 crore from the trust where the price of the land at that time would have been twenty five times more (500 crore). Later an amount of Rs. 16 crore was paid by the Ambani company to the Wakf Board.

The DoT auction for 4G spectrum.for Internet broadband services is a a classic story. One company called Infotel Broadband Services with an annual turnover of Rs. 18 lakh and only one subscriber, bid aggressively across India for licenses  (despite its promoter defaulting on such earlier bids to the GoI) - he finally bid a staggering Rs. 12, 848 crore for a national license - 71000 times the company's annual turnover. No one questioned where he would raise the money from. He got the bid and within hours of the close of bidding, Infotel was taken over by Mukesh Ambani's RIL. A Central audit found several anomalies in the tender process including a possible forgery of bank guarantee. Add to it the famous unreported story of the KG Basin business and we have a fair idea of how the enforcers are not doing their job - I will not blame the Ambani's or any of the defaulters - it's the enforcers who are at fault. Each time something like this happens we must focus on the enforcers - who let them get away, who are benefiting. And the media cannot escape its complicity in this - I remember seeing a front page article on the KG Basin in The Hindu a few years ago and after that the story just died.

Other interesting snippets - how GMR was appointed to develop the 5106 acre Indira Gandhi International Airport (despite accusations by CAG of blatant favoritism) where clauses were made easier to extend the lease for sixty years and not just thirty, how the operator has been allowed to lease land for commercial exploitation at a rate lower than even the amount the government agencies were paying - Rs. 100 as annual rental and a one time payment of R.s 6.19 crore - to use land with earning potential of 1, 63, 557 crore over a concession period of 58 years (and GMR still charges a user fee for each passenger flying out of Delhi which was not part of the contact provisions). Also interesting to note that Ravi Shankar Prasad was a lawyer on the payroll of Reliance for several years (he was handling portfolios of Law and Telecom in which Reliance has a big stake) and now his son is a consultant with Reliance.

Josy ends with an optimistic note - otherwise we would all die. It is a book that certainly adds several new angles to our popular perception and Josy does it fearlessly. Obviously he knows far more than he has revealed but this is as far as he could put out. By the end of the book you feel disturbed and I am still shaking my head after a day. It is wonderful to see that this book did finally come out when it is far easier for such books never to hit the stands. If P. Sainath's Everyone Loves a Drought gives an appalling view of India's rural legacy, Josy gives a glimpse of the corruption and manipulation that goes on in the name of governance, justice and business. There are two laws that operate here - one for the common man and one for the others.

This is a time when there is a huge silence from the media in anything that can rake up the peace. But this is a book that had to be written, because it also shows that India is bigger than all this and there are a lot of good men and women maintaining the balance in every area. One must, like the note on which Josy ends, keep the faith. Because what we give out, comes back to us. Certainly recommended. Great job Josy. Hope to catch up with you sometime.

Thanks Abhinay for lending it to me. I gifted a good friend a copy today!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Thought For the Day - Four Money Consciousness Stories

These are real stories. Try and make the connections about money and abundance or lack.

Story 1 - If You Cannot Hold Money In Your Pocket, It Will Go
So this person just executed the biggest order he had ever and received a payment of Rs. 50000. He decided to go on a holiday with his wife. His money consciousness as reflected in real life was this - he is always spending more money than he has and is normally making enough to pay off the existing bills. He also believes that he definitely has none to spare or save.

He and his wife spent Rs. 25000 on the vacation and were returning home by car. On the highway a truck is parked in the middle of the road. They stop behind it. The truck stars backing up. He honks. People shout. The truck keeps coming until it hits the car. Luckily it stops after hitting the car and does not drive over them. The bonnet is twisted out of shape.

The bill for repairs comes to Rs. 25000.

Story 2 - If You Will Not Use It, Someone Else Will
The family gets a nice advance after a long time. There is talk on buying a fridge since their fridge is really old. After much discussion they decide on a fridge worth Rs. 12000. After some more weighing of pros and cons they decide not to buy the fridge.

Two days later the person loses her credit card. Before she can complain to the bank someone has swiped the card.

The person had bought a new fridge for Rs. 12000.

Story 3 - When You Act Creatively and Trust, It Will Come
This person returns to India after a long stay abroad. He is a bit tight on money since he is setting up house. To cut costs he borrows his father's old Maruti 800. After a while he decides to break this lack consciousness and decides to buy a new car. He puts down a down payment and buys a new car for Rs. 7 lakh which is a big stretch then.

After a couple of weeks he visits the US. His old company reaches out to him and asks him if he had been paid for a certain period. He does not remember. They check and confirm that they have to pay some amount.

He gets a cheque for USD 13000 (which was the same amount he needed to pay off the loan in full - Rs. 7 lakh). He pays off the balance amount and owns the car.

Story 4 - When You Decide, It Will Come
This person has to pay his CA for services rendered. The CA is a friend of his and does not hurry him for payment. A few payments come but the person somehow pays everyone else but the CA. One day he gets a call from the CAs office - can you make our payment?

He is aware that the payment has already been delayed and makes up his mind to pay the CA out of whatever payment comes next. There is no hesitation in his mind though at the moment he has less than Rs. 500 in his account and he has to pay Rs. 11000.

The next day he gets a mail from the Income Tax department. There is an old IT Return which has not been calculated correctly. If some information is updated he will get an additional refund.

In a week's time he receives a payment of Rs. 13500. The first cheque goes to the CA.

All stories are real. It's uncanny - the matching amounts, even the connections - fridge, IT department etc. My take - if you cling on to money out of fear it will go. If you decide to create and move confidently, it will come. It's an energy thing - do not operate from fear. (Do not be reckless either, but be clear and confident, and most importantly be creative with the money).

Or simply, keep the flow going.

Link - The Emotional Intelligence Quiz

Superb Link - 22 Best Motivational Speeches

This is a list of 22 of the best motivational speeches. Now to watch them!
For the lazy ones, here is the list. Am starting with Brene Brown.

  1. J.K. Rowling: “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination” (2008)

  2. David Foster Wallace: "This Is Water" (2005)
  3. Writer. English teacher. 

  5. BrenĂ© Brown: "The Power of Vulnerability" (2013) - 
  7. "Connection is why we are here. Shame is the fear of disconnection - the fear that if people know something about me there may be a disconnection. Shame and fear - excruciating vulnerability. For connection to happen, we need to be seen.
  8. People who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging. They are wholehearted people.
  9. These folks had the courage to be imperfect. They were compassionate to themselves frist and then to others. They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they are. They fully embraced vulnerability."
  10. "

  11. Al Pacino: "Inch by Inch" (1999)
  13. "We can climb out of hell - one inch at a time. The inches we need are everywhere around us. And we fight for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch. Because we know that when we add up all those inches that's gonna making the difference between winning and losing. Between living and dying. In any fight, its the guy who is willing to die who will get that inch."

  14. Steve Jobs: "How to Live Before You Die" (2005)
  15. Ellen DeGeneres: Tulane University Commencement Speech (2009)
  16. Will Smith: Speech from The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
  17. "Don't ever let somebody tell you you cannot do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you got to protect it. People can't do something themselves, they are going to tell you you cannot do it. You want something, go get it. Period.'

  18. Sheryl Sandberg: Harvard Business School Class Day Speech (2012)
  19. Dan Pink: "The Puzzle of Motivation" (2009)

  20. Denzel Washington: "Fall Forward" (2011)
  22. 'If I am going to fall, I don't want to fall back. I want to fall forward. On my face. That way I at least know what I failed at. Every failed experiment is one step closer to success. You will fail.'

  23. Sylvester Stallone: Speech from Rocky Balboa (2006)
  24. Elizabeth Gilbert: "Your Elusive Creative Genius" (2009)
  25. Charlie Day: Merrimack College Commencement Speech (2014)
  26. Frank Oz/Yoda: Speech from The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  27. William Wallace: Speech From the Battle of Stirling Bridge (1297)
  28. Orlando Scampington: "The Pillars of C.L.A.M." (2015)
  29. Kurt Russell: “This is Your Time” (2004)

  31. Jim Valvano: ESPY Speech (1993)
  32. Mel Gibson: “The Valley of the Shadow of Death” (2002)
  33. Kal Penn: DePauw University Commencement Speech (2014)
  34. Charles Dutton: Speech from Rudy (1993)
  35. Vera Jones: “But the Blind Can Lead the Blind…” (2016)