Thursday, August 9, 2018

Hooper Labs 3rd Anniversary Talk

Srikanth invited me to speak with his young team of about 20 at their Hooper Labs office on their 3rd anniversary. Srikanth is very articulate, intelligent, thinks well and ahead and is one of the more thorough and thoughtful people I know so I was surprised when he wanted me to speak to his team. What I do, he can easily do better. But I was grateful that he wanted me to come and immediately said I would.

The one quality I like in people who ask for any creative output from me is when they trust me and leave it to me. I know some who would drop in at the last minute and tell me how to go about my talk including what to show in the videos (when I expressly told them I don't want to show any videos). Srikanth simply said - just be yourself and that is all I want. This is high praise and one of the best compliments I ever got and though I tried to get some context in and prepared some flow, I tried to be myself as Srikanth told me to be and the result was very nice indeed. My sincere advice to all those looking to get some good creative work - do exactly what Srikanth did - trust them and they will deliver. You cannot manipulate and control creative output. From whatever I heard about the team's work in the past year, it appears that he is doing the same with them and they are responding with equal fervor.
The Hooper Labs Team and Me!
I walked in at the appointed time and it was nice to see the office decked up with balloons and looking festive. The team was being addressed by Srikanth, Umar was there and so was Kiran, and Sujatha of course, who reads my books and gives me encouraging feedback all the time. After a short introduction by Srikanth I embarked on the broad structure of my talk.     

Why are we here? 
To work. Or more importantly to use the work we do to accomplish our dreams of a good life, a secure job, a home, cars, travel etc. Certainly to prove to ourselves that we have something inside us that we can put to good use and achieve our dreams.

How can we achieve our dreams?
Clearly through our work. Be it cricket, or dancing, or designing or coding, we try to achieve our potential through the work we do. We can fulfill all aspects of our life – career, money, relationships, material things, travel, fame.  Work takes up a big part of our most productive time and one needs to get it clear in their minds that work is what we will be known for and what makes our dreams come true. We cannot take work lightly as just another aspect of life and talk too much about work-life balance. 

What comes in the way then?
Our goal is clear. Our intent is clear. We all want to work hard. But we see that people far less qualified than us seem to be achieving more. Something seems to be holding us back otherwise all this should be a walk in the park. 

What holds us back? 
From my experience, what holds us back is doubt and fear. When I made it as far as a first-class cricketer, I doubted if I was good enough to play the next level. This doubt and perhaps the fear of failure and the fear of success even, make us operate at 50% efficiency. Or even less. We doubt ourselves, we fear we are not good enough. This path leads us to the Blame and Excuse street which is pretty much the end of the journey for anybody! I played Ranji Trophy early. Had a good first season. Was dropped next year. After going that far up, I did not know what to do. I found no motivation. I gave up. There are so many like that.  

How to overcome this Doubt and Fear?
I found it difficult to work for myself. Most people find it difficult to do that. They can give their life for others but do very little for themselves. It goes back to our feeling of not being good enough in our own eyes. This is the basic doubt and fear - that we are not good enough.

But if we find a purpose, something bigger than us, a WHY, then we can give our best to it. To understand this better one should watch Simon Sinek's TED talk 'Start with why' which explains the importance of purpose. We looked at examples to illustrate the idea - the soldier on the border, the Sulabh story, the Selco story. They could also look at the impact their work could create, the one person who benefits from their work and changes her life.
There is nothing more motivating than a good, solid purpose. Now typically companies can have their purposes. Sometimes individuals may not be able to connect to it.
A selfie moment with the young and energetic team
Can we do it as individuals?
1       I spent a while talking about ownership and how once we experience ownership we become different people. I spoke of the time when I scored 158 with zero input, all purpose and complete ownership. I decided, took responsibility and made it happen. Until then I hoped someone would help me but when I took full responsibility I grew as a person, expanded my role and did a 10x performance. Until then I did not know I could do that. 
      The same decision, same ownership is available to everyone. This very moment. You just have to decide. You help your team. You help yourself in the process.

Another tool that helps get over doubt and fear - Learning Mindset
I dwelt briefly on the Mindset - a book by Carol Dweck that changed my life. One that could make a big difference to the youngsters here as well. My failure at Ranji level was because I was stuck in a Fixed Mindset. If I was less egocentric and fear-driven and fixed mindset driven I could have sought help and got back on track. More details here about the Mindset on my book review of the same

Fixed Mindset Characteristics
Growth Mindset Characteristics
Desire to look smart
Desire to learn
Avoid challenges
Embrace challenges
Give up easily
Persist in the face of setback
Get defensive
Seek help to find ways to improve
See effort as fruitless
See effort as the path to mastery
Ignore useful negative feedback
Learn from criticism
Feel threatened by others successes
Find lessons and inspiration from others success
Plateau early and achieve less than their full potential
Reach even higher levels of achievement as a result and get closer to potential

Writing - Full Ownership
I feel writing is the best way to share and make the world more secure and that is my purpose. It's an act of complete ownership to leave a secure job and jump off a cliff like this. But the pluses are that I am  1) at 100% potential and awareness  2) in control 3) brings all my past into effect 4) I learn at ten times the rate than I normally would because it is so I can help the reader. I write for that one person who I feel will get affected by what I write not just to make money. 

          Secure people - Be complete 
In winding up I spoke about why I felt why were at less than our potential, why we doubted ourselves. It was because we are all insecure. We are insecure because we are hiding parts of us which we do not wish to show. Like being 'smart' in the fixed mindset, we hide certain parts of ourselves and in doing so operate only at 50% efficiency. We don’t know. we don’t want others to know.
The paradox is that we are secure when we say I don't know. When we accept our faults and inadequacies. Then we have nothing to hide. We are free. To learn. To ask for help. I feel that if we accept ourselves as we are, we can go past ourselves and really make a difference to others, to the world.
When we are secure, we are genuinely interested in making a difference to people. And that is what any great idea does - touches people across the universe at a core level.

Let us encourage and actively create then, a secure space, a place where we can make mistakes, be our flawed but complete selves, and thus build what they call a psychologically safe workplace. That way you build the perfect team, get great outcomes.

To a secure world then.

Some questions and answers and we wound up.

Videos to watch

Thank you all
I loved this session so much more for the wonderful vibe I felt right through thanks to a very patient and attentive audience -  wonderful. Haven't felt so complete ina  long time. I loved the way Srikanth set it up, gave me the confidence and the freedom and brought the best out of me. And in the end I was blown away by the thoughtfulness of the gifts Sujatha and he and the team gave - they included Shobha and Anjali and had gifts for them too. Such thoughtfulness I have not seen for a long long time. Needless to say, the nice feeling lasted me all through the day and will remain all through my life. 

All the best Hooper Labs and here's wishing you all that you dreamed of and more.


Unknown said...

It was our pleasure. You are a inspiration to me. You had the tenacity to venture in to things you loved. Thank you .. Srikanth

Harimohan said...

Thanks Srikanth. Generous as always. Really enjoyed myself and certainly learned a thing or two for life.