Archive for July, 2010

Yogesh is one of the friends I made in my life. A very dynamic and full of life guy who just happened to fall in the ditch without knowing how bad this rat race is and how rotten the rats are. I came in contact with him while looking out for sitcoms, It started with Big Bang to Prison Break and many more. Gradually, we realized we have so many common things amongst us and that tied us together. Though almost 4 years younger to me, I never felt that I am elder in his company. Today, he is leaving for his MS at Rudgers University. Even though he had attempted GRE twice earlier, I pushed him so hard for the third time that he attributes some part of his dream coming true to me. I don’t know whether I deserve so much from him but yes, definitely I can say that I can understand people and whom I like, develop very strong bonding with me. I almost came to tears when I chatted and talked to him today for the last time as he is preparing to leave India. Wish you Very Good Luck, Yogesh and may GOD give you the strength to pursue your dreams with full throttle. I don’t know about others but I am going to miss you a lot and it is never going to be the same way to the Pantry/Restroom anymore.

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The sixth Toastmasters speech project guides you to harness the power of your own voice.

The aims for this speech project are to use your voice to complement your message by enhancing your:

  • pace,
  • pitch,
  • power, and
  • pauses.

Your voice is the best tool in your delivery toolbox. You must learn to use it effectively to enhance your presentation.

My Speech was titled “Business Etiquettes” and though it is drawn from here, it has been modified a lot to suit my taste.

Last week, I went to the Forum Mall. On my way back, I stopped-by at the Men’s Room. It was late in the evening and the place was quite deserted.

As soon as I took the stance (act: sitting down), the gentleman in the next stall called, “Hey how u doin’?”. I was like “awwww”. In my entire life, I had never struck a conversation with anybody, while doing such an important business. I have no idea what got into me that I responded back, “I’m fine”. He was encouraged by my response and said, “So, what’s going on?” I was like – What do people do inside a loo (act: murmur). I said “Not much. Business as usual”. Then he said, “Hey, can I come over to your side, right now?”. Now I “panicked”. I decided to pack up and take the nearest exit. I said, “Hey Man I’m getting really late … maybe some other time …”. He said (act: talking on the phone) “Listen, I’ll call you back later. There’s an idiot in the other stall, who keeps answering back all my questions.”

This takes me back to another interesting incident a few months back. During a casual online conversation with a female friend, we got into an argument. Her point was “Men lack rest room etiquettes”. My first reaction was, “How do you know? Do you peep inside men’s room to see all the action?” She explained, “Not really, but whenever I’m passing by a Men’s Room, I find men coming out doing all sorts of things – buckling up, zipping up or even adjusting their underwears. It’s so Gross.” The first thing that came into my mind was Sachin Tendulkar in the cricket pitch but deep within me, I knew that it was true to some extent. Honestly, I was embarrassed. But I wasn’t quite convinced that it was an etiquette thing. I had a feeling that there was something else to it. I decided to do some research. Over the next few days, I talked to several male and female friends, relatives and colleagues. I even did some research online. The results were quite “astonishing”. Let me explain how.

Dear Taostmasters and Guests, the Ladies Room is somewhat of a “Cocktail Party”. Women go there in pairs and sometimes groups, they chat, they mingle, they gossip, they giggle. They even primp themselves. Some Ladies Rooms, even have waiting lounges, with nice sofas, music and magazines. Now, you might think did I ever peep inside Ladies rooms? Well, Tom Cruise has to enter when he was wooing his girl in “TOP GUN” and I am not even Tom Cruise. So, I had to try harder. You can try your imaginations go wild but let us come to Men’s room, things are totally different. I’m not talking about the obvious differences but the whole social thing. When it comes to the Men’s Room, it is all about one thing – BUSINESS – you go in, do your business and get out ASAP. There is absolutely no “socialization”. Just like there are “Rules & Etiquettes” in any business setup, Men’s Room also has its own set of “Rules & Etiquettes”.

First of all, the “General Rules”:

  • Do not invite your buddy to go with you. It sends the wrong vibes around you.
  • Do not make eye contact.
  • Do not initiate any conversations once in the Men’s Room.

Next comes, what we call the “Urinal Etiquettes”: As you enter the facility, you must quickly familiarize yourself with the layout and make a decision as to which urinal you will use. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • If there is a row of urinals, you must take the one farthest away from the door of the rest room.
  • If this urinal is taken, you must take the one furthest away from it.
  • When encountering an empty group of three urinals, never take the middle urinal. This will render the rest of the urinals unusable and is the height of rudeness.
  • Never ever take the urinal in between two other men. *Exception: Crowded sporting events or a Movie Theatres.
  • Only enter a stall if you need to do big business. Entering a stall simply to urinate will cause others to wonder what you are afraid of. It is considered “unmanly”.

Going back to the original question, do you still think that men lack rest room etiquettes.The answer is a firm “NO”. It’s not about etiquettes, it’s about “Business”. From the early childhood, we men have been trained to follow these etiquettes and our tendency is to do our business and exit the facility ASAP. Many a times, in this hurry to exit the facility, we fail to fully cover up.

This reminds of a very famous book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” by John Gray. In this book, the author says that men and women are like two different species from two different planets. They really need to take time to understand each other better. Dear Toastmasters and Guests, that’s the ‘mantra’ to happy relationships.

Just for FUN, you can try this questionnaire to understand your urinal behavior and whether sciety could help you. Do let me know how you fared in case you do take the test: URINAL ETIQUETTE TEST.

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I am going to keep this post very short. All of you must have heard about the Antenna problems being reported in the latest iPhone4. Apple held a press conference on this on July 16 and my favorite charismatic CEO, Steve Jobs led the way. Well, I am not posting this post for the sake of the nitty-gritty of the Iphone4 rather about the presentation style of Steve Jobs. Watch him how he uses certain things many times (We Love our users; Nobody is Perfect, SmartPhones are not Perfect). Ia m not sure how many of you watch or observe presentations. People who stress a singly point numerous times becomes their selling point. Its in human psychology: Practice makes a man Perfect. Similarly, when we hear same thing again and again, either two things can happen depending on your personality: people will take you very seriously or will completely neglect you. The personality here in our case is Steve Jobs and you know the effect. Watch any of Steve Jobs’s presentations and you will notice what I am trying to convey. For the time being, here are the videos of the latest press conference.

Personally, if you feel you are heading in the direction where Steve Jobs is today, certain charisma that Steve Jobs brings to the presentations is commendable and is worth try to imbibe in your won styles.

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Some of you might know, I am currently reading a book titled “Winning” by Jack Welch with Suzy Welch. This is my first attempt to write something about a book, in detailed fashion. As I read, we are going to have more reviews and perceptions.

I am going to devote the Part1 to Second Chapter “Candor Effect”.
I am still new to the industry but at the same time I feel that my observations have been very rich. The benefit I have from my observations will be in future. Hopefully, I will have the freedom to speak and act which I see a lot of managers not being able to do and thus, continue to harm the long term growth prospects of a firm. I have been in IT industry for quite some time now. So, let me tell you what I have felt strongly. IT managers are neither MANAGERS nor LEADERS. I feel they don’t fall in either of the categories. According to the industry trends, mergers and acquisitions is the buzzword. Developments and Inventions have been done. They hire nice smart people not to make them smarter but to make them mediocre. A lot of time, we, ourselves, don’t speak our feelings and minds and even if we do, the so-called managers never take it upward. Irrespective of place, I have found this attitude of Indians very disturbing. To some extent, I feel we are socialized from childhood to soften bad news or make nice about awkward subjects. Till date, parents hesitate to talk about sex to their children. Isn’ t it? How can a company justify with “average” hikes to people when it is out making huge acquisitions worth of billions and millions of dollars almost every quarter? Executives are often found to have been speaking on the importance of human knowledge power but very few of them (my experience has been NONE) actually practices them. Everyone knows that showing EPS to an investor quarterly is good but if someone has to show it consistently and for a long period of time, one has to look within and that’s where almost all IT MNC’s are lacking. Currently, I find most of the so-called managers hiding themselves behind the processes and rotting systems and giving various explanations instead of fighting for the right. One question to all: As a father, if something wrong or bad has happened to you, you try your best not to develop the similar circumstances for your son/daughter, then why how do do you justify to your sub-ordinates that your experience of x years has seen the same trend and hence, is justifiable irrespective of the fact that it is WRONG? To all CEOs, Mind you Sir, by having such so-called managers you are actually driving your firms to extinctions rather than growth and prosperity.

Coming back to the candor effect, it is about giving the freedom to the employees and well-wishers to speak and be heard. So, how is it useful?

  1. Candor gets more people in the conversation and when you have more people in the conversation, you get ideas rich. More ideas surface, discussed, pulled apart, and improved.
  2. Candor generates speed. When ideas are in everyon’e face, they can be debated rapidly, expanded and enhanced, anmd acted upon.
  3. Candor cuts costs. Meaningless meetings and reports (IT MNCs are now know for this two qualities) are cut down by candor.

Therefore, no matter which B-School you attended, irrespective of that one must know lack of candor blocks smart ideas. fast action, and good people contributing all the stuff they have got. It’s a killer. Eventually, we realize that people don’t speak their minds because it’s simply easier not to. It is true that candid comments definitely freak people out at first but then if you are an effective manager and leader, it is your responsibility to get candor and to do so, praise it, reward it, and talk about it. Most of all, you yourself has to demonstrate it in an exuberant and even exaggerated way. Personally, I would like to see a firm where a voice of lowest grade employee, provided it is justified and reasonable, reaches to the CEO irrespective of the levels of hierarchy between them.

Disclaimer: In no form, the above perceptions can be related to any particular individual or organization. In case done so, I take no responsibility and the firm/individual will be doing so for its own insecurity, thus, proving the negative effects mentioned being followed by themselves.

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Today, one of my friend, Anjali Gupta, posted a link to an article on twitter. I loved it so much that I could not resist myself from posting the a short note on it here on my blog. I am sure all of us somewhere deep down the line, will feel the same if we sit down to analyze our own life. The scenario is:

At the beginning of the day, faced with an overflowing inbox, a list of messages on your voicemail, and the to-do list from your last meeting, it’s tempting to want to “clear the decks” before you start on your own most important work. By the time you finally settle down to your own work, it could be mid-afternoon, when your energy has dipped and it’s hard to focus on anything properly. “Oh well, maybe tomorrow will be better,” you tell yourself. But when tomorrow comes round there’s another pile of emails, phone messages, and to-do list items. If you carry on like this you will spend most of your time on reactive work, responding to incoming demands and answering questions framed by other people.

So sounds familiar? Do you feel the same way what I felt when I read the article? I am sure most of us surely do. Honestly, I have found Internet, mobile phones, emails very annoying sometimes as I prepare myself for my next goal in hand. Forutnately, I have been able to bring these activites a hell lot down in last few months. No more online on gtalk, no more chit-chatting. Trying very hard to concentrate on my goal because that is the biggest priority of my life.

The author cites the only solution to the issue at hand is: begin the day with creative work on my own top priorities.

Some of the key strategies that the author cites to make the change are:

  1. Creative work first, reactive work second.
  2. Tune out distractions.
  3. Make exceptions for VIPs.
  4. Be really efficient at reactive work.

I will, strongly, recommend all of you to go through this article in your free time if you are serious about your life and have a meaningful life.

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Today I delivered my P5 Speech. The original source of the speech is here. I did modify the speech at lot of places to suit my taste. The speech was very well appreciated and I won the “Best Prepared Speaker” for the session.

Is your body dead when you speak, or does your constant motion give your audience headaches?

Does your face signal fear or does it signal excitement for your topic?

Do your hands vibrate, or do they punctuate your words?

The fifth Toastmasters speech project encourages you to make every body movement enhance your speech rather than detract from it.

The project aims at complementing our message with our body during delivery. Specifically, we need to be aware of our:

  • posture,
  • body movement,
  • facial expressions, and
  • eye contact.

If we aren’t aware of our body language, we are missing an incredible opportunity to improve our effectiveness as a speaker. So here goes my speech titled “The Journey“:

One of my friends recently appeared for a driving test in California. After he cleared the test, the officer on duty congratulated him and remarked that he was known for disqualifying Indians in the test. My friend was bewildered and wanted to know the reasons for the same. The officer assured him that he finds most of the Indians concentrating too much on the road. At times, they’re not exactly aware of the fact they can look at places beyond the straight line of traffic. He often finds them not enjoying the journey, but rather going along the traffic.

I, personally, feel that he was right, at least to some extent.

We keep flowing along the traffic, barely realizing where we need to go. I’d go further to say: at times, we’re not even willing to stop for refueling, even when we’re running out of fuel. We fail to realize that our car is not exactly in the best shape and perhaps it seriously requires servicing to cope up with the demands of traffic. Now you may think that I am exaggerating a bit, but actually I’m not.

Dear Toastmasters and Guests, it’s the journey of life I’m talking about. Life’s a journey, the mundane tasks that we keep on doing daily are the road, you’re the car and you’re the driver as well. . What I personally feel is that we’re concentrating so much on the road that we’ve forgotten to enjoy the journey or even to try to know where the road is taking us.

Now think of it again:
Are we not just going along the traffic? Most of us picked science, because this is what the toppers opt for. Then picked engineering because this is what Science students go for. Then, opted for Software jobs because this is where the money is. And yeah, many, many of us wrote GRE or CAT because this is what the best of the engineering students do. Just go back and think, at which point you chose your lane yourself? Oh right, some of us actually did, but most of us, just chose to follow them. Flowing along the traffic has become a second nature to us.

Okay, now you followed the herd and are in a lane, which you try to call as your own. Not a problem, as long as you know how to enjoy the journey. Frankly speaking, I don’t, but I’m trying hard for it. But even for those who do feel that they’re enjoying the life to the max, I sometimes feel that the enjoyment has become too mechanical, having a drink or two with people, having a lunch at a mall, watching a movie at a multiplex are typical ideas of enjoying life for most of us. But what we miss in this fast pace of life are the small joys of life. The small joys, when you see a smile on someone’s face and know that a little appreciation from your side is the reason for this. The small joys, which come along when you do something meaningful without expecting anything in return. And if you try for it, the opportunities are plentiful. Try doing something for your alma-mater for instance. You may not yet be in a position to increase the wage of your subordinate substantially, but sometimes just calling them up and saying “Good job, guys” is all you need to do. A pat on the back can do wonders to them and the joy in their voice may be the joy that you may be looking for yourself. In the words of our Munnabhai, Jaadu ki Jhappi dene ka maangta, Maamu!!!

At times, I find myself running out of fuel. But it’s these small joys that provide me the fuel to keep going. Enjoying the journey can be real hard if you don’t take regular time off to refuel yourself.
And well, even if you choose the right lane and get the fuel regularly, our cars do wear out with time. May be you’re no longer happy about the way the car’s doing. It may be time that it needs some servicing or may be a complete overhauling. And what do I mean by that in real life? Simply that, may be your current skills or life-style are not sufficient for you to move forward or to keep you happy. Try to keep learning. Join a music class, start a quiz club, think of learning a foreign language, write a blog or simply participate enthusiastically in the orators sessions with outmost proactiveness. Keep doing something that helps you polish your mind and makes sure that you’re simply vegetating away. Well, I need not tell this to anybody here; everybody sitting here surely realizes the value of maintenance and that is the reason we all are sitting here. But remember, even for the best of the cars, timely and regular service is mandatory.

Dear Toastmasters and Guests, if you’re the car, you’re the driver as well. The journey can be meaningful only if it’s you who’re driving your car to the right path, get the fuel regularly and get it serviced at regular intervals. Wish you all a very Happy, successful and meaningful journey!!!

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