Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Add life to moments rather than adding moments to life

I recall a sequence in a Bollywood movie 'Bluffmaster'. It was between two actors: Abhishek Bachchan and Boman Irani.

"Tumhe aise kitne din yaad hai Roy, Your first job, pehla suit, pehli salary? Jab tumne ek ladki ko pehli baar chooa, pehli baar chooma? Jab pehli baar tumhara dil dhadka. 30 saal ki Zindagi mein aise kitne din hain jo tumhe yaad hain - 1, 2, 3 , 5 , 10 , 15, 30… 30 din hain na? 30 saal ki zindagi aur bas 30 din... baaki ke dino ka kya hua Roy?"


In summary, what Boman was relaying to Abhishek Bachchan is that no matter how long we live, we manage to construct only a few moments that are truly memorable and worth living. The rest of life serves a purpose that's likely not indelible.

The assertion made in this dialogue is not hard to validate. If, for a moment, you take a rare-view mirror glance at your own life, you can really count such moments on your finger tips.

Last Sunday, I had one such moment. Let me first share a picture before I attempt to describe it.

This is a picture of me running with my son at Citrix Charity Run on 15th-Sept-2019. Citrix organizes this run in support of charities since last many years. Participating in this run has almost been like a yearly ritual. But this year was special for me.

My family
It was special because of 2 reasons. One, I got to complete a 10 Km run with my son and my wife- which had been my unstated dream. Second, I for an opportunity to train my son and 2 of his close friends and prepare them to complete 10 Km run. Imagine the feeling of joy and pride it gives to see three 9 year olds completing a distance as long as 10 Km!!

Looking back, It was not just the fact that these kids completed 10 Km distance but it was a lot to do with the way they prepared. 

The preparation for their run started on 2nd-Sept. We clearly had very less days as we slacked off in the last few weeks. I followed these principles in training the kids:

1. Since all of them were participating in a long distance run for the first time, I asked them on how they felt everyday before deciding on how many Km to run.
2. In practice, the focus was to finish the run, not target any superior timings.
3. Include appropriate rest and recovery in-between.
4. Mandatorily stretch after the practice run was over.
5. Run initial few Km using more leg power. Run last few Km using more mind power.
6. Make them aware of the race day situation, track etc.
7. Focus on hydration and diet, not only during the run day but also during practice runs.
8. Learning how to have fun while running, especially when going gets tough.
9. Learning how to draw energy from others and giving energy to each other.

Fun during Practice Runs
While it is easy for me to write these principles and thrust upon kids but it is entirely different game for them to execute it. I had accounted for some efforts that I might need to put to encourage kids everyday. But to my surprise and to the credit of kids, I never had to use these efforts. The kids were supremely sincere and showed remarkable commitment to diligently do the practice runs.

Helping each other stretching post the run

"How much do we run today ?", "What is the plan for tomorrow", "What should we eat", "How much water should we drink"- These were the questions i got asked every day during the course of build-up to the run. Needless to say, I was blow-away seeing their sincerity and commitment. Sincerity is such an underrated trait when we talk about the success defining qualities.

I will forever be grateful for this opportunity to create a stand-out memory. It took some effort but it also proved that memorable events can be manufactured in life if we just care enough to create them.

Training Plan that the kids tracked everyday

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

How do you manage the balance between creation and consumption ?

We live in a consumption economy. The whole digital revolution seems to built on the premise to offer the contents (in the form of news, updates from friends, images, videos etc.) to us as effortlessly as possible. We now have smartphones that are 24x7 content broadcasting machines. As a result of this, human beings are always in content consumption mode. While access to information is good in one way (it has made us more aware) but largely it has also robbed conciseness from the day-to-day communication. The emails tend now to be longer, verbal updates muddled up and our white-boards more busier than they have ever been.

One of the pieces of writing that recently inspired me was the blog- Create less, Consume more by Tanmay Vora. Sharing couple of pieces of advise from this blog:

Consume mindfully by having right set of filters that help you decide if something will *really* add value and increase your ability to create. When you consume mindfully, less is actually more.  
Practice the fine art of subtraction – we don’t need more and more. We need less that is more (useful/helpful/enriching etc.) Sometimes, the only way to find if something is useful is to “try” it. But often, once we try something, it stays with us because we are not so good at subtracting stuff – at eliminating that which we don’t really need.
The other end in the spectrum of consumption is the creation. Sketchnotes and blogging has really helped me balance the continuum of creation and consumption. Sketchnotes offer a powerful medium that lets you do a concise representation of a book or a large number of words in just one page. It really helps to separate signal from the noise. In short, it improves brevity in communication.

Sharing this recent sketchnote of mine that I created along with my son. This has little nuggets of information that are unique to the beautiful state of Assam.

Would appreciate any feedback ?

Monday, September 2, 2019

Six Lessons from Champion Olympians- Viren Rasquinha and Neha Aggarwal

It has to be a special day when you get to moderate a session with two champion Olympians. I got this privilege last week when the former Olympians Viren Rasquinha (Former captain Indian Hockey team) and Neha Aggarwal (First Indian female Olympian for Table Tennis) visited my organization (Citrix).

Left to Right: Viren Rasquinha, Anuj Magazine, Neha Aggarwal
I have been personally supporting Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) for a long time. OGQ's mission is to enable athletes to win Gold medals for India at Olympics. Citrix supports OGQ as well.

After meeting with Viren and Neha, we had organized an employee interaction session with them. Till the last minute, I wasn't aware that I would be moderating the session so it was a sort of last minute plan. But eventually it turned out to be a good one.
Some lively conversations and candid stories from their sporting careers kept the audience engaged, entertained and spellbound. Sports has this unique power that makes comprehension of life lessons effortless. Stories of their formative years, perseverance,to eventual glory & later to reinventing themselves made for some awe-inspiring moments of learning. If I have to summarize a few from today's session, they would be: 1. Believe in yourself when nobody does. 2. Always have a fire in belly and keep the desire to excel always on, especially for the things that matter to you. 3. Have shorter feedback mechanisms. Invest in a trust-worthy coach. Once you have one, be non-judgmental about following his/her advice. 4. Be open to experimentation, especially in the areas of performance that are below par. 5. Be bold to traverse an unchartered path.
6. Eventually, it comes down to 'one percent' efforts that becomes key differentiator in the high-stake environment. All the 'one percents' eventually add up and leads to big results. Above learnings sums up a memorable one hour of interaction that hopefully inspired many in the room. Thanks to Sohini Karmakar (Lead CSR initiatives) for helping organize the session. What are your favorite sporting stories? What did you learn from them.

Career Stories Panel Discussion: Reflection on a few Core Career Principles-3

Sharing more perspectives on the core career principles taking the sequence from my previous blogs (this and thisforward:

5. Focus on managing relationships:
There are a few skills that are as much force multipliers in your career as is managing relationships well.
On this subject, I am reminded of my post at, which i will reproduce here:

While leadership and management are traditionally thought of top-down, there is a lesser-known aspect of leadership that's referred to as "managing up." Managing up allows you to positively influence the boss—or even the boss’s boss. Few people consider this aspect of leadership as a skill and therefore fail to make necessary connections with bosses. How do tech leaders manage upwards?
In his book Behind the Cloud, CEO Marc Benioff talks about his relationship with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison during his tenure at Oracle. "I had many long conversations with my boss, Larry Ellison, about my outside endeavor. Brainstorming with Larry about new ideas and products had always been the best part of my job."
Benioff considered Ellison to be his mentor, and Ellison not only encouraged him verbally on his endeavor, but he also was open enough to suggest and implement an unusual working agreement with Marc by letting him work on in the morning and Oracle in the evening.
You may credit Ellison for his openness and generosity, but what may not seem clear is that Marc played a part in managing Larry. He went out of the traditional manager-employee mold, made Larry his mentor, and established personal rapport about topics of immense interest to Ellison—innovation and futuristic ideas. By working to rise up to Ellison's expectations and interests, he elevated the work relationship to that of a close friend. 
Google made a major management shift late last year and with that the former Android and Chrome Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai was put in the number two spot at Google. When announcing Pichai's promotion, Google's CEO Larry Page said in a memo to employees, "We very much see eye-to-eye when it comes to product, which makes him the perfect fit for this role.”
Other sources suggested that managing Page was one of Pichai's greatest strengths. He seem to have
proven himself as an able ally to Page when in meetings he could translate Page's out-of-this-world and difficult-to-fathom ideas to the rest of the leadership team. 
An employee can do a lot more than just follow the boss to be seen as an able ally. Pichai helped Page's voice and ideas reach the rest of staff and worked hard to align his ideas with that of his boss. And Pichai did all this without being asked to do so, which helped him to win Page's trust.
In his book How Google Works, Google's former CEO Eric Schmidt talks about his early days at Google and being aware of the negative history of CEOs being hired in founder-led companies. He was smart enough to work out an arrangement that didn’t interfere with Larry Page and Sergey Brin's work and decision style. Schmidt says that the challenge for him was to not to make more decisions, but he made peace with making fewer decisions to be effective at his job.
As James Caan mentions in a LinkedIn post, "Being great at your job is half the battle, the other half falls down to managing your manager and creating a happy medium; a working relationship which allows you both to flourish."
6. Focus on functional skills, but double your focus on timeless skills:
More info here on the post that i had written some time back :

7. Consider career reinvention as a skill:
More info here on the post that i had written some time back :

Hope you liked this series on core career principles. If you like me to expand on some of the expressed thoughts or have any more questions, please do let me know.

Images source: