Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Remote Working Tips

Last week saw many professionals working from home (WFH) (including me) and it being a first-time experience of continuous WFH for many.
While we hope to be through with this challenging phase of life soon, but at the same time it offers opportunity to learn new #skills.

#Work from anywhere was mostly an exception till now, is all set to become a new norm. As Citrix CEO David Henshall paraphrased Citrix's philosophy (CNBC interview -

'Work is not a place but its a thing we do.'

So we are really at a turning point that will change the way the world works.

Before embarking this week, i tried to learn some of the good practices for effectively working from home. I found the blog by Sachin Rekhi quite relevant. In summary, he shared these 5 points:
1. Build your personal routine
2. Change your scenery
3. Build healthy #habits
4. Invest in your family, friends
5. Learn to #write well

My favorite from last week as build healthy habits. Tried going for a daily walk in the morning, during lunch, or in the afternoon which helped get some extra steps, opportunity to clear head, and to also address cabin fever.

More on my #sketchnote summary below

Sketchnote summary:

Linkedin post:

Twitter post:


Given the current global situation, few questions that are universally prevalent-
When will the world get back to normal ? When will the economy improve ? What will be the job scenario ?

This post is not to discuss the answer to these, but to share something that is in our control.

I came across a pertinent word 'Bouncebackability' while reading Simon Taufel's book- "Finding the Gaps: Transferable Skills to Be the Best You Can Be".

Bouncebackability is the #skill of having a setback or #failure and being able to regroup, refocus, and get back on track to face the next challenge.

Most people have a negativity bias and the effects that Covid19 has thrust upon us feeds on this bias. I found the word Bouncebackability provide a breath of fresh air.

Sharing below (and in the #sketchnote) some more nuggets from the book that i found useful:

1. The way you speak to yourself matters. We need to show ourselves that we care, but not through the language and tone that puts us in a negative spin.

2. Don't allow negative thoughts and events to continue in your mind. You cannot look ahead when you are looking behind at the same time.

3. Writing your thoughts down provides more clarity and objectivity when it comes to working through the setback.

Sketchnote summary:

Some more nuggets from the book:

Bouncebackability is the skill of having a setback or failure and being able to regroup, refocus, and get back on track to face the next challenge.

Mental toughness is the ability to control your thoughts and emotions and not let them control you.

Majority of any sport is predominantly played out in the space between the ears.

There are three places your mind can be- past, present or future. You need to be aware of what is happening around and remain grounded in present.

Staying in present is a skill and it requires hardwork and practice.

Changing the self-talk
The way you speak to yourself matters. We need to show ourselves that we care, but not through the language and tone that puts us intona negative spin.
'Its OK, these things happen, are you alright? Let's get back on and have another try.'

Move-on: Don't Dwell
Don't allow negative thoughts and events to continue in your mind.
You cannot look ahead when you are looking behind at the same time.

Focus on the process, not on the outcomes
If you create robust and correct processes, committed to them, worked hard, practised and executed with purpose, the outcomes would take care of themselves.

1. Acknowledgement:
Acknowledgement often takes the heat and anger out of the situation faster.
Having courage, internal or external, to be honest, and admit it is one of the first steps to being able to move on and bounce back by focusing on what comes next.
It is vital to acknowledge the error as it allows the door to learning to be opened.
Denial or dishonesty is, therefore, one of the roadblocks of being open to learning opportunities.
Put your hand-up and take responsibility.
Ownership of the setback, the error, or the situation comes down to you. Take responsibility of what is working and what is not in your game/

2. Release: Let it go
Because I was holding on to the setbacks, my brain was stuck in the past, still thinking about why and what impact it would have.
Letting go of negative thoughts and event sounds easy, but it is not.

Two tips:
a. Write it down:
Writing provides more clarity and objectivity when it comes to work through the setback. Writing detailed and specific self-assessments from each match provided me with an opportunity to download what worked, what didn't and ideas for what i needed to work on for the next match.

Writing it down showed me objectively and rationally where I was going wrong, how many times, and where the commonality may have existed.

b. Talk about it:
share the setbacks more with the people around you, your team.
It shows a professional approach to learning, a vulnerability that no one is perfect, that we all make mistakes, and offers an opportunity for others to provide input on the setback that may help us to move on faster.

3. Imprint: Visualize the right thing to do
Visualizing getting the task right helps building self-belief. It needs to be supported with positive self-talk.

4. Acceptance

The reality is, making mistakes is a part of the job and you have to learn to accept this to minimise the impact the errors have on your mental health

LinkedIn post:

Twitter post:

Things to remember when going through tough times

If you love cricket, this week (in March) marked the yearly anniversary of 2 of the greatest matches the sport has ever seen.

1. 12th-Mar-2006,South Africa(SA) took on Australia in an One Day International. Aus batted first, scored 434 runs, then highest ever ODI score. Later, in an unprecedented effort, SA won the match scoring 438 runs.
SA team was feeling down and out when Jacques Kallis said 'Guys, I think we've done a good job, I think they're 15 runs short.' This remark made the team believe they could win.

2. 14th-Mar-2001,India took on mighty Australia in a test match. India were way behind in the match, following-on. Then came the legendary fightback from Laxman and Dravid who batted whole of Day-4,added a stunning 376 runs & laid the foundation of one of the greatest test match wins.

Even though the current situation with #coronaoutbreak & it's ripple effects on all aspects of our lives is not comparable on any scale with sporting situations i narrated above, but still one should gather as much positivity as possible in such times & sports is an excellent metaphor here. These matches reflect the merits of #possibilitythinking, staying #positive despite all the odds.

It is with this spirit i share my #sketchnote inspired from Anand Mahindra's tweet

Sketchnote summary:

LinkedIn post:

Twitter post:

Why we read ?

With most of us locked at home and possibly with more time at hand,how about picking up a book?

From Satya Nadella's first memo to the employees after becoming Microsoft CEO-

"Many who know me say I am also defined by my curiosity and thirst for learning.I buy more books than I can finish.I sign up for more online courses than I can complete.I fundamentally believe that if you are not learning new things, you stop doing great and useful things."

Satya's love for reading is clearly fueled by his desire to satisfy his extraordinary #curiosity

Why else would you read ? There are obviously many reasons and I found Vala Afshar's tweet ( just so relevant. Included my #sketchnote of the tweet. Thank you Vala for your inspiring notes.

So how much can you read ? Here's actionable insight Prakash Iyer on inculcating the #reading habit:

"If you read for just half an hour everyday, you could finish a 250 page book in just two weeks' time. That's 26 books a year.A 100 #books in next 4 years. Just think, what difference would that make to the quality of your mind, your career, your life ?Just 30 minutes a day can do the trick, so stop giving excuses about not having the time to read."

What are you #reading these days? #learning

Sketchnote summary:

LinkedIn post:

Twitter post:

How coachable are you ?

"Everyone needs a coach. We all need people who can give us feedback, that's how we improve." said Bill Gates in one of his TED Talks (

I loved reading the book- "Finding the Gaps: Transferable Skills to Be the Best You Can Be" by an ace cricket umpire Simon Taufel. Highly recommend the book not only because it is written by someone in an 'not-in-the-limelight' part of the sport but also because it has within it some wonderful lessons that can be applied universally. It takes as much dedication to ace the profession of an umpire as it does to become a world's best batsman or a bowler.

In one of the chapters, he talks about the concept of coachability. Coachability as a professional skill doesn't get as much spotlight as it should. To be coachable, you must always be looking to learn something new and learn from any resource at any level and see if that new piece of information can improve what you do or the way you do it.
You should be prepared to #askquestions and ask for help.

Sharing summary of my learnings via the #sketchnote below.

And also take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Utkarsh Rai for some relevant and powerful coaching sessions. Thank you Utkarsh.

Some more nuggets from the book:
- Trying to be the best version of yourself is the most crucial step, and this can be achieved by observing others- what they do better, their strengths, and the applying those learnings to your own game.

- To be coachable, you must always be looking to learn something new and learn from any resource at any level and see if that new piece of information can improve what you do or the way you do it.

- it was once written- 'when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.'

- the main attributes of being coachable or having a coachable attitude-
  1. Ability to ask questions.
  2. Search for new information.
  3. Learn from others.
  4. Try new things with passion and positivity
  5. Work hard.
 listening, looking for new information, seeking to learn from experts in their fields, and trying new things with passion and positivity.
- You should be prepared to ask questions and ask for help.

Six key behavior traits
1. Clarity (know what you want from your coach)
     Be vulnerable, Be open to reflection and review

2. Listen (improve your communication skills)
    Not only your ears need to be open, but also mind.
    Your mind must be alert to the possibilities and potential of getting that smaller nugget of gold that will help you get little bit better.
     Every person you meet has at least one skill better than you, or they known something that you don't, and the challenge is to find that out.

3. Accountability (take responsibility of your performance)
   'your performance today is the only thing that matters.'
    Never say 'They made me do it.' 'I didn't do it.'  'That's not my job.'

4. Ownership  (control your actions and focus)
    Ensuring you focus on what you can control and leaving other variables asides can be difficult at times, but this is a crucial ingredient to coachability.
    Being coachable means focusing on your own game, doing everything you can do with what is in front of you, playing your cards and not finding excuses.

5. Humility (seek additional help and resources)
    The beginning of the end is when we think we know it all.
    To be coachable, it is necessary to have an attitude where you don't know it all and others can help you.
     If you don't ask, you don't get. It's amazing what others will share with you if you ask them respectfully.

6. Passionate (be determined to get better)
     Working on coaching relationship is just as important as working on coaching tasks.

Sketchnote summary:

LinkedIn post:

Twitter post:

Two lessons in Wartime leadership

I first came across this phrase while reading the book- "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" where Ben Horowitz articulates a clear distinction between a Wartime and a Peacetime CEO. It is one thing to read about Wartime leadership & entirely a different one seeing it in action.

Sharing two of my learnings by observing recent events:

1. Be honest and transparent with your team:

Seems like a fundamental thing to do, but it is often the most difficult in times of crisis- when you don't have all the answers.
Mariott CEO Arne Sorenson addressed his employees after the impact of Covid19 on his industry became apparent. This 5 minute speech is a case study in compassionate, authentic leadership. He presents himself as vulnerable yet fully in control of situation.

2. In times of crisis, Speed trumps Perfection:

Dr. Michael Ryan, an authority in handling epidemics said something profound-

Be fast, have no regrets. You must be the first mover. The virus will always get you if you don’t move quickly. Perfection is the enemy of the good when it comes to emergency management. Speed trumps perfection.
Be fast, have no regrets. The problem in society we have at the moment is that everyone is afraid of making a mistake. Everyone is afraid of the consequence of error. But the greatest error is not to move. The greatest error is to be paralysed by the fear of failure. If you need to be right before you move, you will never win. Speed trumps perfection. Perfection is the enemy of good when it comes to emergency responses.

What did these times teach you about #leadership ?

Sketchnote summary:

LinkedIn post:

Twitter Post:

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

[Sketchnote] The Top 10 Deliverables of Product Managers

One could argue, without much disagreements, that most professions (if done right) are hard. So what's so specific about Product Management ? Probably one of the aspects that make it hard is the open-ended nature of the job.

I loved going through Sachin Rekhi's post ( on the subject where he delved deeper into the role of Product Managers and positioned it around the 10 key deliverables. These deliverables are split into 2x2 with each quadrant representing Vision, Strategy, Design and Execution. And these deliverables are:

1. Vision narative
2. Product Walk-through
3. Product/Market Fit Hypotheses
4. Customer Discovery Insights
5. Product Roadmap
6. Product Requirements
7. Metrics Dashboards
8. Team OKRs
9. Decision Rationales
10. Product Wins

Do you agree with this list ? or Is there more to the role? Please share.

For more:
- Blog:
- YouTube:

Sketchnote summary:

LinkedIn post:

Twitter post:

Monday, April 27, 2020

Virtual Book Club: "The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure"

(reproducing the article that i wrote for Citrix newsletter, with some changes)

With the unprecedented times of today demanding that all of Citrix work from home, it’s been a great relief and at the same time a challenge too. A relief because staying at home lends safety not only to us but also for our families and everyone else in the society. It’s a challenge because all of us have been fast-tracked into learning a new skill i.e. how to effectively work from home.

So, what can we do to best simulate the face-to-face interactions and ease of engagement while being at home?

Looking around the slack channels and some related updates, it is evident that the teams are coming up with some great ideas in this context. In my team, Steve Wilson (Vice President, Products) launched a unique initiative called as ‘Virtual Book Club.’ The premise of this initiative was simple- Steve suggested two books to his entire org to read through (both books relevant to team’s charter) and promised a book discussion forum inviting whole of his org. The two chosen books were-The Power of Habit and The 10x Rule.

The one that I took to reading and lead the team discussion was "The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure" (referred to as ‘The 10X Rule’ hereon) and I provide the summary of the same below.

Let’s take a look at some of the stories to begin with:
  • One of my favorite stories from the Olympics is that of an Hungarian shooter named Károly Takács. He was the first shooter to win 2 Olympic gold medals (1948 & 1952). Though winning an Olympic gold is an achievement of highest order but his claim to greatness was not just that. In 1938, when his shooting career was on the rise he lost his right hand (shooting hand) in an accident. Rather than playing a victim, he went back to where he began & started practicing with his left-hand. He continued relentless practice & slowly made his left hand as skillful as his right hand earlier was. Years later won the Olympic glory.
  • Colonel Sanders, who created Kentucky Fried Chicken, pitched his idea more than 80 times before anyone bought the concept.
  • Walt Disney was laughed at for his idea of an amusement park, and yet now people all over the world spend $100 a ticket and save up their whole lives just to have a family vacation at Disney World.

These stories are remarkable examples of human grit, single-mindedness pursuit of excellence but how would you dissect the success that Károly Takács, Colonel Sanders, Walt Disney achieved?

I found an answer in the book ‘The 10X Rule’ duly authored by Grant Cardone.

About 10X Rule:

·        Simply put 10X Rule is: 10X Rule = 10X Goals + 10X Actions

·        You must set targets that are 10 times what you think you want and then do 10 times what you think it will take to accomplish those targets.

·        Average goal setting cannot and will not fuel massive 10X actions.

·        Think massive and broad when setting your goals.

·        Over-commit and Over-deliver: Why not overcommit in your promise — and then exceed by over delivering as well.

About 10X Actions:

·        When it comes to actions, your four choices are:

·        Do nothing

·        Retreat

·        Take normal levels of action

·        Take massive action

·        Compare your actions to having to carry a 1,000 - pound backpack that you will wear every day into a 40 - miles - per - hour wind on a 20-degree upward slope. Prepare for massive, persistent action, and you will win!

·        How do I know if I am doing enough action? If you don't create new problems, then you're not taking enough action.

Pointers to inculcate the 10X Rule:

·        Massive thoughts must be followed by massive actions.

·        Never reduce a target. Instead, increase actions.

·        The extent of desire or hunger to do something:

·        Regardless of what you want to do or be, whether it is to lose 10 pounds, write a book, or become a billionaire

·        Your desire to reach these points is an incredibly important element of doing so.

·        Never act like a victim:

·        The 10X Rule refers to massive amounts of action taken persistently over time.

·        In order to make good things happen more often, you cannot afford to act like a victim.

·        Once you start to approach every situation as someone who is acting — not being acted upon — you will start to have more control over your life.

·        Success is a moral obligation

·        It is our ethical obligation to create success for self, family, company, and our future.

·        Successful individuals approach success as a duty, obligation, and responsibility — and even a right!

·        Success is not something that happens to you; it's something that happens because of you and because of the actions you take.

·        10X Rule and Luck

·        Luck is just one of the byproducts of those who take the most action.

Sketchnote summary:

LinkedIn post:

Twitter post: