Monday, December 11, 2017

Presentation Skills

In my long career, I've attended quite a lot of corporate trainings on presentation skills/soft skills. Some were from the best in industry and some were the routine spend-the-budget types. The trainers come with lot of assessment tests to understand what the individual knows or doesn't know and suggest a ways to improve the skills and excel in communication.

While the ones who have a natural ability to communicate pick up things well and excel, the one's who don't have it can stumble. The most common tip the trainers give is to practice.

Two things can happen. One who has the natural ability take the tips, improve themselves, they put their head/heart/blood everything and when they deliver a speech if almost every cell in their body contributes to the speech, it ends up becoming a NaMo speech. But on the other hand, if someone doesn't have the natural ability and keep only practicing, can end up giving max-to-max a RaGa speech.

Clearly, what can make a big difference is one's inner ability/one's inner self/personality. Now, the ones who are not natural communicators stand at a big disadvantage and if they want to improve, I found that Meditation can be the most simplest and effective method. For, Meditation has the ability to clear one's mind, bring clarity to the thoughts, improve one's observation and give confidence to speak. After all, a good speech is not about using the most complex English words, but it is the ability to capture the pulse of the audience and communicate with them in a way they can correlate. It is the ability to put forward one's thoughts without confusion so that people can understand. Meditation helps do that exactly. How it does? The answer lies in practicing Meditation :-)

Monday, September 4, 2017


I woke up today to learn that India got a woman Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, and she is the first woman to hold a full time Defence Minister portifolio since Independence. The news also buzzed with her attribution of the rapid rise in position to 'cosmic grace’.

A few years ago when Narendra Modi had a thumping victory in 2014 general elections, even in his first ever speech inside the Parliament hall he said - Bhagvan ka Kripa hai, mein ne is chunaav ko jeet paaya. That is after hundreds of rallies, thousands of speeches, years of hard work and preparation, the Prime Minister finally says - I attribute my success to the Divine.

In both these cases, one sees that these personalities very happily chose not to take credit for themselves. One may call it humble, goody goody, down to earth etc etc. But what's the use of doing this? Why not beat their chest for their victories??

The answer is simple. They simply did not want their ego to takeover them. The moment this feeling of - 'I did this’, 'Only because of me this happened’, 'Without me it's not possible’ goes into the head, that's it!! The downfall begins. The word 'I’ is dangerous unless one knows what it is. I am not saying one shouldn't be happy about what they did, take a moment and reflect on the whole thing etc etc, but all I am saying is the I-ness aspect is one easy path to reverse all the fortunes. Thus, the two great personalities chose to simply attribute their victories to an unseen power, the unknown power, the infinity, God. In Hinduism, God is considered the infinite, and as infinite plus something is still infinite, a few credits to the infinity won't change it. The advantage though is, one can save their own Self without falling prey to their ego. And that again helps in achieving greater heights. And more credits, more offering to infinite and more growth, … and so on.

I’ve also seen that people attribute their failures squarely on someone else. They give credits of their success to solely themselves. Both of these approaches don't let them grow. Giving failures to others won't let them introspect where they went wrong, they don't think of growing themselves, fixing their own bugs, think out of the box to prevent a failure next time.
However, if the reverse is done, that is, give one's successes to others or even better, God, and own up the failures, I've seen people improve. They may be having a slow beginning, but their end success is guaranteed. And the whole journey is more peaceful.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

My new learning from NaMo

If there is one person who has been the highest receiver of mud-slinging, it would undoubtedly be NaMo. Right from the start of his political career as a CM, to the recent MCD elections, he was targeted by various people on various issues. Vilification campaigns ran over him for years together. Truly, like he once said, he is the only one with a 56-inch chest who can take it all.

None of this is new information to any person living in India. However, there is one new thing that I learnt from him this time. There is an immature political opponent, who clearly dug his own grave by showing over obsession towards NaMo. Right from day 1, he has targeted NaMo personally and professionally. There were no limits to his madness.

There used to be a series of allegations day in and day out. They were so many that it is natural for anyone to hit back, otherwise, his popularity would decline. People would think that the opponent is correct and he may lose some chunk of his support base to the opponent. But I admire his political wisdom, his farsightedness to adopt a complex yet simple strategy right from day one - to keep quiet.

He kept quiet, he continued to work on his dream for the country, some show benefits already and some are a work in progress. The strategy had two benefits, one, it saved a lot of his time, energy and peace of mind. Second, he let his opponent dance so much that the opponent failed to realize that he was shooting bullets, but just forgot that the gun was pointing towards his own self. The final results are evident.

The biggest learning in all this for me is to know when to keep quiet. NaMo is not just a Prime Minister, he is an inspiration - to me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Kids and Instructions

I've been waiting to write this post from a long time and finally got some time to do.

Of late I've been observing myself the way I give instructions to my 5 year old son. I give him an ice cream and "son, make sure you don't drop it on yourself". I give him juice in a glass container and "son, hold it tight, else you may drop it down and it will break". I give him X and "check if Y can happen" and so on. All of this happens unconsciously, no effort put.

While I think it is completely normal to caution him, the worst part I've observed is that I do it every time I gave him an ice cream or a glass of juice or ..., unconsciously. It is out of care, out of concern that he should not get messed up for sure, but when I put myself on the receiving end, I felt it is such a boring thing to keep getting instructed. And then, I made an effort to make sure I don't repeat the instructions. And guess what, it actually works. He definitely remembers it, he is cautious, he knows that the ice cream after a while starts dripping and takes enough care to not get messed up. If he can't handle, he seeks help. So, it's actually useless to keep telling him again and again. Of course, it is required if he forgets it, but most of the time he doesn't.

This observation not only made me relax but also helped me realize that he is growing up. He is not just five, he is old enough to do things by his own and I think I need to let him do it on his own terms. He may do it or he may not, but surely I don't need to police him every time.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Untold Stories - 4

We all know how Mahatma Gandhi was thrown out of a whites only first class coach at South Africa and this incident started a career that culminated in India getting its freedom. I wanted to cover an untold story of why The Mahatma went to South Africa at all, what exactly happened there and how it shaped his life.

Indians first went to South Africa as labourers. They struggled a lot amidst cruel terms of labour, racist atmosphere and poor living conditions. Some returned to India while some stayed back. In 1863, Abubaker Jhavary, with his hard work and business mind was able to prosper well and soon started exporting fish back to India in his own fleet of ships. This set off a new wave of passenger Indians, mostly from Gujarat and Mumbai. They soon started flourishing and established themselves well.

This was concerning to the Parliament members who introduced new acts which took away the rights of people to purchase lands and can also restrict them for purposes of sanitation.

A year after arriving in South Africa, Gandhiji, as a barrister, decided to devote himself to this cause and started writing petitions and memoranda to promote public understanding. Gandhiji and his colleagues were put in prison. Strikers were leaderless. Many people were prisoned, some were beaten and some were even killed. But the strikers remained firm and disciplined. They did not deviate from non-violence. Gandhiji later recalled that the whole community rose like a wave.

After spending 21 years in South Africa, Gandhiji sailed back to India. That time was instrumental in transforming him and giving perspective to his philosophy of life.

Fast forward, at an occasion when APJ Kalam met Nelson Mandela, Mandela told, 'Mr President, you sent us a barrister and we returned you a Mahatma.'

-- Inspired from Transcendence by APJ Kalam.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


This Dasara is a special one for me. Usually on this day, I bought new clothes, visited the pandals, worshiped Devi and came back home. Thanks to my not-so-orthodox family, I never did it the authentic way.

This year, a day before Navratri has even begun, something drew my attention to this page on The Art of Living website. It gave complete details on what Dasara means, what to do, what not to do and why should one do whatever has to be done. With all that knowledge, I decided to do it the proper way this time. Before I get into details of what I exactly did, let me touch upon the significance.

In short, we all know that we celebrate this occasion to mark the victory of Goddess over the demons or put in another way the victory of good over evil. In a subtle context, it also means to get rid of the negative qualities in one's own Self to come out feeling refreshed and elevated. This can be done by
a) Observing Silence as much as possible, not too much chitter-chatter -> to give a break to the mind
b) Going low on food and having light food -> to detoxify and give a break to the body
c) Meditation -> to connect with one's own Self
d) Chanting -> to calm and purify the mind.
All of this has to be done for nine continuous days.

I geared up to do this and there comes a barrier even before I start. The first day of Navratri is our CEO visit to office where usually massive and delicious buffet is served to all. I am now divided, should I go and have the buffet or stick to the Navratri plan and not eat anything but fruits on day 1. Then struck our dear Prime Minister Narendra Modi's act exactly an year back. He was at The White House where a much large scale buffet prepared by World class Chef's was served and he hit headlines by just having lime juice since he was strictly observing Navratri fast. He stood tall and gave me enough inspiration to skip the buffet. Day 1 was very tiring, but I also went low on talking to others, sticking to self by Chanting and Meditation. They all worked so well on me that each passing day made me feel more light and energetic even though I was going low on my diet. Ironic isn't it. But very true. I had very less food, but still remained energetic(rational thinkers .. ehu ehu.. :P).

Even though it was my first attempt, I am proud to say that I successfully finished all the things that I wanted to do on all nine days. This is of course with the support from my wife. She did bear a quiet husband for nine days and prepared upvaas food. It was new for her too :-)

Happy Dasara to all.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

National Anthem

I recently watched a video of a very nice composition of our National Anthem by the children of a school. The children have not only sung it beautifully but also explained the meaning through charts.

My 3 year old son started watching it repeatedly. I am proud to say that he started singing it in few days time. Not just that, he started asking me the meaning of each line. If you are the Parent of a curious child, be prepared. :-) I leaked the question paper for you.

This reminds me of a viewpoint that spread through the minds of many Indians like a virus. The viewpoint is that Tagore had written The Anthem in praise of a British Ruler and not really his Motherland and hence he had received the Noble prize. We Indians blindly sing it without knowing this secret and that Jawahar Lal Nehru had a role in all this. The viewpoint has all the necessary elements to draw the attention of the crowd and the listeners would be in a state of confusion not able to accept it or reject it, for it is the lovable Anthem that they had been singing right from their childhood.

Fortunately, the viewpoint is only a virus. Let me explain. The Anthem opens with lines which mean "Oh, the ruler of all minds, victory to you. You are the dispenser of destiny of India." This beautiful praise can go to no one other than God himself. No British ruler or King or Queen can rule the minds of India. In fact, people that time fighting for Independence did not want a Britisher to rule their mind. So by no means the Praise is attributed to the British. If you are one of the confused, relax and proudly sing the Anthem as usual. If you get to hear the virus, kill it right in the bud by explaining the meaning.

Lastly, here is the translation of The Anthem for your reference:

Here is the full version of Jana Gana Mana, consisting of five stanzas:

We usually sing the first stanza as Our National Anthem.