As I type this blog I have completed 18 months in this amazing country and in the beautiful city of Chicago. As per plan I have the option to exit in 6 or 12 months. I will choose the latter for a variety of reasons – mainly to be closer home to family who feels my presence closer to where they live makes a difference.
In the past one and a half year I have gained so much in the people I have met, the places I have visited and the experiences I have had. In the next 25 weeks there is a lot more to be done. Professionally, I will move to my fourth and final rotation and also undertake to important journeys within the Americas – to the North (Canada: Victoria) and to the South (Brazil: Rio). I will also visit a few more American cities on the three upcoming long weekends – Charlotte for Memorial Day, Philadelphia for Independence day and Houston for Labor Day.
There could be repeat trips to 5 cities I have already been to meet three dear friends and to attend a global summit and these will be Washington DC, San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Miami. There could be one trip to East England to soak in the Fall colors and a trip to India for PRAXIS, a couple of months before the final move. All in all it has been an awesome ride in of learning, sharing and leading.
PS - For friends in Chicago I only have 3 weekends in June (15, 22, 29) and all weekends in August and October in the Windy City.
When I set out into the professional world a decade ago I realised that I’m obligated to create my own Personal Social Responsibility plan to help leave the world a better place than it was when I came into it. This period coincided with an important turning point in my life – the loss of my mother. Thus was born a foundation in her memory to symbolically support 7* individuals every year and this number can go up.
*The 7 include 2 kids in Shillong who are born with speech and hearing impairments to the poorest of the poor, 4 different students who excel in academia in my hometown from the two schools my mother was associated with and a teacher in the state of Karnataka who has contributed greatly to the field of education.
As I complete the first decade of my professional life I decided to give back to my profession and support the community of professionals at different stages of their career and thus was born another foundation which does four things – a) brings together annually fellow professionals to share and learn from each other (PRAXIS), b) honours 5 to 6 professionals in different stages of their career ladder – PRizes (The Scholarship, the proposed ABC and ICG prize, the proposed prize for the emerging leader and the Hall of Fame), c) helps professionals meet in their own cities at least twice a year (PRonto) and brings out an online newsletter with views and news (PRism). All these are interconnected and further the cause of free and fair public communications. So none of these make money but in the long run will inspire a generation to contribute formally and in a structured manner to causes.
Finally, the third Foundation which is still in its early stages of conceptualisation and will take off in mid 2014. This will be different things to different people and will focus on Youth Empowerment (through Indian Youth Movement, India Ideas Week, India Youth Summit), Poverty Alleviation (through the house of peace, hose of plenty and the house of prayer) and Project Backbone (targeting children 6 to 9 and senior citizens 60 to 90 – the grandkids and the grandparents to live a fuller life of fearlessness rooted in a culture of giving and sharing.
So why am I sharing all this year? Simply, because if it can inspire and create a chain of positive reactions and more ideas why not? Plus, if it leads to greater collaboration, then nothing like it.
[also because I wanted this out before I take a mini sabbatical from blogging and microblogging to do some fun things over the next 6 months - will be here but sporadically until end September. During this period I plan to trips to India, visits to two new countries in the Americas, do couple of courses - online and offline and complete one of two books before I leave the US as per plan around Spring 2014]
There are three scenarios that can emerge in 2014 or whenever the next General Elections take place. Which one would you like if these were hypothetical portfolios in each of the scenarios -
Prime Minister – P Chidambaram
Defence Minister – Anand Sharma
Home Minister – Digvijaya Singh
Finance Minister – Jairam Ramesh
External Affairs Minister – Salman Khurshid
Prime Minister – Arun Jaitley
Defence Minister – Jaswant Singh
Home Minister – Narendra Modi
Finance Minister – Yashwant Sinha
External Affairs Minister – Sushma Swaraj
Funny Front [Supported by one of the bigger parties and consisting of JDU, TMC, DMK, BJD (NDA1 allies minus BJP)]
Prime Minister – Nitish Kumar
Defence Minister – TR Baalu
Home Minister – Jay Panda
Finance Minister – NK Singh
External Affairs Minister – Derek OBrien
I get asked this quite often as to what keeps me going. I’m at times rattled by this question because it makes me feel as if I’m the only one going while the others are stagnant. But on deeper thinking I realise the people who ask me this question have known me for a long period of time or know me close enough in a short period of time and want to know how I wear multiple hats of friend, philosopher, guide and full time employee.
Well, I decided to jot down 9 things that I have cultivated in the last 9 years that help me motivate my self and sometimes inspire others. These are all learnings from my interactions with other individuals, experiences from wide travels and exposure to interesting reading material. None of these are sacrosanct and to each their own.
a) Live the Moment – While long term planning is great live each day as if it were the last
b) No Expectations - In simple terms this is about preparing for the worst, hoping for the best and taking what comes. It also is about not being greedy and
c) Compete with Yourself - Those who compete with others have lost it before it has begun. I proudly compete with none but myself and therefore have never had a single sleepless night ever in my life among other things
d) Sixteen Hours a day to do it all - Don’t complain that 24 hours in a day are not enough but rather say all we have is 16 and the 8 are bonus to sleep
e) Travel Teacher – Nothing teaches you like visiting new places, exposure to new cultures, tasting of new cuisines
f) Never Regret – The easiest way to take decisions is to think if you would regret it five or ten years ahead
g) Be Curious – The day we stop asking questions we stop learning and starts the beginning of the end
h) Respect All – I make friends quicker with lift men and office boys because there in lies the simplicity of life
i) Have Fun – While doing all of the above don’t forget the mandatory rule and that is the toughest of them all
Except for traveling none of these cost too much money and none of them is difficult to practice. So live your happy life today by creating your own mantras or adopting some of these. My life revolves around these and I believe I’m the happiest man.
Short code – http://bit.ly/APmantras
In my 25 years of being exposed to electoral politics I have come to realise how important it is for every eligible citizen to vote. Unless one votes he or she has no business questioning the leadership that governs. An argument that I supported for a while was why vote when the options are a saffron devil and a blue devil but I found out I was wrong about that in more ways than one.
There are three duties that make adult citizens a fundamental part of the democratic process – voting, paying taxes and voicing an opinion in that order. Unless one does all these three we have no right to participate in a fruitful discourse. I regret not being able to vote in two central (2004 and 2009) and two state (2004 and 2008) elections because I was away from the city where I’m a registered voter and could not afford to travel for the elections.
But this time I will not let affordability come in the way as I have saved flying miles to be in my hometown on Election Day*. People may laugh at this proposition or question if I am being funded by a party or blowing up money meaninglessly. Incidentally, I will also get to see my family during this visit which is an added bonus and gives the trip an added reason to be worthwhile.
Maybe if there were no elections I would have had to wait till September to see my loved ones. But most importantly, I would have done my duty, enjoyed the joy of voting and be in a better position to question the leadership that will govern. Somethings are precious – democracy, family+friends and freedom and we take all these for granted.
May 5th is election day in Karnataka and I will be there in person to exercise my franchise.
We often don’t realise the basic rules involved in Going Dutch. The west gets it very well and in India the concept is still evolving. The most common situations that the need to Go Dutch arises is when one is on a date, one is out on a formal lunch meeting and when one is out with friends.
This blog is for those moments when we are with friends because there are umpteen articles available for the first two scenarios. My experience tells me and the fact that most food and beverage outlets provide separate bills for alcohol and food. The best way to deal with it is to split the food cost equally among number of people and divide the alcohol cost between those who drank or based on individual consumption.
Going Dutch is different from Pot Luck because in the latter people plan in advance who brings what and there is usually no involvement of a cash transaction at the end of the meal. We often think we should not be paying as much as the other person because we just ate a salad where as all the others had a three course meal. But that is a warped argument because food is the reason we are there and meeting one another is secondary (One may argue to say this is the opposite and that meeting is the primary objective and food is just incidental – in that case meeting at a restaurant or with restaurant food that some pay for is not justified).
I write this blog because we are often faced with awkward situations that can be delicate and we don’t know the way out or find the wrong way out. The rule is simple. Whether you ate one gram of food or a whole lot the decent thing to do is to pay up equally or not be part of a gathering.
The same rule can be applied to alcoholic consumption though the common practice is that either each pays for their own unless it is someone’s treat and they are footing the entire bill. Well, it is even worse when one is the host and does not want to pay the bill because he or she is fasting. Why offer to host in that case?
I happened to be invited my the Global COO of a company for lunch once and at the end of the meal he got me to pay. No wonder he is the Global COO. This is not a crib blog but just a piece of etiquette for a process that one can refer to from time to time.