Wednesday 7 December 2016

"After all is said and done, more is said than done."

It is pretty easy to talk. 
It is pretty easy to make promises. 
It is pretty easy to say you will do it.

Although we say "Action speaks louder than words," it is quite evident that there are just too many words being thrown around everywhere. We are lost in a sea of words. Sometimes I ask myself if this is a hopeless situation. And then I ask myself what is the challenge and what is the solution to it.

Words have a great impact. When you use the right words in the right context, they are a very powerful tool. But when the words lack follow up action, they cease to continue being powerful, they just seem so hollow. Only making promises can get you the initial support, but the moment people realise that you were only loud but just full of air, they will withdraw all favourable thoughts about you.

Let us consider a hypothetical situation. Your boss tells you that s/he will get you another team member as the workload is getting higher. You feel happy and put in extra effort to support the team till the new team member joins. A month passes and still no sign of the new member. You talk to your boss and s/he says that interviews are on and soon someone would be selected. Another month passes by. You get the same reply from your boss. After another month you have got used to the extra work, and the new team member is nowhere in sight. You feel that s/he just talks and doesn't deliver. There is a loss of trust.

On another occasion the boss promises to bring in a new team member and keeps his/her word. You believe in your boss. The next time s/he says something or makes a commitment you have complete faith in him/her.

I have met numerous salespeople who make false claims and people who have deceived me. I have lost trust in them and have never purchased anything from them hence. But a few convinced me with good faith and excellent communication. They have not used false claims but used the truth to convince me. I continue buying from them. I have learnt a lot from them.

In one experience of mine, one team member reporting to me wanted a soft board in the training room. As a trainer she wanted to do some activities which involved pinning some papers on the soft board. I promised it will be done. It took me some coaxing for my boss to approve the budget and I got the soft board installed. She was elated. It was unbelievable to note that she became many times more committed in her work than before. Was it the soft board?

"After all is said and done, more is said than done." But the day when you at least do what you say, you will find the difference it makes. 

Don't make promises that you cannot keep. 
Don't make false claims. 
Don't just talk and not take action.

Let your actions do more talking than your tongue.

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Purpose and Passion - what they mean in Leadership

When I look at ants I think of a clear sense of purpose. Have you ever noticed that they try to find and carry the biggest possible pieces of food? In fact, when one ant finds it challenging to carry a big chunk, other ants move in to help. The alignment is extraordinary, and no matter what the obstacle, they are ready to move over, under and around every possible block that they find on the way. And they all move towards their destination.

What drives these ants? They have a clear purpose. They have to save the food for difficult times. The purpose is the greatest reward that makes them work with passion.

Passion makes you perform your tasks well, maybe even to the best of your abilities. And what makes you passionate is the purpose.

Leaders have a clear purpose. I am not getting into vision or long-term or short-term goals here. I am looking at anything you do - you may want to achieve some goals in 10 years or some by tomorrow. Is the purpose clear? If it is, it means you know 'why' you are doing what you are doing. The 'why' is something you can relate to and something that makes you passionate to achieve that goal.

Imagine, as a leader, you make the purpose absolutely clear for your team members. What does that do to them? Do you take the time and effort to make the purpose clear for them? Can they relate to the purpose? Can you create an alignment with the purpose and their interests and thoughts? This is what is the fundamental step for a leader. Once the purpose is clear and aligned, passion takes over. Passion is the bye-product of making the purpose clear.

Monday 11 July 2016

The 3 Side Effects of Learning Presentation Skills

Imagine a person is unable to present very well. The body language is not good, the voice is not modulated or even the content does not have a good structure. So you send this person to learn and improve her/his presentation skills. However, in a training program, are these the only points that a person would learn? No!

In more than a decade of experience I have observed that a participant in a presentation skills program learns much more. The takeaways are much higher. In fact, I believe that the other learning points have a stronger impact in the performance of the individual.

Let us look at three key points:

1. Confidence
This is the most important development. The person who corrects her/his body language and voice modulation and also can now build better content in the presentation naturally feels more confident about herself/himself. Secondly, the multiple practices of speaking in front of an audience improve the confidence level of the person and help in reducing fear of public speaking. This confidence then can be applied in other areas of work and life.

2. Teamwork
You might not have thought this could be a learning point in a presentation skills training program. But it depends on the design of the training program. In my training design, for example, I include team presentations. This has a lot of benefits. The individual now has help and support for encouragement, feedback and learning from each other. Teamwork means a lot of different skills like cooperation, communication with each other, working towards a common goal and such others. While preparing and presenting with the team, these learning points are intrinsic and extra takeaways.

3. Networking & Interpersonal Relationship Building
If the audience consists of people from different departments or groups, this is a great opportunity to network and build good relationships. We tend to get a very different perspective on the same point from a person who works in a different field. This is important to help us move out of an uni-directional mode of thinking. Connecting with people from other departments also helps in building better relationships and makes inter-departmental coordination smoother and more efficient and effective.

Thursday 23 June 2016

7 Reasons Why I Closed My Start-up

This is not a sad story, although I cannot really comment whether it is a happy one. But whatever I cannot describe I call it an interesting experience. Was it easy for me to take the decision to close? Of course not! But I am happy that I took the decision. I will tell you why.

1. “Maya” – you aren’t controlling me, please

Remember that girl/boy in college who you swooned over; who then walked away with some other friend of yours and left you in the lurch with only imagination and despair? And then you became the drunk and drug addict and lost your way? Okay, maybe you did not go that far. But something made you keep thinking about that person.

Or perhaps that favorite dress of yours which is not “wearable” anymore, but you just cannot throw it away. You can keep it for some more time. Who knows what future has in store for you. What if you suddenly become poor and you are unable to purchase new clothes? You could then wear this favorite dress of yours!

Ask a person who has to close down a startup and he will give you a million reasons why it should not be closed. What I so passionately built up for 5 years cannot be just closed? I mean, what about all the hard work and strategizing and the hundreds of cups of coffee that went into it?

Finally one day I remembered that girl in college and that shirt I did not want to throw away. I told “Maya” that she cannot control me anymore. I learnt how to let go.

2. Whoever said business is better than jobs is an idiot

This does the rounds a lot. Believe me. A lot of people are in awe of people who quit their jobs and started business. Entrepreneurship is attractive.

While I am definitely not saying that entrepreneurship is not good, I have enjoyed every bit of it for so many years, it is talked about as better than doing a job. That is where perceptions go wrong. The most common reason people give for business being better is that it gives you freedom from having a boss and you can do things your own way. What most people don’t understand is that a business is also like a job. You have a set of tasks to do and goals to achieve. Yes, the appraisal is in your hands, the better you perform the better your business results. And that is your achievement.

Entrepreneurs cannot define tasks only in one area or department. They have to have a good overview and participate in different areas of work. I have had to build the strategy to marketing and financial work as well as my core work of design and development of learning interventions. I have even worked on digital marketing, website building and cold calling. Now if you want to focus on one department or one area of work, you would probably be better off in a job with a requisite job description or perhaps be adventurous and be an independent consultant. This second part is specifically what drew me out of business and into consultancy in my core area.

3. Doesn’t matter if my peers are millionaires already

Hey, many people told me that business means you’ve got to make a lot of money, else what is the point? I said that money for me should be a by-product of my good work. I want to concentrate on my quality of work. Yes, many of my friends in jobs earn a lot compared to me and I have invested so much time, money and effort in setting up my start up. It is tough to think that I would now close down what I put everything into.

It took a little convincing for me to stop thinking that I too could have earned a lot of money in a job for all these years. The human mind it is, takes will power to control it. But neither those jobs nor the money could have helped me learn what I have learnt and they would not take me where I want to go. I am happy taking my next step. I am happy that I get to do what I decide. It is my life, and it is different from my friends.

4. I know how to accept failure and comments from wretched creatures

Have I failed in my years of running the business? Of course yes! So many endeavors and so many failures were part of the journey. There are always those extra smart ones who know-it-all and then tell you mean things about your failures. They are also always there to advise you on what “you should have done” to avoid the failures.

I remember many such people in my life. Right from the time when I was in college to the time when I was struggling to begin my career to the times when I took the decision to quit my job and start my business, there have been these creatures that turned up from nowhere to turn me off with their comments.
The best part is that they were good educators. They taught me that there would be failures and these creatures would remind you of your mistakes. They have taught me how to deal with failures and how to deal with them.

I have got so used to these wretched creatures that I keep telling others to beware of these pundits. I have learnt how to accept failures and how to deal with success too. So these creatures did not have any effect on me when I announced the closure of my start-up.

5. I was just doing monotonous work after all

This is one of the things that I loathe – monotony at work, or perhaps in anything in life. I am creative, I like changes and I like to keep moving and running at my own sweet pace. But I do not like standing still. When I began my start-up I had a lot of challenging things to do. Every day was a new day with new ideas. What happened later was that the tasks were all chalked out and the same things were to be done again and again. Send those emails, make those calls, and deliver the same training programs.

Not everything was monotonous though. Many things were interesting and drew a lot out of me in terms of creativity and effort. So I decided that I should get rid of the monotonous work and instead do only what excites me. The choice is mine, so I have taken the decision. Who cares what the world says? It is my life!

6. I started thinking about money

This was not me. Somebody had advised me that if you want to become a successful businessman you have to think about money as a major objective. But if that was not the kind of person I was, what would I do?
I realized in the last few years that my mind started moving to the “business” part of work more than the creative part. I salute and respect those entrepreneurs who love the business part, and those who like it and do it well should definitely continue with it. However, this was not my cup of tea.

When I started thinking more about the turnover and the costs and how to manage the financial part I got drawn away from all that I loved doing. It is like getting sucked into a whirlpool and I did not even realize it for quite some time. But when I did understand this part I told myself that I needed to think about this. The thinking led to the decision! Close. Do something else. Do what you love.

7. The destination is more important than the vehicles you travel in

If you don’t like “gyan” don’t read further. Because that is exactly what the next few lines may sound like. But I am honest with what I am expressing here. I believe in focusing on the destination. I have to get there. I may need only one vehicle, or multiple ones to reach there. However, what is important is that I move towards my destination. So if I am in a vehicle now that has brought me in the direction of my destination but will now turn towards another way, I have to get off and get into another one.

Just as we physically travel to some destinations, we can think of life and its goals the same way.

So there you go, you now know the 7 reasons. For me the 7th reason seems very realistic when I think of my journey. I have hopped off a vehicle and now getting into a new one. Don’t wish me luck; just delve into your life and your present vehicle right now. Do some soul searching and take responsibility for your decisions. Whatever happens, whoever says whatever, at the end of the day it is your life.

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Dream Learn Act Achieve is a step by step procedure that gives you a thorough understanding of higher self-worth, confidence and self-belief. Take complete control over every aspect of your personal and professional life. Success is just a few steps away!

Friday 4 March 2016

Wow! Can this be done in Health Care?!

I want to see a lot of changes in the healthcare systems. I like to think of breakthrough technology and facilities. But let me share with you what I was visualising today regarding healthcare operations. I will explain this with the help of two scenarios.

Scenario 1
The doctor is at the bedside of the patient. He checks the patient’s condition and wants to prescribe some medicines. He takes out his iPad and opens the hospital’s application. After a few touches on the screen he reaches the patient’s profile. He types the names of the medicines and prescribes the dosage. Once done he moves on.

The moment the doctor has completed his prescription, the information reaches many stakeholders, including the nursing team and the pharmacy. The pharmacy has robots that are synced with the application and the data fed into it. The medicines prescribed by the doctor are immediately picked up by the robot and placed into the tray. The medicines are then sucked into a chute system which are connected to all the beds. This one goes straight through and onto the medicine tray at the bedside of the patient who the doctor had just prescribed the medicine for.

The nursing team has immediately been notified of the medicine and dosage and also are notified when the medicines arrive in the medicine tray of the patient.

Scenario 2
Each person is wearing a smartwatch. The smartwatch has an application that is always live and monitoring the heart rate and other aspects of the person’s health.

Say a person has a heart attack. The application in the smartwatch picks it up and immediately sends a code blue. The nearest ambulance and hospital are notified. The ambulance can see the location of the person and the profile of the person – like name, address, health records, and such others. The ambulance moves to the location while the hospital prepares to receive the patient. The application also notifies the emergency contact people of the person who is having a heart attack. The ambulance begins the basic life support and takes the person to the hospital.

Scenario 3
The doctor hits “discharge” to let the patient go as she is fit to go back home. That triggers auto generation of bills at the billing counter. Payments can be made online through the application in the phone by the patient or her family immediately or cash deposited at the billing counter. The medication schedule to be followed after discharge is updated in the application as well as a printout goes with the discharge summary. In one step the patient has completed discharge formalities and can go home.

Imagine what else can be done. Believe me, all of this is possible with the technology that we already have. It just requires some innovation and building of modern infrastructure. What ideas do you have?