Posted in Leadership

Book Recommendation – Bridgital Nation

I bought this book a few months ago when we had the opportunity to listen to the man himself, Mr. Chandra, Chairman of the Board of Tata Sons at an event hosted by Cathy Bessant, the Chief Operation & Technology Officer at Bank of America. When two such stalwarts come together for a fireside chat then the range of topics and the depth of discussion is mesmerising. 

During the session Mr. Chandra mentioned about this book and its contents. I promptly ordered the same from Amazon. This book has a wealth of insights specific to the problems faced by India and he points out with examples how India can leapfrog from where it is today by the prudent use of technology and automation.

In the current scenario the book becomes even more relevant as India tries to evolve as a business and manufacturing hub. He points out that if there is support from government in the form of policy then by the right use of technology we can overcome the many challenges currently facing India and that may take a longer time to solve if we go the traditional route. 

He has given examples that we all can relate to and used a language which is easy to understand, without the use of too much jargon. It is a must read for anyone who wants to understand India’s current challenges and aspires to be part of the solution in some way or the other. 

Posted in Life Gyan

7 Ways to Read More Books Each Year

Most people I speak to these days lament that they hardly find time to read books. Even though they somehow start one, the progress is negligible. And the time gap between two successive times when they reach for the book is so large that they have to re-read a few of the previous pages just to refresh where they left off last time. I am sure by now you are nodding in agreement and smiling. 

So here are a few easy hacks that you can adopt to increase the number of books that you manage to read each year. These hacks recommend small changes that are easy to make and will help you connect with your passion of reading books in newer ways. 

  1. Make your environment more reading friendly – Make it easier to read books – (1) have books easily accessible at your favourite places in your home especially near your bed (2) Keep the distractions away like leave the ubiquitous smartphone at a little distance from your bed
  2. Carry your book(s) along – that way you will always have a book handy when you are travelling in cabs or standing in queue or waiting for a friend
  3. Read more than one book at a time. Not everyone can do this but if you have the appetite you can read multiple books from completely different topics in parallel. It is a great way to add variety to your reading and also helps complete difficult to read books
  4. Talk about books with others – share stories & recommendations
  5. Post book reviews social media or your own blog once you have completed the book
  6. Make time to actually read the book rather than turning to the smart phone every time you get some free time.
  7. Have a goal to read at least 15 min each day and this one habit alone will be enough to get to your reading goal.
Posted in Life Gyan

Life’s Little Instructions

“Life’s Little Instructions”  –  This is the title of one of my favourite books. This book was originally written by H. Jackson Brown. The Complete Life’s Little Instruction Book contains the 1,560 entries found in all three volumes of the New York Times Bestselling Life’s Little Instruction Book series.

This book like other books does not contain a story or a lot of text. It is a collection of one or two line sentences which originally were written as a gift from a father to a son, however its simplicity and practical advice is so appealing that it has been enjoyed by men and women of all ages. Even the lines on the cover page after the title reads…

Suggestions, Observations and Reminders on
How to Live a Happy and Rewarding Life.

My Story

I love reading and I first read this book during my college days. I was so inspired by its simplicity and relevance that I decided to gift one copy of this book to each of my friends as a parting gift towards the end of college. Though you may agree that it was a good idea but I was in college and had limited resources. I did not have enough money to buy a copy each for my friends.

To say that inspite of this shortcoming I was still determined would be an understatement. I wanted to share this treasure with my near and dear ones so badly that I decided to reproduce the whole text…manually.

I realised that it was not possible to write so many copies with hand so the other option would be to get it done on a computer. I am taking about the year 1998 in India and not many people would own a computer like today. I did not have one too.

But to my good fortune, one of my close friends Suyog Hebbar, who was pursuing Computer Science Engineering, had a desktop. And the icing on the cake was that he shared the apartment with me. So I discussed this idea with him and used his computer to key in the contents patiently. Slowly over a period of few days I was able to complete the typing, designed the cover page and saved it to a floppy disk for printing.

In those days mostly everyone used the dot-matrix printers. However I wanted a better print quality. So I decided to get one printed from the printing shop. I knew that Inkjet printing was very costly those days and as students we had limited funds for our monthly expenses. So all I could afford was one copy. Using this as the master copy I got multiple other copies xeroxed (photostat) and got them spiral bound and then gifted a copy to many of my friends with the hope that the gift would be valued not for its cost or beauty but for the content and underlying effort and feelings.

One such copy I also gave to my sister and she recently shared the cover page of the same with me which I am reproducing below.

After reading all this with patience you might be wondering what really is inside the covers of the book. So let me share a few of my favourite “Life Little Instructions” below. As you read these, pause for a moment before you move on to the next one.

Compliment three people every day.

Watch a sunrise at least once a year.

Remember other people’s birthdays.

Have a firm handshake.

Life is short.
Eat more pancakes and fewer rice cakes.

Sing in the shower.

Use the good silver.

Buy great books, even if you never read them.

Say “thank you” a lot.

Say “please” a lot.

Plant flowers every spring.

Be the first to say “hello.

Live beneath your means.

Drive inexpensive cars,
but own the best house you can afford.

Be forgiving of  yourself and others.

Learn the rules.
Then Break Some.

Learn three clean jokes.

Wear polished shoes.

Ask for a raise when you feel you’ve earned it.

If in a fight,
hit first and hit hard.

Return all the things you borrow.

Teach some kind of class.

Be a student in some kind of class.

Plant a tree on your birthday.

Make new friends
but cherish the old ones.

Keep secrets.

Take lots of snapshots. 

Never give up on anyone.
Miracles happen everyday.

Don’t waste time learning the “tricks of the trade.”
Instead, learn the trade.

Surprise loved ones with little unexpected gifts.

Stop blaming others.
Take responsibility for every area of your life.

Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring and integrity, they think of you.

Use your wit to amuse, not abuse.

Be brave. Even if  you’re not, pretend to be.
No one can tell the difference.

Demand excellence and be willing to pay for it.

Don’t take good health for granted.

Someone will always be looking at you as an example of how to behave. Don’t disappoint.

Write “thank you” notes promptly.

If you haven’t read this book already, I strongly recommend you to try it. If you have read it long ago, you may gain some new insights by reviewing it again. Happy reading !

Posted in Life Gyan

Change Your Attitude – to Change Your Life !

This post is slightly longer but it is immensely valuable and I assure you it is well worth you time. After reading the entire post you will thank yourself for taking the time to read it completely. 

Here is a summary of the book and key points “Attitude is Everything” by Jeff Keller.

The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind – William James.

Biography

Jeff was a lawyer who changed his profession to become a motivational speaker. The key was wanting to share the message of being able to transform one’s life through the power of thought.Never underestimate your power to change yourself (H. Jackson Brown Jr). It starts with a decision to have a better life – take a stand. 

The book is divided in 3 sections “Think….Speak….Act”.

“Think” – success starts in the mind. “Speak” – how your attitude is reflected and influenced by language, watch your words. “Act” – the need to act to create a new reality.

Part 1 : Success begins in the mind

Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success (Dr Joyce Brothers).

Lesson 1: Your attitude is your window on the world. 

Why at the same event, do some people see it as a disaster yet someone else at the same event sees it as great – different experiences as seeing the world through a different window (attitude). Attitude; difference of seeing the world as “I Can” versus “I Cannot”. Everyone starts with a clean mental window. As you grow, so the window gets splattered with dirt – smudged with criticism; soiled with disappointment; clouded by doubt. Dirt just keeps building up, the trouble is often the window is not cleaned – wash your window! It is your job to keep your window clean. It is a choice, look through a dirty window or through a clean window – and this choice has consequences. A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes (Hugh Downs).

Success is applying various principles (which we look at later); however none of the principles can be activated without a clean window (positive attitude) – hence attitude is everything!

Lesson 2: You’re a human magnet

The secret is found in six words: We become what we think about Dominant thoughts rule the day. Nurture your mind with great thoughts (Benjamin Disraeli). The key is you are pulled in the direction of your DOMINANT thought pattern. Thought precedes action. Your beliefs have brought you to where you are and your circumstances reflect what you have been thinking about. If your thoughts don’t change, your results won’t change.

Repetition is the key. Everyday read something positive and uplifting. Everyday listen to a motivational cassette. Change your thinking and you change your life. Nobody succeeds beyond his or her wildest expectations unless he or she begins with some wild expectations (Ralph Charell).
It will not happen overnight, just keep moving in a constant direction with effort, commitment and patience.

Lesson 3: Picture your way to success

You must first clearly see a thing in your mind before you can do it (Alex Morrison). Imagination is more important than knowledge (Albert Einstein). Visualisation is simply mental movies. Take responsibility for your own movies. Change the meaning of old movies. Facts cannot change, but you can change the interpretation/meaning of old movies. Consciously choose to view previous situations that made you feel smaller than you are, differently.Create new pictures, your mind is too stupid to know the difference. Picture your success; repetition. You have control over the pictures that occupy your mind. Relax and involve your senses. Do this several minutes everyday. Write a cheque to yourself. If you can dream it, you can do it (Walt Disney).

It works both ways. Keep negative thoughts or prompts away – what does the sticker do to you if you see it on your car several times everyday “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go”. Change the meaning of old movies and develop empowering new movies.

Lesson 4: Make a commitment and you’ll move mountains

This is the willingness to do whatever it takes. Read this again. If it takes 5 steps, then I’ll do it. If it takes 55 steps, I’ll do it….
The key is that often you do not have to know exactly how you will achieve your goal; just that you will commit to getting there – doors somehow open; trust life and commit. With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable (Sir Thomas Buxton). A champion is always prepared to go one more round. One person with commitment is worth more than 100 people who have only an interest (Mary Cowley). Always be prepared to do whatever it takes – if you are not, don’t start.

Lesson 5: Turn your problems into opportunities

Problems. Don’t complain and who said life is fair. Look for the opportunity in every problem. The road to success often travels through adversity. No pressure, no diamonds (Mary Case). Disappointments are often blessings in disguise. The things which hurt, instruct (Benjamin Franklin). Frustration creates energy, direct it.

How does adversity serve us? It gives us perspective on what is important in life; it teaches us to be grateful; it brings out hidden potential; teaches us valuable lessons; builds confidence and self-esteem when overcome; opens new doors. Most importantly it encourages us to make changes and take action!

Part 2 : Watch your words

Repeat anything often enough and it will start to become you (Tom Hopkins).

Lesson 6: Your words blaze a trail

Your words have incredible power.
Thoughts > Words > Beliefs > Actions > Results and a destiny

In words are seen the state of mind, character and disposition of the speaker (Plutarch). Watch your words! Never discuss your goals with negative people. Stating and discussing goals creates commitment and accountability. The people who always talk about lack of money generally don’t accumulate much of it. Watch the emotion and impact on your body by the actual words used eg difference between “furious/livid” and peeved/annoyed” – lowers the emotional intensity. Choose words that will point you in the direction of your goals. Look at words you use in relationships, in finances, in your career, your health or what you believe you are capable of or your station in life. You have a choice, choose your words carefully.

Lesson 7: How are you?

Your day goes the way the corners of your mouth turns. When someone says “how are you” the responses are generally negative (“don’t ask”), mediocre (“okay”) or positive (“awesome”). A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks . Everyone lights up a room – some when they walk in, and some when they walk out! Just form a new habit and change the way others, and you, feel about you. What if I don’t feel great – if you are tired and I tell you that you have won a million rand, all of a sudden you feel fantastic – fix your mental state! How are you? Respond with enthusiasm. AWESOME.

Lesson 8: Stop complaining

Troubles, like babies, grow larger by nursing (Lady Holland). Nobody wants to hear about your aches and pains. Self-pity is an acid which eats holes in happiness (Earl Nightingale). Two complainers often start to outdo each other, the principle of escalation. Don’t let it rain on your parade. The secret of happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles (William Penn). Put things in perspective. Create a mental list of all those things and relationships around you for which you have to be grateful. If you are all wrapped up in yourself, you are overdressed (Kate Halverson). Be a source of positive news, be a joy to be around.

Part 3 : Heaven helps those who act 

Nothing happens by itself. It all will come your way once you understand that you have to make it come your way, by your own exertions (Ben Stein).

Lesson 9: Associate with positive people
You will be known by, and your destiny influenced, by your friends. Avoid toxic people and keep the company of nourishing people. We become apart of what we are around. Your friends will stretch your vision…or choke your dreams. They impact your greatest asset, your mind. Tell me who you associate with and I will tell you who you are.

Lesson 10: Confront your fears and grow
Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain (Ralph Waldo Emerson). If you want to be successful, you must be willing to be uncomfortable. Don’t back away, confront. Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood (Marie Curie).

What is your “X” outside your comfort zone? Presentations or public speaking; your ideas or you being rejected; changing jobs; starting your own business; passing bad news up the line; talking to people at higher management levels; sales calls; fear of failure… When you do this you lower your self-esteem, reduce yourself inside, do not create breaks….He who loses wealth loses much; he who loses a friend loses more; but he who loses courage loses all (Miguel de Cervantes).

Armed with a great attitude, decide to become a participant in life and explore your potential, confront your fears. Reframe the situation. Consider yourself an immediate winner when you take the step to confront your fear. Move forward. The only way to escape from the prison of fear is action (Joe Tye). Don’t be one of those who lets his regrets take the place of his dreams.

Lesson 11: Get out there and fail

Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again (Henry Ford). Toddlers keep on trying until they walk, they just don’t stop until they do, yet somehow as adults we shy away from failure. Failure is often a necessary part of growth and ultimate success. Undaunted by failure, just as long as the mistakes are new ones. The greatest mistake a person can make is to be afraid of making one (Elbert Hubbard). No such thing as failures, just results. Never give up. True success often means you will fail along the way, accept it, get up and try again. You may be disappointed if you fail, but you will be doomed if you don’t try.

Lesson 12: Networking that gets results 

You can get everything in life you want if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want (Zig Ziglar). If you’re positive and enthusiastic, people will want to spend time with you. In business and in your personal life, network. Project a winning attitude, participate in projects and associations, serve others, be a good listener….call people from time to time just because you care. Meet new people, make them feel special, acknowledge good presentations, get them to talk about themselves and their interests. Think what you can do for others, life is round. Build you network and keep detailed notes and contact lists. Networking is a great help, yet you have to be good at what you do to succeed.

Conclusion 

To change your circumstances, first start thinking differently (Norman Vincent Peale). Take control of your life. Act as if it were impossible to fail (Dorothea Brande). Play the one string you do have, your attitude, and with a final quote from Charles Swindoll:

The longer I live, the more I realise the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.

Posted in Life Gyan

If You Love Your Books, Set Them Free…

Once you have read a book, what do you do with it? 

In most cases, it gather’s dust in your bookshelf. There are very few which we re-read or refer to over and over again. But the majority of them just lie there on the shelf waiting to be picked up again. Ron Hornbaker of Idaho came up with the idea of this site for the book-lovers. He urges them not be “shelf”ish with their books and invites them to share their books with other book lovers. How? Now that’s the interesting bit. 

Users can log in to this site called bookcrossing.com and create a unique ID for their books, label it and then “release” it. By “release” it he means give the book to a friend, relative, colleague or just leave the book at some place like a coffee shop, park or any other place where it is likely to be picked by another book-lover. 

When the book gets picked, the reader can report on this site that the book has been “caught” by entering the unique ID. 

Sometimes this cycle can be repeated many times before the trail is lost. And the journal entries created in the process allow you to track where your book has travelled – and it can be quite interesting. 

The top 10 BookCrossing countries
1. USA …………………….29% 
2. Germany ……………16% 
3. United Kingdom ..13% 
4. Netherlands ……….11% 
5. Finland ………………10% 
6. Canada …………………8% 
7. Australia ………………5% 
8. France ………………….4% 
9. Portugal ……………….3% 
10. Spain ………………….1% 

So far this concept is popular mostly in the Western part of the globe. With reading emerging as a popular hobby in India and with a young population which is ready to experiment with new concepts and ideas, this idea of book sharing has a lot of potential in Indian context too. I know a lot of book sharing happens in smaller groups of known people but this can take book sharing to a whole new level.