World Health Day, World Earth Day and Easter were all lined up in April. These holidays signify something to all of us if you think about it — if you take care of your health, anything on earth is possible. So resurrect your hopes, dreams and desires.
With the second wave of Covid, I know that all of you must be anxious and stressed. And all those doom-drenched news clips and gloom-filled Whatsapp forwards only make it worse. Ironically, forwards do not take us forward — they only set us back. So take the mayhem out of May. Prioritize your mental health, as well as physical — think positive and stay negative. That’s why, in this issue of Victory Vitamin, I am focussing on sending you a dose of inspiration and joy. I hope this helps you in these turbulent times.
1. Humbled with a HumCen Nomination!
I have always believed that we learn so that we can grow together. If our learning serves us alone, then where’s the value in that? In keeping with this belief, I have always aimed to make my knowledge available to others, be it by:
- Sharing new takeaways with working professionals through my Facebook Live sessions ‘Sweeten Your Worklife The Storyway’
- Teaching children the art of wit and wisecracks
- Helping professors hone their public speaking skills
- Or imparting engaging, cartoon-based leadership life lessons to children of maintenance workers.
I am excited to announce that these have led to me being nominated for the Human Centric Innovation Award (HumCen Award, 2021) in the ‘Mentor of the Year’ category. The voting for the finalists is open until 30th April, so please do cast your vote for me through this link here.
What’s coming up?
1. Freddie is ready — to groom the leaders of tomorrow!
You may already know that multiple HR Heads, including HR futurists like Clinton Wingrove, have endorsed my book, ‘Father Of Your Team’. Now, this book on paternalistic leadership will be presented at a weekly knowledge sharing session by the National Human Resource Development Network (NHRDN) this month!
As India’s largest association for HR professionals, NHRDN has over 13,000 members, spread across 30 chapters. So being a part of an event like this is really going to put Freddie (the titular character of my book) at the heart of the HR Development movement! He is excited to play a huge role in grooming the leaders of tomorrow. You are invited as my privileged guest. Click to register
2. A brand new poem for children
As an author, I am inspired by poets of the past and the present who have been able to influence and impact the next generations — from American poet T.S. Eliot to my new acquaintance Eva Petropylou from Greece. Of late, I have felt that children aren’t enjoying the world, even though they have so many choices today. So when Poetryzine invited submissions for ‘Over The Rainbow’, their anthology for children’s poetry, I decided to take a leaf out of my favourite poets’ books. I wrote a poem to shift children’s attention from their mobile screens and enjoy the gifts of the world. The poem, called ‘The Scene Beyond the Screen’ is scheduled to be published soon — and I’ll be sure to share it in my next newsletter and on my social media channels. So do look out for it, and please do share it with your children.
What did I do differently?
1. Out of the box(ing) storytelling
I have received so much encouragement for my Facebook Live segment, ‘Sweeten Your Worklife the Storyway’ that I decided I had to invest in it to make the sessions even more visually appealing. That’s why I created a studio space in my home. I also decided to get some props to make my stories even more interesting and engaging — in the episode where I shared two stories about Muhammad Ali, I sported my brand new pair of boxing gloves. The viewers loved that episode and I was blown away by the support and positive messages that I received (if you missed it, you can check it out here). The lesson here is this — if you are trying something new, think of some out-of-the-box ways to make it more interesting for your audience, no matter who they are. And don’t be afraid to invest in your own ideas either.
2. Free up your finger
Have you seen people voting for a candidate and expressing helplessness and lack of faith? Regardless of what changes in the constituency, I wanted to get rid of the feeling of guilt. I didn’t want to feel that I made the wrong choice. What did I do then? Read this post to know. I’d love to read your views on this decision. Do share what you think on email@example.com
Events that touched me
1.Migration of skills
One morning, I stopped at an ATM on my way to the office. ‘Bhai,’ someone called out. It was a migrant worker — a man in a faded red T-shirt and a tattered pair of jeans. He was sweating profusely and looked tired and worn out. He asked me for some help — he was having trouble withdrawing cash from the ATM, and he couldn’t read the message on the error slip. I took the slip from him. It said his card did not have sufficient balance. And what was the amount he was trying to withdraw? Rs. 200.
I felt sad at the situation and gave him Rs. 200. ‘Bhai, I haven’t eaten a proper meal for the last 2 days as the building contractor has not credited my money. I would be grateful if you can get me a job somewhere,’ he pleaded. I thought about it but could not think of anybody I know in the construction business. As I apologised and left, my thoughts were in turmoil. Why is that young migrant worker at the contractor’s mercy? If he had the opportunity to move up in his skills, he wouldn’t have had to move from one place to another looking for work. That incident solidified my conviction to help people upskill, sharpen their saw and become better at what they do. I may not be able to help everyone, but I can accelerate reaching more minds.
2.A chat with Chokkan
Nine years ago, I picked up Walt Disney’s biography in Tamil. As I read it, I felt as if I was watching a thrilling commercial entertainer. The biography was written by an author called N. Chokkan. I was hooked. Since then, whenever I wanted to read a biography, I looked for N. Chokkan’s books. I was lucky to find a huge collection — Napoleon, Narayana Murthy, Ratan Tata and several books on start-ups.
Here’s where it gets interesting. In 2019, when I was starting to write ‘Father Of Your Team’, I told a colleague that I wanted to write it in a style similar to N. Chokkan’s biographies. His eyes lit up. ‘N. Chokkan’? He is a good friend of mine — we used to go for coaching classes on my bike together!’ A few days later, I had a WhatsApp chat with the author himself. N. Chokkan’s popularity had grown exponentially, with his books being translated to Hindi, Gujarati and Marathi.
Recently, when the president of the Tamil eBookery Club asked me if I knew any popular authors, I mentioned Chokkan. Excited, he asked me to invite Chokkan to speak at their programme. I felt worried. I wasn’t close to the author — I had never spoken to him in person. Why did I mention him? But I got over my hesitation and dialled his number. N. Chokkan spoke so humbly, and we had a conversation that lasted over 45 minutes. Three weeks later, I was sharing a platform with that legendary writer as I introduced him at the event. A popular movie dialogue flashed through my mind — ‘No one in this world is bigger than you. Don’t be afraid of anyone. No one in this world is smaller than you. Don’t treat anyone with disrespect.’
My reading list
Articles I loved
1. The Gentle Art of Asking Question
Public speaking, presentation skills, pitching techniques — leaders are always trained to speak well. But what about listening? In this article, one leader shares more about a useful listening tip he picked up from his mother — the art of asking questions. Give it a read.
2. Key Questions to Ask Pessimistic Teammates
As leaders, you will have to work with lots of different kinds of people — optimists, cynics, sceptics. But some of the toughest people to manage are the glass-half-empty folks — the pessimists who bring down the morale of the entire team. Read this article for some tips to make it easier. After all, we could all do with a little less pessimism right now!
1. How to enjoy your life and your job – by Dale Carnegie
If you (like millions of other employees today) have been feeling disengaged, unmotivated and bored with your job, I highly recommend this book. It provides techniques and at least 100 insightful stories on how people have overcome boredom, stagnation, work overload and fatigue and have gone on to enjoy their jobs and workplace relationships. I especially loved the ‘As If Philosophy’. The author asks us to work as if we are interested in our job. He has provided convincing examples like Harlan Howard, who used the ‘As If Philosophy’ to love his dishwashing job — which ultimately led him to open a private laboratory and land 14 milk companies as his clients!
2. The Genius Machine – by Gerald Sindell
Did you know that the Wright Brothers tested 200 models of different types of wings in two months? Have you heard about the cassette player in Mercedes Benz that was so innovative but unintuitive that it made one customer want to sell her car? In this book, Gerald Sindell explores what makes an idea successful. He presents an interesting 11-step approach termed the ‘Endleofon Innovation Process’ to develop innovative ideas that gain acceptance. If you are looking to launch a new idea or explore a new venture, you’ll really benefit from the questions he asks at each step.
1. A gesture of gratitude on the International Workers’ Day
We may think we are independent, but we’d be lost without those who are working in the background to carry out essential tasks — the watchmen, the domestic help, the sanitation workers. While much in our system needs to change, you can show a gesture of appreciation too. This International Workers’ Day, buy them a gift. Click a photo and post it on social media to inspire others to do the same. But before you share, remember to pixelate or blur their faces with an online tool to protect their privacy.
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