I am elated to bring you 2022’s last edition of Victory Vitamin with a powerful message. Every year leaves behind memories, brings new people into our lives and adds a new dimension to our experiences in this world. While the world gives a lot to us, how about making the next year memorable by giving something back?
I am not making a social pitch asking you to donate money to the underprivileged. How about giving a little time to make others feel a little more important? That’s the underlying theme of most of the things I talk about in this edition. Here you’ll find loads of practical tips and advice to do so, all spiced with a dash of humour of course.
With that, I wish you a happy end of 2022, and a great start to 2023!
What’s going on?
1. TEDx dreams
Delivering a TED Talk was on my bucket list in 2022. But I didn’t make it. So why am I telling you about it?
You mostly only hear about people’s successes, but seldom hear about how they got there. That’s why we think everyone around us is leading picture perfect lives. Well, it is my intention to share a bit of my journey too, along with the results and successes.
Remember how I talked about ‘Doubling down on your goals’ in one of the sections in the last edition of Victory Vitamin? I took my own advice, relooked at this goal, and put it under Option A (Goals you can get the ball rolling on now). It helped. Two months ago, I signed up for coaching with Samuel Eddy, a TEDx speaker and podcaster. He laid out a 7-step process designed to take me to the stage. I am happy to share that I am now in stage 2. Stay tuned to see how it goes!
2. Creating gold stars with Gold Heart
You may have watched Arattai With Achievers, my segment on YouTube where I interview child achievers to offer inspiration for kids. I enjoy every moment of talking to these achievers – but I have also been thinking about what I can do to create more achievers myself.
That’s when I came across a post from Gold Heart Foundation. They invite volunteers to help empower underprivileged children, by enabling them to build real-world skills like public speaking. It was a 30 day challenge, so I signed up. I listen to a 5-minute audio clip posted by children every day, and share feedback with them – not just on where to improve but how. Making a non-commercial use of my public speaking skills gives me immense satisfaction.
If you too are ready to make a difference in the lives of young children, sign up for this 30 day challenge. If you need any advice or more details, drop a note to me at email@example.com
What’s coming up?
1. Friends across continents
I want to share the breaking news with you before the rest of the world gets to hear about it. I have always maintained that adding more wonderful people in your network, encouraging them and supporting them in any way you can, can bring you unimaginable results or acts of kindness. I recently got to enjoy the fruits of this.
I connected with a student editor from Russia a year ago. We exchanged correspondence, I shared my work – and long story short, I will be featured on the cover of their new international magazine soon! Printing is in progress, but I couldn’t wait to share this with you. Look out for more updates.
2. Creating gold stars with Gold Heart
A few days back, I recorded a poem for an international Christmas poetry festival, held in honour of the legendary Greek poetess, Eva Lianou Petropoulou. I really enjoyed doing so, because the poem carries a strong social message with a dose of humour. The title has a pun in it too – it’s called ‘Christmas Deals’.
Here’s how it begins:
Discounts, deals and offers – is that what Christmas is all about?
Splurging on malls for your temporal clout
The selected entries will be telecast in a satellite channel.
If laughter is the best medicine, I consider myself a self-prescribed practitioner of humour. I can tell you that it works! I’m consciously trying to bring out humour as my first reaction in tricky situations. See the moments they’ve led to.
1. Hanging in the balance
It’s the last quarter of the year. If you, like me, are a part of the corporate or retail world, you know what this means – firing on all cylinders, and running short of sleep!
November was busier than usual for me, and I got very little sleep one day. The next day, I was talking to a school friend who now leads a large team in service delivery. Towards the end of the call, he asked,
‘So, how’s the work-life balance?’
‘8 hours,’ I replied.
‘What do you mean? Did you get my question?’ he replied, puzzled.
‘Yes, you asked me about my work-life balance. Yesterday my work life took up 16 hours of the day. So the balance left is 8 hours,’ I chuckled.
We both laughed and ended the call in high spirits. When the war was in full steam, the Bhagavad Gita was most needed. Similarly, when stress takes over, that’s when it is most important to bring out our arsenal of humour.
2. All the world’s a stage
As a member of ISTD, I attended a lecture by M.J. Milton, an HR leader who became the CEO of ENABL. At the event, I sat near an HR manager in his mid-40s, who was working in the MNCs. While discussing how much we enjoyed the session, he admitted
‘He rocks! If only I could speak like him, I would have reached great heights in my company.’
I was confused, since this manager was actually very well-spoken. ‘Why do you think you can’t speak like him?’ I asked.
‘I get stage fright,’ he said with a pause that signalled hesitation.
‘You’re very eloquent right now. So if the raised dias or stage does not exist, and you stand in front of us, would you speak confidently?’ I asked.
‘If only stage fright was just connected with an actual stage!’ he said.
‘Oh but it is connected to a stage! Stage fright only comes at the initial stage. Once you cross that stage, it disappears!’ I laughed, indulging in a little word play.
He enjoyed the creative perspective immensely, and promised to try more public speaking and power through the initial stage of stage fright!
What did I do differently?
There’s much discussion about the young generation. ‘They don’t realise our values.’ ‘Their tastes have changed.’ ‘It is impossible to keep their attention.’
I heard this last one from the keynote speaker at a technical symposium in a college. It may be true that winning the attention of young students is becoming a challenge – but the trick lies in adapting your style to cater to your audience. And this is irrespective of your profile as a speaker. I have been recognised with the ‘Most Engaging Speaker Award’ at the AEA 2022 conference, but here are a few things I change when addressing young audiences:
🎯 Share an interesting incident that happened that you couldn’t understand. Ask them why it happened. This shows that you respect their ability.
🎯 Dress like them. Their favourite movie stars might be able to get away with wearing suits and blazers. But you are not a hero to them yet. They will relate to you more if you look like them.
🎯 Every talk begins with the organiser inviting you to introduce yourself. Give a 4-line introduction, with at least 2 of those lines devoted to sneak peek into your personal life. Students don’t want to hear a 4-page intro with all your awards and achievements listed out. They will evaluate your worth themselves through the course of your talk.
🎯 Don’t use examples from a Shiv Khera book when you can use a Sivakarthikeyan dialogue instead. Navigate from the known to the unknown.
🎯 Make jokes about yourself and use humour. Grown ups learn for enjoyment. Kids need to learn to enjoy learning.
🎯 Give them convenient options to learn. If you suggest a stack of books, chances are they won’t read them. I recommend listening to KukuFM and play the app for a few minutes during my talk.
If you are invited to speak at a college or to young crowds, try doing these things differently. You will find these tips super valuable too. Tell me how it goes at firstname.lastname@example.org .
You tell me!
HR policies have been always defined around the employee’s position in the organisation. It may be eligibility for compensatory time off, accommodation during travel or limits for certain allowances. But do you think it is a good idea to have HR policies defined by employee loyalty rather than the organisation’s band structure?
*The results of November month’s poll are here!*
I asked, ‘Do you think the global workforce still requires help in managing work effectively from home?’
Here’s what you said:
Yes, staff require support and counselling: 291
Not required. Most employees have learned to manage: 474
My take on Top topics
1. What’s going on with tech companies?
After Twitter, now it is Meta that has announced huge redundancies worldwide. So what steps can new-age tech workers take to protect themselves against these uncertainties? I thought about it and broke it down to 1, 3 and 5 year plans.
1 year plan
Think beyond your CV and think about what else you are good at. It can be speaking, singing, counselling, photography, movie review, teaching or anything. While you continue growing in your core work areas, also:
- Pursue this interest and get your family’s support.
- Join social media groups of professionals & hobbyists regarding this field of interest.
- Be active by commenting and encouraging.
- Watch videos related to developing that skill
- By the end of 1 year, take up a small assignment in that area of interest. Don’t think about how much someone is paying you. Take it up, irrespective of the money.This alternative helps you stop worrying about monotony. In the meantime, develop your tech expertise, identify a high in demand niche skill and take up a certification with hands-on practice. At work, take up assignments that relate to other business units. My blog here will give you more insights. https://www.authorvenkat.com/5-things-no-one-will-tell-you-about-automation/
3 year plan
By now, your 1 year plan would have given you the confidence that you can fit in in any field.
- Now pursue a degree in your field of interest.
Choose a university that offers distance learning opportunities that matches with the pace of your regular work.
- Write blogs sharing the wisdom you have gained in your core specialisation (being careful not to reveal any confidential information about the organisations you have worked with!).
- Write blogs on your secondary skill too. If there is a way your new skill can be useful at work, volunteer your services. For example, if you learned photography, ask to be responsible for taking photographs during official events at your workplace.The idea is to increase your visibility and establish yourself as an expert in your technical domain and in another area.
5 year plan
Now it is time to think long term.
- Work to close every loan you have by the end of 5 years. You will have more money to exercise your freedom.
- If it means taking harder decisions like avoiding buying expensive clothes or replacing a foreign vacation with a local trip by train, do it.
Short-term pains that give long-term gains will give you more peace of mind.
1. Book: The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku
Why I loved it: Think this is written by a comedian or someone living in the lap of luxury? No way. This is by someone who was tortured as a young man. His face was disfigured by German policemen when Hitler unleashed his campaign. His father was killed in the gas chamber. He had no idea if he would live to see another minute. But he was skilled in designing and manufacturing components and machines with precision, so he was spared. How Eddie saw life despite these struggles and how he discovered his purpose is sure to touch your heart and soul.
2. Podcast: The Z to A of Life
Why I loved it: What comes to your mind when you talk of self-help? Motivation? Commitment? Meditation? Blah blah blah…
How about physical exercise? This is an interesting take by authors Mark Kennedy and Jules Kennedy. In every episode, they choose a theme associated with every alphabet and interview an expert in that field. I loved their perspective on exercise and the way the anchors elevated the show.
3. Movie: FIREMAN
Why I loved it: This edge-of-the-seat thriller is about how a fireman can save thousands of lives, including that of prisoners, in a situation that turns worse every minute. Think gas leaks. Think uncooperative police. Think his own team backing out.
This movie holds a lot of leadership lessons like negotiation, mobilising support, change management, taking ownership, priority consciousness, social consciousness and a lot more. This is a Malayalam movie – but I was able to find an English version for you on Youtube. Click on the link to watch it.
Join me in…
There are a lot of people I wish to speak with regularly. They have been my well wishers. But except for greeting or wishing them briefly for special occasions, I have not spoken to them in ages. Life gets in the way – and that will not change.
But I want to change my response to it in 2023. Here’s what I did. I dropped into Odyssey last week and selected an elegant diary. On the first page of each month, I listed out how I want to make a difference in the lives of 3 people, by spending a little time with them. I have planned fun activities, exciting surprises. I know they will cherish that gesture.
In 2023, why not join me in investing time for the people important to you every month? Let’s not stop at wishing them ‘Happy New Year’ – let’s make it truly happy.