Welcome to the last edition of Victory Vitamin this year. This is the month to recall the sweetness you have added to the lives of those around you. Mine included! Your responses to my questions and surveys have made Victory Vitamin more popular and I’m grateful to you for that.
The last section of this newsletter carries a simple tip for you to work wonders in 2024. While we say goodbye to 2023, let’s thank this year for the positive change it has brought into our lives.
So welcome to this issue and wishing you a very Happy New Year in advance!
What’s going on?
1. Rhyme and rhythm of learning
Do you know that some Kendriya Vidyalaya schools are handpicked by the Central Government of India to pilot 21st century skilling programs for their students?
Did you just think of technology when you heard 21st century skills? I did too. But I was amazed to learn that these skills included theatre and poetry too! I was invited by one of the oldest Kendriya Vidyalaya schools in Chennai to teach kids the art of writing poetry.
I taught them my method of finding the core theme, building the outline and finally embellishing the expressions. The students loved it. And the result? 15 of them wrote poems during the workshop!
2. Speaking of poetry…
Does social media put pressure on you? Does it make you constantly compare yourself to others? Do comments leave you feeling a certain way?
If so, I’m sure my poem titled ‘Face Yourself With Facebook’ will resonate with you. It was recently published in one of the most popular magazines in Greece, and I’d love for you to read it as well.
What’s coming up?
1. Insta-ntaneous updates
Today, if catching attention is a challenge, keeping attention is a bigger one. That’s why mediums like Insta reels have become so popular.
Raju, my friend from college, has been prompting me to start creating Insta reels. Showing me videos of celebrities like Dr Ashwin Vijay and Kripalini Swamy, he asked me when I’m making my first reel.
‘Well it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to shoot and edit it,’ I started saying.
‘Is that your only problem?’ he asked. ‘Then I will open up my office for you on a Sunday morning. Choose your date and come over. I will help you with the recording and post-production.’
When a push comes with an offer for help, how can you say no? Now excited, I agreed. Which means you’ll see me on Insta reels very soon! Do follow me on Instagram so you don’t miss it.
2. Placement possibilities
Last week, a professor from a popular Engineering college asked if I could deliver a guest lecture to his students in January. He revealed his dilemma, ‘Sir, the problem with our students is that they are not trying enough. The placement record of the previous batch was less than 70%. Now my students feel demotivated – they assume that they would also not get placed. Their confidence is affecting their academics. And what if this mindset gets cascaded to the junior batches too?’
I carefully listened and promised to come up with a strategy to help students change their mindset. I already have 2 ideas in mind, complete with stories, analogies and interactive activities. But I have time till mid-January. So if you too have any tips or ideas, I’d love to hear them. Please mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share what you have in mind.
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 not just tricky situations but in testing times too. See the moments they’ve led to on the eve of unprecedented floods in Chennai during the first week of December.
1. A whirlwind of control
The road in front of my home was submerged in water. There was no power at home. The wind was blowing relentlessly with a whistling sound. While it rained outside, my phone was flooded too – with messages from friends and well-wishers.
Feeling heart-warmed, I was determined not to let the cyclone dampen my spirits. Here’s how I responded to one of my text messages:
Sari: Please take care, Venkat. Hoping everything is under control.
Me: Oh yeah. The road is under the water’s control, the electricity board is under the cyclone’s control and since the office is closed, I am under my wife’s control.
This caused some laughter. When someone is truly concerned about your well-being in a stressful situation, it is imperative that you make them feel comfortable as well.
2. Water water everywhere!
With mobile networks down in most parts of Chennai, it was difficult to reach out to people in the badly flooded areas. One such person was my school friend, Pramod, who lived in Velachery. The rain lashed on, and finally, after 3 days of anxiously waiting for updates, we heard from him.
‘Hi friends, I am safe. I was water-looked for 3 days,’ his message read. Relieved, I couldn’t help but chuckle at this autocorrect error.
I responded, ‘Great to know that buddy. Since you looked only at water, I’m sure you were indeed, ‘water looked’ by the end of it.’
Sometimes, even in tough situations, humour can help you see the silver lining behind those clouds.
What did I do differently?
The day was 14 November. I was conducting a stress handling workshop for students from a government school in the fringes of Chennai. These children were all from underprivileged backgrounds – with their parents unable to afford much, most of them took overcrowded public transport using the free bus pass. They had to go without eating nutritious fresh meals. They had to go to tuition centres because their parents were not educated enough to help them with their subjects.
Facing the classroom of 70 Class X students, I knew it would be difficult for them to relate to me. I started by saying, ‘People always think students are enjoying life. When I was a student, I realized that it was not true. School, tuitions, practice tests, exams – the loop went on and on for 14 years. When others relax on weekends or go on vacation, students have to deal with homework and upcoming exams. So, being a student is the most difficult thing. How many of you agree?’
All the students put up their hands immediately. Having gained their confidence, the rest of my talk went smoothly.
Here are the takeaways I can share with you from this:
📢 Never start your lecture by lecturing your audience. Until they connect with you, they won’t hear you.
❌ Identify your disconnect. We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences. But that’s not a bad thing – that’s what enriches a discussion. Knowing what that disconnect is, helps you overcome it.
🤝 Find points of similarity. We can always find common grounds, no matter how different we are. Use these to form a bond of trust.
💬 Never be condescending and talk down to your audience – no matter how much younger or inexperienced they may be compared to you.
🙏 Respect earns respect. Since I started off with respect, I could feel their respect towards me by the end.
You tell me!
A survey stated that close to 35% percent of IT organisations will have at least half their workforce continuing to work remotely in the coming years. But today we see many companies insisting their employees come back to the office.
What’s your take?
Do you think the proportion of employees who work from home in 2024 will increase, decrease or remain almost the same?
- Remain unchanged
The result of the previous poll is here!
Regardless of how much the employee churn rate is in your industry, you will also come across employees who like to stick to the same company. What do you feel about the outcome of their decision? Does corporate loyalty serve its purpose?
My take on Top topics
- The toothpaste theory. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the IT minister of India shared that the government blocked as many as 36,838 sites in the last five years. But obviously, several users must have been impacted before those sites were blocked. It is possible that we may have accessed these sites ourselves without realising that we are putting our data at risk. What are the simplest things you can do to protect yourself in future? Follow what I jokingly call The Toothpaste Theory.
- If someone asks you to try a new toothpaste without knowing anything about it, what will you do? You’ll say, No Thanks! At least, you’ll make an attempt to find out more about the brand or look up the ingredients. Likewise, when you come across a new site that claims to offer some entertainment or money-making opportunity, and asks you to subscribe, refrain from sharing your data.
- Similarly, would you randomly recommend a new toothpaste to a friend when you don’t know anything about it yourself? Unlikely. So, do not recommend a new site to your friends just for fun or to claim bonus points.
1. Book: Yes Yes Living in a No No World
Why I loved it: We show our strongest selves to the world, but we all have inhibitions and limitations that only we know about. This book teaches you how to turn those into your greatest strengths.
My favourite part? Where the author shares a unique insight on dealing with disagreements that you gain nothing from. In chapter 7, he shares Benjamin Franklin’s technique of getting people to agree with him. During unproductive disagreements, Benjamin Franklin would state his case, scratch his head and say, “That is the way, it seems to me, but of course, I may be mistaken about it.” Most times the listener would concede saying his position was right. Isn’t it an interesting way to win arguments without an argument?
Try it out this month. Let me know how it went, at email@example.com.
2. Video/podcast: MS Dhoni’s Interview
Why I loved it: Winning a game like cricket involves dealing with a lot of uncertainty. A batsman never knows if the ball would go for a four, would get blocked or would result in a catch. With each moment being unpredictable, Dhoni reveals his mantra for success.
- The mantra is simple – not calculating how many runs he personally should score or what any other individual player in his team should do. He would only keep the big picture in mind – the country should win.
- He would always question what is something that he can do that others cannot. Moving forward with this mindset helps you stand out.
- At the end of the day, going ahead with what is good for the team, makes people appreciate you.
There are more nuggets of wisdom that can spin off from the cricket ground to the corporate environment. This 10-minute interview can change your next year.
3. Movie: The Black Demon
Why I loved it: It’s an exciting sci-fi thriller with a crucial message. Paul Sturges takes his family on a trip to Mexico, where his company owns an oil rig. Visiting after many years, he’s devastated to see the place looking decrepit and deserted.
The family learns the reason for it from the locals – there’s a giant shark called the ‘Black Demon’, which is attacking people. Since the attacks started after an oil spill, the Black Demon is thought to be a messenger of God.
The family investigates the oil rig in the middle of the ocean, where they encounter the giant shark. What follows makes us question who the villain is really. The movie holds some important lessons about personal accountability and blame.
Join me in…
How many times have you made ambitious New Year resolutions? And how many times have you broken them?
While you may be feeling guilty about the broken resolutions of 2023, stop to think – is it all bad? Maybe you didn’t pursue a habit you said you would, or lose the weight you targeted. But did you spend a few thousands for a charity that made a difference? Did you help a near and dear one at the right time? They may have been ‘out of syllabus’ but aren’t those things important?
Start 2024 by taking pride in yourself. New goals take time for you to scale up. So, break up the same goals between the 1st half and the 2nd half of the year. Set a lower benchmark for the 1st half of the year so that it is easier to accomplish. This will make life easier for you and build confidence. If you wish, you can go beyond the lower goals – that will add an important boost of overachievement.
Your wisdom and motivation from the first six months will drive you in the 2nd half of the year. This works well for me. Give this new method a try this year. You will realise your own power and the world will see it too. Happy 2024!