T.A.L.K. is a book based on years of ‘TALKING’ to youth groups, parents, teachers, at corporate seminars and extempore. The book would aid you in conducting lectures and seminars that are highly engaging, interactive and filled with wit and wisdom.
T.A.L.K. is a kind of book that you can pick for a quick lecture preparation or a good read through a speaker’s mind, while at the same time helping you become a more proficient speaker.
If you need to find more purpose to your existing life, I recommend a binge watch of all the three Will’s classic – The Pursuit of Happiness, Seven Pounds and Collateral Beauty.
While these are not the easiest of movies to watch, but who said, movies have to be easy. There are some movies where your leave your mind behind and some like these where you put in not only your mind but apply your heart and soul too.
Let’s begin with the lease popular of the trio – Seven Pounds. The film opens to a distraught Will Smith calling 911 to report a suicide. His. The drama then unfolds, in past & present.
This is a tale of lost love and redemption by sacrificing the self. Smith’s past shows his mis-judgement while driving leading to death of seven lives, including his dear wife. Here the word seven pounds assumes significance. He is determined to save seven lives, even if it means sacrificing his own.
The jellyfish, his pet, is an amazing metaphor of death surviving with life all around. The poisonous jelly fish lives in a water tube in his hotel room, until the fateful day when Will Smith lets it sting him in the bathtub.
Seven Pounds will leave you in agony and in a dilemma whether to celebrate the seven lives gained or to mourn the death of your chosen protagonist. It surely will move you.
The send film is Collateral Beauty. I had to see it twice. Second time with my wife. It’s not everyday you write letters to love, death and time.
This star studded movie has another of Will Smith in a surreal role. He is unable to accept the death of his son to neuro-blastoma leukemia, a rare form of blood cancer. Loses all interest in life until his letters to the abstract receive a response in person! From love, death and time. He refuses to believe them. However in the process of teaching him, these fake actors learn more about their own lives. So does his friends, who paid the actors to get Will sign the corporate papers. They find meaning in death, search lost love and value the passing time.
You wonder if the movie is about you. You discover that ‘death’ is inevitable but you have just enough ‘time’ to make your near ones feel ‘loved’.
Can a movie hurt you? Sure this one can. The most poetic of the three listed here, The Pursuit of Happiness is a different kind of the edge of a seat thriller. It messes up with your emotions.
Chris Gardner is struggling to make ends meet and his pursuit is all about his son. Growing up fatherless, Chris (Will Smith) was determined that his son knows him. Yet when his franchised and over invested bone scanner machines don’t work, his wife gives up on his, loses his rented home and ends up interning without pay.
There are several moments that convey the message all too subtly. The constant running and chasing in the movie is almost a metaphor of running to catch up with life. Running in pursuit of something. Something that defines us. Our livelihoods or our dreams or just the dollars to pay out the bills. But may be running in pursuit of happyness (yes, it’s an incorrect spelling smart pants!).
We go through a roller-coaster of challenges that Chris and his sweet & smart son Christopher are put up with, including living in a ‘cave’ at the railway platform. This imaginary cave is actually a toilet where Chris if forced to spend the night at after begin thrown from his rented home. You almost break into tears here.
Chris however is willing to live up to the challenge life offers. He takes up the no pay job and works diligently up the ladder to finally secure his career at a stock broker firm.
When I shared this story with my kids, I felt I could relate to the stories in all these three movies. They taught me more about life than a dozen self-help books. They taught me to live a life of sacrifice (Seven Pounds), of accepting our fallacies (Collateral Beauty) and be constantly in Pursuit of Happiness.
I met Ravi, my Engineering mate after 15 years in Hyderabad this Diwali. Yet, there was the same old camaraderie, leg pulling and above all the shared dream. I resonate so much with his letter that he wrote while on-site at Dallas or was it Austin, Texas. Here is the letter to read the ‘other view’ of a fairy tale life.
My US trip is going on fine. I came here on a 2 week stay but now they extended it for over a month..I am enjoying it a lot..trying to roam around different cities as much as i can during weekends..I am in Austin the capital of Texas. I wanted to see Vegas but it will cost me a lot if i go in flight and in bus its just too far away..like Kashmir to KK..not worth it. [Good, he did’t make it to the Sin City! I wouldn’t be sad for him, but jealous :)]
Other thing is that if i just go sight seeing to interesting places then the relatives who are here will expect me to come to their boring places to visit too which i don’t intend to do 🙂 [This is the same old Ravi, I knew in college]
And i went crazy for first few days always thinking in terms of Rupees for every dollar spent.Every person from India automatically does it.! Its really really difficult to avoid doing it..anyways i am trying really hard! hehehe [I didn’t know there was a Marwari in this Andhra guy!]
During weekdays my life here is kinda hectic here.Can you believe it I don’t take any breaks here.I eat lunch at my desk,i don’t like the coffee here and we don’t get tea..so most of the time i am at my desk. And people here are very formal.Not the kind of working style that we are used to. We Indians in any office- like to be disturbed and like to disturb others. 🙂 [The Philosophical Ravi, our very own Sadhguru]
And no its not all cowboys and ranches in Texas.It has moved forward along with other modern cities..you still have some old fellas trying to keep up the tradition of cowboy hatz and big boots etc. On one weekend I went to a
place called san antonio. I got like 5 friends there, so we were in a Camry and going around in downtown blasting desi music..it was kinda cool.
The roller coaster rides (i wanted to experience the complete somersault roller coaster rides and i am glad i was able to do it. Once you get the thrill ,addiction kicks in , i went like 4 times in it!), (value for money…calculate your ROI :))
Water acrobatic shows, were simply amazing never seen such a thing in India. Its fun traveling by bus here.Another weekend i went to Dallas a more uptown place with few skyscrapers. Austin though being the capital of Texas is not all that city to look.
In US,the capitals of state are not necessarily the most urban places. I am sure Khan will agree- he went to California right- and people always talk about San Francisco, San Jose or LA but the capital is a place called Sacramento– very unheard and unpopular name! (That’s a lovely trivia.. btw guess the capitals of Australia and Canada and its not Melborne or Toronto fyi)
(This is the best part of the letter)
And no! Guys dont even think that life is all happy over here for visitors.life is so boring here trust me…we Indians definitely need chaos around us so we can look for some order.If everything is so orderly then where is the fun.Life here seems to me a like a fairy tale and very unrealistic.
There is no struggle for survival.The other day, when i was in the cab, i saw the driver having an Apple Air laptop thats the latest from apple- the worlds thinnest laptop.i was talking to another driver who is an Iranian who is here for the past 13 years. His kids are studying for bachelors here. he said he could not take any casual day off for many years. He saved every penny he could and now was able to pay 32000 dollars as tution fees for his kids Degree!
You go into a restaurant you see lot of people waste so much food that i get so wild and red in face. Not that it is great food anyways all junk food but still food is food. People go to Mc Donalds if they are stressed out. They taste some food, and throw the rest.And i was thinking of the people who know only one kind of stress – where to get the next meal from. The point that i am making is in US almost everybody is well off. Now it is the question of who is more rich.They could do so much to help other countries but they don’t. I don’t want to say that it is the same
everywhere,I am just saying what i saw and not exaggerating. I don’t think i can settle or live here for long..just a visit is fine. (that’s what Mother Teresa said, when she went to Olso, Norway for her Nobel dinner. She said she wished, she could pack all the food being wasted and send it to the streets of Kolkatta. A Nobel thought indeed)
I need traffic jams,i need bad roads,i need a pursuit, I need to be challenged 🙂 ok ok..full philosophy..i will stop boring you now. 🙂
Bye guys, Ravi
PS: Ravi – My admiration for you and your values have increased. I am proud to be your friend da.
An executive had an hour presentation to a group of senior managers of his company. While his immediate manager congratulated him, later he complained to his colleague that the presentation would be much polished and time shortened. The surprised colleague inquired as to why he had not conveyed the same to the executive. ‘I would have offended him,’ was the reply.
The goody trap
So often, we are trapped in this goody goody relationship that we refrain from giving our perspective. Welcome to the world of feedback. Just as much valuable is to act on good feedback, it is vital for a good relationship to be able to present the feedbacks.
Feedback – a sign of trust
Giving feedback is a sign of trust and confidence. I fondly remember my first visit after a stint in the Gulf and Europe. I wrote a long 3 page feedback to a bunch of young boys like me, who organized a conference.
That definitely was not the best way. I, however, got my message across. While, the feedback wasn’t that great, the organizers took it well and today they are among my closest circle of friends.
Here are three key parameters in giving a feedback:
Don’t give feedback as:
Sympathy (feels patronizing)
Power (feels humiliating)
Anger (feels abusive)
As Ken Blanchard says, feedback is the breakfast of the champions. What did you have in yours?
How do you have your TEA? With milk, without milk, no sugar, green tea or you simple want more caffeine and order a coffee!
My friends who are a big fan of the Eastern moview made me watch John Woo’s Red Cliff. An interesting movie, I must add. Infact so interesting, that I blogged about it – [http://pennations.com/2017/04/15/red-cliff-2008/]
What made me reflect in the movie was the emphasis on drinking tea.
The Samurai Tea
The Samurai not only love their tea, they cherish the moment. He didn’t gulp it, but rather took his time, reflected, watched his tea boil and devour it with grace. There was a moment in the movie where this very ritual of drinking tea, was used as a ploy to delay the enemy’s general which ultimately led to his defeat. So much with the tea.
Religion is Rituals
Now think about religion. Religion is all about Rituals – its a way of life. The small acts of worship. The mediation routine. The food ritual. A lot of sport-person follow a ritual. Indian dashing cricketer Sehwag always has a red handkerchief while batting; The legendary West Indian cricketer, Brain Lala would always set foot on the field with right foot. These are not mere superstitions but rather a list of rituals from where people derive their strength from.
Our learning from the daily rituals is to take time out for small but significant rituals on your life. Who knows, where you derive your next act of courage from.
Our lives have become too DAILY. These rituals make them meaningful. They fill our days with activities we can look forward to. Rituals are not mere checklist to tick off, but acts that help us focus and re-energize our everyday.
paying attention [we pay attention to the detail and begin to enjoy our everyday acts]
timer at meeting [Rituals help us keep track of time; You plan your day better]
areas of focus [small everyday acts help us keep more focused and add flavour to our mundane routine]
We use Credit Card, with the money we don’t have, to buy things we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like.
How amusing! Continuing from our previous conversation about money, let us look at what would be do with the money we seek.
Do you remember the 1st KBC Winner? Harshvardhan Nawate, was an instant celebrity. The person with the supposed highest IQ score in the country. The toast of the nation. What happened to him and his one crore? Do you know of his new company or that he traded stocks in millions!
He lived in the world of Instant Gratification. And as quickly he rose to fame, so was his fall. Perhaps, he had bad financial advisors. Do you know that lottery winners are no more happier than they were before they won the millions. This is what we learn from the 1st KBC Winner – Instant Gratification is well, a flash in the pan!
WANT & NEED
What is the difference between a WANT and NEED? God gives us what we need, not what we want.
Let me share an example – my daughter was crying for the new toy – those Frozen dolls (Elsa & Anna plus Olaf, the snowman). This is while we were shopping – so I explained to her to wait and I will give her a whole set, instead of just two dolls. To my surprise, she agreed.
Then next week, she fell sick – now she could not go out and play and instead of using the mobile all the time, these doll toys were a perfect gift for her. First time, she just ‘WANTED’. The second time around, she ‘NEEDED’ them.
There was a very popular test done by Stanford University on Pre-Schoolers titled the Marshmallow Test. Basically the test was having a kids sit alone in a room, with a marshmallow, which she could eat instantly or wait a while and be given one more.
The study revealed that those kids, who resisted the urge were more successful over the years in careers, business, and relationships. So what is your urge with the money?
What is more difficult — Writing a cheque or receiving one? Of course, writing one. And it become even more difficult when we ought to pay the electricity bill or the most difficult one – the school bus fees!
Money – a vital need
Money is an important parameter in everyone’s life. Money is necessary not only a luxury. We earn, spend, save, demand. Demand? Is it the salary time? How much can be expect the hike? What would the bonus be? There are innumerable questions that we seeks as salary is expected around the year end performance appraisal time. In-fact one institution I am aware of, has its annual performance appraisal in August, which is the beginning of the year. How mean, I thought to myself. This must be to ensure that the teachers can’t leave or seek another job, as the academic year has begun!
So, what is the best time to ask a pay hike? A CEO replied, best time is DON’T ASK. Well, we won’t take that for an answer. We will think of a strategy. I honestly agree that asking for a pay hike is an art. If we demand too soon, it might be counter-productive. It’s like overloading a Washing Machine. We all are overloaded, burdened by our own expectations. So remember the three P of money:
3 P Questions
Ask yourself, what is it you are seeking. Are you in a ‘position’ to seek the hike? Do the one you seek have the ‘power’ to grant your request? Does the current ‘pocket’ or ‘purse’ has such budgets to approve your salary? Equipped with these answers, now arm yourself with some key pointers. When a salary is given to you, do not negotiate. Accept it at the moment. Also plan your hike like a shareholder. Think of the current situation of the institution and the timing of your ask. Like JKF said, “Don’t ask what your country did you for, ask what you did for your country.” List down your achievements over the past year and then move ahead confidently for the ask.
And yes, if you the desired hike, count me in for the party!
Acknowledge the salary [never negotiate – accept and thank]
Think like a shareholder [you don’t ask Google when buying the share – you think long term]
Make a to do list [what have you achieved over the past year; be clear]
On a scale of 10, with ten as the highest stress and one as the least, rate you do you feel after losing your mobile phone?
Terrible, isn’t? Awful, frustrated, denial, scared, lonely and suicidal were some of the other recorded emotions. Yes, you read it right, suicidal!
The Family Vacation
Stress is every where – in homes, at schools, parking space, on roads, at market place, and even at our prayer houses. Let me narrate a story that might be similar in bits and pieces to your own.
Arun decided that he and his family needed a much deserved break. He booked a day out with his lovely wife and two excited kids on a yacht. As they were enjoying their day out, Arun realized his mobile lost the signal from the tower. Now without the connection, he would miss the all important phone call from a client. Arun went on an overdrive, blaming the service provider to the poor cell phone and ultimately his family for an unnecessary break from his work schedule. Without saying much, it is understood that the day stood ruined for both Arun and his family, especially his wife.
Have you been on a similar family vacation? Or perhaps a road rage incident? May be the unexpected guest at home? In classrooms? We all experience stress, most of the time, when unexpected things happen.
British Airways once decided to offer free WiFi on air. At 40,000 ft on air, it was a steal. And unexpected surprises are the ones most relished. However, as soon as the announcement was made, turbulence hit the airline and unfortunately the free Wii had to be cancelled.
A man flying the airline, got a rude shock and cursed everyone, vowing never to fly BA again! An offer that you never knew, and then lost, was it worth so much of cribbing?
What is Stress?
What is Stress then? Stress is the gap between expected and actually happening. We expect the world to be rosy, to be fair and then it turns out to be exactly the opposite.
Researchers found out some of the greatest tragedies that could affect us would count for an actual situation of stress. Let us plot them on the earlier scale of ten and them compare them to the mundane part of losing a mobile or getting a parking ticket.
On a scale of 1 – 10
10 – War [being affected by war, or dislocated or in a Civil war like situation]
9 – Cancer [affected by the disease to self or to someone we love dearly]
8 – Accident [a life threatening accident or losing a limb, major surgery etc]
7 – Losing the job [layoffs, retrenchments, terminations]
Now, where does losing your mobile fit in on this scale of ten – where is it?
At best it should be no more than a one. May be two, if pressed hard enough.
1 – No parking space
2 – Lost mobile
Now not getting the parking space at the mall on a scale, would not quality for a 9. Rather, if we do our math well, it should actually be a 10 – 9 = 1. So next time, you lose the mobile signal or the WiFi takes too long to download, relax, and count till ten.
Here are three quick lessons we can learn from a situation which stresses us:
– Acknowledge the situation [denial will only increase the stress]
– Rate your stress! [on a scale of ten, where would you place it]
– De-stress [walk, spin, punch: only the stress ball, not people]
How often you have been found looking at the pile of papers on your desk, clutter of stationary in your drawers and sticky notes all over the walls? Welcome to the world of distraction. A small word that makes a big difference.
The morning prayers
Amazingly the most important part of meditation is to take time off for meditation. How strange. Let me share a small incident as I was in my morning prayers. I wanted to spend time alone, contemplating and reflecting. However hard I tried, my mind began to drift to all those unimportant and yet immediate task that were playing ping -pong inside the head. I just came up with an exciting title for my new book and was tempted to write it down, while meditating. Then the face-book pages I wished to visit, the new hashtag that I wanted to trend on twitter or those five unread emails in my inbox.
CCTV in Cabins
We are always surrounded by distraction. So much like the surround sound speakers by Bose! We are immersed in distraction. Have you ever been to the cabin of a CEO or a Principal who has CCTV display in his office. I have witnessed it enough time to recall that the person would glance at the CCTV camera screen every once in a while, during the conversation. Such a sheer waste of time and lack of focus. This is what distraction can do to us.
Working with the Japanese
I have worked with the Tohuku University, Japan and truly admire the Japanese in their work ethics. They bring discipline not as an act of enforcement or rigour but as a mean of culture. The Japanese take their space and silence seriously. The public address system is banned from public school because it distracts the classroom and the students from focusing on their subjects. Such discipline would ensure a distraction free life.
Here are three key lessons, that a more focused life would bring:
We focus on areas like Time, Relationship, Delegation, Work ethics, Emails, and Emotions.
Having worked both in the industry and then the transition to the academicia, I can safely say that the skills required for both the careers are synonymous.
There is a lot at stake in the corporate world, with career graphs, office dynamics, ever changing technology and the horrible HR. Yet when compared to the schools, the stakes can’t be more mismatched. At schools, it’s the students who are at stake.
So the corporate is about ‘us’, the schools are about ‘ours’. Then, does it not demand that we learn the same principles that makes a good corporate culture.
A CEO Teacher is about human interactions. Our aspirations(salary, growth), technology(mobiles and other gadgets), people(Principal & fellow teachers) and the daily grind of lesson plans and classroom teaching (stress, feed-backs).
The goal of these short video blogs is sharing some of the secrets I have learnt over the past decade in the industry and schools, lessons from mentors and colleagues. Hope that makes you realize your true potential, because you are aCEO Teacher!
Reference: Four Seconds by Peter Bregman [HarperOne]