06 – Feedback – Breakfast of the Champions

A CEO Teacher

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.

Three Lessons

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?

05 -Take time for Rituals

A CEO Teacher 

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.

Three Lessons

  • 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]

04 – How many Credit cards do you have?

A CEO Teacher 04

How do you define a Credit Cards?

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!


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.

Marshmallow Test

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?


Three Lessons

 Plan you finances

  • pay a part to those more needful [gratitude]
  • save for the rainy day [grasshopper]
  • plan you Amazon sales well [greed]


03 – How to increase your salary?

A CEO Teacher

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:

  • Pocket
  • Position
  • Power

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!

Three Lessons

  • 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]

02 – Lost your mobile?

A CEO Teacher

02 – Lost your mobile?


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.

Free WiFi

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.

Three Lessons

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]

01 – World of Distraction

A CEO Teacher

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.

Three Lessons

Here are three key lessons, that a more focused life would bring:

– it improves relationship

– your dependability will increase

– it would raise your performance

A CEO Teacher

A CEO Teacher

  • Introduction

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 a CEO Teacher!

Reference: Four Seconds by Peter Bregman [HarperOne]