Archive for the ‘Happiness’ Category

Art of keeping it simple…

November 22, 2010

I am a great fan of the fine attributes of tolerance and grace, because I am not so well endowed with those. I see my mother and feel jealous about her as she has those in plenty. But no matter how hard I try, I blow my fuse at the slightest provocation. Bad habit, sooner I get rid off it, the better.

But despite the deficiencies as above, I am simple, straight as an arrow and a happy guy too. Coming to think of it, I keep my life simple like most men I know.

So this post is for my readers with a feminist slant…

How do men keep it simple…? I read a chain mail that got lodged in my inbox with the title “Why men are never depressed”…

Men Are Just Happier People– What do you expect from such simple creatures? Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding plans take care of themselves. Chocolate is just another snack. You can be President. You can never be pregnant. You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park. You can wear NO shirt to a water park. Car mechanics tell you the truth. The world is your urinal. You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky. You don’t have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt. Same work, more pay. Wrinkles add character. Wedding dress $5000. Tux rental-$100. People never stare at your chest when you’re talking to them. New shoes don’t cut, blister, or mangle your feet. One mood all the time. Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat. You know stuff about tanks. A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase. You can open all your own jars. You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend. Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack. Three pairs of shoes are more than enough. You almost never have strap problems in public. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes. Everything on your face stays its original color. The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades. You only have to shave your face and neck. You can play with toys all your life. One wallet and one pair of shoes — one color for all seasons. You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look. You can ‘do’ your nails with a pocket knife. You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache. You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December24 in 25 minutes. No wonder men are happier.

Fears are but fears

January 30, 2009

Mistakes are how we learn to do something new — because if you succeed at something, it’s probably something you already knew how to do. You haven’t really grown much from that success — at most it’s the last step on your journey, not the whole journey. Most of the journey was made up of mistakes, if it’s a good journey.

 

So if you value learning, if you value growing and improving, then you should value mistakes. They are amazing things that make a world of brilliance possible.

 

Celebrate your mistakes. Cherish them. Smile.

 

When I endorse that, I don’t exactly mean go sing “Oh…la…la…la…  I’ve made a mistake”.  It’s enough if we don’t sulk over it excessively or feel suicidal.  It’s ok to lose some sleep over it so long as it is therapeutic, a form of longish meditation that helps you go over what went wrong and vow to get back at it in reparatory mode.  I can personally vouch for this since I had left my day job long back and set out on my own, making a few mistakes before deciding which road to take for my own enterprise (that center around securing private and public investing for other enterprises besides making some on my own) and feeling entirely happy and relaxed in the end because I never had to spend another second amidst crushing mediocrity that consistently drained my spirit to excel, leaving me to rot years on end. No more ruinous bosses, no more bitching peers, no more clumsy subordinates – it’s a complete sense of liberation giving me total control over myself and what I do with my time.  Envy me. How many of you have that luxury?

 

To that moral I might as well add – Conquer your fears.  It’s worth it because – fears after all, are just that

Now I am relieved

December 2, 2008

venusjupitermoon_labeled

 

I was pleasantly surprised when my teeny daughter came and told me “pa, the moon looks beautiful tonight”.  First, I thought she has hit one of her starry moods. Occasionally she busies herself watching the sky, humming a song while leisurely sitting on the swing in our balcony.  At other times, she tries out new songs in her keyboard.  But she has never shed her shyness to come and tell us what got her riveted so much. I ran to the window to watch it but didn’t get a clear view.

 

She described how the two shining specks have dotted around the moon like a fine celestial designer jewelry.  She speculated it must be Jupiter and Venus in a rare alignment but wasn’t sure.  Here’s the detail.  It was a rare spectacle called “planetary conjunction” in which two planets —the brightest in the night sky — will appear extremely close, separated by only the width of a finger held at arm’s length. They won’t be this close together and well-placed for evening viewing again until May 2013.

 

I am glad that she got to watch it. Gladder that she shared it with me. But I am delighted to know she takes an interest in celestial spectacles, gets amused by nature because each time I drag her to watch programs about universe featuring in Discovery or National Geographic, she fobs me off and returns to her other youthful priorities.  Now I am relieved, she has it in her and someday likely she will get her priorities right.  Ain’t gonna miss her lot in life 🙂

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Survive

November 21, 2008

 You can’t run away from trouble.  There ain’t no place that far.  This is something that I keep reminding myself as I pass over each day, more so now.  Would life be exciting without that dynamic?  The most ecstatic moment is when you leave a pain behind and are just scarred.  There is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature.  A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with.  Happiness is beneficial for the body but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind. 

 

Misery loves company and so I look around. There is a DVD library in our neighborhood that’s logging huge custom. “It’s all about how can I cut back,” said a new sign up. “What else can I possibly do to provide entertainment for my family?”

I look up the newspapers and there was John Chambers, CEO, Cisco Systems squealing – “IT’S the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life,”  he admits, after announcing big job cuts last month. “We went from over 65 miles an hour down to flat or negative growth in what, two months? I don’t know many companies in the world that could do that.”  I wonder what citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit would say. Lehman brothers CEO Dick Fuld is spared of the trouble.  It just caved in. Who will take the lectern next? Rick Wagoner, Allan Mullaly, Bob Nardelli….Gee, I am losing count.

Miracle, suddenly means this earthly life. It no longer means flying in the air or walking on water. Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them.  The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.   One might do well to remember the darkest hour has only sixty minutes.  Oh, really?  It’s almost eleven months since lights went off the deal street.  What the fuck….  Go do what it takes to survive!

 

Yes, we carved our own destiny

February 28, 2008

I ran into my old friend and classmate from college, K.P.Vishwanath, now a Vice President with Microsoft at Mumbai Airport. “Vish” as we called him fondly has been a terrific guy, a little reserved but very helpful even in those days.  We did catch up on a lot of stuff but then meeting after 24 years, we felt we had hardly scratched the surface.  We tried harder, dashed out of the airport, squeezed in a pub crawl and a couple swigs later, I dropped him back at the airport just in time to catch his connecting flight to Singapore – just as we did things in college, in the nick of time.

From carefree college life to where we got ourselves, it’s been a long journey for us both.  We seem to have sauntered alike in the way we followed our natural instincts.  On my way back, I scrapped it all in my mind, especially on areas where we converged that yielded material for my blog post.  Here I go.

We both had our fair share of great opportunities that disguised as unsolvable problems. It took a curious, creative mind to go after those. The intuition propelled action and curiosity drove pursuit. That singular focus inspired people around us to join in and simplify the pursuit. Between stimulus and response lay our freedom to choose.  We were careful in choosing and involving people that mattered.  I love to involve people in everything I do. Tell them, they’ll forget; show them, they’ll remember; involve them, they’ll understand.

Creativity is the process of discovering something you did not start out with.  Sometimes in the process, you may reach a dead end.  It’s a mistake if you think your journey has ended. It’s just a signal for you to retrace your steps and continue. Nature has its own way to present you with complexities, when you’d think you’d just solved the most intricate.  So there’s nothing called a dead end. They are just temporary suspensions.  Nothing is exciting if you know what the outcome is going to be. Even the woodpecker owes his success to the fact that he uses his head and keeps pecking away until he finished the job he started.

I remember some lessons from my days in the trenches, which is about often, given the creative hack that I am.  Everything new stirs my interest and I take off without notice. Often I tend to think future as a static goal and worked towards it. The closer I got, the farther it gets. The goal post kept shifting and it took a while for me to realize that in the process, I’ve too been growing.  I had developed a better sense of judgment, a refined process of thought and had significantly improved my clarity of perception. I began to sense risks early on and ward them off in advance.  Vish said I spoke his mind and flashed a Peter Drucker quote – best way to predict the future is to create it !!

Yes, we carved our own destiny.

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Mother’s counsel

December 21, 2007

The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind. 

To me, it started with my mother.  Three years back while I was working for a company, everyday I used to come back home exhausted more because of boredom than work rigors. Still I didn’t have the guts to chuck my job and start a business because it kept paying all my bills. It kept my family happy, except the two of us who quietly grieved. I, being the trapped one; and my Mother, because she knew why I was putting up with it. 

Then one day when she could take no more of my suffering, she told me this.  “To start the business you want to, you have to look into the future and pretend you already were there. You have to stop treating the gestation or no-revenue period like some necessary evil, use that time to learn skills, build relationships and trust the investment would work.”  Coming from someone with modest education and just small town exposure, I was stunned. 

If you want to do something, just do it. Minds are like parachutes – they only function when open. The only way to achieve your goals is to jump right in and get started. You don’t need instructions, and you don’t need to be an expert.  It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect it’s successful outcome. 

Mohammed Ali once said “To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are.”  Boxing has hardly been the sport my Mother loved. I am sure, she wouldn’t have heard him either….

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Wedded to the last minute

October 6, 2007

My channel partner in the US drives a lot of deals my way.  In return, I kick him back a neat slice out of my revenues and the experience has been fulfilling (Trevor, hope you feel that way too !). 

But of late, he wants me to hop on to a major “bRandwagon” to increase the visibility of our service offerings.  Not that I am against that idea, but then I fear losing my unique advantage of offering the full spectrum of Investment Banking services at a fourth of the cost charged by Deloitte or E&Y.  I now have the liberty of focusing on smaller niche clients in need of quality due diligence, valuation and M&A services within $5 MM -$25MM range, that the Big Four will not even care to look at.  Thank you, Big Four !  Your crumbs are my full meal… 

The worry I have with branding is I should not end up enlarging my profile and end up intimidating my potential clients that are usually expansion stage.  Trevor somehow feels that it won’t.  The going is good now and I don’t want a slower deal flow.  I operate from India and despite the Dollar turning a dog, my margins come through.  The advantage of doing business from India is exactly that, you can always find a cheaper vendor.  If you are good at oversight, you can get the world’s best quality too.  I prepare all templates and give them precise mandates for execution. It yields me fantastic results and my clients keep coming back. What more do I need?    

So why board the bRandwagon?  I employ my pet theory here. Procrastinate, of course.

I know a client of mine bought over $15,000 of software in the past two years to help him with his computer, 80% of it is still unopened and or unused when I last checked. It might help if he started by removing the software kit from its packaging.

The world, I guess is just teeming with procrastinators. Some delay important surgery. Some people hold off on taking courses or changing jobs. Others delay household chores or washing their cars. Some even hold off on getting born (That was me. Sorry Mom.). I am slightly better, I don’t put off my car wash. Lucky that way, it just costs me $ 4 a month (yes, the digit 4, not a typo) and my driver costs me under $ 160 a month, and only he can manage that insane traffic.  I love this India advantage. 

I am beginning to realize it’s helping me in getting rid off my worries. This art of resting the mind and the power of dismissing from it all care and worry is probably one of the secrets of energy in our great men. So I keep harking on time zones and tell myself – don’t worry about the world coming to an end today, it’s already tomorrow in Australia.  

Anyway, master procrastinators are rarely appreciated. When you can’t handle events, just let them handle themselves.  Believe me, they do a damn good job.  My advise for people who are always anticipating trouble – don’t hurry to worry.  If you do, you manage to enjoy many sorrows that never really would happen to you.

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It’s just the beginning

September 22, 2007

Young middle-class Indians are the happiest people of all and much more satisfied with all aspects of their lives compared to other nationalities, according to a new global survey by Swedish research and consulting firm Kairos Future. The priorities of Indian youth — work, good career and a position with high status, are reflected in their values such as endurance and entrepreneurship.

“Indian youth are also strikingly more optimistic about its future and also about the future of society. The general picture in other countries is that young people tend to be personal optimists but societal pessimists,” according to Kairos Future Group CEO and founder Mats Lindgren. “Indians are focused on their careers and are much more status-oriented than youth in Europe,”  he adds. 

While I say cheers to that, it got me a bit worried too. If that happiness signals contention, I’d rather they be unhappy. We are nowhere near the level of self development that we are capable of achieving with our potential.  Still if young India is content and happy, then I think it is not quite awake to its opportunities and true potential. We could be ignorant, but we can’t afford to be naïve.  My exposure to the developed world and its youth tells me that young India has miles to go.  Be it in its outlook towards life, politics, sense of achievement and creative disruption, we have a lot to learn from others. Young India will have to push (and pull) itself harder and stretch its aspiration levels. There’s no reason to feel comfortable and lax. We’ve got to clean up a lot of mess and in that we’ve an uphill task.  We’ve to educate ourselves about a lot other things than just academics and uplift our poor masses into the mainstream. The hardest task is in presenting the yoke of our population as our strength, a potent, rich market that doesn’t under-consume. If we could achieve that, it will attract large global enterprise to our hinterlands and will create jobs by thousands.  Remember, best way to get rich is by helping others get richer.

We should learn systems approach and intense work culture from Japanese, execution skills from Chinese, attention to detail from Germans, Entrepreneurship and innovation culture from Americans. These are but a few that I’ve had the first hand feel of, but I’m sure there could be other virtues from elsewhere that I may not be exposed.  But please don’t get tempted to absorb the decadent culture of teenage binge drinking, drugs and other bad habits that destroy the health and character of many a youngster in places like England and Italy. That also explains diminishing presence of these once great nations in the rank list of global achievers.  While I think of Lenovo, Google, VMware, SAP and closer home Educomp, Financial Technologies and Suzlon, I can’t think of a single billion $ company that sprouted in the last decade from the UK and Italy. 

So be smart and pick your cherries.  Avoid the rot.  Never rest easy, not for a second.   All the very best.

Reset to de-stress

September 19, 2007

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Often I think I have few choices without unlimited resources, but lately I’ve realized that we always have more choices than we think we do.  We just need to look for them.  Chances are that we could find an anchor in the storm, helping us focus on what we want from this important part of our life.  They steer us around the rocks of fear, guilt and sorrow to new harbors of happiness & fulfillment.

Most of us have dreams, though we may not have dusted them off in quite a while.   We need that someone or something that help us to re-kindle our enthusiasm; to banish the internal sceptic that tells us to give up and wait for an early grave.   That something which gives us a regular injection of passion, enthusiasm, an external perspective, and powerful ways to move us towards our outrageous dreams!

Then we could be at peace with ourselves and our world, with time to be still, reflect and find contentment – rather than rail against the world and everyone in it.

To find a perfect life coach is often difficult.  Especially the ones that help us move at a pace set by ourselves, in a direction of our choosing. So what do we do?  Be our own coach.  It’s then that I dig up compilations such as the one here that help me reset my stressed nerves and get me recharged.

The best advice some great people got that changed their lives.  Not just the usual suspects like Warren Buffet and Jack Welch figure in there, you have Marc Benioff,  Vivek Paul and Brian Grazer too…

Use it.  It helps.

What you make of yourself is what matters

September 4, 2007

Winning isn’t everything–it’s the only thing” – Vince Lombardi

A recent survey that I read on job satisfaction confirmed this – only 17% enjoy what they do. What will be the quality of their output then? This inspired me to make this post.  

Donald Trump is what he is because he loves what he does and is passionate about it. Wealth was a by-product of following his passion despite failing early. That passion kept the ball at play and him in the game.  You know something? Success that takes long, lasts long.

Every Joe aspires to be a Donald Trump. Why wouldn’t they?  Yet most are stopped by fear of failure. More than the fear, what weighs them down is, cost of failure.  What will happen to my family? What a loser I’ll make of myself? What if I have to sell my car and home? How will I face my friends? This is indeed why he goes to work everyday, not that he is dying to get there. 

Let me try answering these questions. Tell me, if it matched yours.

What will happen to your family?  Certainly your family won’t starve; it will find an alternative way to survive.  May be you’ll have to cut down on cable TV, eating out, flipping mobiles every month and excessive shopping; stretch every dime thin. Just lose that credit card first.

What a loser I’ll make?  You mean, to others?  Rest assured, no one will rush to your aid. So how does it matter what they think of you?  They would like you to look like a loser forever. Not that they revel in your misfortune. It just makes them look in great shape. They draw comfort in that they aren’t the only ones in the trenches and are happy to have you for company. They come closer to compare but you mistake that for love.  They just love themselves more and look in the mirror with less guilt.  So what really matters is how it feels to you.  It was your choice to experiment and you did. If you’d succeeded, good. Damn good.  If you have failed, you are a lot wiser now.  With all freshly minted wisdom, go to the next experiment. You’ll succeed. Now tell me, were you a loser at first? No. It was the first hurdle and in fact you crossed it by failing at it. It was a hurdle meant to trip.

What if you have to sell your car and home? Simple. You’ll take public transport or even walk. Just start early. Certainly, you’ll not be immobilized. No driving or parking stress. You’ll move to a rented home, a smaller one perhaps. There will still be roof over your head.

How will I face my friends?  Straight, in the face. You are no criminal, just broke.

Did your answers match that of mine?  Go ahead and take some risk, NOW. It could be your enterprise. I truly wish you win.

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