Onam Sadya and Lessons for Teachers

Yesterday I was invited by my students to take part in their ‘Onam Sadya’ Lunch Celebration. When I landed up there, I found a large number of the students were in ‘mundu’ and ‘kasavu set saree’ (traditional Kerala wear). Most of them stopped to say ‘hi’. welcomes me (and so many others) with a warm smile, and ensured we enjoyed every aspect of the meal.

What makes this special is that this happened over 3000 Kilometres away from Kerala.

Making this event a success needed identifying caterers who can cook and deliver specific cuisine, ensuring that it is delivered on time, gaining permission from local authorities to make this happen, and ensuring that there is no glitch. It also meant getting a group of people together and participate. It required all the ‘kids’ (as I lovingly address them) to serve the food to their friends, faculty, and staff. It required them to manage the logistics as well as handle the ‘on the floor’ challenges of ensuring every one had a good meal.

I was astonished at their energy levels, their commitment levels, their interest levels, their enthusiasm levels, and much more.

It did not seem that this required creation of a team or committee.

It did not seem to require any role identification and delegation.

It did not seem to require any oversight.

How did all this happen meticulously in a seemingly leaderless group? I came away feeling thrilled and proud that – here are a group of enterprising students who gave me the opportunity to be their teacher. I learn so much from them. I always tell them this. Here is one more opportunity to learn and thank them.

Teachers must really think over this. When students ‘love’ what they do, they don’t need to be given instructions, they don’t need to be grouped, they don’t need supervision. All they need is direction. If students are not enthused over your classes and assignments, don’t blame the ‘kids’, ask yourself how you can create a more inspiring opportunity for them to display their levels of passion, interest, energy and potential. How can we make students ‘love’ the subject and the learning? The rest will be taken care of, by them!

I reiterate my stand that students have a lot to teach their teachers. I hope the teachers have the openness to learn from them. If teachers open their eyes, there is so much to gain from the interaction with our younger generation.

Thanks Guys and Gals, for a lovely ‘Onam Sadya’ and even more wonderful lessons to become a better teacher. I promise to learn and try!

How Venture Capitalists Think?

Every entrepreneur wants to understand this. Here is one more chance to glimpse into one such mind. This interview (Link: http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/inside-the-mind-of-a-venture-capitalist?cid=other-eml-alt-mip-mck-oth) with Steve Jurvetson of Draper Fisher Jurvetson is very interesting.

What got me excited is his thoughts on how large companies can deal with disruption. This is important to me for two reasons: (i) this relates to my research on corporate engagement with startups and corporate acceleration; and (ii) it helps in bringing one more perspective in my workshops on corporate innovation and strategic leadership.

Happy Listening!

Google – still entrepreneurial?

It is difficult to understand organisations. Why 3M attract so much interest from everyone around the world? They have some how managed to keep the entrepreneurial quotient alive. While many companies learn about the 3M Case Study in Corporate Innovation Workshops, very few have been able to create their own model to keep innovation alive.

Google is proving to be another exception. Recently Google spoke about an internal project to develop a new operating system (from scratch). When I read through the article (Link: http://www.fastcompany.com/3063006/why-on-earth-is-google-building-a-new-operating-system-from-scratch), I also kind of think we need to envision a new operating system. But that is so much against an organisation’s short term goals. Android is gaining popularity. Why do something that can (probably) kill it? But isn’t that what entrepreneurial companies have always done in the past?

While doing everything they should to keep Android the best operating system, they are also building an alternative. If they continue to keep this spirit alive, they will continue to be an entrepreneurial organisation.

I now use Google along with 3M in my workshops on Corporate Innovation and Corporate Entrepreneurship. There is a lot to learn and imbibe. There is so much opportunity for large organisations to turn entrepreneurial, but will they? They need aspirational leaders to make this happen. I hope I can enable the creation of a few!

Vedantic Wednesday: Regrets in Life

This is not a question that is discussed when you are under 60! While passing reference is made to ‘regrets’, they don’t bother us till we are old and over.

I came across an article that seemed a reminder to what we (probably) should miss doing when we are young so that we don’t regret over it when we get old. Link: https://www.fastcompany.com/3062962/6-things-you-may-be-doing-that-youll-seriously-regret-in-10-years

While the article says ‘6 things you don’t want regret’, there could be many more that are important to you. But even in other lists that I can come across, I find some of the above six repeatedly appearing. May be its important for you to consider the above six.

Many times when people get old, they wonder why they spent their life going behind achievements only!

Be ambitious, but have a life too. Think and take a call.

Vedantic Wednesday: Ingratitude is sin

Almost everything that we possess today is given to us by someone else. It is rather strange that we find fault with the people who helped us get here.

I recently heard a young management graduate complain about the company where he gained all the relationships he builds on today. While I concur on many things he said, I wondered how he could speak against someone who opened up a world for him. A world that he thinks will take him places.

The above person is not an exception. During the course of the past year I must have seen at least a dozen such examples directly. While their rational seems right, their behaviour opportune, I wonder if life is best lived this way. It is these brilliant minds that age fast, become sick, and eventually achieve stunted growth. Could ingratitude be a factor?

The positive side is that ‘Gratitude’ seems to make life even better. What is ‘Gratitude’? At its very essence, it is a sense of ‘Saying Thank You’. Thats all!! So simple, isn’t it? But not as easy as you think. Saying ‘Thank You’ is not lip service, it is a heartfelt service. It makes you feel so good. It relaxes. It energises. It calms. I am also thinking it could possibly detox.

Looking at how we live life, I have come to believe that ‘Ingratitude is sin’. It is probably the fastest way to stress oneself out.

Think. Reflect. If it makes sense, become grateful. Else Move on with the next thing.


What is a brand?

Questions such as this require deep reflection. But what I often get is quick, top of the mind answers. Some of the answers include: trust, image, ownership, loyalty, etc

Examples of Brands include – Companies (Apple, Google, Xerox, Tata);  Products (3M, Post-it Notes, Pampers); People (Richard Branson, Amitabh Bachan, Rajnikanth); and so on.

But what is a brand?

How much to learn by asking some basic questions – again and again!

I am asking myself this. I am reading answers from people who have spent a life time trying to answer them. I am reflecting on it from my own experiences in life. Hopefully I will have something to say, at some right time.

Happy Thinking!

A Lesson for Teachers

I just completed the first session and broke the class for lunch. We were to re-meet in about an hour. When I went to the canteen, I found this boy walking around with his phone camera on and scanning in all directions. He occasionally was doing something and there was celebration from friends around. Since he was so lost in another world, I asked him if there was a problem. He smiled and asked – ‘Are you not playing Pokemon Go?’

Over the next 10 minutes I had a class (right there in the canteen). One on ‘Augmented Reality’ using Pokemon Go. This was one more occasion why I enjoy being a teacher. I love my students, because they ensure that I am never behind on anything. Only thing I have to continue doing is – never acting like a teacher. If I keep my student like mind open, I can learn so much from my students. This helps me be an even better teacher.

So, as a teacher, if you are not catching Pokemons, at least let your students catch them. Because if you keep telling them what not to do, they will not tell you what they are doing. It is (in my opinion) the teacher’s loss.

If you are a teacher or a ‘teacher wannabe’ – enjoy learning along with students. Don’t treat them as students but as colleagues in the journey of learning. Its the only way you can learn and stay ahead.

Happy Thinking!