Posts Tagged ‘Work-Life Balance’

End game!

May 30, 2012 2 comments

The Day After!

This evening it dawned on me … I realised how Rafael Nadal feels after a big match – or let us speak about something that is currently relevant. I understood the meaning of GM Viswanathan Anand’s response to journalists after winning the 5th World Title – “I am too tense and tired to relish the moment. Maybe it will dawn on me after a while. The feeling I have now is relief!”

Don’t do a Google search to find out what prize Jayadev Menon has won – but some moments of great joy cause such a high that for a while you feel totally drained and blank – not unlike how you feel after eating an excessive amount of chocolate or cake!

At such times you just need to give the mind and body a break; it’s like you are giving them a treat for having achieved something worthwhile.

In yesterday’s article I had presented the excerpts of a meeting with a talented entrepreneur – the article was received well by my readers. I am happy to state here that the heroine of the story appreciated my work and forwarded it to her circle of friends – that not only helped improve readership but brought a lot of good press for me too. Many of them enjoyed reading the article and left kind words of appreciation at the blog.

Net Effect: A big buzz – I was getting the rub-off benefit for presenting a success story.

I am sure you have felt it too:

–          When you made a big sale

–          Closed a deal after overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds

–          Negotiated a breakthrough deal with a client who had been ignoring you till now

–          A major customer writes a letter to your CEO appreciating your work

Your joy knows no bounds – you go around with a glazed look in your eyes, you are not seeing anything, the world looks a polychrome tapestry of a billion colours …. Don’t you distinctly get the feeling that I am getting carried away?

In such situations you are permitted a break – a day when you take things easy, contemplate the achievement and bask in the glory.

This isn’t about me at all – I don’t think the time has come for me to celebrate wildly or to take a break from writing. The truth is that it was a busy day, with a few big agenda items to be dealt with. There was no time to think up something to write.

So I used a readymade excuse to simulate the experience of an unfelt feeling … I am sure you have felt it one time or the other. I wish you many more. I had not felt that feeling today … Vishy sure did! Let us give a huge round of applause to the Champ who has held the Indian flag high for so many years – definitely would find mention among the top few all-time great sports-persons in the world.

I am sure the Champ deserves a huge break after such a tense contest and unparalleled achievement.

But for us it is time to move on: don’t let the feeling linger; after relishing the victory it’s time to recalibrate and start all over again.

Another day has dawned: Refocus, reset the target, gun the engine and engage gear … hit the road in quest of new achievements.


Being natural!

May 14, 2012 14 comments

Thought that sharing some pleasant memories from the weekend gone by would help to put everyone in a happy mood as they start another busy week!

A pair of Crested Serpent Eagles were making lazy circles in the sky a few 100 feet above the forest floor – we gazed intently through our binoculars and note the characteristic markings on the under wings and tail as the birds called out to each other, it was a fluted two note cry, almost plaintive – I have often wondered why these dangerous and majestic birds had such shrill calls.

From a tree nearby an Indian Grey Hornbill peered at us, craning his neck to get a better look and flicking his tail angrily for dramatic effect– his mate made a cackling call from another tree further away, as if to say – “These city slickers having nothing better to do than to come and pry on us. We need to find a better neighbourhood – no privacy in these parts!” I could understand what she said.

A pair of Ruby Throated Bullbuls made a noisy entry …. chirping away to glory and their loud colors in sharp contrast to the green of the foliage.

On a petrified tree in the distance Hill Mynas settled to sing their mellifluous songs before taking off for places unknown!

We didn’t sight much during the outing –  just around 20 species of birds;  it was 9.30 a.m. by the time we got there and the birds already done with the morning action (they are Early Birds, you see!) had decided to find shelter from the midday sun, which was beating down on the forest.

Three young-at-heart middle-agers drove up to Braemore Estates in the hills outside Trivandrum – a 4 km trek up a steep path from the estate’s main gate would take us to Ponmudi, the popular tourist spot for folks in the city; but we did not go there.

After taking permission to enter the property we stopped at the old Tea Factory made by the British in the 19th Century – the old machinery that were busy for close to a 100 years now stood silent – we wondered at the ingenuity of the Brits who lugged all this stuff up the dense forest trails over 130 years ago.

After that stop we moved on to a secluded spot for a bit of birding. Although there weren’t many birds for us to observe the view was magnificent and the breeze a balm – it lifted our spirits. We took it slow and easy – the idea was to get all the stress out of the system.

We friends started visiting the forests of South India in the 80s- the trips were frequent in the early years, when we were still bachelors and life was less complicated. Marriage, children and progress in our careers added a number of factors added into the equation – it was difficult for us to meet as often as we wished to. Some friends moved away and took residence at faraway places. But the four of us who are still here try to make at least 2-3 trips, shorter ones these days, to the Western Ghats to do a bit of birding and walking.

Speaking about walking reminds me … the years flew by and the youngsters who  started a lifelong love affair with nature have now entered the 50s – lazier and less inclined to rush off on a long trek. So during yesterday’s outing Santhosh, the automobiles man, comes up with a bright idea – “I am working on a vehicle with a retractable roof and seats that can be hoisted around 10 feet above the ground so that all of us can observe the birds without ever leaving the vehicle.” Interesting, eh?! 🙂

A bit earlier Rakesh had remarked – “I wish we could inform the birds in advance so that they would sit on the trees lining the road to be counted; reduces the amount of walking we have to do.”

When we started, way back in the 80s, it was motorcycles, backpacks and sleeping bags – we would get permission from the Forest Department and spend 2 or 3 nights inside the jungle – sleeping in the open or a natural cave in the middle of nowhere, later it was forest dormitories or inspection Bungalows and the nature enthusiasts went for rides on Jeeps to check what the jungles had to show us; now we are busy searching for ways to avoid walking – a few leeches on our shoes, as we tested the over-grown paths, had the three of us scurrying back. We laughed at ourselves.

No, don’t be fooled by these comments – we are older, somewhat lazier and finickier than before but the enthusiasm and eagerness still remain unabated – as we drove back to Trivandrum a trip to the North East of India was hatched.

This trip was a short one but it gave us time to relax, observe some birds, indulge in some idle banter, forget the regular stuff that usually clouded our minds …. we were our natural selves, at least for that 1/2 day!

Categories: Ideas Tags:

Reach out and touch!

April 29, 2012 10 comments

We live, we learn, we work, we earn, we make merry, we play, we have fun, we grow … we may even win accolades and awards; but then there are so many people doing that. Some of us may become celebrities by excelling in our fields; but we become cause célèbre or something special when we do things that make a lasting impact on the world around us … that does not happen when we work harder or when we win for ourself; it only happens when we heed a different call, it happens when we win for others. And by doing that we become giants among men, truly Awesome!

What are some of the ways we can create this transformation, in ourselves, to bring about a positive change in the world around us: we can help others through moments of crisis, bringing hope of a better life to people who are less privileged than us or make someone happy. The act may seem insignificant, but believe you me, it isn’t!

Here’s how a bunch of young professionals did it:

Many years back when I worked with a telecom start-up I watched a group of young Customer Care Executives go on a journey that made them Awesome!

After the hectic launch phase (people worked all 7 days some weeks and way beyond regular hours on all days) was completed the organisation had reached steady state operations and the staff were not as busy as they used to be – there was a need to find something interesting and worthwhile to pursue because now they were going home earlier than they were accustomed to – “Let’s do something useful as a team” was the thought.

That’s when one of them read an article in the newspaper about an old age home in need for cash – the social organisation that was running the home were told to move to a new location and were in dire need of funds to make the transition.

The young Executive informed the team that this is a worthwhile cause and they could execute this project in their spare time. Soon there were a few more who liked the idea and a plan was hatched. They decided to conduct a music concert to raise funds –the required fund would be raised through ticket sales. The Senior Management heard about the project and were impressed with the dedication of the young team. They decided to support the project by way of funds and marketing inputs. The company’s marketing team helped to create the publicity material. Many employees helped in the sale of tickets. Some of the affluent customers of the organisation contributed generously to the cause.

The program was a success and the young Samaritans were able to light up many hearts in that old age home with their love.

The impact on team morale was huge and the company too benefited from the association with the cause – but the actual winners were the young set of professionals who had the heart to reach out to a group of people who needed help … fulfilling a duty towards the community.

They were a regular bunch of people like you and me – doing a job and living like most other normal folks do, and then one day they decided to be extraordinary – it was a journey that made them special … they lit up a few lives forever and won over many hearts. I salute their spirit.

On a different note, here is a video I saw just yesterday about a child who would be able to do much more in life if she got access to good education:

Can you help one such child in your community?

There are a thousand different ways you can cause a celebration in the world around you?

P.S: If you already are involved in some such activity please accept my heartfelt appreciation and best wishes. You are a Champ!

Kindly share your experience and thoughts in the comments column so that some others can pick up that idea and do some magic too.

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Sunday – Time to Recharge

March 4, 2012 4 comments

It’s 6:30 a.m. on Sunday – I wake little Raveen up, he sleepily walks into the drawing room and plonks down on the sofa. We sit there for a while, half asleep but pushing each other to get set for the activities that lie ahead – Item.1 on the agenda is a 4 km walk.

Every time I visit Trivandrum this walk is one of 2 rituals I diligently pursue.

The week that had gone by had been particularly taxing; my laptop had developed a complaint and work had come to a grinding halt on some days; and at other times it had made desultory progress. I had to frequent cybercafes or wait for my turn on someone else’s machine till a spare one was located for my exclusive use. The circumstances had driven me up the wall.

A trip to Trivandrum to spend time with my nephew Raveen was the ideal prescription – he is my buddy and tension-reliever. A long walk and couple of hours of cricket with him would dissolve all the stress in the system.

Today, the conversation focused on golf – our walk took us past the Golf Links and we saw some players Teeing off and some others Putting on the green adjacent to the road. He’d been to the Links often with his dad. I explained the features of a typical Golf Course, the types of clubs used and the scoring system, and that just about covered everything I knew about this sport. Raveen wondered aloud how the players avoided getting hit by the balls flying about on the fairways and greens – and he repeated back to me the meanings of Golfing terms such as Birdie, Bogey and Bunker. It was fun!

Walks in the past focused on the birds seen along the route, cars that went by and his friends in school. Cricket is a topic that gets discussed all the time because its our favourite sport.

Just as we got home from the walk my brother-in-law, Raveen’s dad, rushed out to meet couple of clients. He had appointments lined up even on Sunday. I said to myself that it’s great to love our job and to be 110% committed to it.But then will the job or our organisation love us back with the same fervour? An occasional weekend assignment is fine but what if it becomes a regular feature of my work? I had opted out of Corporate life a few years back for this reason – less and less of my time was within my control with each passing year.

In the desperate chase for Corporate Stardom we lose a lot of good things that life has to offer.

That takes me nicely into the second ritual I faithfully take part in – and that’s cricket with Raveen. He isn’t very good at it yet. It’s only been a few months since he started taking Coaching and I can see some changes already; he understands the nuances and speaks quite competently about all aspects of the game. I am sure he will be pretty good at it soon.

But the fun part of playing with him is the drama involved – you don’t just bat, bowl and field; with him it’s an entire experience. He plays the role of Tendulkar, Sehwag, Kohli, Raina, Zaheer Khan or Ashwin (his favourite cricketer – he calls himself Ravichander Raveen); their actions and the way they exchange words with each other on the field are faithfully reproduced during our game. I am in splits most of the time – after playing a good stroke he would punch the air with his fist and walk across to knock gloves with his imaginary partner and when he bowls a good delivery there are appeals that mimic the actions of Ashwin or Brett Lee. It’s Live Television and wholesome entertainment – wouldn’t miss it for anything.

Afterwards we grab bottles of water and discuss the recent cricket matches. I can feel the tension and bad vibes of the previous week melting away and the body getting rejuvenated and energised for more action.

Now I am nicely set up for the week that lies ahead … Thank you, Raveen!

Have a F.U.N-day at work!

February 5, 2012 6 comments

Many of you are aware of the F.I.S.H. principles – a set of practices that help to liven up the workplace and make work fun! Follow the link in case you haven’t heard about it earlier – a movie and a set of books are available for those interested.

Work becomes a happy experience when it’s done in an interesting way or it happens in a fun atmosphere. There is a lot of talk about making a career out of what you love doing the most. Unfortunately many people are not able to reach that ideal but you certainly can have fun at whatever job you are doing right now.

–          Guys at roadside tea-stalls make and pour tea in interesting ways

–          Guys flip Dosas, Pizzas and Chappathis in comical fashion to liven up their work

–          Cocktail mixers put on a show for the drinkers at the bar

–          Even ice-cream is served with a lot of jugglery to entertain the buyer

–          Many BPOs make their work a fun experience by having themes and routines

It’s a fun experience for the customer and a break from monotony for the employee – work turns into play. Any job can be made fun if you apply your mind to it. The ambiance and/or the interactions can have the fun element.

My first full time job was with a company that manufactures and sells stuff like tables, chairs, almirahs, safes and locks – how exciting is that? I agree that it wasn’t cutting edge stuff, but we were the best in the business – our company was almost a hundred years old and a market leader. But it was set in its ways and work was steady rather than exciting.

So we Sales guys found ways to liven up the proceedings each day with our pranks. The rest would watch in amusement and awe while we pulled off some crazy practical jokes on our colleagues – all in good humor and never to hurt.

We had this brilliant young fellow, Narendran, who was the Sales Engineer for our organisation’s newly formed CAD / CAM division – impeccable credentials and smart worker. Gem of a chap too, he wasn’t stuck-up like some of the Oh-so-mighty IT specialists who turned up from the Head Office, their wonders to achieve! It was cutting-edge stuff after all. We usually ignored that snooty bunch.

But poor Naren paid the price for being nice to us – we already were battle-hardened veterans, with a few notches on our belt, by the time he joined us, a fresher from college. He was at the butt end of our jokes.

Those days we used motorbikes to get around town – Naren wore sunglasses to protect his eyes from the Sun and dust. One day without his knowledge we pasted a layer of Scotch Tape on one glass – the work was done so well (we took ample precautions to see that there weren’t fingerprint smudges on the sticky side) you couldn’t see the layer of plastic at own glance. Our friend started using the glass unaware of our prank and soon started complaining about his vision. He said there was something wrong with his left eye, he couldn’t see clearly. It never went into our poor Engineer’s head to check the glasses. He even complained to his mother, who worked in another city, and she decided to rush over to be with her worried son.

We knew that the game had gone far enough – sheepishly we stopped his mother from making the journey and told her about our little game. Our ring-leader got the tongue lashing of his life and an annoyed, yet much relieved Naren had enough humour in him to laugh at the trick we played on him.

But we weren’t through with him yet. Naren usually met very senior Aerospace specialists in the Indian Space Research Organisation. He would walk in with his classy leather portfolio bag that held a laptop and a set of brochures with information on our company’s proprietary software products. One can imagine the rarefied atmosphere in which such meetings happens.

The customer would ask for information on some product and with the air of a high priest Naren would open his bag to pull out the required brochure and out would come all the remaining brochures like a long snake. He would stare in astonishment and the customer would have an amused look on his face seeing the young fellow’s predicament. Before he left office we had stapled his brochures in such a way that they would unfold like one continuous sheet when lifted apart.

Do I have to tell you that we had to run for cover when he stomped into office that evening after the visits?

Such games livened up our days at Godrej! I am sure you too have such tales to tell – I have many more but this will do for now.

It lifts the spirit, reduces stress and helps to build rapport among the team-members.

Please remember that we never made a joke out of our work and maintained high level of professionalism in our dealings with customers – it was only at the office that we did such mad deeds.

Make work fun and office will soon become a place you eagerly wish to return to each day.

Categories: Ideas Tags:

Take a break!

January 22, 2012 Leave a comment

This blog has been going strong and steady for the last 45 days.

Today I have no story to file on Sales … but let me share some more information on my hobby which I have spoken about in the past; in turn this can spark a thought or an idea to do something interesting in your own spare time.

To be ready for hectic action you experience each week your mind has to be cleared and detoxified during the weekend – and the solution for that is do something relaxing and enjoyable.

I have told you that Birding is my hobby … reading is another! What’s your? Here are a few ideas:

– Start a collection! (Stamps, Coins, Flags, Sports Jerseys , Paintings)

– Learn to play an instrument. (If you are skilled already do set aside time to practice)

– Listen to a motivational lecture. (There are so many available for free on YouTube)

– Learn / practice yoga!

– Meditate.

– Sing / Dance / Act

Such pursuits help to take your mind of work for a while, gives you new knowledge or skill, keeps you productively engaged and helps you to meet other interesting and like-minded people. The networks in your brain make new connections and your brain becomes more alert and energised.

Hobbies help you in many ways:

– They promote your networking skills; you seek people with similar interest

– You become more gregarious and communicative

– You get more opportunities to work in teams

– You are able to share your knowledge and help others learn

– You can practice leadership skills.

All these attributes are useful at work; and you are able to hone these in a non-combative and fun environment.

It’s a break from work, but a whole new learning …. Go for it!

Categories: Ideas Tags: ,

Work 100%, live 100%!

January 8, 2012 6 comments

It’s tough to write an article at the end of a long day. Was up at 4:15 a.m. and out in the marshlands off Trichur by Sunrise, to spend 6 hours in the field for a Bird Census; returned to the base-camp to submit reports and then traveled 4 hours to get back home. Phew!

It was tiring, but fun, and extremely energizing!

Why am I saying all this in a Sales Blog?

It’s on account of a response to my Post on Jan 3rd, which spoke about the importance of Effort – I had ended that one with this line:

“Do! Do! Do! … Do you read me?” (Unquote)

The message being – No matter how good our plan, without proper Execution nothing will ever be achieved!

It had evoked this response from a friend-I have removed a section, but retained the essence:


I do:) Loud and clear:) I don’t agree with you completely though….a lot, but not fully. It’s great to have focus, effort and all that but what about the simple pleasures you might be missing out on? A frivolous conversation with a friend? A slow drink watching the sunset? A lazy hour reading Asterix? A mad game with your child? These are equally important experiences that make you a well rounded person…..think about it J!

This called for remedial action – the feedback was from a good buddy! I didn’t wish to get on her “AVOID-LIKE-THE-PLAGUE” list.

This was my reply:

Can’t agree with you more, Raji. But first of all THANK YOU for reading … regularly.

I only meant EFFORT during the WORKING HOURS! I do believe that we all need to have a life beyond work. But many of us end up wasting a lot of hours in the office under the guise of work. I love doing a lot of stuff other than work and I recommend such practices to everyone during my training programs – but in the spare time. Is that acceptable?

My hobbies include Reading and voluntary work in Nature & Wildlife Protection Programs. Today I had gone for a Bird-life survey. Here is a view of the wetlands my group visited (A team member photographing an interesting bird species we had seen):

There are many other hobbies and activities we can pursue in our spare time. It makes us complete human beings, enriches our lives and makes us more interesting. Don’t you all agree?

To return to my argument on Effort, it’s easy to believe, and to make others believe, that we are hard pressed for time and doing more than what’s expected off us.

People end up being “at work” for 12 or 15 hours – but if one were to analyse what they are doing at the office it will tell a different story. Today Social Media is a huge distraction – and there are the traditional filler items.


–          Time spent in office “planning” the day’s work

–          Meetings that go on forever / Unscheduled meetings

–          Number of visits and calls made to the office during the day for various reasons

–          Coffee breaks / duration of lunch break

–           Time spent on the Net / Social media

–          Time spent reading/forwarding jokes/videos/unofficial stuff

–          Time spent on chit-chat with the “guys”

–          Personal work done during office hours

These and a few other time-killers make us extremely “busy” people!

Don’t panic. I don’t wish to see Cyborg-like employees at work. We need to know where to draw the line; and I am strongly pro True Recreation, such as Reading, Sports/Exercise, Social Service, Networking, Fine Arts and so on.

My hobby is birding and that activity got my undivided attention today; tomorrow when I start a new week at work I plan to give 100%!

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