Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A.R.Rahman, Oscars And "Slumdog Millionaire"

With Slumdog Millionaire bagging eight Oscars at the 81 Academy Awards, it made India proud in the global level. A.R.Rahman’s bagging of two awards for the ‘Best Song –Jai Ho’ and ‘Best original Score’ has brought out the fact that music has no geographical boundaries. A.R.Rahman is another Indian to receive Oscar next to Bhanu Athaiya and Satyajit Ray and the first Indian to bag two Oscars and that too for the same film. The film raised the sights and sounds of India. It is a strong film with strong performance. The success of Slumdog Millionaire is not only the success for the film, but for the entire film industry and India as a whole.

Unsung Heroes:

In most of the Indian films it is the actors and actresses who get recognized and noticed. But the recent announcement of Oscar awards broke the myth as the technicians also play a crucial and key role for the success of the film. The Oscar award focused more on the unsung heroes. It also broke the myth that Indian films were not accepted at the global level. When a film is correctly portrayed and presented, it is bound to be accepted and recognized at the global level. The present success of Slumdog Millionaire is an indication that Indian cinema has come off age.

Slumdog Millionaire – The Top Dog:

Slumdog Millionaire is a small film with a big heart. And it is a global film with an Indian heart. It depicts the story of Mumbai slum dwellers in a true light. The film is natural, short duration, low budget and based on socio-economic realities of slum dwellers of Mumbai, India. The film portrays of two boys how they come when they lost their mother in riots. The trials and tribulations they underwent during their upbringing and the conflicts they faced during their life time are skillfully portrayed. Each incident in the life of hero taught several lessons that helped me to become a millionaire in the realty show.

The movie also adds little bit of violence prevailing in the slums. It combines romance and sentiments where the hero loved the heroine till last although she was kept as a servant by the underworld don. The film has all ingredients of violence, romance, sentiments, stunts and comedy. It conveys a social message to all to take note of slum dwellers more seriously. To put it succinctly, the film presents the power of hope in lives. Besides, it adds that given the choice between the money and love, it is the love that is lasting forever.

India produces the highest number of films in the world but when winning of Oscars comes we stand nowhere near. It is a good beginning for the Indian film industry. Several Indian films went for Oscars in the past and unfortunately they failed to bag. Many stars in India nursed their ambitions to bag Oscar award but could not make at the last. Basically Indian movies have songs and lot of sound effects which was not appreciated by the West. Besides there is an impression that Indian films are copycats of Hollywood films. But Slumdog Millionaire broke such myths about Indian film industry as it made the world to sit up and take notice. It is a very good beginning for Indian film industry as the world would take seriously hereafter.

Jai Ho Rahman!

When we look at the biography of A.R.Rahman, it is clear that he rose from rags to riches i.e. from rags to Oscars. The film coincides with the rise of Raman from nowhere to number one status by passion, perseverance and persistence. He suffered several personal and financial hardships right from his childhood before reaching the top slot. At one point of time, he virtually and literally gave up music for lack of money. Personally he gave break to many people in the industry. Of course, it was Maniratnam who gave him break in the film ‘Roja’. His mother was the symbol of motivation and inspiration. She toiled hard to bring up A.R.Rahman and placed him in his passionate area - music.

Music connects the people across the world as everyone can listen and enjoy. On the contrary, language has limitations as people have to put in more efforts to understand the essence. A.R.Rahman deserves credit for bringing Indian music to international identity. The Indian government should decorate him with the highest civilian award for making India proud at the global.

Passion – Key to Your Success:

Success is combination of passion, vision, mission and execution. Success does not come when you ape others. It comes only when you follow your heart. Once you know what touches your heart then you need to think where to go and that falls in vision. It requires big picture to find out where you want to travel in your life. Think out and plan a strategy of for your path which is known as mission. Once the path is charted out then get into action which is known as execution. During this course, there may be internal and external threats. And when you can manage the same successfully, you can achieve your passionate goals.


To sum up, it is not only victory for the persons who won Oscars, but also for the people who are involved in making the movie, for the entire film industry and for all Indians across the world. Winning eight Oscars is just beginning. We expect many mores such Oscars in future.

The End

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mentoring Stages, Merits, Characteristics, Types, Myths and Truths

“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”- Winston Churchill

Do you want to survive for a day or live for a life time or to be remembered for generations in the history of mankind? If your goal is to live longer and larger than life by becoming a priceless and timeless person then mentoring is the right option.

What is Mentoring?

“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”- John Crosby.

Mentoring is a powerful empowerment tool where both mentor and mentee grow personally and professionally. It is the process where the mentee’s investments are direct and mentor’s investments are indirect. Mentoring takes place in informal environment. It helps in transferring knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies from mentor to mentee. It requires good understanding and synergy between the both. It involves more of learning than teaching.

It is a type of partnership where sharing of experiences takes place. The relationship is confidential. The mentee should do lot of the leg work. Mentoring promotes transformational leadership.

Eric Parsloe of the Oxford School of Coaching and Mentoring defines mentoring as “To support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance, and become the person they want to be”.

The origin of mentor can be ascribed to Greek mythology where Mentor was the close friend of Odysseus as well as the teacher for Telemakos who was the son of Odysseus. When Odysseus went on tour he handed over the responsibility of his son, Telemakos to his friend Mentor who took the guardianship. Mentor not only guarded the friend’s son but also guided, advised and counseled until Odysseus returned. (Author’s blog: http://profmsr.blogspot.com )

Examine several cases where it was applied in the past. Greek philosopher, Socrates mentored Plato. Plato mentored Aristotle and the latter in turn mentored Alexander.

Merits of Mentoring:

Mentoring is catching across the world. It helps new employees to get grooved and groomed within the system. Besides, there are several advantages:
• Sets developmental goals.
• Uncorks the hidden potential.
• Brings synergy.
• Aligns with company’s vision.
• Hones the leadership skills for the mentors.
• Helps in career advancement for the mentees.
• Plays a key role in knowledge management.
• Helps in increased productivity and financial performance.
• Helps in improving bottom line of the business.

Characteristics of Mentor:

The primary role of mentors is to encourage and motivate their mentees or protégés. They should provide inspiration and direction. They should be accessible and approachable. They must be able to stand out from the crowd. The mentees must accept them like their role models. Mentors should be excellent listeners and must be in a position to maintain confidentiality about their mentees. They should have both sympathy and empathy towards their mentees.

Mentors should enhance the self-confidence of mentee. They must be persons of principles. They must be specialized in their field. They would have attained good education, experience and expertise in their domains. In brief, mentor should be like a guide, facilitator, philosopher, counselor, psychologist, teacher, trainer, leader, adviser, motivator etc.,

Merits for Mentor:

Mentoring has merits for both mentors and mentees. When observed from the perspective of mentor, there are several advantages. It helps in sharing the knowledge, experience, competencies that have been acquired over many years. There is an element of great satisfaction when sharing success, expertise and experience with others. It offers wider scope for experimentation and visibility.

Mentoring takes the mentor to the next higher level thus fulfilling self-actualization needs. There is huge potential to generate new vibes. It enables more self-confidence, self-esteem and self-satisfaction. Leaving a legacy through your mentee and becoming a legend gives you immense pleasure. The mentor becomes the reservoir of more knowledge as the saying goes “Knowledge grows when shared”. It develops coaching and leadership skills. It is indeed an enriching experience to become a mentor.

Characteristics for Mentee:

Mentee must have lot of patience and perseverance. Passion to learn and grow should be the hallmark. It is essential to regard and respect mentor. Mentee should be proactive and initiator. Mentee should have ability to experiment and go extra mile. S/he should persevere whenever the mentor is busy. And s/he should be prepared mentally for leg work. Taking feedback is necessary for improvement. S/he must come out of his/her comfort zone and enter into effective zone. And s/he must be able to accept criticism gracefully without any false ego.

Merits for Mentee:

“The ripest peach is highest on the tree.”

• Helps in discovering hidden potential.
• Helps in learning the ropes.
• Equips with skills, abilities and competencies thus enhancing career advancement.
• Enhances effectiveness rather efficiency.
• Avoids any kind of dissatisfaction with work.
• Bridges the gap between expectations and realities.
• Acquires specialized expertise.
• Develops networking abilities.
• Builds self-confidence.
• Widens career opportunities.

Mentoring benefits to organizations:

Companies are realizing the importance of mentor training for their employees. The benefits are plenty. Mentoring enhances the productivity and performance of the employees. It ultimately strengthens the companies’ bottom line. It minimizes the misunderstandings among the employees thus enhancing effective communication and interpersonal skills. Mentoring brings the people closer in companies. It improves team building skills and enhances knowledge base. Overall it improves soft skills among the employees thus ensuring organizational growth and prosperity.

Types of Mentoring:

There are various types of mentoring. A few of them in brief are: Informal or natural mentoring, developmental mentoring, peer mentoring, student mentoring, youth mentoring, team mentoring, business mentoring, political mentoring, lateral mentoring, soft (skills) mentoring, facilitated mentoring, reverse mentoring, entrepreneurial mentoring etc., It is an evolving and emerging area where new concepts surface regularly.

Mentoring Stages:

Zachary (2000), in her book The Mentor's Guide, describes the mentoring process in four stages. These are preparing, negotiating, enabling, and coming to closure.

During the preparing stage, the mentee prepares the ground for meeting the mentor who suits his/her goals. Mentee searches for several mentors through various ways and means and finally selects the mentor. Mentee looks at the competency of the mentor, matching his/her goal requirements, time availability, accessibility, affordability and convenience.

It is rightly said, “If a drop of water falls in a lake there is no identity. But if it falls on a leaf of lotus it shines like a pearl. So choose the best place where you can shine”. Therefore, choosing the right mentor is the first step towards successful mentoring.

Once s/he selects the right mentor then s/he approaches the mentor for services. S/he negotiates and creates a common ground for launching. If both mentor and mentee feel comfortable with the domain and other parameters and formalities then they proceed to the third stage of mentoring process.

Enabling is the most critical and crucial stage where the real mentoring takes place. There may be practical problems and bottlenecks that have to be sorted out for smooth execution of enabling. There could be differences of opinions and perceptions. Efforts are to be made to bridge the gap, if any. However, it is always easier said than done.

After the successful completion of this stage, the final stage of closure comes where in both relationship between mentor and mentee comes to an end. The entire process can be compared with that of a research guide and research scholar for doing PhD work.

Yet another four stages of mentoring relationship outlined by Linda Watt are: Initiation, Cultivation, Separation and Re-definition. (By Linda Watt for ACERRA)

It is essential to conduct SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis for both mentor and mentee to check whether chemistry and synergy exists between the interests of both. Thorough analysis also helps to leverage benefits. Besides, it eliminates, any fiasco during the process.

During the mentoring, all efforts should be made to make mentee independent. The feedback about the process has to be objective and specific. It should not be aimed at personal criticism but at the behavior for bringing necessary improvements. Mentoring should not deviate from the desired goals. It should be focused clearly.

During the process of mentoring the mentor must encourage the mentee by calling ‘You can do it’, ‘I believe in you’, ‘I like your mesmerizing speech’, ‘You are progressing well’, ‘You are unique’, ‘I am learning certain things from you’, ‘As a mentor I have discovered my own strengths’, ‘Your smile is magical’, ‘Do you need any assistance?’ etc. All these things are to be applied according to the strengths of each mentee and also depending on the cultural backgrounds. (Author’s Blog: http://profmsr.blogspot.com )

Mentoring is not a spoon feeding. It is a type of fine-tuning the mentee. Mentor is not expected to answer all queries of the mentee. Mentor is not a dumping ground to put in everything. The mentor and the process of mentoring have to be respected. The relation goes on mutual trust and respect. Mentoring is not an affair but marriage like scenario where permanent relations are involved.

Myths and truths about mentoring:

The first myth is that age of mentor should be more than mentee. It is a mistaken belief. The truth is that it is the experience and expertise in the professional front, not the age that counts. At times, the domain expertise makes a younger person to mentor the older person.

The second myth is that the relationship benefits only either mentor or mentee. On the other hand, mentoring is beneficial for both mentor and mentee. The truth is that the mentor also learns while teaching and the mentee learns from the experiences of the mentor.

The third myth is that once the mentoring is over, the relationship ends between both. Although the formal relation ends once the mentoring process is completed, the truth is that it may lead to long lasting relations between the both.

Blend of inside and outside mentors:

For effective leadership mentoring, it is necessary to have both inside mentors and outside mentors.

The inside mentors are those mentors who are domain experts and seniors with in the organization. Where as, the outside mentors are the domain experts without any organizational affinity. The inside mentors are very much aware of the organizational problems practically as they have been working within the system for some time. If the mentors feel that the mentee has more capability than the mentor other than the organizational expertise, they may develop a kind of insecurity resulting into jealousy and organizational politics. There is also a possibility of not revealing the trade secrets about the organization and the practical problems involved to the mentee. The inside mentors may not reveal the smart work they adopt while execution of tasks with apprehensions of mentee outsmarting or overtaking them. Above all, ego problems may crop up during mentoring thus complicating and worsening the mentoring process.

In the case of outside mentors, they do not have to think of organizational politics as they are outside the organization. They just believe in providing basic inputs, competencies, skills of the domain to make the mentee capable of delivering the goods. These people do not have to worry about their mentee superseding or surpassing them as they will not work with them.

In a nutshell, the inside mentors stress on hard work and the outside mentors on smart work. The inside mentors highlight on practices and outside mentors on theory. The former focuses on survival and the latter on success. Inside mentoring teaches about soft skills and outside mentoring teaches about hard skills. Therefore, it is essential to focus on blending both inside and outside mentors for attaining organizational effectiveness.


“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us. What we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”- Albert Pine

Mentoring is not new. It is existing since time immemorial. Right from stone age to space age and from Industrial age to Information age mentoring has been existing. It will exist as long as the human civilization exists.

Having mentor is essential. You lose nothing but gain a lot. It is cost-effective and in few cases no money is involved. Mentoring offers risk free returns. Every individual owes something towards society. Keeping knowledge within themselves does not bring any results to the mankind. All individuals must learn to give their best for the benefit of mankind. Let us leave the world better than what we found.

The End


Author’s Blog: http://profmsr.blogspot.com,
Zachary, L. J. (2000). The mentor's guide: Facilitating effective learning relationships. San Francisco: Jossey Bass,
Zachary, L. J. What leaders must do to ensure mentoring success,
Eric Parsloe of the Oxford School of Coaching and Mentoring,
By Linda Watt for ACERRA,
‘A Life That Counts’ by Dr.John C. Maxwell.

Mentoring for Entrepreneurs

Mentoring encapsulates every aspect of organization. It is not confined to human resources related aspects alone. When budding entrepreneurs start off, they look for ropes initially to avoid setbacks. Mentoring helps in motivating and grooming the entrepreneurs. Angel investors who are successful entrepreneurs with rich experience can provide adequate practical inputs for the start ups. In fact, angel investors are the right people to provide mentoring. Youth have fire in their bellies and those who are bitten with entrepreneurial bug can get huge benefits out of mentoring. Mentoring helps the entrepreneurs to build confidence thus maximizing success rate.

Mentors should strategically evaluate and plan the business growth of the mentee. They need to provide constant support out of their experience and expertise. The mentors are preferably the successful business persons. This helps them to provide solutions and strategies based on their business experience.

Entrepreneurs should have multiple mentors to have wide range of ideas and insights. It widens their mental base with diversity of thoughts. The best ideas can be adopted for achieving entrepreneurial success. Having multiple mentors lead to composite of excellent ideas. Each mentor has his own network and networking with one mentor opens the doors for other mentors easily. Over a period of time the network gets expanded, besides creating knowledge base.

Mentors for entrepreneurs must be the people with entrepreneurial experience. Mentors do it because it is type of individual social responsibility to give back their experience, knowledge and wisdom to the society.

An intelligent person knows by other’s mistake where as a foolish person learns by own experience. Learning from mentor is behaving like an intelligent person. It minimizes failure rate and maximizes success rate.

Role of Leaders in Leadership Mentoring:

“It is a terrible thing to look over your shoulder when you are trying to lead – and find no one there.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt.

To begin with, the leaders must be passionate in developing leadership through mentoring. They should not pay lip service towards leadership mentoring. There should not be any apprehensions that employees would leave the organization after acquiring the training. The learning curve should grow consistently. As individuals like to learn and grow for their professional survival and success, similarly the organizations must be prepared to learn and grow for their organizational viability and visibility at the global level. Besides, leadership mentoring helps the companies to stay competitive and productive.

The leaders should set personal example by becoming role models. The communication must be clear to avoid any misunderstandings within the organizations. They need to create conducive organizational climate and culture for leadership mentoring paving the way for organizational mentoring and organizational excellence. They have to demonstrate their firm commitment in this regard.

Above all, regularly measuring, monitoring the leadership mentoring is necessary. It helps the leaders to check the effectiveness of leadership mentoring training in the organization. If there are any gaps, the same can be aligned effectively for reaching the desired goals and objectives.

Leadership Mentoring

“As I age, I gain perspective on the illusion of wealth and status as forms of fulfillment. I don’t want my life to be measured by dollars and cents, or the number of books I’ve authored. Rather, I want to be remembered by the lives that I’ve touched. I want live a life that counts. With each day that passes, I feel a greater sense of urgency to make sure my times and energy are invested in developing leaders.” John Maxwell. (Ref ‘A Life That Counts’ by Dr.John C. Maxwell).

Every organization wants their managers and leaders to get updated with latest technology, trends, soft skills and leadership to stay competitive and productive. To address several organizational challenges arising out of complexity and uncertainty and to make their leaders to assume higher roles and responsibilities leadership mentoring is necessary.

Leadership mentoring is an effective empowerment tool for emerging leaders as well as for the managers who want to hone their leadership skills. It effectively aligns with organizational values, ethics, goals and objectives. In the long run, it elevates the image of the organization.

It ensures in smooth succession planning, helps in effective team building, leadership development and overall organizational growth. In addition, it helps in minimizing attrition and maximizing employee retention. Higher the leadership mentoring higher is the learning curve for the organizations. Overall, leadership mentoring adds value to organizational prosperity and excellence.

Mentoring and Leadership

Mentoring is a vital leadership skill. It helps you grow personally and professionally. It is an excellent experience mentoring others. The kind of satisfaction you derive is amazing. It broadens your mental horizons, widens the knowledge base and enhances your communication skills and helps in networking. When people grow under your leadership, it gives you immense personal satisfaction. Every individual has a role to cut out to execute in this world. Mentoring is one of them to leave a mark behind in this world.

Mentoring is closely related to leadership. Only tried and tested leaders can be effective mentors as they know how to influence and get the best out of their mentees. They help in aligning the behavior of mentees with their goals. When leaders prove themselves the mentees take a leaf out of it. The mentees get confident from the success of leaders. They look for ropes to succeed.

Leadership provides vision and direction to the organization. Mentorship grooves the mentees with in the vision. Leadership is general and it extends in every area. Mentorship is confined to a specific domain. It provides a specific job related skill. In a nutshell, leadership is a broad area while the mentorship is a narrow area.

Both mentorship and leadership are interwoven. They go together. Every leader has a mentor. Someone has put the ladder either directly or indirectly for the success of every leader. The ladder in this context is mentorship. In the Mahabharata epic, Drona put the ladder to Arjuna directly thus becoming mentor. He put the ladder to Ekalavya indirectly thus becoming mentor in absentia.

Globally legendary leaders like Jack Welch, Bill Gates and Peter F. Drucker laid stress on leadership training. They realized that creating leaders will pave the way for organizational growth. These leaders nurtured leadership, enabled and encouraged empowerment of their employees. That is the secret for their success. It is a fact that only leaders can produce leaders.

Mentoring Vs Coaching

"Coaching isn't a great mystery. It's just hard work, determination, and inspiration at the right moment", says Bob Zuppke.

People confuse between coaching and mentoring. Mentoring is done in an informal environment while coaching is done in formal environment. There may or may not be physical interaction in mentoring while in coaching it is imperative. Coaching involves target setting and goal setting.

Coaching involves growth within the same domain while mentoring involves career growth outside the domain. Coaching is professional while mentoring is both professional and personal. Coaching is task focused; task oriented with finite relationship while mentoring is life oriented and relationship oriented that is infinite. Coaching is directed by professional requirements while mentoring by individual’s personal interests.

However, the common thread connecting both mentoring and coaching is that it is a transformational learning process. Both transform the lives of the people.

Peer Mentoring – Robert

“To the world, you may just be somebody. But to somebody, you may just might be the world”- Author unknown.

Every individual looks for help and guidance when s/he joins any organization. S/he looks for an experienced, trustworthy and reliable person for guidance. Mentoring is the mantra in such a situation. It helps to break the initial hiccups and psychological barriers thereby getting the individuals grooved with in the organization smoothly.

Robert joined in a research centre as a researcher where he had to author books. He had passion for teaching and training. He worked as a faculty member in an engineering college taking classes in management subjects. He also had flair for writing and had several articles published in various magazines, journals and websites. The research centre offered him employment based on his inclination and interest towards writing although he did not have any research experience. Robert also liked to join as he had an ambition to author books but it was not accomplished. Seeing this as an opportunity he joined in the research center.

After joining the research center, he began liking the corporate culture and academic environment. But he missed interaction with students. He basically loved teaching and interacting with students. In research center, there was no interaction as everyone sat in front of the computer system and concentrated on the research activities. He thought of resigning. And, he consulted other colleagues and told his passion towards teaching and training but they were not supportive the way he expected except one person by name, Susan.

Susan was a legendary editor with several books to her credit. Besides she was the senior most in the research centre. Right from the beginning Robert began liking and admiring her. He was confident that she would understand his problem. When Robert conveyed his displeasure and dissatisfaction with the research work, she counseled him not to think in that way. On the other hand, she advised Robert to stick on to research activities for some time as it was the right place to acquire abundant knowledge in his chosen domains of soft skills and leadership development. She also added that a person with research background can become a better teacher. Robert was convinced to some extent and got motivated to continue for some time to fulfill his ambition of authoring books as well as acquiring command on his passionate domains.

Robert began concentrating with an eye to go back to teaching. He realized that the research center would serve as a platform to become a successful and full fledged faculty member. After few days, he realized that the research centre set up targets of completing one book a month of his choice. Robert tried hard to work for books related to soft skills and leadership development. Unfortunately many books were generated by senior colleagues in those domains and there was overlap of books. Again it became a terrific trouble for Robert as he did not want to go outside his passionate domains. But he had to deliver a book for a month as it was an organizational requirement.

Robert again told his problem to Susan who advised him to diversify into other domains where there was no overlap. Robert did not like to go outside his domain. She advised him to be practical as the system believed in numbers and failure to deliver a book might cost his job as well as losing respect. Again Robert thought of leaving the research center as his heart beat for teaching and training. Susan was wonderful woman with clear heart and with positive mindset. She was an intelligent woman who understood the predicament of Robert and enquired further to find out the areas of interest latter loved. After prolonged discussions, Susan discovered that Robert could do well in Self-improvement books. Therefore, she directed Robert to look in that domain. She also gave valuable tools and techniques related to researching. Robert got temporary relief as he got sufficient triggers to generate books. Robert began admiring and respecting Susan gradually as he found similar areas of interest.

Whenever Robert faced challenges in the research center he openly discussed with Susan who with lot of patience mentored him without expecting any returns. Although there was lot of competition among the peers Susan never looked Robert from competitive perspective. She stood by Robert several times and provided lot of emotional support and confidence. She maintained confidentiality about the mentoring relation by winning and trust and confidence. Susan grooved Robert into the organization and groomed him becoming a successful researcher through peer mentoring. Susan demonstrated all ingredients that were necessary to become a peer mentor.

This is the case of peer mentoring where mentoring takes place between the senior and junior employees. Here the senior employee actively involves in helping the new employee to get grooved into the system smoothly with domain and organizational inputs. It requires lot of patience and perseverance since peers are involved. The mentors should not have false ego or jealousy. They should not play office politics. On the contrary, they must help their colleagues in a wholehearted manner. It is a way of sharing the knowledge among the colleagues without expecting any returns.

Student Mentoring - T.V.N.Lakshmi Manasa

Rao worked in an engineering college as a faculty member for some period. He taught management subjects for engineering students. Management subjects are added to engineering curriculum as the engineers need to know about basic jargon about management so that they get along well with management jargon at the corporate world.

He had passion for teaching and spent most of the time with students even outside the class and even after the college working hours. He counseled and guided several students on campus placements. He also mentored many students. One day, a student by name, T.V.N.Lakshmi Manasa came to faculty room where Rao used to sit along with other colleagues. She expressed her willingness to become a successful soft skills trainer. Manasa wanted Rao to mentor as latter used to conduct freelance training related to campus recruitment for students and other training programs to corporate.

It is a case of student mentoring. Mentoring students is more challenging than mentoring others. Students are sensitive and externally they appear to be casual and jovial but at heart they are very sensitive. And mentoring students requires lot of patience and perseverance. In addition, it is necessary to know about students’ psychology.

Rao was very happy to hear Manasa’s urge to become a trainer. Rao enquired whether she was bold in facing the people public. And also posed series of questions related to her communication capabilities, confidence, courage to face huge audience and her other academic activities. After getting positive responses from her, he began the mentoring process. Rao recognized that Manasa had the gift of the gab. She had mesmerizing voice but had problems with grammar. Rao felt that she looked for career support.

Rao advised Manasa to read books related to various types of training methodologies and also to observe various video cassettes of global speakers and trainers. Rao told to observe keenly the body language of the speakers as well as the verbal language and voice modulation whenever she talked with others.

Manasa began observing all people from communication perspective such as style, accent, and phonetics. She practiced regularly at home along with family members and friends. Gradually she started hitting the podium at the college by taking active part into conferences, seminars and debates. All these things have brought out abundant improvement. And finally, she evolved as a soft skills trainer.

Regularly Rao provided her feedback by observing her speaking style, accent, body language. He provided her confidence and encouragement to grow as a trainer. During the period he constantly motivated her to build confidence to face the audience. He advised her about the areas to be improved. It took around six months to improve herself and evolve as a soft skills trainer.

Here, it is a case of student mentoring where a student’s ambition of becoming a soft skills trainer has been handled carefully. For Rao, it was a great satisfaction to mentor an ambitious student. He also learnt many things from Manasa such as the latest developments that were taking place in training and development.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Leaders Like Lincoln Are Born In The Hearts Of The People


As we are marching toward the 2009 bicentennial of Lincoln's birth it is worthwhile to write briefly write about his biography. What makes Lincoln stand different from the other American Presidents? Is it rags to riches story or something very different and daring like opposing the slavery right from the beginning? Or is it because the man survived many failures to make it happen to be the first Republican president of America? Throughout the world, whenever any one talks of motivation it is the Lincoln who flashes first into the minds of the people. It is because of his undying and relentless struggle and spirit and dogged determination. That makes him stand apart from the other leaders across the world.

There are many great American Presidents like George Washington, John F Kennedy and others. But Abraham Lincoln is the only President who is most admired, revered and respected across the world and also in India because of various reasons. Lincoln is the one American President who would be remembered and respected by most of the Indians. It is not because he is a rag to riches story but because of his leadership style. It is not because he is successful as a President of America but because of his unflagging determination and motivation. Indians love to listen to the success stories of leaders across the world especially who championed for the poor and down trodden, social justice against racial discrimination.


Abraham Lincoln was born on 12 Feb 1809, in a log cabin near Hodgenville, Kentucky.
He was the son of a Kentucky frontiersman, Lincoln had to struggle for a living and for learning. He was unlucky by birth, lost his beloved mother at 10 years of his age. And he was cared and brought up by his stepmother, Sarah Bush Johnston, provided a fine model who inspired the ambitious but unschooled boy to discipline and educate himself.
He faced many failures thorough out his life. He married Mary Todd, and they had four boys, only one of whom lived to maturity. But God is always great and bestowed him with success which was unimaginable and it overtook all the setbacks he faced throughout his life. Serving the people, championing for anti-slavery, standing tall among all American leaders was the great Abraham Lincoln. He was assassinated by a racist and Southern sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, on Good Friday, April 14, 1865. This was the first presidential assassination in the history of America.


Lincoln was an excellent communicator. He was noted for his oratory and his ability to inspire people with his motivational speaking skill. Many of his speeches and letters are famous even today especially his famous Gettysburg Address, House Divided Speech and he demonstrated his speaking skills through a series of debates with Stephen A. Douglas in 1858.

On November 19, 1863, Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address which dedicated the battlefield there to the soldiers who had perished. He called on the living to finish the task the dead soldiers had begun. This he stated most movingly in dedicating the military cemetery at Gettysburg: "that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Every speech contributed towards his growth as a leader and people started taking him seriously and gradually he gained national reputation. In fact, it was when he was delivering lectures to fund for his children’s education he was noticed by influential men such as Horace Greely, editor of powerful Tribune newspaper, who played a key role in his nomination and election as the fledgling Republican Party’s candidate.

Another famous speech by Lincoln was "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."


He believed in continuous learning. He borrowed books from neighbors and read. He studied law during leisure time and that helped him in his later political life. He started wearing beard at the suggestion of an 11 year old girl. Lincoln was a member of the Whig Party; he remained a Whig until he became a Republican. Additionally, he studied law in his spare time and became a lawyer. He was known for his opposition to Mexican war and slavery.


“Some day I shall be President.” Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln was elected the 16th president on November 6, 1860, defeating Douglas, John Bell, and John C. Breckinridge. He believed in his convictions strongly undeterred by threats. Very bold President indeed! Highly inspirational and motivational leader. He managed conflicts at ease as it was known the way he faced with commanders and also with certain laws. He was an effective crisis manager.

Despite stiff opposition and threats he stood for the unity of country. He survived many a crisis during his president ship. His presidential tenure is the beginning of the end for slavery in America. He rose from the ranks and from humble origins.


“I will prepare and some day my chance will come” Abraham Lincoln

Ten letter word 'motivation' must be prefixed with Lincoln. He was an excellent example for motivation. He had number of failures in his life but was undeterred by failures. He failed in business when he was 21 years of age. He was defeated in election at 22 years of age. Again he failed in business when he was 24. He lost his wife at 26 and had nervous break down at 27. He lost elections at 45 and lost vice-presidential elections at 47 and 49 years of age. And at last he became the 16 President and the first Republican President at the age of 52. That is the motivational level of Abraham Lincoln. He proved to the world that success is the product of successive setbacks.

Abraham Lincoln rightly said, “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure”


He was always tolerant towards those who differed from him and was kind to his critics. He believed in taking constructive feedback. He loathed and hated slavery. He was against spreading of slavery to other states of America. He was champion of peace and harmony.

AL spent 33 per cent of time in thinking to talk and 67 per cent of time in trying to understand what the other person was saying. It indicates that he was a good listener who prepared his arguments based on logic and analysis. Probably this could be secret of success in various debates. He knew the pulse of the people and, of course, psychology of the people. He was down to earth. He firmly believed in God. He gave lot of quotations which are highly inspiring and motivating for the common man.


From his collection of quotes we can interpret his philosophy as stated below:

• He advised the people not to bask on the glory of his ancestors rather they should try to prove their mettle by themselves. In other words, try to become a good ancestor rather than a good inheritor.

• Don’t try to spoon-feed people rather try to equip the people with necessary knowledge so that they become independent.

• Try to be responsible and accountable today itself and any failure to do so will result in problems in future.

• Let us not suppress any individual’s initiative and independence and you cannot build character by taking away from any individual’s initiative and independence.

• He was a strong believer to uphold the constitution. He was in favor of makers and upholders of constitutions.

• He said not to wait for opportunities rather look for the same and grab. Or else you get only the left over and unworthy opportunities.

• Don’t have any mental blocks that somebody would prevent you from achieving as it discourages you from moving ahead. The message for youth is to dream big, and try to improve yourself constantly so as to raise high in life.

• Given the powers, then we can find out the true colors of a person how he behaves whether he is helpful or harmful. His real character comes out only when armed with powers.

• He never believes in encouraging litigation. He believes in negotiations and discussions for solving the problems.

• Always give your best you will be recognized. Don’t overly be concerned with recognition. Your efforts and energies are essential to prove yourself.

• It is very clear that he believes more in smart work rather than in hard work.

• He knew the psyche of the people. He had the ability to articulate the opinions of the people with his skillful communication. He knew how to touch the hearts of the people. He was of the firm conviction that God was in his favor and God blessed with him an opportunity to serve the people of American although he was cursed with too many failures and setbacks. He had spiritualistic bent of mind.

• It is very difficult to offer feedback for others. It is an art as it has to be given from others’ perspective and requires tact.

• People bother for their social prestige and name and fame in the society. In fact what they should bother for character and integrity.

• He firmly believed that success was not the prerogative of any individual. When someone achieves extraordinary success, it is an indication that everyone can achieve the same.

• He strongly believed in the democratic system. People’s decision is superior and stronger than any terrorism or extremism. Ultimately the people’s decision will prevail and it is final.

• He believed that no failure would stop pursuing any cause. What are the criteria is the passion to pursue the right and just cause. We should strongly believe in pursuing the just causes with passion however the stumbling blocks big might be.

• He clearly differentiated between what is right and what is wrong not who is right and who is wrong.


Abraham Lincoln was a multifaceted personality. He donned many hats like wrestler, lawyer, writer, politician and orator. He was an excellent communicator, great leader and motivator. He coined qualitative quotations from which we can know his principles, policies, philosophy, ideas and insights and values. He was a visionary who foresaw the equality among all people. He dared to dream for an equal society free from slavery. In a nutshell, he was a legend. To conclude, leaders like Lincoln are born in the hearts of the people not in the minds of the people.

He rightly quoted “And in the end it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years .”

The End

Do We Need Another Honest Abe?

“Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” - Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln is one American leader who is the most revered and remembered across the world for his exemplary leadership qualities. He was unique in many ways. He had no aristocratic origins. He rose from nowhere to number one status only by the dint of his dogged determination and iron will. He was almost self-educated. He borrowed books from neighbors and educated. No amount of failure deterred him from pushing ahead. It is the Lincoln who flashes in the minds of entire mankind when we talk of motivation. In brief, Lincoln is synonymous with motivation.

He lived during the most turbulent times of American history where there was rift between North and South and the existence of America as one nation was at stake. No other leader would have handled the challenges and changes the way Lincoln handled. Another thorny issue prevailing then was abolition of slavery. He was upright and forthright in his convictions where he never bowed down from his principles and values in abolition of slavery from the land of America.

Lincoln dispelled the myth that American Presidency will be crowned only to the people from aristocratic background. He dispelled the myth that only the glamorous leaders could hold the highest office in America. He was not handsome and, of course, not ugly as well. He wiped out the notion that only intelligent people could become the leaders as he was an average person right from his childhood. He demystified the rule ‘it was not who versus who but what versus what’. He believed in his convictions that it was not ‘who was right and who was wrong’. On the contrary, he firmly believed that it was always ‘what was right and what was wrong’. He stressed that it was not ‘might’ but ‘right’ that ultimately matters. To put it in the words of Lincoln, “Let’s have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.” The triumph of right over might was the hallmark of Abraham Lincoln.

In ‘The Varieties of Religious Experience’, William James describes two basic personality types, “once-born” and “twice born”. Lincoln was a “twice born” where he had to face several challenges and struggles continuously in his life before reaching the top slot in America. He donned several hats like a lawyer, writer, wrestler and politician. Besides, he donned the hat of businessman for a brief period. He was robust physically being a wrestler and, of course, was patient under reproaches. He gave series of lectures to fund for his son’s education. It was at this time his talent was spotted and subsequently resulted into nomination as the Republican Party’s Presidential candidate.

Lincoln’s MBTI:

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment is a psychometric questionnaire where there are 16 possible types of combinations of people in the world. Abraham Lincoln falls in the category of ENFJ, where E stands for Extraversion, N for iNtuition, F for Feeling and J for Judging.

Lincoln’s Leadership:

“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” - Rosalynn Carter

An effective leadership depends on three pillars such as establishing credibility, building capacity and mobilizing ability for accomplishment. Effective leaders have the ability to influence and capability to succeed.

A leader should have blend of both character and competence where the former needs the intention to do right thing and the latter needs knowing how to do the right thing. Leaders do not think sub optimally but think optimally. Leaders like Lincoln are mission-centered ones; long term focused and oriented who leave a legacy behind.

Lincoln learnt leadership in trenches. He knew pretty well that nobody can become a “crack shot” unless they lose some ammunition. In his life, he suffered and struggled. His successive failures can be compared with losing some ammunition resulting him in becoming a “crack shot”.

Lincoln is a team oriented leader where he focused equally high on task and relationship with people which is the ideal leadership style. We can also say that Lincoln was a transformational leader as he wanted to transform the society by abolishing slavery.

Lincoln was a strategic leader where he aligned the ways and means successfully for reaching his ends. During Civil War he demonstrated his strategic leadership by working closely with military generals and fighting to the finish.

It is rightly said that the position does not make the leader but the leader makes the position. The position of Presidency did not make Lincoln as a leader but the leadership style of Lincoln brought respect to the Presidency of America. It is because of this reason many successive American Presidents go back to the library and refer about Lincoln whenever they faced with several challenges. That is the reason why Lincoln is remembered as one of the best Presidents of America.

Lincoln was an action-oriented, process-oriented and people-oriented leader and as he always stressed on what? How? And Who? respectively. He was a passionate leader. Besides, he was a high-performance leader.

Lincoln’s most famous speech was Gettysburg delivered on 19 Nov 1863. The few lines of Gettysburg speech are: "that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

He always spoke truth without any fear or favor. He always spoke strongly about his convictions as it is evidenced from his quote, "The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just." When leaders practice what they preach, truth telling gets integrated with their culture. Whether it was the preservation of South with North or abolition of slavery, Lincoln stood firmly by his principles.

Lincoln – A Level 5 Leader:

Jim Collins in his book titled, ‘Good to Great’ coined the concept of Level 5 leader who was a blend of both personal humility and professional will. These leaders are driven by incredible ambition to achieve big. They are highly passionate about their work and do not mind who gets credit for their work. They just love doing what they do. Probably Lincoln became a man of humility because of the trials and tribulations he underwent during the course of several failures. He learnt lessons when he failed differently. All these things have resulted into becoming a paradoxical blend of personal humility with professional will. Lincoln had the uncanny ability to covert ordinary people as extra people by his gift of the gab.

Transparent leader:

Herb Baum coined the concept of transparent leader. In his words: “A transparent leader is someone who does the right thing regardless of the consequences ... is honest and open with his/her various constituencies and communicates regularly to prevent the rumor mill from taking over.” Herb Baum holds the following as the three pillars of transparency: integrity, corporate governance and communication. Although there was nothing like corporate governance in the profile of Lincoln, there was political governance, integrity and communication which become the pillars for Abraham Lincoln. He played the game fairly rather thinking about losing and winning.


“Successful people are able to overcome adversity, often experiencing financial difficulties – even bankruptcy – before hitting their stride” - John Maxwell.

Being in the comfort zone was not Lincoln’s style of leadership. For Lincoln, comfort zone was totally a discomfort. He kept on shifting from comfort zone to effective zone. Whenever he found that effective zone turned out to be a comfort zone, he quickly changed to next higher orbit.

Currently the world is undergoing a crucial stage where we have several challenges such as global terrorism, looming recession and environmental issues to name a few. These issues affect the global peace, prosperity and stability adversely. Therefore, we need rebirth of Lincoln with contemporary attitude and aptitude to lead from the front.

We need another Honest Abe in this challenging world to unify this world under one platform. We need a strong leader who can bridge the gap between nationalities, races, languages, cultures, ethnicities by looking at the similarities rather than differences. Erstwhile Lincoln fought for abolition of slavery and for preserving the unity and integrity of North and South and became a martyr. The contemporary Honest Abe must bring the entire world under one platform for bringing prosperity and peace to the mankind.

“My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.” - Abraham Lincoln

The End

Is Lincoln a Level 5 Leader?

“That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Lincoln

Is Lincoln a Level 5 leader? Before we know what is ‘Level 5 leader’ the concept coined by Jim Collins in his celebrated book titled ‘Good to Great’, it is essential to look at the values and principles that become the bedrock for ‘Level 5 leader’.

Lincoln’s Values and Principles:

Lincoln believed in both values and principles. Values are formed and firmed at childhood itself. Integrity is the foundation for all values. When the basic foundation is strong, people will have strong values. Lincoln’s humble origins made him to have strong values. It is the values that powered him. Besides, it is the principles like fairness and honesty that kept him to hold firmly on the ground even after facing several failures and debacles in his life. To put it in the words of Stephen R. Covey, “Values drive behavior and it is the principles that drive the consequences of behavior.”

Lincoln’s Speech Preparation:

Lincoln had the uncanny ability to add sauce to flavor the meal. He knew the elements and the ingredients to be added to make his speech appealing to audience. He had gift of the gab, good sense of humor, knew how to add emotions (when we recall his speech about dead soldiers) as it was reflected in Gettysburg speech. Besides he was a great storyteller with terrific presence of mind. His ability to add sauce to flavor the meal helped him to become a successful speaker and orator.

Lincoln always stressed on thorough preparation. He prepared Gettysburg speech while in journey. He prepared the speech by himself. He believed in saving the time of others as well. It is basically because the amount of time the listeners spend has to be respected and calculated. For instance, if he spent 24 hours of preparation for one hour speech for delivering to an audience of 1000 members for a period of one hour then the total time of the 1000 members comes out to be 1000 hours. If Lincoln spent 24 hours for preparation, he was saving the time of listeners by his effective preparation. His preparation for speeches saved the time for his listeners besides having clarity of communication and conveying wonderful ideas and views with emotions.

Lincoln – A Level 5 Leader:

Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all. ~William Temple

Jim Collins says that the level 5 leaders build enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. He goes on to add that Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company.

Collins gave a formula for Level 5 Leaders as follows: Humility + Will = Level 5 Leader. Lincoln’s will was tested number of times during his lifetime from his failures. He demonstrated tremendous will to move forward. Besides, he proved his humility when one of the richest persons ridiculed Lincoln’s father as a cobbler. Lincoln did not get agitated but remained cool, calm and composed. He displayed his humility by being proud of his father who was a cobbler. He added that his father was a very good cobbler and did excellent job in his profession. This humble response from Lincoln stunned and stumbled the aristocratic member of the senate.

The qualities required for level 5 leaders are possessing humility, being highly ambitious, and achieving exceptional and remarkable accomplishments. Lincoln was truly a level 5 leader as he never bothered who gets credit for his actions. He was a passionate leader and had the ability to convert good people to great people through his gift of the gab.

People initially judged Lincoln wrongly as he was not good looking, very shy and modest. People doubted his competency and declared that he was unfit for Presidency. But he proved his critics wrong during his presidential tenure.

He was modest at core and never believed in boosting or boasting of himself. He was shy during his initial life and was fearless at core. During the Civil war he donned like a military leader. He worked with Generals and involved in war despite several threats to his life. He did not mind risking life and went ahead. He demonstrated and displayed unwavering resolve to abolish slavery from the land of America.

The seed of Level 5 Leadership was not there within Lincoln. It was cultivated and inculcated over a period of time. His life itself was replete with more lows and a very few highs. It was only after entering forties in his life, things gradually looked up better for Lincoln and until then he had several successive setbacks and failures. Perhaps all these things have made him modest, humble and simple. This is yet another reason for classifying Lincoln as a Level 5 Leader. He beautifully blended both his personal humility with professional will.

Lincoln – A transformational leader:

“Transformational leadership is a leadership style where one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality.” (Source: Wikipedia). The concept is the brainchild of James MacGregor Burns who also focused on transactional leadership.

According to Burns, “Motivation, creativity and conflict are the three critical elements of transformational leadership”. Lincoln had tremendous motivation; unconventional thinking and the ability to manage conflicts effectively made him as a transformational leader. His ability to set the trend to abolish slavery was a proof of his transformational leadership. He stressed both on ends and means with a tilt to the means. He overcame several challenges during this transformational process culminating with his assassination by Booth.

According to Burns, there are four types of transformational leaders – intellectuals, reformers, revolutionaries and heroes (charismatic). Abraham Lincoln falls into the category of heroes (charismatic). It was during the Civil War, he demonstrated his courage, edge and ability to risk his life to defeat the South thus proving as a charismatic leader. He was more like a hero during the war where he briskly worked with Generals and monitored their progress and took several strategic decisions.

The qualities that are expected from transformational leaders are – visioning, inspiring, motivating, coaching, and team building. According Erik Rees, 2004, there are seven principles of transformational leadership – Principle of motivation, simplification, facilitation, innovation, mobilization, preparation and determination. Lincoln was equipped with all these seven principles to claim as a transformational leader.

Lincoln – A Primal Leader:

“When I am getting ready to reason with a man, I spend one-third of my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say and two-thirds about him and what he is going to say.” Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln was a primal leader. Fundamentally, primal leaders are effective empathizers. They step into the shoes of others and look at the problem for solutions. They are emotionally more intelligent than any other breed of leaders. They are good listeners. Lincoln was a good listener. During his conversations he listened around 77 percent and after understanding, paraphrasing and analyzing the contents of the other person he spoke the rest of 33 percent to complete the conversation. That is the reason why he was successful in speaking whether Gettysburg or any of the other famous speeches.


“And in the end it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”
Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln is not only a level 5 leader but also a transformational, primal, charismatic and motivational leader who keeps inspiring all of us beyond geographical boundaries and nationalities. He achieved amazing excellence in every area by his dogged determination and perseverance. Many of the American presidents followed the strategies of Lincoln whenever they faced with complicated situations. It is a clear indication of acceptance that Lincoln’s approaches were accepted and adopted either directly or indirectly by other American presidents.

Lincoln left a legacy behind. He mesmerized his audience although he was not handsome and not highly intelligent. He was an honest man and role model for children. He endeavored to end slavery and fought for keeping the country united. Lincoln was responsible for abolition of slavery. He was one of American heroes who rose from the rest under challenging circumstances and rarely brooded over fate. He was the man who proved to the world that a leader can be respected in any part of the world without any affinity towards geographical or national boundaries.

The world needs a leader like Abraham Lincoln to tackle the present problems and crises. The erstwhile Abraham Lincoln was born to abolish slavery and to unite America. Now we want another Honest Abe in 21st Century who would unite the world for bringing peace and prosperity to mankind.

The End

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tips For Successful Public Speaking

Public speaking is the art, ability and knack of presenting the content as per the expectations of the audience. It requires lot of knowledge about the topic and practice to become a successful speaker. Usually people are scared to speak in public. People are comfortable to speak ‘one to one’ or ‘one to two’ or ‘one to three’ people. When they are asked to speak in front of a huge audience, the butterflies fly in their stomach. It is said that public speaking is the most scared one and it is worse than the fear of death.

The objective of public speaking is not only to inform but also to inspire by changing their emotions. You can make a memorable speech, with a strange alchemy of factors and forces.

Below are a few tips for successful public speaking:

• Be passionate to become a successful speaker.
• Listen to the audio cassettes of great speakers.
• Join Toastmasters club which is meant for promoting public speaking and leadership qualities. Also join the related forums for interaction and inspiration.
• For practicing public speaking, go to a serene place, close your eyes and imagine speaking by using your body language.
• Know and analyze your audience thoroughly. Find out what is of interest to them, not to you. It is basically because what the audience wants is more important than what your interests are. There is a thin line separating a successful and an unsuccessful speech.
• Never miss your points and do not cross the time limit.
• Any public speaking is divided into three sections – introduction, body and summary. At the introduction, briefly tell the audience what you are going to tell them, at the body part, tell them the content in detail and at the summary tell them what you have told them with a clear and strong message. And at the end, thank them for giving you an opportunity.
• If required, mug up the introduction part for creating initial impact and then slowly and steadily get into the body and summary.
• Realize the fact that the 80% of your speech is learnt visually and 20% by aurally.
• Always keep extra chunk of material ready such as diary with anecdotes, motivational quotes, stories, jokes, role-play activities, as a stand by.
• Avoid using filler words like ‘um’, ‘ah’ etc.,
• Stick to signposting as it reminds the audience in which stage of the speech they are.
• Be cool and composed when faced with a hostile audience.
• Use non-flat and non-monotonous voice to engage the audience actively.
• Repetition is the key to successful public speaking. Repeat the key points to get the message across.

Learning public speaking is like learning how to swim and how to ride a bike. Practicing is the only key to success.

The End

Is It Recession Or Correction?

People across the world are making hue and cry about recession. There are talks about job cuts, cost cutting, no fresh employment opportunities, economic slowdown, global meltdown etc., Is it a cause for concern? Or is it an exaggerated one? Or is it a mere correction? Or is it an opportunity? Let us find out.

In economics, the term recession generally describes the reduction of a country's gross domestic product (GDP) for at least two quarters. The usual dictionary definition is "a period of reduced economic activity", a business cycle contraction (Wikipedia).

It is a fact that every rise has a fall and every fall has a rise. Whenever an economy gets heated it requires correction. It is essential once in a while to shed the excess flab. When individuals put on weight they need to hit gym to stay slim and trim. So is the case with organizations also. During recession, employers make the mistake of firing their employees which is a retrograde step. On the other hand, employers should take the support of their staff to find out the ways and means to bring down the unnecessary expenses.

A few companies have started their entrepreneurial journey during the time of recession and have left a mark in the business world. It is basically because they looked for opportunities during recession. They have the business acumen and had the uncanny ability to convert threats into opportunities.

Although there is nothing like good time or bad time to start off a venture, recession provides ample opportunities to start new enterprises. When people are scared, it is the right time to enter as there will be least competition. Besides, the difficult periods will be there for short time only. Once the so-called recession is completed then there will be greater opportunities to explore and expand the enterprises further and farther.

There are several benefits with recession. It helps in checking the reckless attitude, makes the entrepreneurs think more realistically. Besides, it helps the entrepreneurs to think ‘out of the box’. It opens new challenges and opportunities. As every problem leads to prospect, the recession leads to innovation. An optimist always looks at the opportunities from threats while a pessimist always searches for threats from opportunities. It all depends on the mindset of the people in viewing the scenario.

As per the available newspaper reports, it unfolds that Indian youth are caught up with entrepreneurial bug and are willing to try entrepreneurship as a career. It is indeed a positive sign. Youth can identify the triggers for new ventures; look for feasibility and availability of all resources. They should take the right mentors who bring in their rich practical experience and fine-tune the projects and processes and ensure that the projects take off successfully.

To conclude, recession is a boon not a bane. It distinguishes men from boys. It helps the real players to survive and weed out the fake players. Tough times will not last but tough entrepreneurs will last.

The End

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Passion, Survival & Success

Richards was passionate in becoming a trainer. His ambition was to become a successful trainer in leadership. All along his life, he faced several lows and highs in life. Having come to the middle age, he decided to make use of his corporate experience by becoming a successful trainer in leadership. Although he tried for several jobs for becoming a trainer he failed to become. He had several employment offers other than trainer. Since he had family with children he had several responsibilities. Therefore, he decided to compromise with his passion and joined in a multinational organization as middle level manager. He was able to deliver the goods on an average basis but could not utilize his full potential. For him, survival became more important than his passion to become a trainer.

Likewise, we find many people compromising with their passionate areas and settling down for less than what they aspire, desire and deserve. Can the Richards’ decision be justified? Can he grow in the present job that he does for the sake of survival? It is a debatable issue.


Life is replete with complexity and unpredictability. Anything can happen at any time and many things are out of our control. A few people struggle to control the external factors and achieve success. And a few people compromise with what they can do with in the internal factors and survive. Everyone’s life revolves around these three factors like passion, survival and success.


Success comes when there is confluence between one’s expectations and realities. Success can be defined as the result arising when there is matching between dreams and desired outcome. It comes when the right person is in the right place at the right time. Success comes when the forces and factors in the internal and external environment are effectively managed and coordinated.

Success does not come when you compare with others. Success comes when one’s own performance is superseded or surpassed by previous performance. For instance, initially if you run 15 kilometers in one hour and subsequently if you run 16 kilometers within the same time, it means you are successful. Never compare yourself with others as it leads to frustration. Everyone is unique. No two individual are alike. Even twins are not alike in temperaments. How can you compare with others?


Passion is an immense love towards one’s area of interest. It is a fire that keeps the people moving forward. It is immeasurable and intangible and it can only be felt, when one achieves success. It never listens to ‘No’ and always listens to ‘Yes’. It makes the people to go any extent to achieve anything under the sun in the earth. The fact that many inventions occurred and the human civilization prospered and evolved to the current stage is because of the passion.

Passion keeps the people focused. It never distracts from the cherished goals. It keeps the people in the right track and in the fast track. No amount of criticism hinders the passionate person.

Passion is nothing but the burning desire to become big. Passion is like a volcano hidden among the people. It keeps burning internally and drives the people ahead. It is the passion that led Dhirubhai Ambani to build Reliance Empire in India. It is the passion that led Gordon Binder to turnaround Amgen Company. These passionate leaders had clarity and knew where they were going.


Passion is the key to success. Find out where your heart is. Tap and channelise your energies and efforts in those areas. Do what you love to do. Fear not for failures. Fear not for criticism. Look at your goal. Hit the bulls’ eye. Only then, you can achieve success in your life.

Loving what you do is survival. Doing what you love is success. Pursuing what you desire is passion. Decide yourself.

The End

Is Research Required for Teaching?

The Hindu, in its news report titled ‘Universities should concentrate on research, says Abdul Kalam’ dated 08 Feb 2009 rightly focused on the importance of research for qualitative teaching.

As an individual is judged by the friends he or she maintains, an educational institution is also judged by the research it focuses. In western countries, research is stressed along with teaching, while it is not so in India. Very few premier educational institutions in India treat research as part and parcel of teaching. Icfai University in India is laying a lot of emphasis on quality education through research based education. It has its own research centers across the country for developing books and case studies to cater to the needs of students, faculties and professionals. The research centers are the backbone for the success of Icfai University at the national level.

Case Study of Richards as a Researcher:

Richards having worked as a teaching faculty joined in a research center as a researcher where he had to deliver books in the domain of Soft Skills and Leadership Development. He had passion to author couple of books and, in fact, it was his lifetime ambition. Basically he had flair for writing and speaking. He thought that having couples of authored books would add value to his resume. Besides, he felt that it would also widen his intellectual base. After having several books written, he decided to come back to teaching which was his passionate area again. When he went for an interview, the interviewing officer posed the question of joining back to teaching from research. The officer doubted whether Richards could deliver his goods effectively as a teaching faculty as he did not have teaching experience.

Richards replied that research becomes an integral part of teaching. And added that a person coming from a research background could do better justification than a person coming from mere teaching background. He firmly said that research was an extension of teaching and it would add value to teaching as he was backed and packed with lot of information, ideas and knowledge. The interviewing officer was impressed with the response and Richards was selected. And finally, Richards did commendable job as a teaching faculty far better than earlier i.e. when he merely had teaching but not research experience.

From the above case study of Richards, it becomes very clear about the importance and significance of research for ensuring qualitative teaching. It is necessary to blend both research and teaching for imparting effective education.

Research Vs Teaching:

Research involves in knowledge creation and generation while teaching involves in knowledge dissemination. If research is the infrastructure then teaching is the superstructure. Research provides enriching experience for both faculties and students. It also promotes better relations and understanding between the teacher and the taught. Instead of saying research is an extension of teaching we can comfortably say that teaching is an extension of research.

When a faculty delivers teaching without having undergone any research, there will be certain mental blocks and gaps while teaching. On the contrary, when a researcher takes up teaching activity he is well equipped with vast knowledge. Since the faculty is well equipped with the topic, he or she is able to deliver extempore. Besides, it enhances the confidence of the faculty. The students will also enjoy the teaching sessions as the latest and unexplored areas are addressed while teaching. There will be more arousal of students’ interest towards the teaching process resulting into effective imparting of knowledge and information and education. The faculty also enjoys respect in the eyes of the students.

Students raise several questions during the course of interaction. It provides adequate triggers for the researcher to explore further and expand farther. It helps in ‘out of the box’ thinking. And also helps in reinforcing what is researched.

There is no point in doing research continuously and acquiring knowledge when it is not imparted to the students. Knowledge grows when shared. Sharing of knowledge pays off for both faculties and students as there is an exchange of ideas, information, thoughts and knowledge. Besides, it generates new triggers for further research. People with research background can become more successful faculties than the one without.


It is time Indian Universities focused equally on research to impart quality teaching to the students. It would have ripple effect on the students and on the nation as a whole. Research is an integral part of teaching. Any separation results in affecting the educational system adversely resulting in poor performance of students. Therefore, research and teaching must go together. One without the other has no meaning and relevance. Both are two sides of the same coin so as to have meaningful value to the coin.

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Failure is Only a Comma, not a Full Stop

Success is like a beautiful woman who may go away at any time, but failure is like a mother who will be with you forever and teaches you many lessons.

Success is the sweetest word in the world. Failure is the hardest word in the world. But both are essential for a meaningful and successful life. While failure teaches many lessons success keeps you moving forward.

Lincoln’s Failures:

“Failure should not alienate you and success should not elevate you”- Prof.M.S.Rao

Leaders like Abraham Lincoln are an inspiration and motivation for the people who fail miserably in life. He set an excellent example in getting along with failures and became the first Republican President of America. Whenever any individual faces failures look at this American legend who faced maximum failures successively for many years. Yet he demonstrated his dogged determination and iron will to prove the world that anything and everything is possible at any age provided lessons from the failures are well learnt.

Success - By Result:

Success should never be treated as an end result rather it should be treated as a by result. You need to put in efforts and energies regularly with a view of loving to do the job. When efforts are sustained and focused for a longer time, success is sure to wed. In Mahabharata epic, Lord Krishna rightly said, ‘Do your duty and don’t look for results’. When you look everything from success perspective, there is bound to be frustration as you focus more on success rather on your efforts. When you focus more on efforts not on results then success is sure to touch your toes.

Move in Matrix:

You need to move in a matrix. Life is all about numbers. You need to change the strategies that do not work properly. You need to align your strategies to reach your goals. In life, there are two things to be stressed upon – one is internal environment and the other is external environment. Mostly, failure is the result of the factors and forces prevailing in the external environment. When you face failure as a result of the influence of external environment you do not have to regret. When you face failure as a result of internal environment you need to take a quick look at the strategies that did not work. You need to accept the blame, change the strategies that are feasible and possible and move forward with energy and enthusiasm. If you see the big and broad picture even some of the problems arising out of external environment can be anticipated and checkmated to avoid any fiasco. But it requires a typical and extraordinary mindset crafted from rich experience.

Examine Failures:

When faced with failures just think whether you failed in the same way by applying similar strategies. In that case you stand out to be a fool who do not learn lessons from your failure. If you failed differently there is no cause for concern because you tried to work out different strategies towards success and the same did not work out. Therefore, examine the failures critically and creatively to learn lessons and accordingly change strategies for achieving success.

Love, Success and Age:

Love and success has nothing to do with age. Anyone can love at any age and anyone can succeed at any age. If you have a big heart, love can blossom regardless of age. Similarly, if there is will power, success can be acquired by turning around failure regardless of age.

Failure – A Comma, Not A Full Stop:

If you say that you have not failed, that means you have never tried. If you say that you have failed that means you are mature to admit that you tried and learnt lessons. It is folly to blame the fate for all your mistakes. As a human being it is necessary to put in best of your efforts and energies unmindful of the results. Over a period of time, success does not become a by result but an end result. To conclude, failure is only a comma, not a full stop. You can turn the tide towards success with your passion.

Is Lincoln a Principle-Centered Leader?

"If you focus on principles, you empower everyone who understands those principles to act without constant monitoring, evaluating, correcting, or controlling." - Stephen R. Covey

Stephen R. Covey, in his celebrated book titled ‘Principle-Centered Leadership’ dwells at length leadership which is centered on principles. The book focuses on moral and ethical values. In his book, Covey observes four levels of natural laws: personal, interpersonal, managerial and organizational are the pillars of principle-centered leadership paradigm.

According to him, a principle – centered leader should have few characteristics such as trustworthiness, continuous learning, service oriented, radiating positive energy, leading balanced lives, leading adventurous life and being synergistic. Let us look and explore whether Lincoln was a Principle-Centered Leader.


“If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.” - Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln was financially poor but morally rich. He was not handsome externally but internally he had a great heart. He offered his services as a lawyer for free of cost to poor and deserving. He was honest to the core. He built trust through his honest dealings whether he was in business for a brief period or in lawyer profession. Research on Lincoln reveals several documents about his honesty and decency. In one instance, he walked a long distance to refund the excess cents collected by mistake from a customer. It is because of these reasons Lincoln was crowned as ‘Honest Abe’.

He dispelled the myth that ‘lawyers are liars’ who manipulate many things to get clients. On the other hand, he encouraged many of his clients to save money by settling the issues out of the court. He was always trustworthy whether in politics or in business or in lawyer profession. For him, principles and values were more important than anything else.

Lincoln’s Learning and Growing:

“The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who'll get me a book I ain't read.” Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln was a life long learner. He learnt and grew. He was almost self-educated. He had zeal and enthusiasm right from childhood to learn. Lincoln would borrow books from neighbors during childhood. He read several biographies and books that inspired him to dream big. Throughout his life, he had been learning and growing passionately. As a youngster, he steeped himself in books such as biographies of George Washington, selections from Cicero, Demosthenes, Franklin, and dramatic passages from Hamlet, Falstaff, and Henry V . He was most influenced by the book titled “The Life of George Washington”.

Service Oriented:

“Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.” - Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln was born for the people. He was born for the cause of American unity and abolition of slavery. He was fundamentally a passionate and service oriented leader. He had the innate attitude and aptitude towards serving the people which was displayed in his legal professional service and political life. While doing business also he had the same attitude. Probably that could be the reason why he could not strike rich monetarily but could strike rich in touching the lives of the people through his emotional, inspirational and motivational speeches and services.

Radiating Positive Energy:

“Successful people are able to overcome adversity, often experiencing financial difficulties – even bankruptcy – before hitting their stride”, John Maxwell.

Covey observes that principle-centered leaders always speak of positive things and they radiate positive energy always. It is true in the case of Lincoln who never allowed pessimism and cynicism to creep in despite several setbacks ranging from love failure with Ann Rutledge, business failure and political failures. He demonstrated optimism throughout his life. He had the attitude of forgetting and forgiving his opponents.

Leading Balanced Life:

“There is no secret to balance. You just have to feel the waves.” - Frank Herbert

Lincoln was neither an eccentric nor conventional. He knew how to lead a balanced life be it in personal, professional or social life. He never broke the conventions thus jeopardizing others’ interests. He respected the law of the land like a true citizen and implored for equality of all human beings by abolishing slavery. He rightly said, “Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.”

Strength in Synergy:

Lincoln was not a dictator and but a true democrat who believed in working with others. He saw strength in synergy which is a state in accordance with the Gestalt’s Theory – “Whole is better than sum of the parts.”

He was an excellent team builder where he accommodated his political rivals and ran the administration. The incumbent President of America Obama took a leaf out of Lincoln by building a team which does comprise of no ‘yes’ men or women. Lincoln churned diversity of opinions by keeping his political opponents in good humor. Lincoln learnt a lot from his political opponents and from their criticism. Through his story telling techniques, Lincoln used to win over his political rivals. By befriending and working with them, he gradually leveraged the synergy. He rightly asked, “Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?” Besides, Lincoln was also a tactful and diplomatic in his dealing as it is evidenced from his quote, “Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves.”

Abraham’s Adventurism:

"The only faith that wears well and holds its color in all weathers, is that which is woven of conviction and set with the sharp mordant of experience." - Abraham Lincoln

During the Civil War he served as the Commander – in- Chief and Chief- of -Staff for most of the time. He demonstrated exemplary courage in preventing the Southern States seceding from the United States. With his bold strategies, he ensured the defeat of South. This indicates his heroism, braveness and loyalty to his land. He escaped death several times through out his life such as surviving from drowning into water, survived when horse kicked him, and survived assassination threats during Civil War from Southerners. However, he became a martyr at the hands of John Wilkes Booth who was a racist and Southern sympathizer.

Lincoln’s Self-Motivation:

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” - Abraham Lincoln

The initial failures rushed people to conclude that Lincoln was down and out. But rarely did people predict that he was only down for some years not out for ever. He rose like Phoenix. He fought with fate to the finish. He bounced back from failures. The failures did not upset his will power. He lived to fight another day. No amount of failure stumbled but humbled him at core. He was the man who made the world sit up and take notice through his self-motivation.


Lincoln was a ‘Principle-Centered Leader’ as he possessed all characteristics. Lincoln was a multi-faceted personality. He was a wrestler, shopkeeper, postmaster, surveyor, lawyer, writer, orator and above all a great leader. Leaders like Lincoln live in the hearts of the people not just in the minds of the people. Most of the leaders live just in the minds for some time and fade away from the memories. But the inspiring and motivating leadership of Lincoln is not only memorable but also timeless and priceless.

Lincoln proved to the world that leaders do not have any geographical boundaries. They command respect cutting across the nationalities, geographical boundaries, ethnicities, races, languages and cultures. To conclude in his own words, “And in the end it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”

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Lincoln and Eagle

“The eagle does not catch flies.” Goes the Proverb

Eagles represent heroism where eagles soar with eagles and do not get mixed up with other birds. Dr. Myles Monroe writes about ‘7 Principles Of An Eagle’ where it is stated that eagles fly with eagles, have a high vision, feed only on fresh prey, love storms, tests before it trusts, knows the realities of life and finally sheds old habits.

Like eagle, Lincoln had tenacity. He underwent several trials and tribulations during lifetime. Eagle has excellent vision and so is the case of Lincoln who was a visionary leader. Leaders love storms as the way eagles love storms and enjoy thoroughly. Leaders never shy away from challenges. They face the same squarely as it brings out best from them. For Lincoln, Civil War was a storm to his leadership. The adversity brought out the inner potential of Lincoln where he came out with flying colors by preserving the unity of South with North. Eagles rarely like to be in the comfort zone. So is the case of leaders who keep shifting their orbit from comfort zone to effective zone continuously.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tips for Assertiveness

Assertiveness is the art, ability and the knack of saying ‘No’ without hurting the rights of others. It is an average of aggressiveness and submissiveness. It is one of the core ingredients of soft skills. Below are a few tips for asserting yourself.

Assertiveness Tips:

• State your feeling properly, positively and firmly without hurting others.
• Always empathize with others by being a good listener. Listening to others properly paves the way for better understanding of their view points resulting into assertive communication.
• Be objective, specific and clear in your approach.
• Be cool and composed and never lose your temper. Know the fact that it takes years to build the relations but it takes seconds to break the same.
• Present positive body language to present your viewpoint.
• You can go for sandwich conversation wherein you start positive initially then add your strong points to put across and finally end the conversation with positive so that other person carries the message properly.
• When you dislike the actions of other person, instead saying ‘you did like that’ you may say that ‘I did not like that’. Although the message is same there is feeling of ‘I’ which defuses the problem subtly.
• Always think of the ways and means to assert yourself.
• Keep repeating your points firmly till the message goes strongly to the other person.
• Never say ‘Yes’ to unfair and unreasonable requests.
• Practice assertion skills during the free time through your internal dialogue.
• Do meditation regularly as it helps your thoughts and emotions under control and helps for assertiveness in the long run.
• Take feedback from your trusted friends about your behavior for bringing out desirable changes.
• Never think of win-lose or lose-win but always think of win-win situation.

The above tips will help you to succeed in all walks of life.

Kalam’s Creative Leadership

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Steve Jobs, Co-founder, Apple Corp, USA.

There are several leadership styles and theories and, of which, the creative leadership is catching where the leaders have to be creative and unconventional with ‘out of the box thinking’ approach, attitude and aptitude. With the rapid growth of technology, the leaders are under test of fire with several challenges ahead. The days of conventional thinking are over. Now, it is the time for leaders to look at the challenges from a totally different perspective. Therefore, there is a need for creative leadership to find out solutions to several problems being faced by the world today.

Abdul Kalam defined “creative leadership is about exercising the vision to change the traditional role from the commander to the coach, manager to mentor, from director to delegator and from one who demands respect to one who facilitates self-respect.”

To put it succinctly, creative leadership is the ability to inspire and influence the individuals to accomplish desired goals and objectively innovatively. It aligns the ideas, information and thoughts creatively and effectively for realizing the organizational excellence and for all-round productivity.

Creative leadership is essential not only at the organizational level but also in all spheres. It is especially required in the educational institutions where students need to develop creative leadership to solve several problems in the society.

Creative leadership helps in thinking out of the box and helps in facing several challenges squarely. It is the ability to find new ways and means to get the things done. It requires enormous energy and ability to lead from the front. It demands the leaders to go by the road less traveled. It demands extraordinary edge and courage on the part of the creative leaders. It focuses on unconventional methods. It stresses on getting the things differently rather than doing different things.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Motivational Tips

Motivation is the ability to move forward without losing one’s energy and enthusiasm despite facing several setbacks in life. Motivation drives the people to move forward towards their goals and objectives. Abraham Lincoln was the person who is synonymous with motivation. Despite facing several setbacks in his life in various capacities, he did not give up. He pursued to the end and became the first Republic President of USA. In this regard, it is necessary to know how to motivate yourself.

Motivational Tips:

• Always surround with positive people with healthy mindset.
• Solitude is the best solution where you generate fresh energies to move forward.
• Set smart, measurable, achievable, reachable and timed (SMART) goals as they fuel you constantly.
• Involve in positive self-talk. But do not exaggerate yourself.
• Keep slogans and posters at home and office to get energized constantly.
• Reward yourself, whenever you achieve something.
• Maintain a diary exclusively meant for motivational quotes. Whenever you feel upset you can refer the same.
• Recall your past achievements whenever you face setbacks or failures.
• Visualize success. Imagine that you are always on the top of the world.
• Lend your hand to unsuccessful people so that it bounces back to you as ‘good begets good’.
• Think big and remove your mental barriers.
• Recollect your role model and recall how he/she overcame challenges in life.
• Find out what motivates you – love, money, success, status, comforts, power, prestige etc., Once it is known, then getting motivated becomes an easier process.

Learn the fact that failure is only a comma not a full stop. A smooth sea never makes a skillful mariner.

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