Sunday, August 28, 2016

Table Topics - Wayne Dyer - CSF Meeting #223


The theme of CSF meeting #223 was "You'll see when you believe it", a quote from Wayne Dyer. I picked topics which are quotes of the famous author Wayne Dyer. 
  1. How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours. 
  2. If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. 
  3. Our lives are a sum total of the choices we have made. 
  4. The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don't know anything about. 
  5. It's never crowded along the extra mile. 
  6. The last suit that you wear, you don't need any pockets. 
  7. Anything you really want, you can attain, if you really go after it. 
  8. Conflict cannot survive without your participation. 
  9. There's nothing wrong with anger provided you use it constructively. 
  10. You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with. 
  11. You can't choose up sides on a round world.
  12. Everything you are against weakens you. Everything you are for empowers you. 
  13. Self-worth comes from one thing - thinking that you are worthy. 
  14. Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing.
I also picked some English idioms (local slang in any language) as topics... 


Let the cat out of the bag
Hot potato
Miss the boat
Can’t judge a book by its cover
Once in a blue moon
Ball is in your court
See eye to eye
Best of both worlds
Steal someone’s thunder
Costs an arm and a leg
Take with a grain of salt
Devil’s advocate
Last Straw
Hear it on the grapevine
Hit the nail on the head
Jump on the bandwagon

Monday, August 15, 2016

CC Project #3 - Get to the point - Searching your voice ?!

“Shouldn’t these girls be staying at home and cooking? Why are they even joining colleges? When they finish the studies, they are going to get married to a guy in US and just stay at home. Indirectly, they are denying opportunity for an eligible guy, who will be a future bread winner”

Good morning fellow Toastmasters and guests,

That’s how immature I was during my College days. Did I think like that, because my mom was a house wife? Or, was it because of how Rajini defined women in movies like Mannan & Baadsha, those days? I don’t know. Melinda Gates, co-founder of the famous Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said “A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult”.

Also read: One step at a time (Get to the Point)

Change in Perspective – First Job

When I started my career I realized that … it is not just searching for a women’s voice … even searching to find a women at office was difficult. My perspective towards women was changed by a lady who I met at work place. She was my mentor. She used to patiently teach me everything and specifically, she reviewed all of my emails and offered suggestions on my English grammar / sentence formation etc., I started becoming better at writing emails because of her. She was the sole bread winner of her family because, she had lost her dad a few years ago. When she finished her M.Sc Mathematics she found it difficult to land in a job. She went ahead and completed a diploma course in Computers and managed to crawl into an IT job. She took care of her family and even made her elder brother to settle in life. This lady changed my beliefs. She not only searched and found her voice, but also made her voice to be heard loud and clear… by male chauvinists like me… through her achievements. That is when my perspective towards women changed.

Sherly Sandberg

Recently I read the book titled “Lean In” written by the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg. Sheryl shares an interesting incident in her book from the year 2004, when she was working for Google. She got pregnant with her first child. She was running their online sales and operations groups. She had joined the company a few years back when it had a few hundred employees. As you may know, every pregnant lady goes through a terrible time during their first trimester… often plagued by morning sickness and nausea. Women put on a lot of weight during this period. Sheryl wasn’t an exception. Most days, by the time she reached office in the morning, almost all of the parking lots near the building entrance will be taken up. She normally parks at a distant parking space… and ends up walking to the entrance on the hot sun. She couldn’t tolerate this. She walked straight into Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s office and told them “We should have a parking space for pregnant ladies, near the entrance”. They made it happen immediately. Till that time, Sheryl hadn’t realized that a pregnant women needed a reserved parking near to the building. Unlike Sheryl, all of the other pregnant women workers of Google had suffered in silence all along. Malala, the famous women rights activist says “I raise up my voice – not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard”. Sheryl became the Malala for the pregnant ladies in Google.

Women & Toastmasters

Let us take Toastmasters for example. Though Toastmasters was started in the year 1924, only in 1973 we started officially admitting women. Helen Blanchard who was the first women Toastmaster, later became the first women International President in 1985. Today, worldwide we’ve 48% women in Toastmasters. But, in India… we’ve only less than 30% women joining Toastmasters.  Let us look at our own District. We haven’t had many women playing the top District roles. Even the ones who end up playing the roles like DTM Nina John, DTM Suganthi Periasamy had to go through so much of hardship to get there.  Research shows that everyone has a bias… The chances for someone to think of women as “bossy” is twice when compared to men.  Is THAT challenging our women Toastmasters from getting into the top roles?

Also read: Mitra - My little one (Get to the Point)

Conclusion

Malala says “We realize the importance of our voice, only when we are silenced”. Fellow Toastmasters and Guests, let us help our women to find their voice by letting them sit at the table, by letting them raise their hands, by listening to their voice and at the least, not stopping their voice from being heard. Women like Sheryl Sandberg, Malala and Suganthi have searched and found their voice. Can we help others too, to search and find their voice?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

CC Project #2 - Organize Your Speech - Ola

Imagine going in a cab from Bangalore to Bandipur. And in the middle of the ride, the cab driver tries to renegotiate the fare with you. You refuse to pay him the extra fare… and he drops you in the middle of the trip. What would you do?

Good morning fellow Toastmasters and guests,

If it is you and me, we would just board a bus and finish our trip to Bandipur. Later we would bitch about the cab driver in Facebook and Twitter. But, Bhavish… the founder of Ola is different. He ended up creating a cab booking service along with his friend Ankit… to provide a reliable transport service for commuters.

Also read: Got an idea? Patent it 

Ola, like any other startup started its operations in a small room with a hand full of developers. Today, they are a 7000 employee strong company. Why is Ola a hit in India? I will share with you the top 3 reasons which I like Ola the most:

1. Places the power back in people’s hands

The cab service transformed significantly in the last 5 years. At first came the radio taxi services such as Fast Track. In fact, Fast Track became very popular that people called any “radio taxi service” as Fast Track. However, you were able to book Fast Track taxis only by making a phone call or by going to a website. The wait time for Fast Track taxis were always very high. BOOM came Ola. It allowed you to book your taxi at the click of a button and in the nick of the moment. You can track where your driver is. You don’t have to give directions to your driver to find you. You don’t have to negotiate the fares with the drivers… and above all, it is a cheaper alternative to auto rickshaws.

It places the power back in people’s hands… literally through their mobile apps.

2. When we dream it, they make it

One thing that astonishes me about Ola service is the pace of their innovation. Ola’s valuation today is $5 billion and its annual revenue is approximately $1 billion. They make 500,000 trips a day. Does Ola make profit today... the answer is a BIG NO. They can turn-on the profitability knob any time. But, look at the services that they’ve launched in the last 1 year…

they introduced Ola Money, so that you don’t have to pay in cash
they introduced Ola Micro service .. cabs at Rs 6 per KM
they introduced Ola Share … for sharing your rides
they even introduced a free Ola Boat service when Chennai suffered due to historical floods

While traditional software companies would’ve taken several years to roll out these many features, Ola was able to introduce these services in just months. Their marketing engine is also very powerful. Today, they’ve 80% market share and it was due to their spirit of innovation. . You dream it… they make it real.

3. They WIN, by making us WIN

Ola service reminds me of the symbiotic relationship between the remoras and the sharks, in the sea. Remora is a cleaner fish which sticks to the body of the shark and cleans up the shark, by feeding on the dirt surrounding the shark’s body. Remora becomes happy because it gets its food and the shark is also happy because it gets a cleaner body. Similarly, in the Ola world… both the cab drivers and the customers win.

Ola drivers are of different age groups, from different places and speaking different languages. But, all of them are motivated to make more trips, all of them are trained to treat customers with respect. I heard that they make Rs.2000 to Rs.3000 a day. As a customer, I save nearly 30% on the cost of my rides… when compared to the money I would have otherwise paid to auto rickshaws. Also, I didn’t have to haggle with the auto rickshaw drivers to negotiate rates. Ola also saved me a lot of time… because I used the commute time to make phone calls and clear emails. Ola Wins by making both the cab drivers and the customers to Win.

Dear friends, I lost my car in the Chennai floods and used Ola service for about 3 months. So far, I’ve taken closer to 200 trips. Today, I’m a fan of Ola service.  Ola has enabled several 1000s of cab drivers to make money, really fast. If you want to become an entrepreneur and build a successful company like Ola… keep these 3 guidelines in mind:

Place the power in people's hands
When they dream it, you make it
You WIN, when you make them WIN

Sunday, March 13, 2016

CC Project #1 - Ice Breaker - Lost & Found

When was the last time that you lost something and later found it?

Good morning fellow Toastmasters and guests

It was the year 1975. My parents heard the sound of their first baby in the family. However, the sound and the associated happiness were lost too soon… in fact, in a matter of 2 months. In 1977, they heard the sound of the baby again. They were happy that the lost sound … the lost happiness was found again. They named the new found happiness as Saravanan. But, the new found happiness soon became a headache, as I started to grow up.

I was too naughty at home and my parents didn’t have enough patience to tolerate my nuisance. I was thrown into a school at the age of 2.5 years, itself. From breaking pencils, to slates and at times even the head of fellow students… I grew up as Mr. Naughty in school. If my mom had to pull off a hair every time she gets some complaint from school, she would’ve looked like me today.

“Get lost!”… that’s how my mom shouts at me whenever I become intolerable. And … I did get lost, one day. Yes! … When I was studying 5th standard, I had been to Vandalur Zoo with my aunt and cousins during summer holidays. I was running all over the zoo… from one cage to another… glazing at the animals… with eyes kept wide open… with full of excitement… like the kids that you might have seen in Jurassic park movie. Suddenly, I realized that my cousins and aunt weren’t near me… I shouted their names... but no response. I roamed around the zoo in search of them, but I couldn’t find them. I walked out of the zoo... thinking that they might've gone out to board the bus. I couldn't find them there as well. Without knowing what to do.. I started to cry. An elderly tender coconut vendor near the bus stand approached me and asked "Son! Why are you crying?". In a trembling voice I said "I am lost and I couldn't find my aunt and cousins". He asked me where is your home? I told him it is in Choolaimedu. He said "Don't worry my son! When I'm done with my business in the evening, I'll take you to your parents”. He offered a place for me to sit. I sat down..but tears were  still dripping from my eyes. I was eagerly waiting to go back to home. Suddenly, I saw my aunt coming out of the zoo, with her kids. My joy knew no bounds. I thanked the tender coconut vendor and ran towards my cousins. I hugged my cousins in joy. That was the first time that I was lost and later found.

The gigantic flywheel called life started spinning very fast… I grew up, finished schooling, completed my Bachelors in Engineering and joined HCL Technologies in Chennai. When I graduated from college, my goal in life was to earn Rs. 1 crore and “settle” in life. That goal took me to US in the year 2002. I worked really hard and achieved that goal very fast… my life became a big question mark after that. My identity was my title in office… My success was measured in terms of the $s that I was earning. My happiness was defined by the number of movies that I watched during the weekend.

That is when I found Toastmasters… and it helped me to find a new purpose in life. I realized that you can have an identity beyond your work, I realized that success is multi-dimensional… and it includes not just wealth, but also health and good relationships. I realized that happiness is the feeling you get, when you help others to excel in life.  Zig Ziglar had put that rightly as “You can achieve everything in life that you want, if you can help others achieve what they want”.

Fellow Toastmasters, we lose our health and find our career, we lose our relationships and find our money, we lose our happiness and find our success, . We lose something to find something else... the question is, "What are you losing and what are you finding?"

Sunday, December 20, 2015

CC Project #10 - Inspire your audience - Small Drops

Whoever called me… Your parents are safe. Enough stock of insulin is also available. BSNL line is also working now. You can reach them now

This is the first message that caught my eyes when I logged into Facebook on the morning of 6th December, after a week’s break.  This message came along with the selfie of my friend Rajesh Natarajan standing near a 60 years old unknown couple … in an unknown place… and at an unknown time.  The moment I read this, small drops of water started to drip from my eyes.

Good morning fellow Toastmasters & Guests,

Let me take you to the 2nd of Dec. I drove to work in the morning, despite the heavy rains… thinking that rain is playing a trick to get the school kids yet another holiday. I reached office by 8.30 am and started my day. In about 3 hours, I got an email saying that the office has declared holiday due to heavy rains. When I opened my Whatsapp, I noticed that several companies in the city have declared holiday. Having come to work, I thought I’ll work until lunch and then go back home. In the meantime, I got repeated calls from my wife insisting me to come back home soon. Slowly employees started leaving office, one after the other. Around 2 pm, an office security guard knocked my cabin door, opened it and said “Sir! All the roads are water logged. We are evacuating our employees. We are arranging shuttles for employees to reach home. Please come out and take one of the shuttles soon”.

I finished some pending work, packed up my things in a hurry and reached my office reception at around 3 pm. Since it was raining heavily, I didn’t want to take my car and decided to go back home in the office shuttle. I asked the security manager “Is there a shuttle to Choolaimedu?”. He said “Sir! The shuttle to Choolaimedu, just left. We just have one last shuttle and that goes to Koyambedu. Do you want to board that?”. I didn’t have time to think and I decided to take the last shuttle and get down somewhere in between.  They squeezed all the remaining 20 employees into a 12 seater Tempo Traveler. It appeared very similar to the trucks that carry Broiler Chicken on a Sunday morning. The shuttle left my office in Guindy at about 4 pm.

There was water in almost all the roads. The shuttle crawled through the water logged streets like a snail. We were holding our breath and some were praying to God that the vehicle should not stop. I got down near Ashok Pillar and waved a good bye to my other colleagues going to Koyambedu. Thankfully the rains have stopped by then. I looked at my phone… it showed 4.30 pm. I thought I will catch an autorickshaw or a bus to my home. But, my bad luck - no autorickshaw driver was ready to go to Choolaimedu and there was absolutely no buses to my place. Since I took my car to work, I didn’t even have an umbrella with me. I waited there for a few seconds… water started to inch up near Ashok Nagar metro station. Seconds became minutes… minutes became an hour… Water started drenching my leather shoes now.

Suddenly, I got an idea. I thought “for every complex problem, technology has a solution”. I picked my mobile, and opened up the “Ola” app on my mobile… it said “0 cabs in your locality”. I cursed Ola and opened FastTrack app… FastTrack also said “0 cabs in your locality”. I didn’t know what to do. The problem started ballooning in front of me. I looked at the sky. I saw the clouds smiling at me.

All of a sudden an old auto driver, in his late 60s came near me, halted and asked “Sir! Where do you want to go?”. I said “To Choolaimedu”. He smiled and said “Sir! There is water everywhere. I just came from Choolaimedu. I can take you there. But, you need to pay me Rs.200”. I thought “What?! Rs.200 for a Rs.50 ride. It is too much…”. But, I didn’t have any other option. I said “Yes! Let us go”. The moment I boarded the autorickshaw, rains started to pour again.

The rains were hitting hard on the auto’s windshield and the visibility was very poor. The wiper blades have given up after working hard tirelessly. The old driver cruised through the water logged streets. He took me on a tour of the narrow streets of Ashok Nagar, West Mambalam, Kodambakkam and finally Choolaimedu. Normally, a drive from Ashok Nagar to Choolaimedu takes just 15 minutes. On that day, it took 60 minutes. During those 60 minutes, I was wondering… “What would I do if the engine switches off in the water? What would I do, if this driver asks me to get down in between and discontinue the trip? Is this guy really taking me to Choolaimedu or is he kidnapping me?”  Random thoughts were going on in my mind. Finally, he somehow managed to take me to my home safely. I opened my purse, took a Rs.500 note and gave it to him. When he dipped into his pocket to get me change, I said “You can keep the change… Thanks for bringing me back home safely”. His joy knew no bounds and he thanked me sincerely. I felt very tall… like the Rana statue in Bahubali movie. I thought Rs.500 is a small drop for me … but an ocean for him.

I walked into my house with my chin up, chest inflated and head held high. My entire family was happy on seeing me reach home safe. Unfortunately, the moment I reached home the power went off. After a few hours, the inverter started to beep and finally die. We went to bed with the company of mosquitoes.

It was about 6 am, the next day. I heard a lot of noise outside my home. My entire family was standing out. I thought somebody is quarrelling on the street and went out to watch what was happening. I was shocked to see my street. There was 2 feet of water flowing in my street. My neighbors were telling that the government has opened up the Chembarambakkam Lake and that is why the entire city is flooded. The water was flowing on the streets for 2 days. There was absolutely no power or Internet for 3 days. They restored power after 3 days, when the water completely drained.

The moment I got power & Internet access, I did what every IT engineer in India does. I logged into Facebook. The picture of Rajesh is what I saw as the first thing, when I logged into Facebook. He, along with a network of volunteers were helping the people who were stranded, feeding the people who were hungry, providing supplies for people who lost their homes. They were selflessly serving the community… while I was comfortably sitting within my home for 3 days… taking care of just myself, my family and my belongings. I felt very ashamed to call myself a leader... my Rana statue now started looking very small in front of the huge Bahubali statue of Rajesh.

Dear friends, the rains taught me the power of small drops. Small drops of water that joined hands to cause huge floods; small drops that displaced people; small drops that wiped off belongings; small drops that brought the entire city to a grinding halt.

At the same time, the city was able to bounce back … because of the small drops of help that poured from our large army of volunteers like Rajesh Natarajan. Small drops … feeding the hungry, small drops … giving clothes to the drenched, small drops … saving the stranded.  Without these small drops of humanity, our community would’ve been wiped off from the map. Fellow Toastmasters and guests, if there is one message that I want all of you to leave with … it is “Never underestimate the power of small drops”. If possible, be that small drop that changes the life of someone around you.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

CC Project #9 - Persuade with Power - Oh.. My God!

“Mitra! If you steal a pencil from your friend, God is going to watch you and prick your eyes”
That was my wife trying to instill the fear of God in my 10 years old daughter. Does God exist? Is God real? Should we believe in God?

Good morning fellow Toastmasters and guests,

It was the year 1991, the month was December. I was doing my +2 at that time. I was seriously preparing for my half-yearly Chemistry examination. No matter how hard I studied, it was hard for me to understand the complex atomic structures, molecules and compounds. Finally, the D-day arrived… Chemistry examinations. Those were the days when I go to God for pretty much everything – when I lose my pencil, I ask God to find that, when I’m not getting a bus in time, I ask God to send that, when I don’t do my homework I ask God to bring rains to get me a holiday. Since I haven’t prepared well for my exam, I went to temple to pray to God. I promised God to shave my head for him, if he somehow makes me to score 80% in Chemistry. As a token advance, I even deposited Rs.5 in the Hundial and sealed the deal. I whitewashed my forehead with the ashes given by the priest. I reached the exam hall and uttered a few verses from Kanda Shasti and got the question paper in my hand. I closed my eyes praying to God again and opened the question paper. The moment I saw the question paper, my head started to spin. I became dizzy. Most of the questions were very tough and I couldn’t even understand some of the questions, let alone answering them. I started scolding God for not honoring our gentlemen agreement. I went back to the temple in the evening. How many of you have seen Annamalai movie… and remember the famous “Ashok! Mark this day in your calendar” dialogue? I did pretty much the same thing and parted ways from God. Since then, I’ve started questioning the existence of God and started appreciating the power of humans.

Deaths

I feel that the concept called “God” was originally invented by a smart guy to unite people in the society and stop them from doing barbaric acts. But, look at what actually is happening today. The same concept called “God” is killing several 1000s and 1000s of people today.
Close to a 100 million people have died in the last 1000 years due to religion – that is equivalent of killing 300 people every day, in the name of God. Every day, you see news about Hindus killing Muslims and Muslims killing Christians. Nobody in this world has seen God, but look at the number of deaths happening because of God. It is not only humans who are getting killed, but poor creatures like goats and cows are killed in the name of sacrifice to God. Is God really uniting people or dividing people?

Blind Belief

There are many individuals who take people’s blind belief to their advantage. Asaram Bapu, Swami Nithyanandha, Swami Premanandha and even the popes are involved in scandals such as rape, murder and child trafficking. People donate a lot of money to religious trusts, which get misutilized.
People blindly believe in God and don’t provide proper medical care to their kids resulting in death of young children. Blind belief results in people not doing their job and expecting God to perform a miracle to improve their financial condition.

Where was our God when 30 innocent people died because of stampede, when they came to take a holy dip in Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh? Where was our God when 2000 innocent people died because of the stampede in Mecca, recently? Blind belief shuts off reasoning capacity of people.  Why would you assemble in such large numbers in a place without proper safety measures?

Purpose vs Practice

In those days, people used to walk to the hill top to worship God, which kept them fit. Today, we are going to the hill top in an A/C car. Those days, people sacrificed their personal pleasures in the days that lead to a special function or festival. Today, even the Sabarimala devotees are smoking and eating unhealthy food. Those days, festivals where used to force people to keep their homes and surroundings clean. Today, when there is a festival the surroundings of a temple become a junk yard.
The concept called “God” was invented to keep people united, to keep people disciplined and to keep the surroundings clean. We forgot the purpose of “God”, but we keep having blind beliefs.

Conclusion


God does exist, not in temples but in the minds of humans who treat others with respect, courtesy and dignity. God does exist, not in temples but in the hearts of people who help others, people who care for fellow human beings and people who do their job. God is everywhere, he is in the water bodies that are kept clean, he is in the air that is unpolluted, and he is in the surroundings that is kept clean. God is in you and God is in me. Will you start following the REAL God instead of the dummies in the temple?

CC Project #8 - Visual Aids - Speech Crafting Lessons from the Advertisers

Are you craving to make speeches that get audience attention, speeches that are memorable and speeches that make an impact? Raise your hands if you said “Yes!” to any of these questions

Good morning fellow Toastmasters and guests,

We are in the Diwali season and advertisers are competing with each other to push information, to promote products and to persuade us to buy. What are some lessons that we can learn from them? Today, I’m going to share some techniques / lessons that we can learn from the advertisers.

Grab their attention

Look at these advertisements. The moment you see this advertisement, what catches your eyes?

Ad#1: "Pain Relief Without Surgery". If you are someone who is going through a lot of body pain due to illness or if you know of someone who are going through excessive pain, this advertisement will force you to read the advertisement further. 

Ad#2: "Own a fabulous home at a surprise price". If you are looking for homes to buy, this advertisement will entice you to look at the various deals given below.



We can use similar techniques to get audience attention, while crafting speeches. You can start with a quote such as "Good health is not something we can buy. However, it can be an extremely valuable savings account" or ask a startling question "Do you know that 90% of the diabetics are unaware of their condition?" It immediately hooks the audience with you. 

Keeping the main thing, the main thing

Look at these advertisements. In the 1st advertisement, the shoemaker is trying to sell every type of shoe that they carry in their inventory. However, in the 2nd advertisement, Maruti is trying to sell just the Baleno. While Maruti has 20+ car models to sell, they decided to just focus on selling one thing, instead of trying to sell multiple things in one advertisement. It will help the readers to remember Baleno, better.



Similarly, through our speeches we always sell ideas, thoughts, products, services and at times, ourselves. Patricia a famous public speaker says "Life is a series of sales situations". It is very true. How do we make the best out of these sales situations. I've seen novice presenters carrying 30+ slides for a 30 minutes presentation. And, each slide will be like a word document filled with lots & lots of textual content. Instead, we should carry just 6 slides for a 30 minutes presentation. The extra information can be shared as handouts or sent offline via email. In Toastmasters, a 5 minutes speech can be used to convey only 1 main point and a few sub points.

Help them Visualize

Look at these advertisements. In the first advertisement, the advertiser is just showing the Golden necklace. However, in the second advertisement, NAC is trying to show how the Golden necklace will look on a beautiful girl, when she wears it. It helps the readers to visualize how the product / service will be of use to them.




Similarly, in speeches help the audience to visualize by including stories / examples in your speeches. For example, instead of saying "Always split your goals into smaller tasks for you to quickly accomplish your goals", you can say "Imagine going to a pizzeria and ordering a pizza. After a few minutes of wait, your hot delicious pizza is served with your favorite toppings - olives, mushrooms, pepper etc., Now, when you are about to taste your pizza, I hold your hand and say that you'll have to gulp the entire pizza in one GO... you'll be sitting there thinking "How the hell that I'm going to eat the pizza without cutting it into slices". If I allow you to slize the pizza into smaller pieces, you will be able to comfortably finish eating the pizza. Similarly, your goals are like those large size pizza. You'll not be able to accomplish them in one GO, if you don't split them into smaller tasks. When you slice your goal into smaller goals, you'll be able to accomplish your goals faster"

Make it Stick

Look at the following advertisements. The advertisers are trying to help us remember the message longer. The first advertisement is condensing "20K per month for first 20 bookings" into a "20:20 offer" and that too by showing a cricket ball. The second advertisement is introducing a new term called "Selfietude" by combining "Selfie" + "Attitude". These are techniques that can be used to make an idea "stick"


Similarly, when we deliver complex information such as statistics, we can simplify them for audience to remember the information longer. For example, instead of saying "Ford sold 2,34,428 cars in this month", you can say "1 in every 10 cars sold in the city this month is from Ford". Another example is "If you want to be a successful toastmaster, you should follow the 3Rs - be regular to meetings, do enough research for your speeches, and rehearse your performance before delivering".

Conclusion

Dear friends, the next time you are reading the Sunday morning newspaper sipping a cup of hot coffee, don't just look at the advertisements and offers... look at what you can learn from those advertisements... so that, you can craft your next speech.



Sunday, September 6, 2015

CC Project #7 - Research your topic - Sweetie... I hate you!

Introduction

I broke up with the love of my life

[Start with a sad voice]

Good morning fellow Toastmasters and Guests

Yes! You heard it right... I broke up a few months back. My wounds aren’t still healed. I was not sure if I should be sharing this in my Toastmasters speech, at all. But I thought Toastmasters is like my extended family and in the past I've shared my happiness with you. Why don't I share this also in the meeting? The bond that I had with her for the last several years is gone... I almost grew up with her since my childhood days and she became very close to me. At one point, we exchanged vows to stay together for life. But today... we are separated. She was the reason why I was able to grow fast... on all dimensions. But when she started affecting my real progress ... I decided to part ways from her and said to her "Sweetie... I hate you!"

Problem of Sugar

She is the reason why nearly 50 million Indians are suffering from diabetes today. It is equivalent of the entire population in the state of Gujarat having diabetes. My sweetie’s vision for India is to make the nation the Diabetes Capital of the world by 2025. She kills more people than both HIV + Breast Cancer combined… according to a report published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Different Incarnations

When a poet admires a beautiful woman, he calls her using different names. Similarly, when a corporate admires Sweetie, they use her in the processed food and call her using different names. She is called the Sucrose, Maltose, Dextrose, Fructose, Glucose, Galactose and Lactose, Cane juice, Barley malt, Corn syrup, Caramel, Buttered syrup, Carob syrup, Malt syrup, Golden syrup and Maple syrup.

Impact of Sugar

She gets into each one of our lives, easily. The most common form of her entering our life is through the drinks that we often have … coffee and cool drinks. When we prepare coffee, we add a spoon of her … and we add another spoon. But, when they prepare a can of coke, they add a spoon of her … and another and another and another … up to 10 spoons of Sweetie.  A can of coke adds 160 calories to your body. Let us put this into perspective. You’ll be served a glass of cool drink at the end of this meeting every week. If you happen to attend 6 meetings in a row and have 6 glasses of cool drink, you’ll put on 1 Kg of weight. In order to burn those extra calories and lose weight, you’ll have to actually walk in the treadmill for about 30 minutes a day, for 7 days in a row.

A piece of cake or a chocolate bar has about 5 spoons of Sweetie… so, if you eat a piece of a cake or eat a chocolate bar, you’ll have to walk in the treadmill for 30 minutes for a day … to get rid of the extra calories.

Sweetie vs. Fattie

Sweetie is next to God, she is omnipresent. She is in the canned juice that you drink, she is in the cake that you eat, and she is in the chocolate bars that you munch… she is everywhere. Escaping from her is very difficult… She also has a cousin sister called the Fattie… any time you have more of the Sweetie, she gets transformed by our body into the Fattie. Fattie is more harmful to your body than the Sweetie… because she gets to your heart faster than the Sweetie. They both compete with each other to take control of you and your life.

Processed vs. Unprocessed Sugar

It is absolutely impossible to get rid of Sweetie from your life… She is like those ghosts that we see in the horror movies. They’ll come back at the end, for the next episode. Most of the times, Sweetie comes in front of us like a modern girl… in a processed form… with lots of makeover, with lots of glittering ornaments, with lots of shiny clothes. However, her younger sisters … the Jaggery, Palm Jaggery and Honey are like those village girls exhibiting natural beauty… They are good for you. You can substitute the processed Sweetie with her unprocessed sisters like Jaggery, Palm Jaggery and Honey.

Conclusion

Dear friends… today, several millions and millions of people are getting addicted to Sweetie, knowingly or unknowingly. She is as deadly as the drugs. It is easy to say “Sweetie! I hate you…” in the first place, than trying to marry her and divorce her later… by running on the tread mill. A few months back, I developed the guts to look straight into her eyes and say “Sweetie! I hate you…” Dear friends… do you have the guts in you… to say “Sweetie! I hate you…” ?!

CC Project #6 - Vocal Variety - Lessons from the gym

Introduction

“An apple a day, keeps doctor away. Doing exercise every day, keeps Lord Yama away”

Good morning fellow Toastmasters and guests,

8 months ago, I enrolled in a gym to improve my fitness. I learned a number of lessons in my fitness journey. Today, I’m going to share with you the 2 most important lessons.

Lesson 1: What you do outside matters much more than what you do inside

Many people enroll in a gym thinking that exercising daily helps them to lose weight. When you start exercising a few weeks and step on that sleek weighing machine, you start realizing “OH BOY! THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO LOSE”.

If you continue to eat Pizzas and Burgers … If you continue to drink Coke and Pepsi… If you continue to sleep at odd times and wake up at odd times you aren’t going to reduce weight… no matter how long you run on the treadmill.

Before joining the gym, I used to eat like how a Camel drinks water. I normally eat for the next 6 hours. Guess what, 3 hours later I become hungry. I again eat for the next 6 hours and the cycle continues. The more I ate, the faster my digestive system worked. The faster my digestive system worked, the faster I gained weight. The faster I gained weight, the faster I was getting a hump like the Camel. The only difference was, the Camel had the hump at the back and I got it at the front.
After joining the gym, I learned from my trainer that my eating habits has to change, if I have to reduce weight and become fit. He recommended having 5 small meals instead of 3 heavy meals. He also suggested to cut down on the sugar in my diet. I started noticing the change immediately, after I changed my eating habits. In the last 9 months, I’ve lost 7 KGs.

Lesson 2: When you are not GOOD at doing something do it more often to become GOOD at it

My gym got a new trainer a few months back. The first thing he asked me to do was to do pull-ups. I looked at my new trainer Thiru who was in his early 20s, and asked “Thiru! Are you sure you want me to do that? The last time that I did that was during my teenage” Thiru looked at me and said “Yes Sir. You can do that. Give it a try”. So, I started giving it a try. The bar was about 7 feet high. I was clinging to the bar and trying to lift my body up… like an ant trying to lift a huge mountain. I started swinging back ‘n forth like a monkey on a tree branch, but couldn’t pull my body up. After a few tries, I gave up. I said “Thiru! My arms haven’t gained enough strength to pull my body weight. Once my arms gain enough strength, may be after a few months, I’ll give it a try. For now, I don’t think I’m GOOD at it this and let us pass it on”. Thiru smiled at me and said “Sir! If you are not good at something, you should try it more often. From tomorrow onwards, as part of your warm-up exercises, you should do 15 pull-ups. If you are not able to lift your body weight, at least jump up and start coming down by clinging to the bar”.

I started doing the pull-ups every day as part of my warm-up exercises. The first few days, I was just jumping up and down by clinging to the bar. In about 2 weeks, I was able to lift my body weight up. Today, I can comfortably do 6 continuous pull-ups. Still I have a long way to go to reach the 15 count. But, I’m confident that I can get there.

Conclusion

Dear friends, did you realize… there are more similarities between my Gym and our Toastmasters club. Both the places provide a platform for you to train yourself, to make you come out of your comfort zone and to make you discover your best.

It is not just the speeches that we do in Toastmasters club meetings that transform us… but, the number of books that we read to write speeches, the number of times that we do rehearsals at home, the amount of time that we spend with our mentors. These are the things that play a crucial role in transforming us. So, what you do outside of the club matters much more than what you do inside the club.

I’ve seen budding Toastmasters staying away from Table Topics session thinking that they aren’t good at it. If you aren’t good at it, you’ve to do it more often to be good at it.

Dear friends…

1. What you do outside matters much more than what you do inside
2. When you are not GOOD at doing something do it more often to be GOOD at it

Let us apply these 2 learning from the gym to excel in our communication and leadership journey, in Toastmasters.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

3 Habits of Highly Productive People


Are you working hard, but lacking a sense of accomplishment? Do you hardly have any time for hobbies? Do you want to accomplish more and grow fast in your career?

If you had answered “Yes!” to any one of the above questions, I was like you… 10 years ago. I hardly had any time in my life, except for family and work. I was doing a lot of activities, but very few accomplishments. Today, I have lots of time to exercise, to read books and for hobbies like Toastmasters. So, what are the 3 most important habits that I learned from successful people that helped me to increase my own productivity?

Also read: If you dream, you can

1. Start your day early - When I wanted to become successful in life, I started reading a lot of books on “How to become successful?” I learned that there is one thing which is common across all successful people – they get up early. Getting up early in the morning helps you to create extra time. If you want to develop a new habit such as exercising or planning your day, you can do it in the morning. During the day, you get interrupted by your priorities at work, by family and friends. But, at 5.30 in the morning, nobody is going to interrupt you from exercising or planning your day. Also, you save time because you spend less time in the traffic by starting early and you can accomplish more at work before your colleagues show up.

2. Learn continuously and pick up new skills - Abraham Lincoln says "If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first four hours sharpening the Axe". I’m in the Information Technology field and I get to use Microsoft Excel Sheet (XLS), a lot. A few years back, I had to convert the rows into columns and columns into rows from a 100 rows, 10 columns XLS. Being a novice on XLS, I started doing that manually, by copying and pasting each cell in the XLS and I spent nearly 3 hours on that activity. A few months later, I signed up for a course on using XLS and learned that I can do the rows to column conversion using just 1 formula in 5 mins.  I’m sure each one of you are doing an activity similar to this at your work. Identify such areas and pick up new skills to improve your efficiency.

3. Learn to differentiate between Relaxation and Distraction - Today, we spend (waste!) a lot of time in front of TV, Computer and Mobile Phone. For example, I see youngsters watching cricket on TV for hours together. When you read newspaper the next day, you’ll anyway get to know the results of the match. I wonder why folks still spend a lot of time in front of the TV. Those players and sponsors are stealing your precious time to make several millions of dollars. On the contrary, your performance goes down because you wasted your time in watching such programs on TV. Similarly, youngsters spend a lot of time in Facebook and Whatsapp. How much percentage of the activities that we do in Facebook and Whatsapp are going to help us in achieving our long term goals? These distractions are like dropping a few drops of ink into a glass full of clear water. It takes complete control of your mind/time and reduces your mind’s capacity to produce more. If you learn to limit/control the time you spend on your relaxation activities, you can accomplish more in life.

Also read: How to make self-development, a habit?

To increase your everyday productivity, imagine your day as a train. The train has an engine at the beginning, which is your early morning slot. They just let the driver alone to operate the engine. Similarly, the early morning time should be only for you. Use that for your own activities such as exercising and planning the day. Next, the train has AC coaches. This is your most productive / valuable slot and hence allocate it for tasks of high importance at work. Next comes the sleeper class. You can allocate this slot for the not-so-urgent, but important activities such as sending status reports or conducting meetings. Then, comes the unreserved coaches. These are the slots that can be used for doing unplanned activities. Finally, comes the observatory coach with the guard at the end. Use this slot for reviewing your progress and planning for the next day. If you follow these simple tips, your productivity is going to skyrocket and take you to places that you have never imagined before.