Sunday, December 7, 2008

Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great

"Good to Great and the Social Sectors" claim that the "Good to Great" concepts are applicable to social sectors too, with little or no modification. Jim compares and contrasts the difference in challenges between business sector & social sector. The amount of research done to substantiate the material is less when compared to the original "Good to Great". However, the facts presented are convincing enough.

Reading "Good to Great" is a pre-requisite for this book. You would not be able to fully appreciate the material without reading "Good to Great". This book compares the challenges of Social sector and business sector, in great detail. I would recommend this book for leaders of non-profit organizations.


Author's website: http://www.jimcollins.com/

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

Are you interested to know how WalMart, IBM & HP became superior organizations? Jim & Jerry present their findings about these successful companies and many more. Some of the key take aways from this book are "Preserve the Core Ideology & Stimulate Progress", "Try a lot of stuff and keep that works", & "Companies built just for generating profits do not become superior".

Have you been postponing your entrepreneurial venture just because you couldn't find a 'niche'? The authors give a variety of examples where some of the great companies didn't start with just one particular idea or product. They tried a number of things before they found their 'magic formula' for success.

I still couldn't completely buy-in to the "Home Grown Management" concept. May be the authors didn't do a good job of convincing me enough.

The style and the tone of this book resembles "Good to Great". If I had to compare this book with "Good to Great", I'm honest that "Good to Great" was very valuable.

If you really wanted to know the strengths of the companies that are "Built to last", you should read this book.

Author's website: http://www.jimcollins.com/

Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It

Do you work hard but do not get the promotion that you deserve? Do you feel shy to talk about yourself? Are you unable to impress the interviewers when you look for job? Well, here is your magical guide.

Peggy Klaus explains how you should be prepared with 'bragologues' for different situations. The author gives you some techniques that you can start using right away.

The author gives several examples, most of them were involving (and for) women. I strongly believe the bragging problems that men have are different than what women have. I wish the author had some additional material to cover the 'bragging' problems & solutions that are specific to men.

Overall, this book was an interesting & quick read.

Author's website:  http://www.klausact.com/

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Entertainment Speaker (Project 1) - Life on the Wheels

AC - Entertaining Speaker (Project I)
Life on the Wheels
November 28, 2008

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Introduction

We take so many things for granted, in our life. For example, any time we open the tap in the kitchen or bathroom we assume there is going to be water. Any time we turn-on the television or the air conditioner, we assume there is going to be electricity. But, I realized the importance of these simple things, during my trip to Glen Canyon in Page, Arizona. Today, I'm going to share my experience of living in a Recreational Vehicle (RV).

Friend dropped out

My friend & I decided to go to Glen Canyon for the Christmas holidays, last year. We were very excited because we had booked an RV for the trip. Unfortunately, the day before the trip, my friend's daughter got sick & he had to drop out. I have never driven a RV before. The longest vehicle that I've ever driven is a 10 feet U-Haul truck. So, I was in a dilemma whether I should cancel the trip (or) should I go ahead with the original plans. Finally, I decided to go ahead with the original plans.
The RV

My wife, kid & I flew to Phoenix and rented the RV there. It was a 29 ft motor home. It was so huge. I was staring at the RV like a tiny little kid standing in front of a huge elephant. The RV had all kinds of appliances like stove, microwave, fridge, air conditioner, television etc., It had all the facilities that you would typically have in a house - kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, sofa, dining table, etc., The RV also had a generator to power-up the appliances.
Driving Experience

I have always enjoyed driving. But, for the first time in my life driving was so unpleasant. Driving a car is like riding a horse. You can go really fast. But driving a RV is like riding a camel in the desert. The RV was going very slow. A 3 1/2 hour drive took us nearly 6 hours.
The worst thing about driving a vehicle of this size is - you don't have a rear view mirror & you cannot really see if a cop is behind you. For the first time in life, I did something that I've never done - Driving within the speed limits.

RV Park in Page

By the time we reached our camping area in Page, it was 11 pm and it was completely dark. The weather was very cold. I was literally shivering when I hooked-up my vehicle to the water, electricity and sewage outlets in the camping area. We were so tired. We had our dinner and went to bed immediately.
Frozen Pipe

The next day morning when we opened the tap in the kitchen sink, we didn't get any water. I wore several layers of clothes including a sweater and a thick leather jacket. I stepped out to see why the water supply stopped.
I was amazed when I stepped out of the vehicle. Our camping spot was near Lake Powell. The lake had completely frozen due to the cold weather. I looked around and we were the only party to camp there. I went around the vehicle to check the water connection. The water in the tap & the tube had completely frozen. That is the reason why the water supply was blocked. We waited for a couple of hours for the sun to show up & melt the ice.
Generator

We got ready & visited a few places in Glen Canyon. When we were not in the camping area, we had limited access to water and electricity. We were so tempted to turn-on the heater when the vehicle was parked. But, we cannot let the generator run forever. Otherwise, we would run out of gas.
We cannot take a long shower when we were not in the camping area. Water was precious :)
Nice things about RV

Though we had some shortcomings, there are several nice things about living in a RV. Have you ever thought about lifting your home, placing it on wheels and taking it along wherever you go? Well, that is exactly what an RV is. Whenever you want to drink coffee, you don't have to look for Starbucks. You can pullover the vehicle and prepare hot coffee with fresh aroma. You don't have to search for rest areas along the roadside. Because ... the roadside itself is your rest area. I mean, you can pullover and use the bathroom in your vehicle.
How many of you feel drowsy when you drive your car during the sight seeing trips, especially after a heavy lunch? Did you ever feel like taking a nap? Well, if you are driving a RV you can park your vehicle and take a comfortable nap.
Conclusion
We stayed in the RV for 3 days. I realized the importance of water & electricity during our trip. I have been conserving water and electricity, since we made that trip.
Our trip to Glen Canyon is very memorable because of the RV. We enjoyed our life on wheels. We had quality time.
Ladies & Gentlemen, if you are planning for your next trip, you should definitely consider renting a RV. I bet you, its lots of fun!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Relationship Edge in Business: Connecting with Customers and Colleagues When It Counts

Are you trying to find ways of building or extending your network? Are you interested in learning some techniques to improve your business relationships? Jerry Acuff gives the tool kit that you can carry with you.

This book talks about the different types of relationship levels that you can have with others ("The Relationship Pyramid"). This book highlights a number of techniques that includes questioning, caring, connecting, and setting up goals. The book not only helps you to develop relationships but also to maintain them.

If you have already read a few books about developing relationships or networking, this book will just be a review of the techniques that you previously learned in the other books.

The book gives a lot of real life situations & examples that makes it an interesting read.

Author's website: http://www.gottochange.com/

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Table Topics: Theme "Thanksgiving"

Thanksgiving provides as an opportunity to meet, greet and celebrate. The following are some table topics questions for your toastmasters club meeting with the theme as "Thanksgiving".

(Also read: Table Topics - Theme "Halloween")

1) What is your most memorable Thanksgiving cooking experience? Why?
2) I hate Thanksgiving weekend because ...

3) If you would like to call someone as a turkey, who would that be?

4) Give us 5 reasons why we shouldn't eat turkeys on Thanksgiving weekend.

5) If you get an opportunity to go on a date with someone on Thanksgiving day? Who would that be?

6) I love Thanksgiving weekend because ...

7) What is your most memorable Thanksgiving weekend? Why?

8) Whom do you like to Thank the most in your life? Why?

9) If you get an option to change the Turkey in the Thanksgiving menu, which one would you go for (instead of Turkey)?

10) If you have to convince a vegetarian to eat Turkey on Thanksgiving - what would you do?

11) You are a boss in the IT company. You have to convince your employees to work during the Thanksgiving weekend. You are employees are sitting in our club. How would you persuade them?

(Also read: Table Topics: Theme "Christmas")

(Table topics conducted in TGIF club in 2008)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Be Hopeful About the Future



AC - Story Telling (Project IV)
The Touching Story
October 31st, 2008

I want all of you to close your eyes for a few seconds. Now, think about the worst thing that ever happened to you in your life ... Something that was a huge loss to you. Something, that made you to regret. For example, a lost job, a strained relationship or lost money.

You may now open your eyes. We all would've had at least one such bad thing that happened to us, in our life, which had a lasting impact on us. Whenever such bad things happen, we have two options. We can think about it again & again and continue to worry about it till the end of our life. Or, we can forget about it and be HOPEFUL about the future.
Today, I'm going to share a real story. I read this story recently in a magazine. This story is about a person called Naresh who became successful, just because he didn't lose HOPE, when a terrific incident happened in his life.

Childhood

Naresh was born in a village in Southern India. His father is a truck driver and his mother is a housewife. His parents were illiterate. It was 1993, and Naresh was 6 years old at that time. He was fair and a bit tall. He had very beautiful eyes and lots of hair. He was very naughty and he used to run all around the house playing with his friends. At the same time, he was smart. He did very well in his studies. His parents had high hopes about Naresh's future.

Accident

It was January 11, 1993, the fateful day. Naresh and his parents were ready to go to a nearby village for a family function. They got a ride in Naresh's father's friend's truck. The front cabin didn't have much space. Naresh was made to sit close to the door.

The elders were busy talking about something. Naresh was playing with the truck door's latch. All of a sudden, the door opened wide & threw him out. He was lucky enough to survive the accident. Nothing happened to him but his legs were severely injured. He was immediately admitted to a government hospital.

The doctors in the government hospital treated his wounds & bandaged his legs. He was there in the hospital for a week. When the doctors removed his bandage they were shocked. They found that the tissues in his legs were decayed because of insufficient blood supply. Naresh was immediately rushed to a district hospital. The doctors in the district hospital examined his legs. The doctors didn't have any option than to amputate his legs. In no time, both his legs were cut off up to the hips.

Naresh woke up after the surgery. He had lots of pain. He pulled over his covers and was shocked to see that his legs were missing. He asked his mother, "Mom! Where are my legs?" His mother burst into tears. She doesn't know what to tell her little son. Naresh was in the hospital for three months.


Return to Home

The day Naresh reached his village, his house was flooded with curious people; all of them wanted to know how a boy without legs looked. But he was not bothered. He was just happy to see all of them, after a long time.
Life without Legs

Naresh got admission in a near by school. His sister was also put in the same class though she is two years older. His parent thought she could take care of Naresh if both of them were in the same class. Naresh's sister never complained. Naresh was so lucky to have such a loving sister. She carried him in the school for a few years and after a while, his friends took over the task. All his friends saw to it that Naresh was part of all the games they played; they carried him everywhere.
Through out his childhood days, Naresh didn't lose hope. He was very confident that he can lead a successful life. He wanted to be an engineer when he grows up.

Life at IIT- Madras

Time ran fast. Naresh completed his high school education. He got good grades. He decided to join an engineering college. He got admission into one of the premier educational institutes in India - Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). Naresh felt privileged to study with some of the brilliant students in the country.

The world is full of good people

Naresh got help from total strangers without him asking for it. He got new friends, who took care of him during his college days. There were people who were taking care of his hostel and college fees.

Naresh's college had in fact arranged a lift and built some ramps at the Computer Science department for him. His fellow college mates got him a powered wheel chair, so that, he can move around the campus on his own. His life changed after that. He felt free and independent.

Internship/Job Offer

While he was doing his college, he got an opportunity to come to Boston to do his internship. After completing his studies he got a job offer from one of the leading technology giants in the industry - Google. Today, Naresh is working in Google's Bangalore office.

Be Hopeful

Think about it for a moment. What would you do, if the same thing had happened to you? What if you had lost both of your legs? Will you be what you are today? Naresh has proven that "if you are HOPEFUL & motivated, nothing can really stop your success". Quite often in life, we face bad circumstances. Are those circumstances, really bad like the one faced by Naresh. If Naresh can achieve something in life, you can too. Believe in yourself & be HOPEFUL about the future. Nothing can stop you from achieving your goals.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Project 5 - The Persuasive Leader - Are you a DAY DREAMER or an ACHIEVER?


AC - Persuasive Speaking (Project 5)
The Persuasive Leader
September 12, 2008


Introduction

Close your eyes for 5 seconds and think about THE ONE BIG THING that you want to achieve in your lifetime. How many of you want to start your own business or be an executive in a big corporation? How many of you want to travel around & visit places? Now, be frank, how many of you used the 5 seconds that I gave for a short nap (snore here)?

We all have goals to achieve in our life. But, we hardly do anything about our goals. It is like aiming to climb Mt. Everest, but GASPing (demo here) to climb even a staircase. We postpone things to tomorrow. We give ourselves an excuse "I don't have time". But the fact is "WE ARE LAZY".

Lazy to Wash Clothes

At times, we are too lazy to do even simple things... like, washing clothes. During weekdays, you postpone to do the washing over the weekend. The much-awaited weekend comes. You say to yourself, "I will wash clothes as the first thing on Saturday morning". Saturday comes. But, you wake up only around NOON. By the time you have your breakfast it is 3 pm. You get a call from my friend - "Hey! Want to go for a movie, in the evening?" Your mind starts to weigh the options - "Wash & Iron the clothes (or) Watch Iron Man?" Your mouth makes the decision before your mind does. You say, "Yes" for the movie. You convince yourself "I have the whole day tomorrow. I can do the washing on Sunday". Sunday comes & goes. Finally, you postpone doing it, to the next week.

This happened to me once. I had two weeks of dirty clothes piled up like a HUGE mountain. A guest who visited me asked, "Is there a dead rat in this house?" I felt very embarrassed to tell him that I've two weeks of clothes to wash.

Lazy to Prepare for Exams

Let us see what we do in school. When the academic year starts, we all aim to get good grades. But we postpone to prepare for the exams until the VERY last day. Finally, the night before the exam comes. You take your book and start preparing for the exam. You count the number of pages (carefully excluding Table of Contents, Foreword, Index etc.,). You think, "There are 200 pages in this book. I can complete the whole book in 4 hours" You look at the clock. The clock shows 8pm. You start reading.

The clock strikes 10, you had just covered 20 pages and yawned 200 times. You are drowsy. A debate begins in your mind - "Should I continue to read (or) sleep now and get up fresh in the morning and read". Guess what! Sleep wins. Immediately, you close your book and set your alarm clock to ring at 4 in the morning. You get into a deep sleep. Your alarm rings like a SIREN at 4 am. Your eyes are still closed. Your hand searches for the alarm clock & BANG... the alarm clock dies. You say to yourself "Let me sleep for 5 more minutes". You sleep for 5 minutes & wake up again. The clock shows 4.05. You ask yourself "Isn't this alarm clock 5 minutes faster than the clock in the hall?" You go back to sleep again. But, this time you sleep for 2 hours. You get up at 6, scan a few pages from the book and go to the exam. How many of you have had a similar experience?

My Friend's Exam Experience

One of my friends had an interesting experience. He didn't prepare well for the exam. He went to the exam hall. The question paper was distributed. He stared at the questions for 10 minutes. None of the questions looked familiar because he didn't prepare well. He walked to the front and asked the examiner "Sir! Am I in the right exam hall?" The whole classroom laughed.

When are we Lazy?

You may think we are lazy always. But WE ARE NOT. We can watch Olympics overnight in the TV, without even blinking our eyes. We become drowsy only when we read our TEXT BOOKS in the night. We can talk for hours with friends about "how the government should keep the city clean". We become lazy only when we have to spend a few minutes to clean our own bathrooms every week.

Conclusion

Laziness is like taking drugs. It gives you momentary pleasure. But, it ruins your life.

Laziness makes you a daydreamer. Not an achiever. Have you heard about the "Hare & the Tortoise story"? The Hare can run faster than the Tortoise. But, in spite of that, the Tortoise won. Why? The Hare got lazy and decided to take a nap, whereas the Tortoise started to move right away. The Tortoise won the race because it wanted to be an ACHIEVER & not a DAYDREAMER.

Ladies & Gentlemen,

Do YOU want to be a daydreamer or an achiever?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Everyone Makes Mistakes



AC - Story Telling (Project V)
Bringing History to Life
September 5, 2008

Introduction

How many of you have made mistakes in your life? Oh ! This is a dumb question. Everyone in this world makes mistakes. From great presidents to poor residents, everyone makes mistakes - no exceptions.

When we were kids, we made mistakes unknowingly. Our parents used to correct us. When we grew up, we hardly listen to what our parents say.

You might be familiar about Gandhi - the leader who was behind India's Independence. Gandhi was known for non-violence. Gandhi was known for adopting vegetarian diet. Gandhi was known for peace. Some of you may even think, you've to be born with these qualities to be famous like Gandhi. But, it is not TRUE. Gandhi was a common man like you & me. He has made several mistakes when he was a youth. So, what differentiates Gandhi from the rest of this world? Well, he corrected his mistakes. He took control over his mistakes before his mistakes took control over him.

Today you are going to hear the story of Gandhi that was least told. You are going to learn about the darker side of Gandhi. You are going to get drenched in surprise. These are real facts, based on the information from Gandhi's own biography - "My Experiments with Truth".

Meat Eating

Would you believe if I tell you that Gandhi ate non-vegetarian food? Could you imagine little Gandhi having chicken soup, & spicy lamb curry, without his parents knowing it?

Gandhi is a vegetarian by birth. However, he was always worried that he wasn't strong enough like his friends who are meat eaters. Gandhi was scared of ghosts, thieves, & snakes. He never slept alone in darkness. He used to imagine that he'll be haunted by ghosts on one side, and thieves on the other side. One of his friends told Gandhi, “You can become strong if you eat meat. Look at me... I'm not scared of ghosts. I'm not scared of thieves. I'm stronger than you. Even some of our teachers eat meat. Do you think they are fools? Indians are so weak because they do not eat meat. Look at the British. They all are meat eaters. That is the reason, they are ruling us”.

Gandhi was persuaded by his friends arguments. Gandhi decided to eat meat. His friend prepared & brought him delicious meat dishes. They both went to a lonely place near the river to have the feast. Gandhi didn't like it initially, but his passion to become stronger forced him to be a meat eater. Whenever he ate meat, he couldn't get a proper sleep. He felt as if a goat was jumping & making noise inside his tummy.

His parents didn't knew about this habit. Whenever his mom asks why he is skipping a meal, he would LIE that he is not hungry. This went on for about a year. Gandhi felt guilty of lying to his parents. His conscious pricked him everyday. Hiding the truth haunted him every night. The “imaginary goat” that was inside his tummy, started shouting louder & louder. He finally decided to give up the meat eating habit. Since then, Gandhi never touched meat in his life.

Smoking

Meat eating was just one of the several mistakes that Gandhi did during his childhood. Gandhi was also attracted to smoking cigars. He found pleasure in emitting clouds of smoke from his mouth. At first, he started smoking with the stumps thrown away by his uncle. However, those stumps were small and couldn't emit much smoke. Then, he experimented smoking with stumps of certain types of plants. That didn't satisfy his passion, as well.

Cigars were too costly and he couldn't afford them. So, he started to STEAL money from his servant to buy cigars. This went on for a while until he realized that stealing money from a poor servant is a great sin. He felt ashame of stealing money. Gandhi then decided to give up his smoking habit as well.

Lust

Gandhi got married to his wife at a very young age. In those days, kids used to live in their respective parents' house after marriage. They hardly get to meet each other. Gandhi started living with his wife after their 5th wedding anniversary. During those days, Gandhi's mind was filled with lust than love.

There were a few occasions when Gandhi was close to committing the biggest sin in his life. His bad acquaintance took him to even prostitutes. Fortunately, the turn of events brought him safe out of such situations. Gandhi was glad that he didn't commit that mistake.

Conclusion

Look at the early stages of Gandhi's life. He was just an ordinary person. He has done all the mistakes that you & I have done in our life. Gandhi was not born a Mahatma. But he inherited habits that turned him into a Mahatma. Gandhi made several mistakes like any of us would. But, he corrected them at the right time.

We all make mistakes. Sometimes we do it knowingly, sometimes we do it unknowingly. Whenever you make mistakes you have two choices – you can continue to repeat the mistake again & again (or) you can acknowledge & correct the mistake.

Think about the mistakes that you make in life - at home, at work & in your toastmaster sessions. You have a choice. You can repeat the mistakes (or) correct them. I'm confident that you'll choose the later.

Give it one more try



AC - Story Telling (Project III)
Moral of the Story
August 15, 2008

Introduction

Have you seen a kid that was successful when trying to stand for the first time? Kids fall several times when learning to stand. But, they never give up ... they try again & again ... and finally, succeed one day. When we were kids, we never gave up. But, as we grew, the society conditioned us to give up so soon.

Today, I'm going to share a real story... the story of a grocery store keeper, who succeeded in life just because "He tried once more and didn't give up". I'm going to call him the "grocer".

Background of the Grocer

This grocer was born in a poor family and started working in a grocery store, at a very young age. He worked in the same store for 10 years. He grew to become a handsome young man. He was about 6 feet tall and normally wears a white dhoti and a half sleeved shirt. He was very passionate, loyal and hard working. He got married to a beautiful young woman and they were blessed with a baby boy.

Grocer's attempt to own the store

Having been with the store for a long time, the grocer expressed his interest to buy part of the store's ownership. However, his boss didn't like the idea. The grocer was "let go" the same day. The grocer didn't expect this. He was very disappointed. He couldn't believe that he is out of his passionate job.

Grocer's attempt to start his business

The grocer decided to start his own business. He sold his wife's jewels and used all his savings. He started his own grocery store. The community in which he opened the store had stiff competition. His business wasn't profitable. He had to close the store in 10 months. He lost all the capital. He didn't have money to even feed his family. His ego prevented him from working for some one else. He didn't know what to do.

Grocer's frustration

The grocer hated himself. He was born poor. He didn't get a good education like others. He couldn't own the store that he liked. He wasn't successful in his new business. He felt defeated in life. He saw no point in leading a life full of failures and disappointments. He decided to commit suicide. He bought some pesticide and went to the seashore to commit suicide. When he was about to drink the pesticide, thoughts of his wife & little kid came to his mind. He imagined how their life would be after his death. He didn't want them to suffer. The grocer decided to "start his business again" and "give it one more try".

Grocer "giving it one more try"

He borrowed some money from his known contacts. He started a new store in a different locality. He applied all the skills that he learned previously. He worked twice as hard as he did last time. This time, the business was rocking. God finally rewarded him for his hard work. He was happy that he didn't perform the blunder of committing suicide. He was happy that he decided to "give it one more try". In a few years, the grocer became very rich & well settled.

Who is the Grocer?

I have known this grocer for "many many" years. He is a person that I respect. He is my inspiration. I have the privilege of calling this grocer my "Dad". Yes, the grocer is none other than my father.

If my father had given up after his failures, I may not be standing in front of you today delivering this speech. I may be cleaning empty coffee cups in a restaurant or may be begging near the traffic lights for money.

I am grateful and thankful to my father for the valuable lesson he taught me.

Conclusion

So, ladies & gentlemen, whenever you face failures in life, "Don't give up... Try again".

Think about some of your greatest achievements in life. You achieved them because you worked hard; you continuously fought against failures & you never gave up. Some of you in this room are DTMs and Advance Communicators because you never gave up after completing your CC or CL.

Now, I want you all to repeat what I say, "I'll never give up ... no matter what... I'll try again and again, until I succeed".

Entertainment Speaker (Project 3) - Economy is driving me crazy



AC - Entertaining Speaker(Project III)
Make them Laugh
August 29, 2008

Introduction


Gas price keeps going up and up like a balloon filled with helium. House price keeps going down & down like a rock falling from the sky.
My favorite toasted sandwich is getting smaller and smaller in size ... but bigger and bigger in price.

Today, I'm going to talk about how this "Economy is driving me crazy".

Gas - Price goes up

Once a week my car turns-on that ORANGE indicator on the dash board and tells me "I'm hungry!" I saw 4.10 per gallon at the gas pump. I thought I'd wait for one more day for the price to come down. The next day, I saw, 4.18 per gallon. I could wait for one more day. But, I don't want my car to die in the middle of highway 101 at the peak hour. I filled my tank in a hurry before they increase the gas prices again.

Have you ever been to Casinos & played in slot machines? To me, the numbers in the price board in Gas station go up faster than the reels of a slot machine.

Gas - How bad the economy is? (Costco Gas Station)

These days, I fill gas in Costco. One year back, when I go to Costco, I saw only the medium income folks with their Hondas & Toyotas lining up at the gas station. These days, I see BMWs & Mercedes in the queue. That tells me how bad the economy is.

Gas - Mileage improvement tips

I thought I should find out ways to save gasoline. Someone said, "If you avoid applying brakes often, your mileage will go up". For the past 6 months, I have been trying that. My car's mileage didn't go up, my insurance premium did! Well, what would your insurance company do, if you had two accidents in 6 months because of not applying brakes?

Stocks - Catching a falling knife

Having gone through all these, I thought, it's a right time to generate some passive income. I decided to invest in stocks. I bought some shares of a technology company. The stock value dropped 10% on the same day. Being new to the stock market, I asked my friend, "Mr. Stocks! Why did the stock go down by 10% on a single day". He said, "Well, the company's revenue didn't meet analysts' expectations. The investors were concerned & hence, the stock price went down".

I waited for the next quarterly results. This time, the company had EXCEEDED the analysts' expectations. But, still the stock price dropped by 20%. I asked my friend, "Hey Mr. Stocks! What happened? The company EXCEEDED the targets but still my stocks went down by 20%". He said, "Well, the company exceeded the expectations. The investors are now concerned that the company cannot sustain this growth rate in the current economy". Come-on, give me a break. I tried to catch a falling knife & my hand is full of blood. Till date, I have lost 50% of my investment in stocks.

Work - Vacation

You would be surprised to know what happened at my work. My company is in cost cutting mode. When times are bad, what will you do? You expect everyone to work hard, right? Well, we got an email from our HR department. "We request all the employees to use their vacation hours". What? The economy is bad. The projects are slipping. They want everyone to go on vacation? Have they gone mad? How is that going to help the company?

Home - Washing Machine

Have you ever noticed this in your life? Good things come like drizzling rain shower. But, bad things hit you hard like hurricanes.

When I was worried at the growing expenses and hurting economy - something happened at my home that was like icing on the cake. I bought a brand new washing machine last year with 1-year warranty. We celebrated the first birthday of our washing machine and the next day it doesn't start. I don't know how they program these appliances to die right after the warranty expires. I paid 50$ for the washing machine spare part and 150$ to the guy who fixed it. He earns twice than what I do for an hour of work.


Conclusion

My valet lost several pounds in the last one year.

Well, the economy has made only a small dent on my life & my dreams. But, there are people whose dreams were crushed into pieces by the economy. I have food to eat, a nice home to sleep and a doctor to go to if I'm sick. When I think about the millions of people who lost their jobs, who do not have money to feed their hungry little ones, who lost their homes in fore closures, who do not have health insurance... I'm better off than these folks. I should thank God for blessing me with this wealth.

God bless America!

Project 4 : Addressing the Opposition - Why do I want you to be a Vegetarian?



AC - Persuasive Speaking (Project 4)
Addressing the Opposition
August 29, 2008

Introduction


“Who in the world would eat that vegetarian food? It is not tasty. It won't give me enough energy. It won't provide me enough proteins. I am very comfortable eating non-vegetarian food. Why would I even think about being a vegetarian”

These thoughts may be lingering in many of your minds. Well, I can understand that. Because, I had all these questions before I decided to be a vegetarian in 2001. Today I'm going to help YOU understand the benefits of being a vegetarian.

There are 3 reasons why I want you to be a vegetarian.

I know you want to be healthy

How many of you think that you are healthy? How do you know if you are healthy? Well, the metrics that I use are
1) How often do I have to visit doctor?
2) How much energy do I have? Do I get tired soon if I go on a hike?
3) Can my body digest my intakes?
4) Do I have the right weight?
5) Do I feel healthy? At times, you can feel that you are healthier. You get extra confidence when you feel that you are healthy.

How can a vegetarian diet help you to be healthy?

I know you are environment conscious

The most commonly presented & discussed topic in our club is “Going green”. I know many of you are environment conscious. Did you ever realize that being a vegetarian can help the environment?

I know you care about other living beings

How would it be if 20 of us are pushed into an elevator that can hold just 10 people? Well, thousands of cattle spend their everyday life in densely packed sheds.

How would it be if someone locks you in a dark room without any oxygen or water and let you die? Millions of fishes go through this treatment when they are caught in the seas.

Do you feel happy on seeing a squirrel or a rat being run over by a vehicle? Do you feel happy if your favorite cat or dog is cut into pieces and served as a meal? Everyday, thousands of animals have to be killed & sliced into pieces before you get your delicious hamburgers and chicken sandwich. Millions of fishes have to die in pain for you to get your favorite sushi.

I know you all care about life – not only yours but also about other living beings. You are a non-vegetarian because you never thought about the pain that these creatures are going through.

Conclusion

The next time you go to a restaurant and scan through the menu card – you have a choice. You have a choice to be obese (or) to be healthy. You have a choice to be friendly (or) to be cruel to environment & other life. I know you'll make the right choice and order a vegetarian dish.

Imagine it is the morning of 29th August 2009. You'll be getting ready to go to work. You look at yourself in the mirror. You see a NEW you. You are slim & fit. You feel more energetic. You are healthy and happy. You'll appreciate yourself for the one decision that you made today to be a vegetarian.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Everything happens for the good

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AC - Story Telling (Project II)
Lets get personal
June 20, 2008

Do you believe that everything in the world happens for the good?

Do you remember that long weekend drive? You were driving a rental vehicle. No matter how hard you press the gas pedal, the speedometer doesn't cross the 65 mph mark. A dude in his early 20s, zooms in front of you in his convertible and vanishes from your eyes, in no time. You feel bad about your inability to drive fast. You cross a few miles. You see the same convertible pulled over to the roadside. There is also a cop vehicle with glazing lights standing next to the convertible. Yes. The dude got a speeding ticket. You are happy that you weren't able to drive fast.

Think about the people who survived on 9/11 because they missed their flights by a few minutes, which later crashed into the Twin Towers.

We get frustrated when things do not happen the way we expect. We loose hope. But, everything in this world happens for the good. Today, I'm going to share a story from my personal life.

It was 1998 - the last year of my under graduate program. Like most of you, I had a dream company in my mind, to work for, after my studies. My close friends were also interested to get a job offer from this company. We were eagerly waiting for this company to show up for campus recruitment. We had always dreamed about getting a job in this company, going to BANGALORE, renting a house and starting our new life. The company is WIPRO TECHNOLOGIES. WIPRO is one of the top 3 software companies in India.

It was the 21st of April 1998. My friends & I were eagerly waiting for this day for almost 4 years. We were so excited to hear that WIPRO is in our campus. We worked hard and prepared well, to get into WIPRO. We dressed up well - wearing neatly ironed formal pant & shirt. I was wearing a light blue shirt, a dark blue pant and a red tie.

I was waiting outside the interview hall for my turn to be called. I was carrying a file in my hand with my resume, mark sheets and other certificates. I prayed to God several times while waiting outside the interview hall. There are two rounds of interviews - technical round & a HR round. I was short listed to take the HR interview first. My name was called. I entered the interview room.

It was a small room. The room was air-conditioned. It had an oval table and a few chairs. I could smell the fragrance of the lavender air freshener inside the room.

The HR person in his mid 40s, welcomed me. He resembled Cliff to some extent. He was tall and fair. He was wearing a black coat and a yellow tie. He appeared to be a tough person.

He asked a few questions like what my strengths are, what I want to be in the next 5 years etc., We both talked for about 1/2 hour. He concluded the interview and thanked me for my time. Somehow, I felt that the HR person wasn't very happy with my interview performance. I had a technical interview after that and I extremely did well.

My friends also had completed their interviews by that time. We were all eagerly waiting for the results of the interview. The HR person came out of the interview hall with a list in his hand. He started reading the names of the people who got selected. The student crowd cheered-up after each name was read. I eagerly waited for my name to be announced. The HR person read about 20 names and said that is the end of the list. All my friends' names were there. But my name was not there in the list. I was very disappointed. I was hoping that the HR person would say "Sorry! I missed out one person's name. It is Saro Velrajan". But the HR person didn't do that. I was glad that my friends got their dream job, but sad that I didn't get mine.

I didn't know what to do. All along, I hadn't thought about joining a different company than WIPRO. My dream was shattered into pieces, like a beautiful teapot dropped from the mountain top. I don't know how to fix the pieces together. I didn't sleep throughout that night, thinking about my failure.

Months ran. We finished our studies. My friends went to BANGALORE and joined WIPRO. As we had planned earlier, they rented a home and stayed together.

I moved to my hometown. I got a job from another software company that was close to my home. I missed my friends. But I didn't loose hope. I continued to work hard and started liking my new company. A year later, my company announced that they are going for IPO (Initial Public Offering). For those who are not familiar, they were preparing to go take the company public. I was given some stock option papers at the time of joining the company. I didn't know what stock options were, at that time. But my colleagues said, when the company goes IPO you can make a lot of money from the stock options. The company's IPO was very successful. I made lots of money in just 3 years of joining the company.

My friends who joined WIPRO weren't happy with their salaries and moved to other companies in 2 years. I was happy that I wasn't selected by WIPRO in campus recruitment. Had I joined WIPRO, I would've missed this "once in a lifetime" opportunity. If I think about it now, I feel that it was good that I didn't perform well in the HR interview in 1998. I now believe "Everything happened for the good".

So, Ladies & Gentlemen,

The next time you miss a flight, the next time you loose a job - Remember, "Everything happens for the good".
Quite often you may face tough times in life. You may hate yourself and the world around you. Be patient and don't loose your hope. There is something better that waits for you in the future. "Everything happens for the good".

Gratitude


AC - Story Telling (Project I)
The Folk Tale
May 9, 2008

Introduction

How many people do you "Thank" every day? How often do you say the words "Thank you"? When was the last time you told your spouse - "Honey ... I thank you for being with me during my good and bad times" When was the last time you told your sub-ordinate "I am so thankful to you for all the good work you've been doing"?

Fellow toastmasters and dear guests, today, I'm going to share with you, a Buddhist Tale that illustrates the importance of "showing gratitude".

The Elephant

Once upon a time there lived an elephant in the Himalayan jungles. He was the king of all the elephants in the forest. The elephant was beautiful white in color, glowing like polished silver. He had two glossy tusks that looked like giant hockey sticks. His mouth was as red as the most elegant red carpet. His eyes were like precious jewels, sparkling in four different colors - blue, yellow, red, and white.

The Forester

One day a forester from Benares city traveled into the Himalayan foothills. He was in his mid thirties with a long moustache and was wearing a brown hat. He was wearing a pair of old torn soiled shoes. He was searching for things of value that he could sell back in Benares. He lost his route and ran back and forth trying to find his way out of the forest. He soon became exhausted and was scared to death! He began trembling and crying out loud from fear.

Elephant comes for the rescue

The Elephant heard the sound of the poor forester and walked through the forest towards him. The Elephant saw the man, approached him, and asked, "My human friend, why are you crying?"

"Oh lord" said the man, "I lost all sense of direction, became hopelessly lost, and was afraid I would die!"

The Elephant said "My friend, don't be afraid. I will take you to the land where people live. Sit on my back". While riding comfortably on this glorious being, the man took notes of all the landmarks. The Elephant took the forester out of the jungle and left him on the road to Benares.

Forester becomes greedy

The forester safely reached his hometown. But, thoughts of the beautiful Elephant tusks made the forester very greedy. He wanted to make money by selling the Elephant's tusks. He decided to go to the forest again. Caring only for money, and without any gratitude towards the one who had saved his life - the man took a sharp saw with him, and set out towards the home of Elephant.

Generous Elephant

The man reached the place in the forest where the Elephant lived. On seeing the man, the Elephant asked, "Oh my dear human friend, what brings you back again?" Ma up a story, the greedy man said, "My lord elephant, I am a poor man. Times are very difficult for me. I have come to beg from you just a little piece of the tusk. If you can give it to me, I will take it home and sell it. I'll then be able to use that money to lead a happy life"

Pitying the man, the Elephant said, "Of course my friend, I will give you a big piece of tusk! Did you happen to bring a saw with you?" "Yes lord," said the forester, "I did bring a saw." "All right then," said the generous Elephant, "cut from both my tusks!"

As he said this, the elephant bent down on his knees and offered up his spectacular silvery-white tusks. Without the slightest regret, the man sawed off big pieces of ivory from both tusks and took them home. He didn't even bother to thank the Elephant.

Forester becomes greedier

The man went home and sold both pieces of ivory. But it didn’t take long for him to spend all the money. So again he returned to the Elephant. He begged him, "My lord, the money I got by selling your ivory was only enough to pay off my debts. I am still a poor man. Times are still hard in Benares, so please give me the rest of your tusks!"

Perfect generosity holds nothing back. So once again the elephant bent down on his knees and offered what was left of his tusks. The ungrateful betrayer did not care at all for the elephant. He stepped over the magnificent trunk and started to cut the roots of the trunk - tearing away the tender flesh from the stumps of the once-beautiful tusks. The man cut off all that he could see of them, right down to the sockets in the elephant’s skull! The elephant felt tremendous amount of pain, but it didn't cry because it wants to help the forester.

The forester saw the Elephant suffering in pain, but didn't even care to say "Sorry". The wonderful kind elephant meant no more to him than a bank account! He didn’t bother to show any sign of gratitude or respect.

End of the Forester

The man started to trace his way back home. When he crossed a few miles, a huge lion showed up smelling the blood dropping from the ivory stumps. The majestic old lion was fierce with sharp teeth and a long mane. Hunger was seen on its eyes. The lion showed no mercy ... tore the forester into pieces and started to eat him alive. The forester cried in pain. He realized how painful it would have been to the Elephant when he cut the tusks. He felt bad about not being grateful to the Elephant. But it was too late for him to undo his mistake. The greedy forester who didn't even have the smallest gratitude in the world had to meet his end this way.

Conclusion

This Buddhist tale provides a valuable lesson to every one of us - "Don't forget to show your gratitude". It may be too late by the time you realize it.

Let us not waste one more minute. Let us start showing your gratitude, right away... right in this meeting... to all the fellow toastmasters who helped us to become what we are today... Now, look at the toastmaster sitting in front of you, extend your hand, shake their hand firmly and say "Thank You" with a smile.

Project 3 - The Winning Proposal - Wanna be a REAL Competent Communicator?


AC - Persuasive Speaking (Project 3)
The Winning Proposal
May 16, 2008

-->How many of you want to be better public speakers? How many of you think that you have a long way to go to reach the excellence in public speaking?

Do you think attending toastmasters meetings for an hour every week can make you a good public speaker? NO. Do you think participating in a 2 minutes table topics session every week can make you a good impromptu speaker? NO.

Improving communication skills is like fighting against a huge DINASAUR. But, what do we have in our hands to fight against this DINASAUR - tiny little chopsticks.

Ladies & gentlemen, today I'm going to share with you a proposal to improve your communication & public speaking skills.... to give you more ammunition to fight against this huge DINASOUR.

Vocabulary

Norman Lewis, the author of "Word Power Made Easy" says, an average child learns several hundred words every year. However, an average adult learns only 25 - 50 words every year. This is very surprising. We adults literally stop learning new words.

The first and foremost step you should take to become a good communicator is to improve your vocabulary. A person with a good vocabulary can grasp more information & can convey information very effectively. Learn new words. Get comfortable with the word by pronouncing it loudly.

Watch News & Read Novels

Watching News has two fold advantages. You can understand how the anchors pronounce words, how they ask questions, how they narrate stories, how they use vocal variety, etc.,

You can also get to know about the current events, which will help you to participate in conversations and in socializing with people.

Reading novels or storybooks is also a good idea. When selecting novels, select the ones that involve lots of conversations. Try to read some of the conversations very loudly. Try to imitate the characters yourself and see you how are speaking. Reading novels and storybooks will help you to improve your vocabulary also.

SPEAK ... SPEAK... SPEAK...

Is there one magic pill that you can swallow before going to bed and wake up the next day as a good public speaker? I would be surprised if there is one. Otherwise, many in this world would be already effective communicators. Then, how can you become a good communicator? Well, the best way to become a good speaker is by SPEAKing.

Talk ... talk ... talk... tell your spouse and other friends that you are trying to improve your communication skills. Ask them to throw you with challenging situations or questions (like the Table Topics that we do in Toastmasters). Try to give one or two minutes of impromptu speech.

Volunteer for speaking opportunities in your communities or in your work environment. Sign-up for teaching basic courses in schools during your spare time.

You don't even need to get help from others. You can subscribe to websites that send daily Table Topics. Get an audio recorder or a PC and start to record your impromptu speeches. Play them back and see how you can improve.

Proposal

Let me give you a simple plan that you can follow every day. Spend about an hour every day to improve your public speaking skills.

Learn at least one new word every day. In a year, you would've learned 360 new words. Try to use the word throughout the day in all your conversations. You can be your own word master and keep counting your usage :)

Watch news for 30 minutes every day. Keep in mind that you are watching news to improve your communication & speaking skills - NOT just to listen to the news.

Practice table topics.

The next time, you hear someone asking for volunteers to speak. Lift your HANDS... both of THEM!!

Conclusion

Improving your communication & public speaking skills is like really fighting against a huge DINASAUR. But, what would the poor Dinosaur do if you really hit it hard from all the sides using powerful & sharp weapons.

Think of communication as a golden ornament. Attending TOASTMASTERS is like polishing it to look at its best. However, you need to have the jewel with you in the first place.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Are you a sales person, professional trainer, fund raiser or a public speaker? Do you find it difficult to plant your ideas in people's mind? Are you looking for effective ways to share your thoughts with others? This is the book to read.

The book explains 6 principles that make ideas to stick - Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Credibility, Concreteness, Emotions & Stories (SUCCESs).

When reading this book, you'll feel many a times "Ahaa... this is what I've been missing all these days". If you review some of the memorable speeches you've heard, you'll realize that these STICKY factors are present in them.

This book gives you techniques that you can use in your next speech or presentation.


Author's website: http://heathbrothers.com/

How to Work a Room: The Ultimate Guide to Savvy Socializing in Person and Online

Do you hesitate to approach strangers in a social gathering? Do you wonder how some people have good contacts and a solid network? Are you looking for tips to hone your networking skills? Susan's "How to work a room" capsule is the right medicine for your phobia.

If this is your first book on "networking", you'll be able to appreciate the contents in its entirety. The book also highlights some techniques to adopt in the online/virtual world. If you've already read books or materials on this subject, you'll feel that portions of the book is boring. The book also gives some tips for public speakers to work the audience.

This book is worth a quick read.

Author's website: http://www.susanroane.com/

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Project 1 - The Effective Salesperson - Telling is not Selling (Role Play)

AC - Persuasive Speaking (Project 1)
The Effective Salesperson
Apri 25, 2008
How many of you are interested in doing sales? How many of you want to be a successful sales person? Today, I'm going to share with you a simple technique that you can use to be a successful sales man or woman.
What differentiates a successful sales person from an ordinary sales person? The successful sales person knows how to take money from your pocket and put it in their pocket and still makes you feel happy about it.
Now, how do you become a successful sales person? Who makes you successful in the sales process? Your customer.... When would your customer make you successful... when you understand your customer's needs and satisfy them! Simply put, you should make them happy!
Ask a lot of open-ended questions to understand your customer's needs. Don't ever begin the sales process by giving an hour-long lecture about you, your company and your product. Your customer is least interested about who you are and what your company does. Your customer wants you to understand their problems and pain factors and provide them a solution. So, spend a lot of time in understanding your customer's needs. Then, tell them how your product can solve their problems. Give them the different options.
At the end, share the pricing information. Most sales people, rush to talk about the pricing in advance. Do not talk about pricing until you've understood the customer's needs and until you've explained about your product's functions and capabilities.

Sales Success: Motivation From Today's Top Sales Coaches (Audio Success Series)

Do you want a few quick tips to be a successful sales person? Do you want to get inspired and motivated to pursue your self-development goals? You should listen to this audio deck. Though the compilation is called "Sales Success", it is useful for anyone who aspires to be successful. You don't have to be a sales person.

The CDs cover all topics including selling techniques, leadership, communication, networking, negotiation, and memorizing people's names. You would also get to know the different styles of persuasion. I like the ones from Zig Ziglar & Patricia Fripp. Imagine going to a convention where all these great speakers are present in the stage talking just to YOU. That is the experience you would get from listening to this collection.

These CDs are good ones to listen to while driving your car or when going for a morning walk/jogging.

Mastering Your Way to the Top: Secrets for Success from the World's Greatest Salesman and America's Leading Businesspeople

Joe has really worked all the way to the top. His techniques are simple and easy to use. Most of these techniques are well known if you had read other books about being successful. Joe talks about goal setting, hard work, team work, networking, patience, risk taking and motivation.

Joe teaches you how to remain focussed on your goals and reach them. "Law of 250" was something that I've never heard of. It was interesting to know.

If you want to know about Joe Girard - the world's successful sales man and how he mastered his way to the top - this is the book to read.

Author's website: http://www.joegirard.com/

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Story Factor

How can you highlight the importance of telling stories ? "Well ... by telling stories !" says Annette.

This book not only tells you "Why stories are important", but also tells you "How you can use them". There are enough stories in this book to sustain your interest. I bet, it will be hard for you to gobble through the material. Take time to read the material to assimilate the wealth of information.

Will this book make you an overnight story teller? NO. Will this book put you on the right path towards improving your story telling skills? YES. The author persuades you to use stories to get the attention of audience. However, storytelling is an art. You'll need lots of practice to master it.

Author's website: http://www.annettesimmons.com/

Getting Past No

What would you do if you face a big NO during negotiation? This book trains you well to handle such challenges. The techniques are very practical. I felt that this book is lot more better than the hypothetical Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

The author teaches 5 simple negotiation techniques - Get perspective of the situation by 'going to the balcony', step to the adversary's side, re-frame adversary's thoughts and beliefs, build them a golden bridge. If any of the above 4 techniques don't help you - use power to educate your adversaries. The author has cautiously avoided using the word 'adversary'. He recommends everyone to take a 'co-operative' approach and not a 'manipulative' approach.

If there is one thing that is more important than any of the suggested techniques - it is PREPARATION. "The best place to make mistakes is in rehearsing with a friend or colleague, not in negotiating for real". This echoes Jim Champ's "Practice sessions provide you an environment to fail safely" theory.

The importance of having a BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) is re-enforced in this book. Overall, this is a very good book to read to improve your negotiation skills.

Author's website: http://www.williamury.com/

Monday, March 3, 2008

The 48 Laws of Power

Do you think that you are not getting the credit for your work? Did you ever feel left out in discussions or meetings? Do you find it hard to create dependency? Were you curious how some of your colleagues move up in the ladder fast? Well, this book is just for you.

The author clearly defines the "48 laws" that can help you in gaining power. The author not only talks about situations where you can apply these 'techniques' but also warns you of situations where you shouldn't. The references from history was kind of too much and was going above my head.

These techniques will serve as an armor, if your work environment expects you to play politics. If you don't play them right, some of these ploys may also bring you down from power.

This material is a good source of techniques to be aware of. It will help especially when people try to play these tricks on you.

Author's website:  http://robertgreene.net/

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Troop Surge in Iraq


AC - Speeches by Management (Project V)
Confrontation - The Adversary Relationship
February 29, 2008
Introduction
Good evening fellow citizens and dear guests,
It is 6 years since the terrorists attacked our nation. But, the pictures of planes crashing into buildings, huge structures collapsing are still fresh in our mind and in our heart. Word Trade Center, the pride of America, was shattered into pieces right in front of our eyes. Around 3000 innocent Americans were killed
Our government responded to the terrorists' call by sending our troops to Iraq - to capture the enemy, to destroy the terrorist hideouts, and to establish peace. The last 5 years, were the most challenging. But, we, the people of America believed in victory and were united through the tough times.
We made a tremendous progress in Iraq in the last few years. We captured and executed Saddam Hussein, we established a democratic government, we trained the Iraqi soldiers, and we improved the quality of education and healthcare. But, we still have some unfinished job in Iraq.
Our enemies are continuing to find creative ways to launch their attacks against innocent people. And it is our responsibility and duty to respond back to that. Today, I am standing in front of you, to share my proposal to strengthen our strategy towards Iraq by increasing the troops.
Proposal
Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed because there were not enough troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists. When our forces moved on to other targets, the killers returned.
Our national security team, military commanders, and diplomats conducted a comprehensive review of the situation and proposed to increase the troops by 12,000. Today, there are 158,000 American soldiers in Iraq and this count will become 170,000 by the end of this year. The troop surge will be done in a phased manner in the next 10 months.
Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely day and night. They have done everything we have asked them to do. It is our responsibility to support them and save them from harm's way. This proposal would increase our spending towards the war by $20 billion every year. This troop surge and increased spending will definitely help our men and women in Iraqi soil.
Some of you may have this question - "When will our troops come back home"? I assure them that the day is not very far. With the surge in troops, we'll be able to finish our job and bring our troops back, faster.
Our troops have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs.
Conclusion
I am hopeful and confident than ever that this strategy will lead us to the path to victory. There is "no magic formula for success in Iraq" but a failure in Iraq "would be a disaster for the United States".
Today, we are setting a new course to pass on a world without terrorism to our children and grand children.
Today, we are going to tell the world that Americans will remain united and fight against terrorism - NO MATTER WHAT!
Today, we are going to stand behind a proposal that can make America, safer than ever before.

War in Iraq


AC - Speeches by Management (Project IV)
The Status Report
February 8, 2008
Introduction
Imagine it is 4 am in the morning. You are in the middle of your deep sleep. A huge explosion wakes you up. You jump out of the bed in a hurry and go out of your home. You see debris everywhere. You see people drenched in blood ... crying out loud ... & running in fear. It is hard for you to believe what you see. You survived a bomb blast. Later that day, a few army men with hard hats & long rifles, knock your door, ask you to evacuate your home immediately and move to a different place or a refugee camp. This may sound very new to you. However, this is not very uncommon for an average citizen in Iraq since the war began in March 2003.
It is about 5 years since the war began. Do you know how many billions were spent? Do you know how many lives were lost? Do you know what progress was made?
Ladies & Gentlemen, fellow toastmasters ... today, I am going to give you a quick status of the WAR IN IRAQ.
Background
Let me start by giving you some background about the war.
The war in Iraq started when the US led coalition forces invaded the country in March 2003. US government claimed that Iraq is developing Weapons of Mass Destruction... weapons that can destroy the human lives ... weapons that can demolish man made structures... weapons that can destroy thousands of plants and animals. President Bush declared that Iraq is posing a huge threat to the security of United States and other nations. The coalition forces fought and took control of Baghdad. The defeat of Iraqi army led to the escape of Iraq's perpetual president, Saddam Hussein.
Several things happened since then, that led to a flurry of changes both within and outside Iraq. Today, I am going to give you some facts with respect to costs, casualties, politics, education and health.
Costs
President Bush has spent about $500 billions in the last 5 years towards Iraq war. The annual war spending is less than just 1% of our GDP. It is not a very huge amount for the nation. It is not going to affect the economy in any way. But the spending on war is starving other areas, like healthcare and education.
If the money that we spend in war is spent on education, we can have twice the number of elementary schools. Think about the impact of doubling the number of elementary schools. Your kids do not have to sit in a crowded classroom. Your kids will get more attention from their teachers. Your kids can learn more.
Do you know how much each of you in this room has paid for the war? $4,100. You could've bought 100 iPhones with that money.
Casualties
The war doesn't just cost money. It also costs several lives.
About 1 million Iraqi civilians are reported to be dead in the last 5 years. It is similar to taking a state like New Hampshire out of the US map.
US has lost about 4000 soldiers in the war. We are loosing an average of 2 soldiers every day in Iraq.
Have you ever thought about - how it would be to live in this world without your eyes or hands or legs? About 100,000 soldiers were injured or wounded heavily in one form or the other in the last 5 years. Imagine what would they do after returning back home. Yes... Government pays a lot of money to them. But, what can they do with the money - without being able to move around or without being able to see the world.
Politics
The war in Iraq has resulted in some good things also.
Iraq was freed from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Saddam was ruling the country for nearly 25 years. Saddam Hussein was captured in December 2003 and executed in December 2006 for the killings of 148 Shiite Muslims during his regime.
The nation was without a leader since Saddam's defeat in 2003. General elections were held in December 2005. Nouri al-Maliki was sworn in as the Prime Minister on May 2006. The newly formed government has not made any progress in improving the conditions in Iraq. United States supported the new government by sending more troops in 2007. However, there are still NO signs of peace.
The war in Iraq not only influenced the political situation within the country but also within United States. The war spurred mixed reactions in the homeland. US people felt that our army men are caught in the sectarian violence in Iraq. Bush was excessively criticized for the spending in Iraq war and for the loss of lives.
Bush's war policies have made Republicans to lose ground in the elections for the "House of Representatives". Democrats had a sweeping victory. There is a strong feeling among people that Democrats are going to win the Presidential race also.
Education & Health
U.N had lifted their economic sanctions when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991. That had a very significant impact on the education system. Many children dropped out of the schools. In the last few years, UNICEF has renovated a number of schools. The school attendance has increased to 95%. All the children were also immunized. A number of hospitals were also renovated in the last 5 years. Overall health conditions are improving. Iraqi government & several non-profit organizations are working day and night to rebuild Iraq.
Conclusion
It has been 5 years since the war began. Some of the original motives of the war are not valid anymore. No Weapons of Mass Destruction found. Saddam was captured and executed. Democracy is restored.
We spent 500 billions. We lost 4000 army men. But, it is still hard to find answers to some of the lingering questions. When will the sectarian violence end? How much more is going to be spent? When are our troops going to return home?
The people in United States want the forces to be withdrawn, immediately. However, President Bush has pledged not to withdraw forces until victory. What is considered a "victory" in Iraq war? Well, Allah only knows ...

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Millionaire Mind

"The harder you work, the luckier you become" - This has been the mantra of many millionaires surveyed by Thomas Stanley. The author has harped on millionaires' lifestyle, their habits, their attitude and some of their secrets for success. Of course, he corroborates them. I was surprised to know that millionaires were not created by trading stocks or playing lotto :) The content overall could have been condensed. Anyways, it was not very boring. I'm now more tempted to read "The Millionaire Next Door". I would recommend this book to people who wants to know some secrets behind millionaires' success.

Author's website: http://www.thomasjstanley.com/

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Power of Asking Questions


AC - Speeches by Management (Project III)
Manage & Motivate
January 25, 2008
Introduction
Kids ask smarter and tougher questions. How many of you agree with that?
We were also kids at some point in time. We asked all those smart and tough questions. What happened to us, now? Why are we not asking such smart and tough questions, now? Well, our society trained us nicely to accept things, the way they are.
When we were kids, we had lots of interest to know... lots of curiosity to learn. We asked way too many questions to understand the things around us. However, when we grew up, we STOPPED asking questions and STARTED to make assumptions.
Now... How many of you like to go back to your child hood days? Well, I cannot take you to your child hood days. But I can help you to revive the most important and powerful skill that you had in your child hood - YOUR QUESTIONING SKILL.
In the next 8 minutes, you are going to learn the unlimited potential and power of asking questions.
Questions are attention getters
Have you ever listened to radio? If you carefully observe, many advertisers start with a question. Questions like "Do you want to buy a new home? Are you suffering from bad credit? Do you want to re-finance?" All such questions do a good job in captivating the attention of listeners.
You can use this technique in your speeches too. You can start your speech by asking thoughtful, controversial or challenging questions. By asking a question, you'll get the audience to move to the edge of their seats. They'll eagerly look forward to what you have to say.
Learn from the sales experts
Novice sales people tell you "I've got the best product that would solve all your problems. You are going to be the most happiest person in this world after you buy this product". They make these promises, without fully understanding your needs and problems. Expert sales people would first try to understand the customer's needs by asking questions.
Have you ever been to the jewelers shop to buy a diamond ring? An ordinary sales person would force you to "Buy this or Buy that!" without fully understanding your needs. An expert sales person would ask questions like
- Whom are you buying this ring for?
- What is the price range you are looking at?
- Do you have preference for any color?
He would then show you the collections that will interest you. Having understood your needs, he will be in a better position to make a sale.
Ask Questions & Close Deals
Questioning skills can help in negotiations too. Skillful questioning is the easiest and quickest way to uncover valuable information during negotiations. With practice, you will find yourself asking better questions and gaining increasingly valuable information.
Let me a share a personal experience with you. Few months back, I got a 100$ rebate card from ATT for my new phone purchase. I had used 7$ from it and there was a 93$ balance in the card. I didn't use the card for quite sometime and the card expired. I called the customer support and told them "You should either send me a rebate card with new expiry date or send me a check for the balance". There was a lady on the other side and she said, "Sir! Your card is expired and there is not much that we can do about it. You should've used it before the expiry date".
I, then changed my approach. Instead of commanding her or giving her directions, I asked her "Is there a way by which I can get my money back?" She said, "Can you please hold on for a minute!" and she put me on hold. She came back after a few seconds and told "Sir! I can give you a credit for the balance to your phone account". If I hadn't asked that one question, I would have lost 93 bucks.
Try it out yourself
If you still don't believe the power of asking questions, you can try it out yourself. Imagine it is a Friday evening. You return back from work and you want to go out for dinner. You are so obsessed about going to a Chinese restaurant. You tell your spouse, "I want to go out for dinner today. Let us go to a Chinese restaurant". Note that - you are making the decision, here. There is a high probability that your spouse might ask "Why Chinese? Why not Mexican?"
Instead, you can ask - "Honey! I love to go to out for dinner with you today. Would you be interested in going to a Chinese Restaurant?" By asking a question, you are letting your spouse to make the decision. There is a great chance that your spouse will tell YES.
Conclusion
The world responds to those who ask. Bible says, “Ask and you shall receive".
A simple "Will you forgive me?" question has saved several relationships. Ask that question to your loved one, the next time you break a promise.
A simple "How can I help you?" question can result in million dollar business deals!! Ask that question, the next time you talk to your potential customer.
A simple "How can I improve?" question can lead you to a world of opportunities. The next time you meet your friend, ask that question.
Ladies & gentlemen, ask questions ... ask zillions of them ...