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.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

If you dream, you can

“If you can dream it, you can do it" said Walt Disney. I didn’t realize the power of dreams, until I read the book "The Alchemist" in the year 2006. I was working for a leading networking company, then… called Redback Networks. Whenever my Chief Executive Officer (CEO) goes to the stage, he sets the stage on fire and inspires everyone in the audience. I used to dream during those days to speak like my CEO, to address a large gathering from the stage. But, I was hardly able to speak well in English during those days. I always used to think in Tamil, translate that into English and then express my thoughts. Despite my inabilities, I strongly believed that one day my dream will become reality.

Also read: Power of positive beliefs

One fine day in Sep 2006, a friend of mine introduced me to a group called Toastmasters International and my life completely changed after that. Speaking is a skill that is similar to swimming. You cannot learn swimming by reading a book or by standing near the shores. You’ll have to jump into the water to learn swimming. Similarly, you can improve your speaking skills only by speaking. Toastmasters provided me a platform to practice my speaking skills and get feedback on my performance. I started getting help from my fellow club members and mentors. In about 3 years, I noticed that my confidence on the stage has tremendously improved and I could speak English well. In the year 2012 my dream became reality. I got the unique opportunity of conducting a workshop on “Servant Leadership” to nearly 500+ Toastmasters who attended the District 82 conference – Ovation 2012. Since then, I’ve conducted a number of workshops to both Toastmasters and non-Toastmasters.

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

Fellow Toastmasters, dream big… and believe that your dream will become a reality someday. Your beliefs become thoughts… thoughts become actions and actions produce results. When you believe, you can even turn mountains that stop you from achieving your goals, into moles. Believe in your thoughts and believe in yourself….to make your distant dreams, a reality. What are you waiting for?! Stop worrying… start believing !

[Copy of an article that I wrote for a club newsletter]

Power of Positive Beliefs

“If you really want to achieve something in life, the entire world conspires in helping you to achieve it” a quote from Paula Cehlo’s famous book The Alchemist. I didn’t realize the power of positive beliefs, until I read this book a few years ago. There are several occasions where we would’ve tried our best, but still … we might not have seen the results. The missing variable in the formula is belief. May be, our subconscious mind thinks that we cannot do it! For ex., you may be working hard as a VP PR, but you aren’t able to bring members to your club. You might have come up with the best speech ever, but you still lose in Speech Contests. You might’ve done the best campaign ever, but you still lost the club elections. I would like to share with you an interesting experience from my Toastmasters journey which highlights the power of positive beliefs.

Also read: Are shortcuts worth it?

It was 2 years back. I had a mentee by name Priyanandhan. He had just joined HCL, after graduating from college. One day he came to me and said “Saro! I want to do a High Performance Leadership project, before I go to US for higher studies. I wanted to organize a speech craft program for the community”. When a volunteer comes to me with an idea, I don’t stop him/her. I said “Priyan … great idea go for it”… though, I had my own doubts whether Priyan would be able to pull off a community speech craft. We hadn’t organized many speech crafts 2 years ago. Especially, we had never organized a community speech craft at that time. However, Priyan was so positive about organizing a speech craft. He started putting flyers in Facebook to get enrollments. As usual, he just got “likes”… and “comments” … but, no enrollments. He started sending emails to club officers and members… as usual… no response. When I thought he would get demotivated and give up… he said “Saro! I’m very confident and positive about organizing this speech craft. I won’t get demotivated by this short term setbacks”. He increased his pace of marketing… He started knocking doors of people he knew… he started placing advertisements in community newspapers… he started posting ads in books shops… he started reaching out to college students. Boom… in just 3 weeks, he got 30 enrollments. In fact, he had to say “No” to a few people, because the maximum capacity that we could accommodate was just 25 members. Priyan managed to pull off the first community speech craft in Tamilnadu and contributed nearly Rs.25,000 to Ovations. People who were part of the Ovation 2013 team would know the value of that Rs.25,000.

Also read: 3Rs of a Successful Toastmaster

In your leadership journey in Toastmasters, you may run into a number of tough people, number of tough problems and a number of tough situations. With positive beliefs, positive actions, and positive words, you can chase the obstacles out of your door. Positive beliefs can turn mountains that stop you from achieving your goals, into moles. Believe in your goals, believe in your team and believe in yourself….to make your distant dreams, a reality. What are you waiting for?! Stop worrying… start believing…

[Copy of an article that I wrote for a club newsletter]