Friday, March 13, 2009

Entertainment Speaker (Project 5) - My life in US - A Roller Coaster


AC - Entertaining Speaker (Project V)
Speech after Dinner
March 13, 2009

Introduction

Steep climbs, deep falls, sudden twists & turns ... If I've to put my USA experience in simple terms, "It was a roller coaster". Wow ! What an experience. It was full of excitement, fun, adventures, and entertainment. Today, you are going to get a short peek into what was going on in my life in the last 6 years.

Beginning of the ride

I came to US in Oct, 2002, right after the dot.com bubble burst. I took my seat in the roller coaster, buckled up and got ready for the ride. When many immigrants were packing their things and leaving the country, I entered the country with lots of hopes and dreams. I felt like a firefighter marching into a burning house, when everybody in the house is running out to the doors.

Experience in Mobility Networks

I joined a start-up company in the valley. The company had lots of people, lots of hope - but, very little money in the bank. Our CEO was very optimistic. Every time we had an “All-Hands” meeting he'll tell us "Oh... We are doing extremely well. We are working on the last-mile of the technology and investors are very interested to give us money". This went on for about 6 months.

It was June 2003. We had an all-hands meeting, as usual. The CEO told that we are getting very close to raising funding and we may get a 'funding term sheet' any time. The next day, we didn't get the "funding term sheet" but we all got our "termination letters". Yes. My company couldn't raise funding. They filed for bankruptcy & closed the doors. Most of my co-workers were smart. They were already looking for jobs and they all had offers at hand. I strongly believed in the company and the CEO. I didn't expect the company to go under, this soon. I learned my first lesson about Corporate America - "Never blindly trust the CEOs. They are paid to be optimistic".

I managed to get into another job in a couple of weeks. That was a startup too. I spent my next 3 years with this company. I got a wonderful opportunity to manage a small team. The job also involved traveling to several places in Europe & North America.

MBA & Wedding

The ride got a bit more exciting in 2005. I signed up for 2 major things. I enrolled in a part-time MBA program and I signed-up for a full-time husband program. Yes. I got married. I thought I should prepare myself for a married life. The first thing that I did was I bought the book “Men are from Mars & Women are from Venus”. I read the book page by page, line by line, word after word. After reading the book, I thought I mastered the art of “understanding a women”. I thought I had learned all the tricks to keep my wife happy. Its 4 years since I'm married. Now, I feel, like writing a book. The title would be “Men are from Mars, my wife is not from Venus”.

Toastmasters

My MBA course was very intensive. While doing my MBA, I realized that I've to improve my public speaking skills. A friend of mine introduced me to Toastmasters. I'm glad that I joined toastmasters. I set myself a goal of completing 10 speeches every year. This is my end of 3rd year and I'm completing my 30th speech in Toastmasters. I'm thankful to all the fellow toastmasters for helping me to be a better communicator.

I'm also very grateful to 2 people in Toastmasters. The second person is my “friend”. He introduced me to Toastmasters. If not for him, I wouldn't have had an opportunity to meet wonderful people like you. The first person is “Warren”. I'm proud to say that I'm one of Warren's students. His workshops made a very significant impact in my thinking and communication. I would've spent another 10 years to learn the stuff myself, that I learned in just 1 year, from his work shop. Thank you Sir !

Returning back to India

With all the fun & excitement going around, I didn't realize that my ride is going to come to an end. I have been thinking about going back to India for a while. But, I kept postponing the decision. At first, I thought I should go back in 2 - 3 years, then I thought I should go back before I get married, then I thought I should go back before I get a kid, then I thought I should go back with a 'business' plan, then I thought..., then I thought ... there was no end to the list. Well, finally I had to pull the plug.

The turn of events in my personal life made it easy for me. It took just less than an hour for me to decide. I booked tickets for my wife/daughter in the next 1 hour. I packed and sent them to India in the next 24 hours.

The last part of the roller coaster ride is very exciting. I cleaned up and sold my household items. Things sold pretty fast. Thanks to the recession. People love used items! We spent years and years to accumulate those items. But they all vanished in days. I found a job in India, too. I'm all set to go back. The ride is going to stop soon. I'm ready to unbuckle my belts in a few weeks from now.

Conclusion

Life in US taught me a number of things. I got a wonderful exposure both from a career standpoint and from my personal standpoint. I'm not the same person who entered this country 6 years ago. My dreams became reality and my hopes were fulfilled.

If I had not come to US, I would have been like a tiny little fish in a pond. Today, I feel like a shark, that can swim in a ocean. I know how to go with the tides and against them.

I'm quite excited to return back to India and meet my family & friends. The ride was quite exciting and memorable. I'm definitely going to miss you all. But, change always happens. I strongly believe, “every end is for a new beginning”.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Entertainment Speaker (Project 4) - The Importance of Change

AC - Entertaining Speaker (Project IV)
The Dramatic Speech
February 20, 2009

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Introduction
Today I'm going to talk about "The Importance of Change". You may be wondering ... Is this guy going to talk about the "change" happening in his personal life? Is he going to talk about the word "change" that is used often in politics? Hold your horses ... I'm NOT going to talk about any of those "changes". I'm going to talk about the importance of always keeping some CHANGE in your pocket.
Like most of you, I was quite used to the credit card culture. I never used to carry any cash in my wallet. I realized the importance of carrying cash, only when I made that trip to Seattle.

Toll Booth Experience

We took a flight from San Jose to Seattle. The flight landed in Seattle around midnight. We were so tired after our flight journey. We rented a car and drove to the hotel. There is something special about traveling with a kid. Right after you throw the kid into the car and start the vehicle they'll ask for one of the two things - either they want to get down and go "peppe" or they want to eat/drink something. My daughter asked for water. Unfortunately, we didn't have any water in the car. I had to take an exit to look for a shop. Right after taking the exit, I saw this small toll both. It was unmanned. I was quite surprised to see a tollbooth there. There was a signboard that said, "Please deposit 75 cents here". The machine doesn't accept dollar bills and accepts only coins. I had just two quarters in my wallet. My wife checked the bags, her purse etc., and we couldn't find any change. There were no lights in the near vicinity.
Handled Toll Booth Situation

There was a video camera sitting on the top of the tollbooth. It was smiling at us, eagerly waiting to picture us, making a violation. There was not even a single car/vehicle in that area. I got very frustrated. I spent nearly 10 minutes waiting there for someone to show up. My daughter started to cry for water. I was helpless. I decided to make a toll violation and pay the fines later. Suddenly, a light bulb went on in my head. I got off the car and looked down on the road. I found a glittering 25 cents coin on the road. I knew someone would have dropped a quarter when they were trying to pay the toll from their car. I thanked all the godly powers that dropped the 25 cents from the sky, just for me. I was lucky enough to find a quarter on that road. Otherwise, I would have paid a 100$ as fine. I learned my first "change" lesson - Always carry some "quarters" or "coins".
Trip to Vancouver

We spent a day in Seattle. The next morning, we got up and drove to Vancouver. We parked our car along the side of the road and roamed around in the downtown area. Around evening, we came back to the car. My wife & kid went to the back seat. I was the designated driver and I looked at the Google map for directions. It said, "Head northeast towards Main Street". First of all, I don't know which is "northeast". Second of all, I don't know where "Main Street" is. I was puzzled.
Man threatening for money

A gentleman walking on the roadside voluntarily stopped near my car and asked me if I need help with directions. He is a medium fit Afro-American. He looked very decent. He helped me with the directions and I was patiently listening to him. I was so happy and thanked him for his assistance. (You've to convey that he is talking to you from the other side)

He looked around inside the car and asked me for 5$. I told him that I don't have 5$ change. My photo camera was on the front seat. He immediately put his hand inside the car and grabbed my photo camera. He told that he'll give my camera back only if I give him 5$. I told him that I don't have change. All, I had was a credit card.
I don't know what to do. My mind went total blank. I was so tempted to ask, "Do you accept credit card?" :) I'm not sure if the guy carried a gun.

I don't know if I have to shout. In the mean time, my wife who was sitting at the back, searched through her bags and found a 20$ bill. I gave the guy a 20$ bill to get my camera back. We immediately left the place and drove back to Seattle. It took us a while to recover from this impact. If I had carried some "change" in my wallet, I wouldn't have had this terrible experience. I would've silently given that guy a 5$ note. This was my second change lesson.
Conclusion

I realized the importance of carrying some change in my wallet, after our trip to Seattle/Vancouver. These days, I always carry some cash.

Ladies & gentlemen ... Whether you believe it or not, "CHANGE" is important. Always carry some change in your wallet. Remember ... The greenback is at times more valuable than the plastic.