A Father’s day is not just for a day, but for a lifetime

June 19, 2012 - 2 Responses

His famous line “Dad, I am not stupid”

I wish I wrote this piece as a timely feature to celebrate father’s day that was two days ago. But my commitments towards my family over the weekend, did not allow me to do that. Now before you roll your eyes and say “excuses, excuses” let me warn you that I am a parent of a 11 year old who is getting adept at rolling eyes and so when I was reading the book, ” ALL Pro Dad” by Mark Merrill, his first reaction was, you’ve guessed it right, he playfully rolled his eyes.

I must admit that when i recieved the book in the mail, which had a headline ” Seven essential skills to be a hero to your kids” I was a bit, skeptical, after all, Parenting is a bit of an intuitive play.But as went through with what Mark Merrill had to say, I concede that he got it right. Somewhere along the line, as Dads, we surrendered our leadership or status as role models, to others. Today’s kids have TV characters, movie stars, sportstars, or in some cases business leaders as heroes. The media places these successful people on a pedestal and the phenomena of hero worship often borders on cultish following. While I am all for people inspiring us on a daily basis, the role of a Dad must be central to a child’s growth and worldview.

Mark Merrill is a familiar name in the world of football and parenting. this book is a good book with some foundational principles that call all dads to basics. The foreword written by Tony Dungy talks about how is book is essentially about two qualities – love and leadership. And I suspect ( my own understanding) that if you do one without the other, you’ll have a lopsided experience of raising a child. If you go completely with the love paradigm, you’ll have pampered and smothered the child with affection. On the otherhand, if you rule with an iron fist ( as is likely to happen in Occidental cultures) the child is raised without the softer, gentler aspects of fatherhood. Tough Love is a balance of influencing a strong willed kid, without breaking down the child.

The seven principles make  easy reading. Much like a Football coach’s playbook, each chapter follows an M. Know your Make up, Know your Mind-set,Know your Motive, Know your Method, Know your Model, Know your Message and Know the Master.  While I concede that there is no, “One size fit all” approach to parenting, each chapter had something that got me scratching my head. For instance in the chapter ” Know your Mindset” he talks about Love. While this word is by far, the most nebulous word, which could have a gazillion connotations, he distills it to two words – Patience and Kindness. As type A folks, most Dads can agree that it can be a challenge to be patient and kind to our own children all the time. How does one show kindness when you need to literally drag them or drive them into the bathroom as the clock ticks away? How does one show patience when you recieve a “love letter” from school? (Loveletter is a euphemism our family uses for any communication from school, usually unflattering). I learnt from this book that being a great dad is not about fulfulling my ego trips but to serve my child, selflessly. Quite an ideal to aspire but probably the only one that works. Written in sporty metaphors and adrenaline pumping navy SEALs language, this book appeals to young men who sincerely desire to train themselves to be a good dad. But that would call for a lifetime of commitment to the mission. It may mean tearing myself from the cricket matches on TV ( that seem to go on all year long) or my toys, my gadgets, my expectations and focus on giving myself.

So this father’s day, instead of basking in the glory due to me ( for atleast one day in the year) I asked my son, what is the one thing that you’d like me to change as Dad? He gave four answers but top of the list was” I wish you spend less time on your laptop”  We spent most of the day, chasing each other around the house, playing chess and have wrestling bouts.  I wish I could do it all year, or till the time he grows up. 

While the book ” ALL PRO Dad” touts itself as a game winning playbook for every father. My take is that every dad should spend some time, writing out a gameplan for each child. When you write something down, and show it your child, you are commiting yourself to that child, each day, each year, for a life time.

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Why God wont go away – Alister Mcgrath

March 16, 2012 - Leave a Response

Considering that I am writing this review after Mr.Dawkin’s passing, one of the chief hitters against organized religion, there is an ironic undercurrent to the theist’s position – that God wont go away. This is a must read book, if you always grappled with the new age atheism and were not clear who’s who’s position differs from the other. The bad rap that religion gets is debunked by asking fundamental questions about the nature of evil, most potently residual in each man, according to the judaeo – christian view.

The cool thing about this book is, that Mcgrath takes the battle into the hometurf of the New agers.Richard Dawkins, Daniel C Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hutchins are all taken head on while making periodic references to the on-line religion of atheists and the constant high priests that trawl on-line boards. He refers to the blindspots on the other side as well ie Organized religion. It is not a defence of the faith, or even the faithful. He wants us to pay attention to the dialogue. the conversation that we need to have in public life and in the public square. He calls the answers proffered by the New Atheists, despite their aggressiveness are inadequate.

This is not a theologically or intellectually heavy book. An easy read, is a manual to reflect upon some of the limitations of new age movement. For instance, he calls out the new age thinker’s ability to garner media bytes, through pithy soundbytes but as a thinker such universal, generic statements beg more questions than answers. No matter how many prophets of doom continue to act as pall bearers for the death of organized religion, somehow there seems a revival of the idea of God – across generations.

 

 

 

The Little Red Book of Wisdom – By Mark DeMoss

July 9, 2011 - One Response

Imagine you are a fresh college graduate heading to the big city for an interview. On the train next to you is a middle aged man dressed in a pin striped suit and you exchange pleasantries. While you are convulsing in a mixture of excitement and trepidation, there is a sense of calmness in the other gent. Without letting him know that you are anxious, you start asking him questions about his work, his workstyle and soon you forget that your anxieties because the quality of the conversation is compelling. It seems that these were just the words you needed. The kind of words that your Dad would have shared on the phone, if only you were not diffident to ask. You start taking mental notes as his words, spoken in a cordial, gentle tone ring a bell in your mind. The insights he shares, somehow resonate with external reality. You sense a genuine desire that he wants to relate to you, and wish you well. There is a sense of magnanimity about his entire discourse. The anecdotes he gives, may not have happened to you but you relate to the spirit of his dialogue.

The little Red Book of Wisdom by Mark DeMoss is like a traveller’s companion. You feel, when you read the Red Book,that you are in an inspiring session, hearing someone who has been there, done that and is expounding. Mark distills his professional and personal experiences into two parts and offers you his not only his view but his worldview as well. I could relate to Mark on three levels. At the outset, he talks about the ephemeral nature of life and shares a deeply personal story. Who cannot connect with the inexorable shadow of the finality of life? So taking human experience and drawing his audiences into the conversation is Mark’s first success in the book. The second area I was able to engage with Mark was his professional conviction. In the corporate world where ethical decisions are made often on value equations, his experiences are deeply anchored in values that lay in the scriptures, his worldview as a christian. In other words, he says your True North,your internal compass cannot change on a situational basis. You may lose dollars, often huge amounts but there is an ROI that no currency can calculate if you live by your moral compass. Finally, I relate to Mark as a fellow PR professional as the stories he shares truly strike a chord with me. One of the corporate maxims, “Underpromise and Over deliver” is often quoted but seldom practiced. Some of the campaigns that Mark talks about are case studies of success but the point is not self-trumpeting. Underpinning those stories are nuggets of truth, when applied can cause shifts in your mindset and in turn, your career or life.

This is an engaging book. The fact that it is little should give hope for those who get turned off by tomes. It is an easy read, but finishing the book in a jiffy is to defeat the purpose of the book. Read it in a relaxed manner and grapple with the contents and internalize them if your end goal is wisdom. However I have one grudge about this book. While this book is full of rich content with gems of insight laced throughout, Mark casually slips in what I call boulders of wisdom in an almost unobstrusive manner. I would have like to see such insights highlighted, perhaps in a box towards the end of a chapter. I, for one always enjoy such summaries since it gives me a view of what I learned before I head off to another part of the conversation.

As the train pulls into the station, you try to recap and structure those thoughts in your mind. Wow, not only the journey ended in a flash but you feel so much stimulated. I can handle this interview, you tell yourself and stridently make your way towards your future office. The Little Red Book of Wisdom will be my preferred gift to all my friends, particularly those who are younger. In the last days while Knowledge will increase, Wisdom is an awfully short commodity. This book will suit those who are on the search.

Maybe He Can – A book review of Yes He Can by Kevin McCullough

June 29, 2011 - 4 Responses

This may sound look a potentially neutral headline considering the book ” No He Cant” was published before the current President’s biggest achievement was clocked exactly 8 weeks ago.  But the book is not a commentary of what the President can or cannot do and is not a judgement about his presidency. It is however an appraisal of the President’s pre-campaign promises and update till a few months ago.

Kevin McCullough is on the few voices that have refused to sing poetry about the 44th President. Whether it is the metric of Economics or National Security, KM evaluates all the hype and euphoria that surrounds the unique presidency that BO enjoyed since his coronation.  Kevin’s writing style is akin  to a Philosophy teacher who sets out an idea, an ideal and compares the reality in that context.  If you are the sort of a reader who is tired of all of the plaudits that pundits have been heaping on the Commander in chief and are looking for a dissenting voice, a contra perspective, No He Cant may be your answer.  Often Critics hold up a clearer mirror than our allies.

The book is an easy read if you are following current affairs. As a result, you are able to breeze through his narrative without having to refer to a political encyclopedia. Kevin’s style is engaging, even if you dont agree entirely with his idealogue, you cannot push away the force of his arguments.

Dream big – a conversation with Jack Canfield with Steve Harrison

April 20, 2011 - 2 Responses

 

Hi folks, I just got off a a conference call with Jack Canfield, here are some notes.

3 things his coach Clement taught him!.
Dream “It doesnt take anymore time to dream big, than when you dream small”. Jack Canfield
Puck – Get around to it.. His coach would encourage folks to ACT.. People who act on their ideas become successful
Visualise your goals – there is a difference between visualizing and fantasizing.  Goals are his ( JC) screen saver!  Everybook has the potential to change your life. 

Goals help you to accomplish three things

a) You start to believe
b) You start program your mind
c) You think positively and selectively
d) You start affirming those thoughts and act on them

JCs tips for networking

Be a part of professional associations and industy bodies
Develop a network

Satellite Video Tour – Through the satellite Radio shows, virtual book tours and teleseminars can be booked and recorded for marketing outreach. Take a week off and then the book sales drop..  Relentless forays into the market yields results.  Radio shows will be the arrowhead for any retail marketing in the USA. Internet Radio shows are also relevant to you because you never know who will be the connector to another series of people. Constant and never ending PR is the only way!.

Bypass Marketing – Research done by book publishers found that only one in 7 buy it by walking..  Taking the books to places where you dont normally expect books to be found. Bakeries,( Best thing since sliced bread)  Gas stations, anyplace where they have to wait, Try and get them into a new venue.  Go beyond the bookstores!. Airports, train stations,

Network – with a win for the other person, win for you and win for the ultimate person you want the book do.. Do a list of twenty possible things that you can ask the person do for you and what you could do for them. Have a giver mindset, sharing mindset as demonstrated by the Chicken Soup authors coauthors in various countries, various fields like Baseball, Golf, 

One key lesson that they should act – for prospective authors

a) Have a great book – learn the craft, get feedback, review and grade it by many others ( suggested no 40)
b) Take seminars, get coaching, sit at the feet of the masters, learn more to earn more ( He spent 18000 dollars the first year) Half of the first year’s income… Become a Master – Someone who can literally handle any situation and deliver results.  No one can take away what is in your head. They can take away your home, money, etc… but what is in your head, no one can take stuff away..

What are the leverage points to sell books in great numbers?
Work with top authors, top agencies, trainers and coaches. Share what you learnt and others will contribute.How to cope with rejections, how to use the law of attraction, syndicated column techniques, airports, airline magazines, repurposing material, webinars, seminars, coaching podcasts,  free exposure through grass roots marketing,

Thanks Jack and Steve for an inspiring session.

no one’s listening

April 18, 2011 - Leave a Response

if everybody is blogging, facebooking, twittering and linking, who is listening. Perhaps it’s time to pause from this frenetic cacophony and listen in.  I wonder, if I am talking to myself, when no one’s listening. A leader who thinks he is a leader when no one is following him is merely taking a walk. Leaping off from there, I wonder if anyone cares what I think!.  Sure, I am a diamond in the rough, and can come up with some dazzling, blinding insights ocassionally but really, honestly does anyone care?

What do I care? What do I care about, so much that I am willing to drop everything in pursuit of that single-minded goal?  The answer may not lie out there,  I’ll be back after i find the answer, pray for me!

lessons from Forrester Marketing Summit in SFO

April 14, 2011 - Leave a Response

a) Content is King – Will continue to rule, despite popular choruses to the contrary. Sat through a dizzying amount of case studies where great content was pivotal to any break through success.

b) Lead generation rises to the top as the most compelling strategic objective for B2B Marketers.  This one was my favorite as many myths were debunked about how we often hide behind clouds of brand building and thought leadership. Not that either of these terms are mutually exclusive but how we continuously feed the sales pipeline will determine the future of marketers.

c) Social media will constitute a lion’s share of the digital marketers portfolio. While traditional marketing tools will continue to play a key role, how fast and how viral do you get your message out will increasingly determine your success. 

d) Integrating all these channels will be the job of the marketer.  Keeping the tactical as well as the big picture in mind will be the challenge, in an increasingly complex and changing environment.

The Final Summit – A Book review of the best book of the year, 2011

April 11, 2011 - Leave a Response

 

The Book by Andy Andrews is based on two fundamental premises a) Humankind is slipping inexorably on a self-destructive path and b) There is a possibility of a collective and individual restoration, provided we come to one brilliant ephiphany, the make or break decision that will determine our world.

Andy’s style that we came to know through his earlier work, is a mix of sheer creativity and imagination. He extends his previous journey metaphors and continues his conversation around the overarching metaphor of a summit which involves a few historical and religious figures.  As the conversation unravels, he posits that we are on the cusp of a tremendous upheaval and unless we make a deliberate move, we are spiralling away from “successful civilization”

The entry point of each of the visitors to the Summit is intriguing and quite dramatic. For example as he ponders the death of his beloved wife and is caught in a vortex of emotion, his first visitor appears in a rather startling manner. Another character is introduced through the trademark mannerisms and visual cues we have come to associate the famous historic figure with, over the years.

The book is full of concentrated  nuggets
 of insights. For example,
Andy says the “Principle of the path” determines the specific direction in which we journey. And that destination for which we should strive is one of a successful life, not neccessarily a life of success” In the conversation with another French heroine, he cites “Hope sees what is invisible, feels what is intangible, and achieves what most considers impossible”

As the journey unravels, each visitor brings an insight that almost convinces David the protagonist of the single solution that mankind faces and is predictably shot down by Angel Gabriel. They endeavour to piece the jigsaw puzzle together with each visitor’s declaration as an essential component.” Wisdom, he opines is the attribute that prevents one from becoming entangled in situations where one needs wisdom”. The author then gets serious and says “Wisdom is the ability to discern”. It is our perspective on life – our balance, our harmony.

Without giving away too much, all I can say is very few books can offer “wisdom” in a such a compelling manner. Go for it….

Finding our way again – Brian Mcclaren

April 10, 2011 - Leave a Response

Brian McClaren is a  writer with his eyes firmly fixed in the past.  Sample this ” When we lose our way, then we lose our next generation and Perhaps after a few generations, we’ll face extinction”
“The spiritual life is less science than art, and like any art it is learned through apprenticeship”  These quotes give us a sense of how he views the flow of time and the march of mankind in a large panoramic view, rather than either viewing history, the present and future in three different dimensions.

In my opinion, American society with its Individualistic orientation finds it slightly unnatural to be a community. In that context, Mcclaren calls us all to  view Ancient practices. He begins the narrative by pointing that all the three major Judao, Christian and Islamic world views are built on the metaphor of a journey and its associative properties of adventure, excitement and faith in the unknown.

The book also reminds us that the balance between activism and solitude, between faith and action,  principle and practice, the past and the future. “The way of the community”, he opines” “is about the inward journey, not the inward journey into me, but the inward journey into we”. For example, he cites ” Liturgy is a thoughtfully designed, time tested set and order of communal spiritual practices that must be adapted and updated as needed for the times and communities in which it is employed”  A wise reminder to a world that rushes to embrace a culture of everything new and anything novel”

“We being moving forward by looking back” If we ever lose our way.. Good read.

Never underestimate, anyone, ever!

March 18, 2011 - One Response

A teenager’s low popularity convinced her that she was not attractive. She became a top fashion model, hailed by many as the most beautiful woman in the world. All those who had ignored her are now boasting that they had gone to school with Claudia Schiffer!

He was rejected as too awkward and clumsy to be a ball boy in a Davis Cup tennis match: Stan Smith went on to become the officially ranked number one tennis player in the world (1972-1973).

He received an unbroken succession of 743 rejections. Now over sixty million of John Creasey’s Crime novels have been published.

‘What will they send me next!’ said Edmund Hillary’s gym instructor of the puny school boy now known as the man who conquered Mount Everest.

‘Balding, skinny, can dance a little,’ they said of Fred Astaire at his first audition.

Beethoven’s music teacher declared him ‘hopeless’ at composing.

Albert Einstein’s parents feared he was sub-normal.

As Billy Graham preached, a missionary’s daughter battled an almost uncontrollable urge to run out of the meeting. It was his future wife, and it wasn’t conviction that made her squirm. It was her response to what she considered appalling preaching.

“I think I may say without contradiction that when the Paris Exhibition closes, electric light will close with it, and no more will be heard of it.” -Professor Erasmus Wilson of Oxford University

PS: My personal story affirms this principle. They said I would amount to nothing, In a few years, I am sure I can prove them wrong 🙂