Japan – we are praying for you

March 17, 2011 - Leave a Response

When such catastrophes knock a nation down to its knees, the only respite is we can pray for the best.  I wish all the countries, corporations and NGOs come together to show that we not just care with our words but with our hands as well.  Do let us know if we need to do something in addition to just praying!.

These are difficult times for everyone in the Middle East, Far East. What on earth is happening!

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Cause related marketing

March 17, 2011 - Leave a Response

OK, After procrastinating for a long time,  have finally embraced a cause dear to me, and another dear colleague, actually a former boss. I will be devoting a major portion of the year’s leisure time or personal time to a group of people who are making a difference in the lives of children who suffer from autism.  ” Autism is curable and children with Autism can learn.” 

It humbled me no end, just to discover that we have more things that we take for granted. Do link up with me if you know anyone who is looking to write about autism or parents who need information on autism. I may be able to hook them up with resources or resource people..

LIVING IN THE ZONE- Kyle Rote Jr. & Dr. Joe Pettigrew

November 16, 2010 - Leave a Response

As is evident in the title, this book is written by a sporty writer who built the entire narrative on the sporty metaphor of ” the zone” where top notch, unparalleled performance is delivered. Dont let the 40 day spiritual gameplan raise your eyebrow in suspicion, the book merits a serious attention, if someone is constantly getting overwhelmed by the pressures of life. Kyle Rote Jr brings his sports credentials and Dr. Joe Pettigrew brings his executive coaching experience to address pressing issues that one always grapples when facing life’s myriad challenges.

Structured in a daily devotional format, the book is a crispy read. Each day’s portion has a thought for the day like the first one ” God desires to be your first responder, not your last resort” So the section ends with the application When God allows pain to overwhelm our lives, he is actually hoping that we run to him because he is our father. Quite relevant and  meaningful as I struggle with the idea of pain and a loving father God all the time.

The Coach’s Corner is the background setting that lays out the issue or the problem that is being addressed on a given day. Like any good coach, this section pulls us out of the hard game to outline our struggles in the larger context of life and spiritual walk. Take for instance our quiet time struggle in the larger, harriedness and frenetic pace of day to day living. “How we view our daily communion with God is an indication of the place of prominence we attribute to him”, the coach suggests.

The Gameplan is the scriptural anchors that form the basis of the topic. Never out of focus, the Bible is the base for every spiritual recommendation that addresses a specific topic. How to form authentic friendships that sharpen us instead of slowing us down? How to deal with Stess? How to leave a legacy are some topics that they address in a well rounded manner. What is interesting is that they collect an assortment of scriptures instead of making a straw man argument on a single verse.

The Playmakers section is the testimony story, perhaps the best of the each day. Knowing that you are not alone in grappling with a host of issues and that many others have overcome before is a sure booster on the journey. Right from coach Tony Dungy to Vince Lombardi, Archie Manning, the book is a sports aficionado’s delight. Perhaps the most compelling metaphor of life is a competitive sport and within the mesh of that metaphor is the must read guide to raise your performance to the next level.
There are also helpful sections like Time Out, and Homefield advantage that pose questions and encourage reflection. If you are the types that soak a book and let it become an integral part of you, Then this book is something that you should add to your soon to read books.

ILLEGALS – the story of trespassing

October 5, 2010 - Leave a Response

This book will separate facts from fiction, ground realities from hearsay, and dispel the myths and emotions that shroud the topic of illegal immigration. Darrell Ankarlo with his extensive experience on the topic asks the poignant question, the inexorable dilemma of an illegal immigrant ” What compels a person to drag his kids away from the comfort of his home, past gun toting border agents, on a life threatening journey through miles of sun drenched desert sands, just so they can spend the rest of their lives looking back over their shoulders when they finally arrive at their destination?

When their is no respect for the Law, Darrell outlines these hordes of border gatecrashers couple desperation with a brazen dare devil attitude and are willing to comeback till they succeed. Sufficiently backed up evidence in the form of audio clips and photographic artefacts the book lays threadbare the magnitude of the problem and how hard it is to even wrap one’s arms around it.

Darrell Ankarlo has a voice and a set of convictions on this topic that pervade the book that it is hard to find anything unambigious on a myriad issues. As a result you miss out the dispassionate, the other’s perspective on the other side. Although to his credit, he keeps echoing, “I love the Mexican culture and the people, but I would like to visit them”

The conclusion of the book is not as impactful as the beginning and the middle. Towards the end it peters off into an idiots guide to immigration. Together with the graphics, though authentic at places the book makes a clear articulation of the problem, the solution however is not as simple or even simplistic as it may seem.

Living with Confidence in a Chaotic world

September 27, 2010 - Leave a Response

 

In today’s world, if there is a certain attention getting word, if there is a word that capture anyone’s imagination in this turbulent, noisy environment it is Confidence.  Since it is written by a Pastor and a Theologian, you’d quite naturally expect Dr. David Jeremiah to be a dispenser of hope, but the contents of this book are certain to stir you cover to cover.  Whether it is quoting the personal journey of Bobby Jindal or drawing from empirical evidence, he makes a compelling case of how people all over the world are gravitating towards the spiritual quest after many years of futile intellectual chases.  When your world falls apart, not only do you need intellectually compelling answers but hope, comfort and assurance that can lift  your soul. 

He loves alliteration. Using a series of phrases around Staying Calm, Staying Connected, he builds all the ten chapters with the recurrent message of how when crisis strikes, personal or national, one can lean on God’s word, nature and his promise to sail through.  Interesting nuggets are interspersed throughout to make the book interesting ” For instance in the chapter on “Staying calm” he cites the beaufort scale when Calm is the lowest measure and the highest notch is hurricane.  “Everyone talks about the weather”, he quips Mark Twain but nobody does anything it, as he closes the first chapter and reminds the readers that Jesus said “Dont let your hearts be troubled, Believe in me”

“Catastrophes ought to teach you compassion” he exhorts in a typical shepherdly tone. In the chapter on Stay Compassionate, he reminds us of the fact that we are all in it together. Life, the cauldron of suffering has an inscrutable way of catching all of us off-guard. The book is not just packed with scriptural exhortations that can ocassionally lull the reader into familiar contempt, the illustrations are rivetting like the story of PLO sniper Taas Saada.

Probably because of his day job as a preacher and teacher, Dr. Jeremaiah’s calling card is simplicity. There are no profound metaphysical mysteries explained, no conundrums cracked, Merely engaging stories and principles that inspire and reinforce the hope of glory in the life of Christ Jesus.

The rest of the chapters, Staying Constructive, Staying Challenged,  Staying Connected, Staying Centered, Staying Confident, Staying Consistent, Staying Committed, and Staying Convinced follow a similar pattern of story telling and applying scriptural principles.

There are two groups of people who could immensely benefit from this book. Those who have had a crisis, and those who are likely to have one.  Thank you Pastor DJ.

Knock out entrepreneur knocks your socks off

September 20, 2010 - Leave a Response

I loved George Foreman’s style of writing. Simplicity and Humility are two hallmarks of this book. He stays close to the boxing ring metaphor through out, understandably and some of the stories he narrates to make a point border on the incredible.

He is a role model as a sportsman and a businessman, so I was curious to see how he views his life, his legacy and business among other things. I must confess that I was not disappointed.  When the competition gets vicious he strikes not neccessarily in the same manner he gets it, but in a more tactful manner to seize the advantage. He lays out life’s lessons for young entrepreneurs, executives or young people. The book is full of wisdom, as it engages you in a conversational tone. 

George you knocked my socks off…

Outliers

September 20, 2010 - Leave a Response

OK – this is not a brand new book but I was fascinated enough to re-read and put out a post. This book liberated me from many pressures as a parent, student, teacher, learner and above all a human being. Gladwell is an interesting journalist. Not exactly an oxymoron, but he writes well.  He debunks the myth that geniuses are born by tracing out young hockey players or even young chartered school students. He contends that often we choose the mature ones in an age group and classify them as talented. Because of that labeling and other pampering through extra TLC, these “talented” ones rise to the top.  So he contends that they have as much to be grateful for the opportunities showered on them, as their native talent. 

He talks about the minimum effort needed to be good at something – Playing the piano, skateboarding, playing chess or  any discipline that requires certain amount of practice. He identified that a player requires 10,000 hours before he can master the game.

I have another 9999 hours to go before I become a master blogger

great insights on social media for corporates

May 14, 2010 - Leave a Response

Chris Boudreaux is a leading voice on this space relative to corporates embracing the social media.

Check this site out

www.socialmediagovernance.com

The site has more than 125 corporate policies.

what type of a leader are you?

May 13, 2010 - Leave a Response

The Right to Lead, by John Maxwell

 Men and women who lead on the highest level are quite extraordinary. They are people of action who have their priorities in line. I’ve found that there are some common threads in these uncommon leaders. They are: Futurists: Their dreams are bigger than their memories. Lobbyists: Their cause outlives and out speaks their critics. Catalysts: They initiate movement and momentum for others. Specialists: They don’t do everything; they do one thing well. Optimists: They believe in their cause and their people beyond reason. Economists: They value every resource as a steward of their cause. Activists: They are doers and empower others by their actions. Strategists: They plan how to use every resource available to be successful. Enthusiasts: They have a passion that defies logic and magnetically attracts others. Pragmatists: Their legacy is that they solve the practical problems people face. Industrialists: They roll up their sleeves and work hard. Finalists: They labor with diligence and dedication to the end so that they finish well

Brilliant Piece in Hindu on Shashi Tharoor

April 20, 2010 - Leave a Response

The perils of political paratrooping

Siddharth Varadarajan

In Shashi Tharoor’s rise and fall, a Congress attempt to woo middle class

 

New Delhi: The petit-bourgeois mind is superficial and fickle. It is awe struck by the accumulation and consumption that go on in the highest echelons of society, even if outside the borderlines of legality and good taste. But it is repulsed and outraged when forced to confront the tawdriness and venality on which the life it aspires to is built.

Framed by these two extremes, the long-shot and the close-up, the rise and fall of Shashi Tharoor is a cautionary tale about the dangers of entering public life through the constituency of the middle class. The ‘perils of political paratrooping’ is how a former colleague of the erstwhile junior minister pithily described Mr. Tharoor’s fate when asked for his assessment by The Hindu. What made his jump even more dangerous was that it was made without the safety net that grassroot experience or backroom goodwill provides. By the standards of Indian politics, his impropriety in the IPL affair was relatively minor; but unlike others whose warts catch the glare of the arclights from time to time, there was nobody willing to pad up for him when the media drew blood. Fatally injured, he stood his ground just a moment too long. Had he walked back to the pavilion unprompted, he might have survived to play a second innings. But he didn’t do that. Which is why his political career is today at an end.

This was not the way things were meant to be. A month ago, Mr. Tharoor had successfully weathered the latest of several controversies triggered by his infelicitously timed or worded statements. But he had a charmed life. “Mark my words”, a former External Affairs Minister who knows a thing or two about the ways of the Congress party told this reporter over lunch in March. “When Rahul Gandhi becomes Prime Minister, Shashi will be his EAM. He just has to lie low, play a long innings.”

In the run-up to the 2009 elections, the Congress and Shashi Tharoor were happy to court each other. Mr. Tharoor had spent a lifetime as a highly visible and voluble international servant and the thought of toiling away in anonymity as a lobbyist for Afras Ventures in Dubai must have seemed pretty unappetising. He joined the Congress and, with the blessings of Sonia Gandhi, got the ticket for the prestigious Thiruvananthapuram seat. The fact that he chose to enter politics through the heat and dust of an actual election campaign, rather than through the Rajya Sabha, like most other middle class icons, further endeared him to his constituency.

On their part, Congress leaders, and particularly Ms. Gandhi, saw in the foppish and articulate former United Nations official a totem to woo back the middle class. For the Congress president, this goal had been a key element of her politics since at least 2000.

Beginning with the Narasimha Rao-Chandraswami link and the infamous hawala diary of 1995, the middle class, which had stuck with the Congress as the ‘natural party of governance’ through most of the post-independence period, began to cast around for alternatives. The opportunism of the party in toppling the United Front government in 1998 and then trying to cobble together the magical figure of 272 in 1999 further sullied its reputation. Within five years of losing power at the Centre, the Congress managed to completely lose the mantle of being a party of stability and decency, ceding that space to the Bharatiya Janata Party. Improbable though it seems now, all of these qualities so dear to the middle class got neatly channelled around the personality of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The Congress won the 2004 elections for a variety of reasons but Ms. Gandhi was clear that it could stay in power only if it kept recharging its middle class credentials. The presence of Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister was vital but the party saw in 2009 the need to go one step further, bringing in newer and younger faces, fresh and articulate. Within that overall strategy, Mr. Tharoor had an appeal that was irresistible. Globally connected but capable of acquiring local anchorage, he was seen as an excellent candidate for a party keen to project ‘merit’, ‘talent’ and civil debate over the usual din of caste, money power and goondaism.

Though Mr. Tharoor’s entry into Parliament and government caused heartburn, few could grudge the positive energy he brought to the job. As a well-known face on the international circuit because of his long years at the UN secretariat, the junior minister invariably charmed all foreign leaders he interacted with. The fact that he could slip effortlessly into French while talking to Ivorien or Togolese ministers or journalists was a bonus for Indian diplomacy.

Shashi Tharoor’s one failing as a minister was the need he felt for constant public articulation. The opposition and even his party colleagues — most of them humourless apparatchiks — misunderstood or even distorted his messages on Twitter. But his virtual constituents revelled in his irreverence. Such was his five-star appeal that the Indian and diasporic middle class forgave Shashi Tharoor for living in an expensive hotel for months on end, even when it emerged that he tried very hard to have the government pay for his stay there. Who paid his bills and why were questions they never really sought an answer to. In hindsight, that episode was an early pointer to the outsider’s disdain for the rules of Indian politics. A disdain that ended in the controversy over the Rs. 70 crore worth of ‘sweat equity’ given to his girlfriend, Sunanda Pushkar, for the IPL Kochi team. The Hindi channels are calling it ‘haseena ka paseena.’ Mr. Tharoor has protested his innocence. Only a thorough investigation will reveal the truth. But for the Congress, matters had crossed a point of no return. It is one thing to be accused of speaking out of turn, another to be accused of corruption. Mr. Tharoor’s indiscretions the Congress could live with, his impropriety it could not. The party which brought him into politics to propitiate the middle class now realised it had to throw him out in a final act of appeasement. But only if it moves to clean the wider rot that is the IPL will it emerge from this fiasco with its image intact.