[5-Bullet Tuesday]: Are You Going All Out?

Hi All!

Here is your weekly dose of “5Bullet Friday,” a list of what I’m enjoying or pondering.

What I’m reading —

Bounce Forward by Sam Cawthorn. I was introduced to Sam just last week. He was one of the keynote speakers at Oration 2019 Conference at Kolkata last week. I was very impressed with his turnaround story.

Me, Sam, and my children: Tanav and Sohana

He is a 6 foot 3 inches Australian who met with an accident that nearly killed him in 2006. He lost his right arm in the accident and injured his right leg so badly that most of it is now synthetically rebuilt. However, this accident made him reassess his priorities in life and change the game for him completely. He eventually bounced forward rather than just bouncing back into the older version of life.  He thinks there is something fundamentally wrong in the idea of bouncing back when you are in crisis. Little wonder then that he owns the first 14 pages on Google when you search “Bounce Forward“.

He has written 7 books including 2 International Best Sellers and is now an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker and coach.

What I’m watching —

I was in Kolkata last week. It has such an old world charm attached to it: The yellow Ambassador taxis, the tram, hand pulled rickshaws and the ferry ride to Howrah bridge. One can’t be left untouched by the simplicity and the beauty of the place.

Now that we’re back, I am watching the yesteryear’s Malgudi Days episodes

Deepti, my wife, having Kullad Tea (Tea in traditional handle-less clay cup)

which is yet another recollection of the times gone by. My kids also love watching this over three decades old TV show.

One thing that remains the same through of the changing times is human emotions. It is these emotions which connect us and traverses time. No matter what the latest technology brings and how our day to day lives differ, these feelings and emotions would still bind us together.

Resource I’m excited to explore —

This week, I had some time to consider the resources that I already have available that I am not utilizing fully. For example, I am already a member of PMI International (Project Manager’s Community) which is offering a free of cost Meet and Greet Conference to members. I registered for the same for the first time and am looking forward to attending on 22-June.

I am also attending the Family Day event at British Council on next weekend. Again, something that comes for free for members which we already are.

Also, I am excited to test myself as a potential Area Director for Toastmasters International. Having spent 5 years with TM, I think it is the right time for me to contribute and grow further as a leader at a broader level.

So, which are the resources you already have that you aren’t fully leveraging?

Perhaps, it’s time for you to go all out – to utilize your existing resources fully to help you become the person you always wanted to be!

Quote I’m pondering —

It takes 99 Nos to get a Yes. – unknown

This implies that we should be happy when we are rejected. For every No, is taking us one step closed to a Yes!

And, as always, please give me feedback. Which bullet above is your favorite? What do you want more or less of? Other suggestions? Let me know!

Have a wonderful week, all!


Five Minute Journal: Know What Type is Your Bad Boss!

Quote of the day: [bctt tweet=”Life is either a Daring Adventure or Nothing at All! – Helen Keller” username=”mohitsawhney”]

I am grateful for…

  1. ..the timing of my next career move. It just couldn’t have been any better than this (at least, that’s what I think!). Thank you, God for that! In a world where we are habitual of complaining when things don’t happen in harmony, I’m glad I recognize and appreciate the glory bestowed by God when it all played out so beautifully and in synchronization. It’s unbelievably bizarre and somewhat surreal. Thank you!
  2. ..Walking down the hallway of the office yesterday, I met this guy who was frustrated with his Boss. Well, nothing unusual there, most people are! However, in talking to him, a clear distinction emerged among Bad Bosses. There are two varieties that one has to watch out closely for: There are ones who are nasty because they have an evil, vicious, and cleverly designed nefarious strategy, and then there are the others, who are nasty because they don’t know any better. Understanding this subtle difference can help you determine which type of Bad boss are you dealing with (God forbid, but Shit does Happen!). This will make a huge difference in the way you would deal with them and emerge a winner. 
  3. ..Read an article where the writer had written at the cross-section of politics and economy. The article was about how Jet Airways, which is in dire straits at the moment, is not being given a preferential treatment. This is unlike what happened in the case of erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines. Kingfisher Airlines eventually couldn’t survive the bail outs and the loans it was bestowed upon by Big brothers (nexus of Banks and Political parties). Anyway, besides it being a nice article, the LIGHT BULB moment for me was that I also have a similar style of writing – at the cross section of personal and work lives. Thanks for igniting in me the light once again to write in my own unique style and be of some service to myself and the society.  

What would make today great?

  1. ..I have realized that some of the really important personal tasks keep living in the To-Do lists. This happens when others are driving their priorities through you and you yourself are not focusing enough of what’s important to yourself. I am planing to pick up one such long overdue and yet very important (almost life altering potential) task today. Amen. 
  2. ..Fill my emptying fuel tank. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Not only dull, but also tired and demotivated. Having you foot on the accelerator all the time is not a winning strategy when you are running a long race. It’s important to regularly stop – to check the tires, fill the gas and then continue the journey. My tanks are emptying too – To start with, gotta get myself a new pair of glasses (One I have is on the verge of breaking and besides I guess I need another one for farsightedness. Isn’t it funny, I’ll be farsighted and nearsighted both at the same time!Leaderly Quote: Having a bad boss isn’t your fault.
  3. ..In Business, it is common practice to make well thought out investments to reap greater returns in future. Not so common when you are offering your services i.e. when you are an Employee. What investments are we talking about for salaried people, most would say. You’re getting it all wrong. No matter which industry you work, in order to remain relevant in the ever changing job market and disruptions happening in business worlds, one can’t ignore investing in oneself – upgrade/ enhance/ diversify your skill set alongside your current job. There will never be a perfect time. Enough of the build up (word for it is “circumlocution”), I am enrolling for the PgMP certification today.
Daily affirmations. I am …fearless! 
Amazing things that happened today…
  1. ..Back in touch with my batch mates from St. Stephen’s. Quite a bit of catching up to do though. Well, not only about the years that have passed in between. Honestly, I just wasn’t present most of those 3 years to know much about them back then. There’s always a first time.
  2. ..Glad to have done with my glasses – a new frame for my old glasses. Not bad at all. Feel accomplished.  
  3. ..Ended up having some much much needed time with self as I was working from home today. Or, perhaps I feel so now that I have had a mug or two of the Bira Extra Strong Beer.
How could I have made today better?
  1. ..Schedule.  Morning Ritual. Missed you. If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. 
  2. ..Baggage. Could have dropped it. Made a fresh start. Even more so, because it’s getting heavier.
  3. ..Could put more intention into the mix of things. More laughter. Smile. Love. After all, I can!

When Was The Last Time You Did Something For The First Time?

Find something to do. Anything. Be of use. Serve. Act. Mantra to live a happy life.

The years’ that go wasted are the only ones that add up to our old age.

I decided to stand for the position of President and VP-Education for our Toastmaster’s club. Definitely it is out of my comfort zone. But then, opportunity for growth doesn’t sit in the comfort zone, does it?

This was indeed the first time I intentionally decided to stand for these positions. Although, I have been VP-Education and President earlier, but that was more of a by default selection for a declining club. Not my decision. (Someone else’s decision will never hardly ever make you happy! Read more on that here!)

So, this is something new I’m up to. For some, this may be a big deal, for some not so. Doesn’t matter. It’s enough to nudge me into some anxiety which is often the predecessor to the creative thinking process.

If one stand for the EC (Executive Committee roles), one has to give a short (2 minutes) speech to convince the members to vote for them.

Here are the scripts for the speeches I prepared for the two positions (of course to be given in the Toastmaster’s style with the body language and voice modulation)

Part 1 – Script: President Campaign Speech

How many of you have had an out of body experience?

Well, I had one yesterday.

Actually, I was supposed to prepare a two minute speech on Why should I be the President. In other words: Why should anyone vote for me?

In order to do so, I thought let me forget about everyone else, and see if I myelf would vote for this guy called Mohit Sawhney!

So, I stepped out of my body and carefully considered the following:

  1. Does he put his heart and soul into whatever role he plays – in his speeches, during his evaluations, other roles he plays, The Scoop magazine..?
  2. Are interactions with him enagaging and uplifting?
  3. Does he bring something new to the table?

Since I got some promising answers, then further considered the following additional questions:

  1. Has he any noteworthy achievements?
  2. Is he committed to make everyone’s experience a delightful one?
  3. Is his own value system aligned with that of Toastmasters: Respect, Integrity, Service, Excellence?

You seem curious about the answers I got. Well, but today, my answers aren’t as important as yours!

  • Vote for Mohit if you think you have enough reasons to believe that you’d answer in a YES to all of these questions.
  • Vote for Mohit if you believe he would be justify the role of the President.

Part 2 – Script: VP- Education

Since I was having an OBE experience (which is not easy to come by!), I thought I’d use the opportunity to consider a difference aspect:

If there is one reason I wouldn’t vote for Mohit, what would it be?

Instantly came the reply: There isn’t anything too great about him!

He seems to be having his own fears and vulnerablilities. He seems to be unsure and still on his own journey of self discovery.

Well.. then I thought a bit further and asked myself: Is there anything wrong with that?

Isn’t it okay to be fearful, as long as you have the courage to face up to your fears.

Isn’t it okay to be vulnerable, as long as you have the integrity to stand up to your true self!

… and isn’t it okay to be unsure, as long as you keep taking risks to grow yourself and people around you?

I leave the decision up to you. And I leave you with this quote from Zig Ziglar:

You don’t have to be great to start,

but you have to start to be great!

It’s quite an experience to see the Elections at Toastmasters clubs. It give the flavor of a real (government) election. Late entrants, secretive talks, some expected and a lot of unexpected winners, sadness in the eyes of the one’s who lost and “Of course I won. I’m the best, after all!” written all of the winner’s faces. 

The best part of the Toastmasters election process is that the results are declared there and then. One doesn’t have to wait and see the twists and turns as the votes are beingcounted. That quick result takes care of the anxiety levels to an extent.

When I reached home and shared that I am the VP-Education, of course everyone cheered. Dinky, my wife asked me, “Are you happy?

I said, “Yes I’m happy I won! But I’m happier for that moment of time when I decided I’d stand for the position.

It is in the moment’s of decision that your destiny is shaped – Tony Robbins

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Five Minute Journal: Do You Know What Makes CEOs Successful?

Finding of the day:

According to storybrand.com, a surney of 72 CEOs of successful companies that were doing $50 million and up in revenue revealed the key predictor to their success, and it’s surprising. Read on..

That characteristic is self-awareness, which is defined as “the capacity to monitor and self-regulate one’s internal world.


I am grateful for…

  1. WordPress developers who have created Content Templates. Content templates load the template which is really helpful to writers belonging to all categories – from novices to start their 5-Minute Journal (like this one is a Content Template. It loads to format itself!) to bloggers to get over the writer’s block.
  2. being in a position that I can give. Remember what my friend Karan Manveer says, “Giving hurts but so does taking, so might as well give. Living hurts but so does dying, might as well live!” #Joyofgiving clothes to the needy for the winter that’s approaching.
  3. the Weekly Design System that Robin Sharma shared, and I have been using this since over 5 years. It let’s you create such a massive focus and contiuity into your life and builds a momentum that’s a force to reckon with. Try it out and it may just change your life. Also, glad I created an excel version of it. (Happy to share with those who ask.)

What would make today great?

  1. Slightly different take today on this question. Today would be great if I remain hydrated (4L), and tranquil (calm) while performing my tasks.
  2. Remaining hydrated enhances creativity and that would let me create a BIW( Oh, I mean Best in World) deliverable!
  3. If I went to the gym and release as much Endorphins, a hormone that helps the body cope with the pain and muscle tear that happens during exercising. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, shh…similar to that of morphine.
Daily affirmations. I am …seeing my dreams manifest into reality before my eyes.
Amazing things that happened today…
  1. Surprisingly, the traffic on the roads wasn’t as usual. What normally takes me an hour and 45 minutes was covered in little over an hour. Thank God for small mercies. Has everybody left for Christmas / New Year Holiday leaving me to work? Well, for now, let’s just celebrate the improved traffic condition.
  2. Some bitter medicines yield good results. I am glad I pushed myself into talking to someone in the higher ups who I knew would be genuinely helpful. It required me to step out of my comfort zone. #CourageOverComfort
  3. Someone I know has been out of sorts and anxious. Today, she said that she has figured what would make her really really happy today and every day! I am glad she realized it after all. Okay, you also want to know – answer is kind of boring but that is so true. She thinks that a “daily exercise” in some form will do it for her. Well, I am sure it would, to her, me and everyone who wants to be happier. Don’t believe me? Well, try it. 
How could I have made today better?
  1. I missed an opportunity to have lunch with Dinky, my wife. What a shame I forgot about the fact that she was at work today in the same building. I am glad Deepti’s didn’t create too fuss of it though. But more than anything else, it tells me that my mind has a tendency to be hijacked amidst the office noise. I have to get over that and stay present. Mindfulness.. here I come!
  2. Jonathan Fields says in the Good Life Project, that there are three buckets that need constant filling to make a happy fulfilled day. These are like buckets with little holes at the bottom. Leaving any bucket empty is not a good idea as it would drag the other buckets down with it. These buckets are- Connection, Contribution and Vitality. While I did well on Connection and even Vitality today, Contribution took a bit of a back seat.
  3. Didn’t spend enough quality time with kids. Could have made it more with an activity which would encourae fun, collaborative, and engaging.

What Is Your Happiness Score?

“My boss is unnecessarily complaining about my work. It’s painful!”

“My boss asks me to do the things exactly as he wants. Why can’t he understand that I’m not him?”

“I am sitting idle since last 2 weeks since I have joined the team. I feel so unwanted!”

These are some real life dialogues from my interaction with people just last week. Many if not most people in the corporate world are unhappy with their work life. And since work life is a large part of your overall life, they’re unhappy in their life in general too!

Lot of them don’t even realize that something is going seriously wrong with them, until it is too late. They know it only when they have developed serious anxiety issues, stress or even depression.

John Lennon knew the purpose of life when he was 5 years old, and yet so many of us as mature adults keep forgetting that.

In the classroom, the teacher had asked the little John Lennon, “What do you want to be when you grow up?

His reply, “Happy!

Teacher said, “You didn’t understand my question, John.”

to which John said, “You don’t understand life, Teacher!”

Life’s purpose is to be happy. And it begins where we are at – at home and at work. We spend a considerable part of our life at work. So, we must know how we’re doing on our happiness levels and whether we need to do something about it.

With that in mind, we created a system –Your Happiness Score(TM) – and tested it as well for months! We have seen the Happiness levels increase significantly every time we use this system, consistently on a daily basis. This is based on the 5 keys to being joyful at work (French: joie de travailler):

Rate yourself on a scale of one to five on each of the following happiness keys :

  1. Freedom – If your boss wants you to do something “exactly like he wants!“, it doesn’t look like a place where you are getting enough creative freedom. Moreover, you don;t know what’s in his mind. The only way I can create something exactly like someone else wants it is when I am him. Which is usually not the case. Although reviews and feedback is alright, and is required for improving the deliverable further, but there is a thin line of difference between constructive feedback and forcing someone to being someone they are not! This thin line is quite significant to determine you happiness score.
  2. Connectedness – “Don’t speak with Gopal and if you do take me along!“, my boss says. Well, that itself is a cause for concern. Being connected to people in the team and outside too openly is important to your being. You should be able to talk to everyone without any fear, openly. You should be able to bring up the ‘elephants in the room’, without mincing words. How are you doing on these things. Are you able to discuss matters of significance with your team? Connectedness is a human needs and plays a key role in our happiness levels.
  3. Interesting Work – “Just do it because I say so!“, says your boss. Well, that’s not what makes the work meaningful for me. I want to know the reason why we’re doing it, what value am I adding to whom in the process. The bigger picture of the impact my work creates to a larger cause to the society, community or industry is what determines whether the work will be interesting to me or not.
  4. Being of use – “I am on the team for two weeks without anyone asking me to do anything!“. This is commonplace at work, and it creates a havoc in the minds of people who are sitting idle. We humans enjoy being useful and being idle only makes us feel worse. We may not believe it but it is true. If you’re sitting doing nothing, its not at all a good news. It i a serious cause for concern. Take some action if that’s the case or quit such a job. Believe me, you’d be better off.
  5. Well Balanced Life – “I come back so late that I don’t see my children during weekdays!” Well, is that worth it? I don’t think so. There is talk of the work life balance changing to work life integration, with the technology tools and changes in the work arrangements. But whatever we call it, we ought to do things other than just office work. Getting up in the morning, listening to some light music, some yoga or exercise, morning prayer with family, reading something different, attending to family functions and conferences, pursuing your hobbies, spending time with family making memories.. those things ought to be part of your life too. You can’t wait for the retirement to do all that. Life is a gift and we must live a portfolio life which is a mix of all of these things.

Well, not that you have rated yourself on 1-5 on each of the above parameters, add up your individual scores and determine your Overall Happiness Score. The maximum your Happiness Score can be is 25 and the least is 5.

If your score is between:

  • 5 – 12: Situation is alarming and you need to take some steps today. Talk to someone you trust and make a decision. It could be as drastic as moving out of the project, organization or even that career.
  • 12-18: It’s concerning but you can possible do something to increase the score. Look at the areas where you are really low and see what can be done to address those areas. Continue to do what your doing on areas where your individual scores are good.
  • 18-25: Congratulations! You’re doing well. Your life is under control. At these scores, all you have to do is manage your scores in days to come, so they don’t come down.

Some people would ask, “What about Money? Fame? Parties? .. Don’t they bring happiness?”

Well, most of these would bring instant but temporary happiness, which often leads to long term distress. Of course we need money to sustain ourselves, but beyond a certain point, money won’t add to one’s happiness. For lasting joy, one must focus on things beyond these material things.

Well, that’s what I think. What about you?

Are there any other parameters you would consider to come up with the Happiness?

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What’s Your Message For The Newbies?

I was recently invited by USMS, IPU to deliver a talk to the new batch of MBA students. Here is my script, my message to the future generation, as they get ready in preparing for their corporate and entrepreneurial dreams!

It’s been 17 years since I passed out from this college – USMS, GGSIPU.

However, the memories are still fresh and intact of when I had scanning through the GGSIPU MBA entrance results list. That white ink-jet printout which was pasted on the display board outside the old Kashmere Gate campus auditorium.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had made it. My rank was 23!

I felt elated, after all I had finally made it to an MBA college, it was going to take me one step closer to my dreams.

There is so much I want to share of the experiences and learning I have had from that day till now.

I was wondering how do I convey it all. I decided to give it a shot to describe all I want to say in just one word. While it is very challenging to do that, I was able to come out with a word – The word is Believe.

Believe in yourself and believe in that everyone is here to support you achieve your dreams.

You are here to be ready to be leaders of tomorrow. These 2 years will enable you with everything that is needed to succeed in this disruptive business world. The college has world class lectures, it’s facilities are state of the art, and the course content is absolutely suited for you.

But we human beings are full of doubt. We will doubt that I just said. We will want to challenge that, question that and doubt that instead of believing that.

It is said in the corporate world that your career is 90% your own responsibility and 10% your Manager’s.

But people often forget that. They blame their managers for a bad appraisal, for not understanding their aspirations and on goes the list.

But does it help them. In my sixteen years of work experience, and I would be lying if I said I haven’t made that mistake myself, but I have never seen that approach working ever.

Similarly, at college, we need to remember that too – My career is 90% my responsibility, and 10% my support group’s – This support group includes your lecturers, your peers, your seniors. They are all here fully committed to help you. But you have to remember that the responsibility still lies with you.

That will change the game for you. This is a transition period for most of you, a transition from a student life to a corporate professional one. Enjoy this transition, while sitting on the driver’s seat, after all it’s about you, your career.

But don’t you ever feel alone. We are all there with you on the passenger’s seat. Your teachers. Your seniors. Alumni members.

We’re want you to succeed. We want you to reach where you have to go. We will guide you, encourage you and provide you all the tools and resources you will need. You just have to believe in your driving skills, and in your passenger’s rich experiences.

Here are my own apprehensions from the time when it was my Day 1 into an MBA college. Some of you may be able to relate with it, and I hope this will act as a starting point to bringing up your questions for me:

I THOUGHT I DIDN’T KNOW ENOUGH: After these many years, I have realized that one can never know enough. The mantra is to make daily habits that increase our knowledge a little bit every day.

Most of you know the compounding effect. Small daily improvements over time lead to stunning results.

Instead of reading through the mainstream newspaper which is nothing but masala, I made it a daily habit to read MINT and ET for thirty minutes. I started ‘getting it’ in about 3 weeks.

THE FEAR OF BEING FOUND OUT: Most CEOs suffer from this fear. They think that they are not really any superior than anyone else in the organization. They fear that people will get to know this soon.

We also feel that – I made it to the college by fluke. I should mind my business and not talk or interact much otherwise, I might be found out. It will be embarrassing.

To this, I would quote what Steve Jobs said, “You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. … Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

My mantra is to run closer to your fears and embrace them. It may be extremely difficult, but at the end of it, it is most fulfilling.

UNSURE WHERE I WANT TO GO: We have very vague idea of where exactly do we want to go – I want to become an entrepreneur one day, and take up a job the next day. Try something out of the ordinary, something disruptive today, and something stable, less riskier the next day.

It’s so confusing. May be I want to become a lecturer. We have that feeling all the time.

The good news is that the rules of the corporate are changing. Organizations are encouraging that, becoming more open to that. What used to be called “Corporate Ladder” is changing to “Corporate Lattices”. Being a Quality Manager, becoming a Trainer and then moving to  Project Management stream is fast becoming a norm.

Taking a some steps forward, then sideways, even backwards in order to find out what is it that I really want to do is far more worth it than taking up a job that you don’t love.

Failing fast is the keyword these days.

Let me just conclude by saying: Have faith. Believe. Best wishes.

You are in the right place. You will succeed.

That was my message, and now, I want to hear from you.

Do you agree with what I shared? What would be your message to the newbies? 

If you like this post, then show the love by sharing it with friends and family. The best part of writing a blog is the discussion that follows, so do register your thoughts and views below.


Are You A Clock Builder Or A Time Teller?

“There is so much going on – I am struggling to do what is expected of me- at home, at work. I am missing my tasks, and getting occasional brickbats. All this is leading to resentfulness, followed by regret and then guilt. I am so stressed! Is there a way out?”

The year was 2004, and I was just beginning my career.

I was almost at the bottom of the pyramid back then, and yet I felt the pain. However, I would see people in the middle management who would never miss a single task that requires attention.

Raja, Priyanka and I were cab mates. They were both much senior to me – both Senior Managers, and I was a team member. I would notice Raja using his paper notebook all the time – capturing the bullet points of the tasks, the risks, the issues. It was organized such that he could look at the previous day’s progress and cross out the ones which were completed, and carry forward the ones that didn’t.

I initially felt it was so uncool.

His notebook filled like a bucket does with the tap open, …really fast. He made sure he updated it for the day even before we reached office, and in office, he would be fully prepared with almost everything. He was effective in meetings and knew exactly what needed to be done today versus what could wait for tomorrow.

Priyanka would use her laptop for similar purpose but she too always was on top of things. They were both extremely well prepared before reaching the office.

On the other hand, I was usually asleep along the nearly 2 hour long journey to work. I would start thinking of work only after I reached office most of the time. That resulted in following:
-I didn’t have an agenda when I reached office. Since I didn’t have one of my own, I had no choice but to follow other’s agendas. 
-I was constantly struggling – challenged to complete the tasks in time, missing out on tasks, doing certain things awfully wrongly.

Overall, I was reactive, waiting for instructions and of course was not being effective and not happy. But I didn’t know what was going wrong.

I was being a time teller rather than being a clock builder

I asked Priyanka once, “You are working on multiple projects and yet you are always on top of everything. What tools do you use to manage?”

She told me about systems. Systems to take care of everything to manage. 

That system could be a notepad like in case of Raja or an excel list in case of Priyanka. Those are simply tools which help one in doing the work effectively.

While they were going with systems, I was going where ever the wind was taking me. Obviously they were happy driving things and had a greater chance of getting to where they planned to go. I on the other hand, didn’t even where I wanted to go.

I was lacking a system for my life, and that what was making it a painful journey for me. I didn’t know what tools I could use to have a ‘system‘ that worked for me.

Don’t use too many:
I tried various different tools, got very fond of some too. However, I realized over time that one should use a minimum number of tools that are required. Too many tools will only add to the misery. These tools are there to help in accomplishing the work at hand, and not to become confusing work themselves.

Don’t get too hung up on the tool itself:
Tools are a means to an end – not an end in itself. So, spending time playing around with it would be counter productive. Of course, you require the basic training to understand it, but sometimes we are tempted to go on an endless exploration when we are supposed to do the work. That is a Big NO!

Choice of Tool doesn’t matter so much:
Use tools to get the work done, as a medium and you will prosper. A single sheet of paper designed used consistently could work just as well.

While it’s okay to use these tools on a need basis throughout the day, it is important to use the ones what help plan the day, before you start your work day. It doesn’t take up a whole lot of your time once one gets the hang of it – it will take 15 minutes or less.

But those 15 minutes of planning the day would help you get on the driver’s seat for taking you to where you want to reach at the end of the day.

Now that you probably understand the importance of systems and tools in your professional (and even personal) life, here are the two that work best for me:

  1. Kanbanflow: This helps me organize my tasks based on my life priorities. It also has an in-built timer based on Pomodoro technique to complete the tasks. I use the FREE version which itself is extremely powerful. https://kanbanflow.com
  2. Trello: Another very powerful tool on similar lines is called Trello. It provides an ability to add attachments to the tasks and also allows a simple way to create tasks automatically by sending out an email to a Trello email address. www.trello.com

Our career is a Marathon… a long journey! What is required is to build systems (clocks) and not be naive by being time tellers each time. It would be too many times that we will be asked and it will burn us down before the finish line if we don’t create systems. 

What Systems are you using for productivity and effectiveness in your life? 

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Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Scrum Master? [Scrum Master Series]

I recently met a Scrum Master friend who told me how he eventually figured out that the dip in performance of one of his Scrum team members was linked to a co-worker’s body odor!

Yes, a Scrum Master does everything and anything to help the team in doing what they are supposed to do – that is advancing the Sprint’s story towards completion! 

Let’s take a look at the definition of a Scrum Master. Scrum Master is a person who facilitates the Scrum team in performing their tasks. He helps resolve the team’s blockers. These blockers could be directly related to their work – such as the team struggling to decide the design approach to take to go forward, or indirectly impeding them – such as environment outages or even excessive noise coming from the neighboring team area.

In order to justify the role of a Scrum Master, the person needs to possess the following skills:


  1. Understanding of Agile and Scrum: This is the key hard skill as a Scrum Master. Having access to an Agile Coach can help gain this skill rather quickly, but if that’s not possible, observing an existing Scrum team will also help. Those are the most practical ways in my view but taking a certification such as PMI ACP or CSM is the next best thing that can help gain the required knowledge and confidence to perform the role. Joining forums where Scrum and Agile is discussed is also quite  beneficial to grasp the nuances of Scrum and Agile.


  1. Emotional Intelligence: A Scrum Master listens not only to what is being said but also to what is not said. He constantly works towards identifying the elephant in the room – team dynamics, personal constraints, process gaps – and then addressing them. He finds creative ways to change the status-quo, in creating healthy processes and achieving team collaboration.
  2. Resourcefulness: Scrum Master is not required to be a technical person. Neither is he required to be a functional domain expert. However, he should know who to approach to help address the impediments being faced by the team. He maintains a good relationships with the stakeholders and knows when and how should the topic be brought up for discussion.

Those were the general qualities of a Scrum Master. However, considering that most Scrum Masters have evolved from other roles, it is important to understand what must a person keep in mind when moving into Scrum Master shoes from a traditional PM, Tech lead, or QA Manager role.

In such a case, a mindset shift is required to not let their former experience come in the way of their new role. It requires a focus towards failing fast, creating a minimum viable product and increased team collaboration. Scrum Team can get into serious issues if this point is ignored while moving to a Scrum Master role. Some such real life examples include:

  • Scrum Master who was previously a Project Manager could push towards having and following a detailed project plan. To add to that, he may be too aggressive and demanding in his role. This will be disastrous since it is antithesis to Agile where Servant Leadership is the key.
  • Scrum Master who was earlier a Developer could take up responsibility to write the code himself. Team could get so used to him writing the code that they would ask him to fix production bugs. He would eventually get overwhelmed with work and rather than becoming a team enabler, he would end up becoming a bottleneck.
  • Scrum Master who was formerly a Test Lead could get closely involved in testing. In such a situation, the Scrum team would slowly start considering him as the quality gatekeeper and stop appreciating that the quality as a collective team responsibility.

Having said so, if you put your old wine (skills) in the new bottle (of Scrum Mastery), you can win in the role like no on else. Here are some examples of the benefits your previous experience can bring to your new role:

  • A Project Manager and a Scrum Master role have a lot in common. Whether it’s prioritization, planning, client demo, lesson learned – they are all present in SCRUM/Agile as well in the form of Backlog Grooming, Sprint Planning, Sprint Demo, and Sprint Retrospectives. Hence, your previous skills will come in handy in Scrum Master role!
  • Having a technical background will help you in the Scrum Master role to understand the language spoken by the team. You could also teach and coach the team on technical aspects such as how to design effectively, following coding standards and unit testing practices.
  • QA / testing experience can also be very favorable to you in the Scrum Master role. Test Leads or other such roles understand the end to end development process, are good at stakeholder management and causal analysis. They talk to Developers, Business, Business Analysts and traditional Production Support teams to determine and address the root causes of the issues. These are directly required in the Scrum Master role as well.


Do you agree with the above qualities as key to perform the Scrum Master role successfully. Would you like to add anything else to the list? 

Why You Need to Bring Your Office Home!

“What should be the frequency of this meeting?”

“How about once every six months?”

“No, that’s too less, we do need it at least once in three months.”.

Nothing unusual about that dialogue right?

Not until I tell you that is a conversation between me and my nine year old son, Tanav.

Yes, we do plan and have meetings at home. Just like office. In fact, I just finished a meeting with Tanav, my son (see below an earlier recording)

Office meetings are generally considered a waste of time, too lo..ng and boring.  But no matter how much we complain about them, if they’re right way – they help in planning, reviewing progress and resolving issues. In acknowledging people for their work. Meetings are, indeed, an essential for any organization…including the home organization

Strike the right chord and get insights that are impossible to get otherwise. You will discover a whole new person in your family member! 

[bctt tweet=”Don’t live with strangers in the house all your life and call it a family!” username=”mohitsawhney”]

These meetings can take your relationship with your family on the growth trajectory .

Human mind is complex. It has inhibitions. It doesn’t share easily. Not even with people who are close to us!  Expecting others to open up in a normal setting, is out of question. We have to book a time, a place and tell the participants (in this case our son or daughter or wife), that you need them there!

..And why just meetings? There is quite a lot of good stuff we need to bring home from office! 

Organizations have a set of systems meant to make things happen smoothly and improve. 

But home sweet home? Do we have any systems? If you’re like most people, your answer is a No.

In the absence of any system for family to be cohesive, performing and improving, we just rely on God Almighty to take care of our home affairs. But , God only helps those who help themselves!

“I am putting in all the efforts and time in office to earn and save only for the family.”, you might say. 

Well, thanks but your family needs “you”. Your time. Now. Not later.

If you don’t give the time now, your connection with your folks is broken… forever!

Now, if you tell me: I really don’t have the time.

Okay, then here’s another tip: Go Lean.

Organizations are shouting about going lean: which means reducing waste. But your family organization? You are the CEO. Or co-CEO or whatever of that, no?

So get your act together and go lean. Here’s what I mean:

  • No Phone on Weekends. (basically this means using phone as a plain simple phone, that too if it’s absolutely needed!)
  • No TV on Mondays.
  • No Facebook App on the Smartphone. And yes, No Whatsapp too!
  • No Technology in the Bedroom.

You get the idea. Reduce the wasteful activities. That will make time for useful ones.

[bctt tweet=”Oh God! Today, give me the strength to say ‘no’ to things I may do only to regret later. ” username=”mohitsawhney”]

By the way, yours truly has done all of the above. Of course, one by one though.

When I shared the idea of a No Phone Day on Saturdays, it seemed impossible. Everyone resisted. Initial few weeks were tough. The cries and frustrations were all so visible on everyone’s faces. But soon, good things began to happen.

Tanav, my nine year old son, opened his bookshelf after ages! We have played several board games as a family.  Not so long ago, he was hooked to Clash of Clans. We had no idea how to get him off!

And the best part was yet to come: Tanav, my son, loved the idea so much that he himself proposed to have Sunday’s too as No Phone Days!

A few months have passed, and Tanav has just recently proposed to have Mondays as No TV Days! Can you beat that!

Today is Day 1 of No TV Day. Excitement abound. Tanav is busy cleaning his study table, and Sohana, my 4 year old daughter, my bookshelf.

It’s going well. We haven’t switched on the TV. Not as yet. It’s not easy but we will face this challenge as a family.

..That my friends is Sawhney Family Organization going Lean. When is Your’s? 

If you like this post, then show the love by sharing it with friends and family. The best part of writing a blog is the discussion that follows, so do register your thoughts and views below.