[5-Bullet Tuesday] Become A Difference Maker!

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering.


What I’m reading – 

Is the world still beautiful

Do our stories still matter?

Am I still hopeful ?

.. still yes. still yes. still yes!

That’s the last passage of ‘I Guess I Haven’t Learned that Yet.’ By Shauna Niequist

Reading this and thinking we must be doing something right as I hear the news that Sohana is selected as Jr. School PREFECT today ❤️

Proud day for sawhney family.

What Movie I watched —

Runway 34, excellent direction and acting by Ajay Devgn. Also, stars veteran Amitabh Bachhan. Although the second half is quite predictable but still keeps one hooked till the very end. Watch it with family for Ajay Devgn who’s clearly the hero of the movie and for a revision of the 2015 Jet Airlines incident which inspired the movie.

Here’s what I learnt about making a difference–

I keep turning back to John Maxwell for wisdom, and this is how he says one can become a difference maker:

  1. Stay close to people who are making a difference:- “Who luck” as Jim Collins calls it – who you spend time with will bring you the luck. That environment will influence you to bring you success that will help you make a difference.
  2. Be intentional: Everything worthwhile is uphill – dreams, hopes, forging great relationships. If you have uphill hopes and downhill habits, it will not ever work. Only if we’re intentional, we’ll be able to achieve the potential that God has given within us.
  3. Have a vision gap: Vision gap is the space between what you are doing now and what you could be doing. Having this vision gap helps you grow, and only if you grow will you become a person who will be able to make a difference.

Quote I’m pondering —

“Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation.”

― Rumi

What touched my heart –

Dad is hospitalized with low haemoglobin, platelets and blood cells. Dinky, my wife, donated blood for his transfusion yesterday. She was quite eager as she sees this as an opportunity to be related to her beloved dad in law by blood .

❤️


 

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[5-Bullet Tuesday] Did You Know This About Your Friend?

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering.

Truth I found worth reading-

In Ancient Greece, Socrates had a great reputation of wisdom. One day, someone came to find the great philosopher and said to him:
– Do you know what I just heard about your friend?
– A moment, replied Socrates. Before you tell me, I would like to test you the three sieves.
– The three sieves?
– Yes, continued Socrates. Before telling anything about the others, it’s good to take the time to filter what you mean. I call it the test of the three sieves. The first sieve is the TRUTH. Have you checked if what you’re going to tell me is true?
– No, I just heard it.
– Very good! So, you don’t know if it’s true. We continue with the second sieve, that of KINDNESS. What you want to tell me about my friend, is it good?
– Oh, no! On the contrary.
– So, questioned Socrates, you want to tell me bad things about him and you’re not even sure they’re true? Maybe you can still pass the test of the third sieve, that of UTILITY. Is it useful that I know what you’re going to tell me about this friend?
– No, really.
– So, concluded Socrates, what you were going to tell me is neither true, nor good, nor useful. Why, then, did you want to tell me this?

“Gossip is a bad thing. In the beginning it may seem enjoyable and fun, but in the end, it fills our hearts with bitterness and poisons us, too!”

What made me laugh and cry at the same time —

The other day, I met a school friend at the morning walk. He said he met with around ten classmates after twenty years at CP at a restaurant.
After food and drinks, and a bill of around 1500 per head they fought for hours over it – One said he didn’t have non veg and shouldn’t be paying so much.
Another argued he didn’t have any drinks.. and on and on..
Finally, they hated each other so much that they decided never to see each other’s faces again.

Word of the week: Ndini –

Pronounced deenee , it’s a word from the Zimbabwean language Shona meaning “This is who I am!” I heard this word from the speech that won the world championship of public speaking, 2022. And I loved it.

“ndini”: “This is who I am!

Questions I’m pondering —

Ask these questions all your life to make a life full of passion and purpose. Keep these questions close to you all your life.

  1. What do you sing about? – i.e. what makes you happy.
  2. What do you cry about? i.e. what makes your sad.
  3. What do you dream about?

What I learnt –

Three questions to ask yourself everyday according to John Maxwell:

  1. What did I learn today?
  2. How did I grow today?
  3. What will I do differently?

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Human Centered Design

This blog covers what I learnt from a recent office workshop on HCD – Human Centered Design. It is written in the form of audience (the real user)’s questions and what they absorbed from the session. After all, HCD is about keeping the real user at the center of it all!

We know CCD .. but what exactly is HCD ?

HCD or Human Centered Design is a framework for designing solutions to problems and innovating while keeping the real user in the center of it all.

Okay.. but that we know as Design Thinking..

Well, if you’re familiar with Agile and Scrum, then to put things in perspective between HCD and Design thinking, you can say that:

HCD is to Design Thinking what Scrum is to Agile

Design Thinking is all about keeping in mind how humans reason while designing solutions to problems and HCD is a framework to implement Design Thinking methodology through a well-defined, step by step process.

Okay ..but why do we even need HCD or Design Thinking?

HCD is a way to be ready for the time when disruption will hit you. Disruptions are happening all so often. Entire industries and even our way of our working or living are undergoing a sudden and a sea change – the hybrid work model, online education are the most recent pandemic / lockdown induced changes.

Disruption is either going happen to you or because of you… in any case, disruption is going to happen!

Few other classic examples are that of Netflix’s killing Blockbuster, Kodak going bankrupt when digital cameras came in, and iPod succumbing to the streaming music apps like Spotify (2022).

See the source image

We just cannot stop these disruptions from happening. This rise and fall is a natural phenomenon and is called the universal arc. All we can do is prepare ourselves. In fact, this readiness can even enable us to bring about a disruption for our own good!See the source image

Yes, and that’s where Design thinking or HCD comes in.

I’m listening, but is this for me?

If you have a problem to solve, HCD is for you. It’s not just about civil architects or software designers, it’s relevant across industries and to everyone who is in the business of innovating or solving a human problem.

Hmm.. what was it again, sorry?

Human-centered design (HCD) is the process of creating products with human psychology and user perception in mind. It is careful, assumption-free design, informed by testing and analysis of real-life experiences.

And what’s the step by step process HCD uses?

The following 3 Is form the basis of HCD framework:

  1. Inspiration: which involves empathy interviews to help define the problem. Basically, to ensure we’re solving the right problem.
  2. Ideation: Brainstorming in a team to come out with a lot of ideas. Using sticky notes, voting mechanism to distill the ideas that are good to be taken up.
  3. Implementation: which includes prototyping and testing to gather feedback to continue working through it.

No alt text provided for this image

Sounds pretty basic, can you give me an example of why being human centered is so key?

Architect at the Illinois Institute of Technology (Rem Koolhaas) left the pathways and sidewalks unconstructed when he designed the university campus building. The ground was left covered with grass. Koolhass observed that the students carved out fairly substantial ruts in the grass from walking the same paths over and over again. 

When it was clear which routes students preferred from the dorm to the library to the classes, the pathways were then built and even their widths were based on the uprooted grass with the number of students who walked together. 

Students (the real users) love it.

Well, I love that idea too now! What are the key principles behind HCD?

  1. Leave your Ego at the door
  2. Build on other people’s ideas rather than crush them: Don’t say “yes.. but“, say “yes.. and“
  3. Go for extreme users instead of average users.
  4. How might we (HMW) questions: These’re short questions that launch ideation. They’re broad enough to include a wide range of solutions but narrow enough to impose helpful boundaries. Between the too narrow “HMW create an ice cream cone that doesn’t drip” and the too broad “HMW redesign dessert”, is the properly scoped “HMW redesign ice cream to be more portable.”
  5. Fall in love with the problem, not the solution
  6. HCD is a combination of divergent (out of the box / covering breadth) and convergent (deep dive) thinking process.

I understand some of this, but what is this ‘yes and’ and ‘extreme users’?

“Yes and”: Anyone familiar with improv knows that “yes and” brings humor in conversation but that happens only because this technique opens the mind to possibilities and ideas.

Power cables at Idaho were damaged regularly as snowfall got accumulated on them. The team trying to solve this expensive problem frustrated as there was no viable solution in sight. One engineer said, “Can’t we somehow have these beers to rub their backs on the poles holding the cables? That would make the snow fall off from the wires and problem would be solved.”

Building further on this idea led to the solution which is in place in Idaho since last 10 years – they bring the helicopters to fly low over these forests which makes the snow fall down before damaging the cables.

QUIZ TIME: Another example is something we use everyday which started off like this. Can you guess what this is?See the source image

Extreme users: Many modern day inventions used by ordinary human beings were originally made for a specific extreme user. Having a set of extreme users as the focus ensures that the regular / average users are covered as well in the process.

Did you know? Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone to support his work helping the deaf.

..But I’m equally hearing a lot of criticism of HCD on YT/ LinkedIn.

As they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating – the way we worked together and came up with countless no of ideas, chose one or two and even created a prototype all within the time of the six hour training with people we’d met for the first time speaks volumes about it’s effectiveness.

Manish Desai, Macquarie India Lead, was there to open the training for the attendees, which shows a strong management conviction. It’s this conviction and leadership support that makes these frameworks work more than anything else in my view. I could feel the same conviction and enthusiasm among all the trainers. Kudos!

And what stood out was that the trainers are people from the ground – who have implemented this and have seen the results. It’s not people selling an idea or talking fluff.

.. and at the end, us audience be like: Wow, got it .. can’t wait to apply these learnings.

Mindmap covering what we learnt

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[5-Bullet Tuesday] Is This Your Defining Moment?

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering.

Something I never knew! –

What made mother Teresa mother Teresa? For twenty years, she was teaching the wealthiest children in Calcutta. She overlooked the impoverished slums that surrounded the well to do neighborhood in which she worked, never venturing out of her tiny sphere of influence. One night, as she was walking down the street, she heard a woman crying out for help. It was in the moment that this dying woman fell into her arms that Mother Teresa’s life changed forever.
Realizing the seriousness of the woman’s condition, Mother rushed her to the hospital, where she was told to sit and wait. She knew the woman would die without immediate attention, so she took her to another hospital. Again, she was told to wait; the woman’s social caste made her less important than the others being treated. Finally, in desperation, Mother Teresa took the woman home. Later that night, she died in the comfort of Mother Teresa’s loving arms.
Mother Teresa’s “defining moment” had transpired: the moment when she decided that this would never happen again to anyone within her reach. From that moment on she decided that she would devote her life to easing the pain of those who suffered around her and that, whether they lived or died, they would do so with dignity. She would personally do everything in her power to see that they would be treated better than they had ever been treated their entire lives, with the love and respect that all people deserve.

(Excerpt from Awaken the giant within, Tony Robbins)

Tool I loved —

Mindomo, is a simple and yet powerful mind-mapping tool. (Thanks to dear DTM Ankur Yadav bhai for sharing this with me) The free version has limitation on the number of mind maps you can create on the cloud. However, using it as an app on the device locally doesn’t have this limitation. I used it to create the mind map I used to structure and remember the points to cover for my office HCD presentation (see the mind map I made below). 

Question that makes me cringe–

When the time comes, will you remember you’re a hero and selflessly respond in support of those in need?

(From the chapter ‘What can one person do?’ in Awaken the giant within)

Quote I’m pondering —

It was involuntary; they sank my boat. – John F Kennedy, when asked how he’s become a hero

Story I loved–

Read the story of Kaushika from Ramayana in ET today (in The Speaking Tree column, cutout below). It teaches the profound lesson that work is worship and duty is God.  While ET has a miniature version of the story, it got be curious and I found the full story here. Give it a read.

ET 20th Aug 2022
The Speaking Tree

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[5-Bullet Tuesday] Here’s How You Cope With Pain!

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering.

Fun fact I read –

Did you know? There was a time when having oil on your land was considered a curse! It was only later when technology turned it into a source of wealth.
Basic ideaTechnology can change anything! Another example being the seemingly worthless silicon from the sand powering the magnificent speed of your electronic device such as the one you’re reading this blog on (adapted from Awaken the giant within, by Tony Robbins).

What Movie I watched —

Loved and highly recommend the movie Darlings available on Netflix. Great acting by Alia Byatt and all co-stars especially Shefali Shah’s. A touching and very believable  storyline which kept Dink and I glued till the end.
See the source image

Abbreviation I loved –

CANI: Constant And Never-ending Improvement (another one from the Tony Robbins book)

Quote I’m pondering —

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

A perspective I loved – Hands

“Grandma, how do you cope with pain?”
“With your hands, honey. If you do it with your mind instead of relieving the pain, it toughens even harder.”
“With your hands grandma?”
“Yes, our hands are the antennae of our soul. If you move them; knitting, cooking, painting, playing or sinking them into the ground, you send care signs to the deepest part of you and your soul lights up because you’re paying attention to it. Then signs of pain will no longer be necessary.”
“Hands are really that important?”
“Yes my daughter. Think of babies: they start to know the world through the touch of their hands. If you look at the hands of old people, they tell you more about their life then any body part. Everything that is done by hand is said to be done with the heart. Because it’s really like this: hands and heart are connected. Masseurs know well: when they touch someone with their hands, they create a deep connection. It is precisely from this connection that healing comes. Think of lovers: when they touch their hands, they make love in a more sublime way.”
“My hands grandma…. how long I haven’t used them like this!”
“Move them, my love. Begin to create with them and everything within you will begin to move. The pain will not pass away. And instead what you do with them will become the most beautiful masterpiece and it won’t hurt anymore. Because you have been able to transform its essence..
~Elena Bernabe ~                                           


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What Happened at Resonance 2022?

I

f your entire life were condensed to just three days, what would you like those three days to look like?

For me, I’d like those days to look like the last three days at Resonance2022 organized by District41, Toastmasters International. And here’s why…

#We were all in the right room:

If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room. – Confucius

Anyone who attended the Resonance will agree that we were all in the right room. Well, the room happened to be the Viceroy Hall at WelcomHotel ITC Dwarka. It was here that we engaged with the emcees, interacted with Toastmasters top team and witnessed a superb lineup of keynote speakers! And then, there is much more learning that happened off-the-stage simply by observing the demeanor of leaders. #Learning

#We were building new bridges:
A survey of 200 random people was conducted where they were all invited to a hall. Research found that most sat next to someone who was like themselves – a white man sat next to a white man, a black next to a black and a fat man sat beside a fat man! Nothing, however, could be more debilitating to our growth. (Source – Professor Himanshu Rai, guest speaker at Resonance 2022).
Thankfully, that was not the case at all at the Viceroy Hall. It witnessed 200+ people from different parts of Bangladesh, India and Nepal bonding and mingling together, celebrating others achievements and creating new bridges. The atmosphere of Toastmasters and the well thought-out activities designed by the emcees automatically ensured everyone got busy opening new possibilities for themselves! #Networking

#We were fully present!

We learn best in moments of enjoyment – Dr. Ralph C Smedley.

And enjoyment is much more than laughing over a humorous act.  The physical activities, a sense of empathy for others, new perspectives along with the fun moments made the magic happen – It opened the participants minds fully and activated all senses which made them more receptive to new ideas and made even the complex learning easily palatable. #Enjoyment

All of that and more happened inside the Viceroy Hall. Things that made us all feel a little more humble,  a little more human. If you attended, please share what else you saw happening inside the Viceroy Hall at Resonance 2022 and if you missed, it better be because you had something more important or worthwhile to do at the time 🙂.

The Power of “One More” 

I

have realized one thing about myself – I need motivation every now and then to keep going. I abide completely by Zig Ziglar’s quote that goes:

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.

So, in my pursuit I heard this highly energizing  interview of Ed Mylett, Enterpreneur and author of the upcoming book, The Power of One Morereleasing on 1st June. I hadn’t heard of this guy, Ed, before but I knew the interviewer, Pete Vargas. Pete is the CEO of Platform University of which I was once a sincere member, when it belonged to Michael Hyatt.

This one hour interview pumped me up BIG time. It was like love at first mic for me. So much so that I preordered this book The Power of One More straight after watching his interview.

Listen to the full interview below or refer some my notes below.

  • Ed talked about one more that can change everything in our life:
    • One more try to quit smoking or drinking
    • Saying I am not going to drink for one more day
    • Saying I am not going to quit for one more day
  • You’re much closer to your dreams than you think you are. Have the goal clear and think what can bring it closer to you:
    • One more meeting
    • One more decision
    • One emotion
    • One hour of someone’s time
  • He included such new powerful quotes to bring the message home that you are qualified to change other peoples lives and your own. In fact, the very things you think disqualify you (I’m not good enough, I have failed myself, I am an alcoholic myself..) are the ones that are your biggest qualifications to change others lives and your own:
    • “Your mess becomes your message.”
    • “God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”
    • “Your test becomes your testimony.”
  • Keep your own promises (to become the most confident person when you lets say feel you’re the most awkward person today:
    • Do the things that are in your control. Make a promise on those and do them and do one more.
    • For example: If 30 minutes of daily cardio is your promise to yourself, do that and an extra minute, the one more! This fills you with confidence like nothing else.
      • Make your bed daily
      • 1 gallon of water daily
      • Set the clothes the night before
  • A parent who is not in pursuit of their dreams are neglecting their children.
    •  If you tell them, “you can be whatever you want to be“. He/ she might be thinking, “.. and why not you mamma?
    • Things with our children are caught not taught. i.e. they’ll do what you do, not what you ask them to do.
    • There are different types of child neglect – divorce, drug addition, not telling them that you love them, but one of the most insidious* (*proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with very harmful effects) form of child neglect is a parent who’s not in pursuit of their potential or their dreams. They’re catching that from you.
  • You realize the power of one more when you realize that you may not have that one more any longer.
    • What if you don’t have the one more chance with your parents for example or children.
    • Take one more action with a loved one – tell them how much your love them, or ask them for forgiveness. Something. Do it now.
  • Perhaps the biggest lesson of all for me was when he said that he lives 3 days in one. Don’t believe me?
    • His point is that the day doesn’t need to be 24 hours long anymore like it was 50 or 100 years back. Those times, things would take their own sweet time but not anymore.
    • He, and as a matter of fact, even Pete live 3 days everyday and get so much more done. How? They consider day one as 6 am till noon, and then review what they’ve accomplished, what they’re grateful for and create/ adjust the plan for the next day i.e. noon to 6 pm. They repeat the same for 6pm till 11 or midnight.
    • That may seem like a mind game, but it works to increase the amount of things they get done massively. I have tried and it works.

As you can guess, I am all for the power of one more, what about you?

[5-Bullet Tuesday] How to Bring Up Your Parents!

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering. Today is the World Book Day and so most of the bullets will have a book recommendation in them.

What I’m reading –
The Passionate Programmer by Chad Fowler
This is unlike any books that you would normally see me with.
So, what attracted me to this one?
Looking at this book in the shelves at the British Council Library, I had a ticklish feeling inside- “I am a Software Project Manager and I must know more about the world’s of programmers who I manage!
And I’m glad I picked the book as it gave me more than what I had expected. This book is not just useful for programmers or IT professional (although I’d vouch that is is a must read for them), the message in the book will apply to you no matter what profession or role you play in the organization.

What I loved watching—
The subject I have feared the most is Finance. But for some Godly reason, I have been associated with Banking industry for over 12 years now – retail, investment. asset management, you name it. While it’s less of a monster now, but some concepts still trouble the heck out of me (Derivatives, Hedge funds, Mark to Markit, CDOs). So much that I would pay a fortune to anyone who’s able to make me understand them in a simple way.

One such man who’s making difficult concepts super easy is Paddy Heirsch.

This three minute video explaining SWAPS completely blew my mind – never seen or even imagined this convoluted topic could be explained in such a short, simple and sticky way. I’m an instant fan of Paddy Heirsch. Already got his book – Man versus Markets, as well, which explains in a plain and simple way how markets work. You can’t afford not to read it.

Song I’m loving listening to –
There is something special about heading out of the house even if it is a walk down to the neighborhood park. Heard a seventeen year old singing a soul touching legendary Nasrat Fateh Ali Khan’s song. Listening to live performances, even if it is an amateur singer at the local park, has a far greater effect than Alexa playing at home. Sharing this lovely song which I heard for the first time from this local legend.

Quote I’m pondering —

A manager is not supposed to be a pinch-hitter (substitute batter in baseball), knowing the whole team’s job and filling in when things get difficult.
– Lister and DeMarco in the book, Peopleware (which is in my books to read list)  

 What I learnt –
“My Daddy used to carry me on my shoulders when I was seven years old. People would tell him that it would hurt to carry a big boy, but Daddy didn’t care. He loved pampering me when I was a kid.”

Daddy is now 80 years old and is dealing with multiple age related health problems – ILD, Prostrate, Sodium imbalance. This also takes a toll on his mental and emotional well being. I have hardly ever before seen him break down but that’s not unusual in the current scenario.

What he needs in this time is a role-reversal – the pampering that he once showered on us to be returned to him – a regular haircut he enjoys, a shower, a car ride (other than the Doctor visits) and a sweet ritual like a special meal cooked with love.

He needs a feeling that he is being fully heard, a feeling that he is covered in all aspects – financial independence, medical management, social connections – everything that will make him emotionally secure.

A lot of the ideas above come from this free e-book called “Daddy, My Baby” by self published author Rishi Sharma. It’s a short book but a must read if you’re struggling with how to take care of elderly parents with love and affection.


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