[5-Bullet Tuesday] Why Should You Know Who’s the PM of UK?

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering. I have been inspired by Ram for this consistency in coming for morning walk and the way he does it all so rigorously. At the age of fifty plus, that is awe inspiring. But today, Ram gave me a piece of his mind on an entirely different topic – general knowledge.

He picked a couple of topics related to politics -the recent SCO meet, Gyanvapi mosque, WAKF board – and I hadn’t an inkling about most of these. Seeing me stumped, he said, “You’re like my brother, so I have to tell you that you must read the newspaper and watch TV news daily. (He even recommended Black and White on Aaj Tak and DNA on Zee TV).  If you don’t keep yourself posted, how will you educate your children?

Ouch that hurts. Real bad. Today’s blog will hover around this topic err.. hurt.

Conversation I enjoyed–

My 9 year old Sohana is enthusiastically prepping up for her GK quiz when my teenager Tanav jumps out to prove to her that there is no use of GK. “How will it help?”, “Why should we know who’s the PM of UK?” and on and on. 

Now the truth is that I’m not fully convinced how GK would help (which is part of the reason for my plight at the morning walk!).

However, being an equal opportunity parent, I can’t take any ones side. Besides, I don’t see any reason why anyone should bring down the passion for someone else.

But the usual arguments would never ever work with a teenager. So, I tried something new. It must have been profound because all I saw after that was a silent puzzled teenage face and a mouth continuing her practice for tomorrow’s GK quiz.

I had just said, “If you believe GK will help you, it will. If you believe GK will not help you, it won’t”.

I later realized it applies to everything else in life too, isn’t it? Belief is powerful.

What I learnt—

What should one do to live a high class life in a place like Delhi?, Tanav asked me when we were waiting for dinner to be served.

Thankfully, 😅 I recalled Scott Adams advice to he highly effective or successful (He suggested these as proposed additions to Stephen Covey’s 7 habits of highly effective people):

  1. Education (the right kind)
  2. Overcoming the fear of embarrassment (/fear/ shame)

I gave Tanav just these as the secret sauce for success. He’s hard to convince in general but he seemed content with this.

Adams is clear that these two qualities can compensate for each other. Successful people either have a great ability at something (through education) or they keep experimenting and failing without ever giving up.

New TV program I’m watching –

I have watched two episodes of Sudhir Chaudhary’s Black and White on Aaj Tak. It is really interesting and the information is shared in a way that make it sticky. Well researched and well presented.

Quote I’m pondering —

Blog I loved reading–

Peter Fuda explains how best to connect with your audience using the heart-head-hand technique (in that order). Read his full blog here. (TL/DR? – see the summary in the image below)

(And that makes me wonder, Did Ram from the morning walk use this technique to connect with me? He did cover the three although not in the right order.. It was more like Head (those news topics got me thinking), Heart (how will you educate your children?) and Hand (action to watch specific programs, which I eventually did!)  

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[5-Bullet Tuesday] How Often Do You Ask For Help?

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering. Some relatives were over yesterday including my brother in law from the US. He asked my 13 year old son, Tanav what he wanted to become. I was utterly shocked when Tanav replied, “Software Engineer“. Knowing how shy he is, he is likely saying something safe to avoid a conversation. I’m wondering how might we help him see the available career options to help him decide. Hence, today’s blog is to share what my career experience has taught me:

Quote I loved –

I certainly haven’t lived my life by this principle but I’m glad I was lucky to find friends, books and Toastmasters which nudged me to keep trying and failing at things and moving on (QA, BD, Training, Blogging, Poetry…).

Most people find it hard to pinpoint what they want to do, but it’s easy to try and figure out what one doesn’t want to do. Keep experimenting to discover what you’re really meant to do and enjoy the process. And as Mr. Churchill says – stay enthusiastic!

New word I discovered —

Frexcitement” – its the feeling of fright + excitement. You are frightened about biting more that you can chew but equally excited about where it’s going to take you. A feeling common among project managers like me which should have had a name.

It’s a big #motivator for me too @Bindu Oleti. She’s the friend who shared this very relatable new word with me. I am so frexcited to spread its use :).

I am in this frexcited state every day. If you’re frexcited, remember it’s a good thing. It’s helping you grow!

Poem that made me nostalgic, “SOMETIMES”

I wish someone had shared this with me earlier. Keeping this in mind will allow you to squeeze the juice out of whatever your doing at present.

(Use https://quozio.com/ for converting your quotes to images like this one ☝️ )

Question I’m pondering —

That’s a question my 13 year old son, Tanav has been asking me.

What’s your IQ?

Here’s a different take on IQ which I totally agree with:

IQ, The “Irritability Quotient”:

The ability to absorb anger, criticism, and annoyance from others and how calmly we handle situations.

This IQ indeed determines our level of happiness, productivity.. and our growth in our careers.

(Source: LinkedIn)

What I learnt –

Do you feel a sense of discomfort in asking someone for help?

You feel that you’re supposed to solve the problem yourself, and that asking for help would mean you’re seen as weak or unskilled or lacking knowledge?

Well, the world has, thankfully, evolved from that school of thought. You’d be far better off if you keep yourselves in a circle where you ask/ discuss and apply the learning as you go. It keeps you and the people who support you energized and in a positive frame of mind.


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[5-Bullet Tuesday] How To Use Stress To Your Advantage!

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering. In my profession as a project manager, there are several time in a day when I feel anxious, worried and even fearful – tough stakeholders, nearing deadlines or technical challenges and on goes the list. This week, I share the some hacks I use to make these seemingly stressful times worth their while.

What I’m reading –

If you know me, you know that I read a lot. You might wonder where I find the time to read? Well, reading a few lines or pages instantly relieves me off the stress I so often find myself in. It takes the mind off the problem at hand, relaxes the mind which in turn helps to address the immediate challenge too. At present, I’m reading the book FLIP IT.

This is about training the mind for favorable outcomes regardless of circumstances.

Training I did —

Tell you a secret – I never ever get listed a defaulter for any of the mandatory office trainings. My secret is to pick up a training every time, I feel frustrated with something. When I have done or overdone my part and have to stop my self and channelize my energies elsewhere. Thankfully those situations don’t come up everyday but they are enough to remain on track on the compliance trainings and many other trainings which help us improve overtime. In the last week, apart from being up to date with mandatory trainings, I have completed a training called “Leading multi-generational workforce” by Dr Eliza Filby, an expert in the field.

What am I writing-

Writing is therapeutic especially useful when you’re having a stressful day. I find that writing helps puts things in perspective, helps deep dive and helps fill me back with gratitude and grace. Besides, writing will improve by writing. If that happens, you will find success in multiple fronts. It can even open doors for you that you never knew existed.
Here’s one article I read today which will help you become a better writer if you’re conscious about it. This week, I have written a knowledge byte at work, a blog to share my learning from a workshop on LinkedIn and a couple of blogs on mohitsawhney.com.

Who am I talking to –

Yesterday, in a 1:1 with boss, she said, “Mohit, you’re doing all the right things. Just hang in there.

That comment instantly uplifted me. I have realized that there are two type of people in the world – those who suck the energy out of you (energy vampires) and those who uplift you (energizers). Over the years, I have done away with many energy vampires from my life to make more room for energizers. I also try to act more like an energizer for others.

We have to remember that life is a marathon and not a sprint, and such subtle changes have a massive positive effect on your life over time to succeed.

And then, there is more guy I love talking to.. myself!

Quote I’m pondering —

“There’s no difference between a pessimist who says, ‘Oh, it’s hopeless, so don’t bother doing anything,’ and an optimist who says, ‘Don’t bother doing anything, it’s going to turn out fine anyway.’ Either way, nothing happens.” Yvon                                     

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[5-Bullet Tuesday] How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big?

Hi All,

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

What I’m reading –

Loving reading Scott Adam’s, “How to fail at everything and still win big!” The famous Dilbert cartoonist comes across as a humble boy next door with down to earth, relatable and practical advise and hope for those who consider themselves average and still hope to Image result for How to fail at everything and still win big. Size: 120 x 160. Source: www.penguin.com.auwin big! All green lights for this simple yet powerful book.

What Movie I watched —
Watched the movie, Cuttputli on Disney Hotstar yesterday. Best part of the movie is that it turned out to be the movie which the entire family including my teenage son and nine year old daughter ended up watching from beginning till end. That itself is a big deal given the options available these days to children.Disney+ Hotstar announces new Akshay Kumar film 'Cuttputli' | MintSohana, my daughter, is usually dead against thrillers but she too managed to brave it out – thanks to Akshay Kumar and Rakulpreet, kid’s favorites (although they’re too cool to admit it). Sohana and I gave the movie a 4 stars rating but I have to admit that it is because expectations from Bollywood these days are at an all time low and so anything decent enough looks good. I didn’t quite loke the real culprit and how it unfolded at the end. Doesn’t quite fit the definition of a thriller. Nevertheless, a movie you can watch with family if you’re okay seeing dead bodies of children in plastic bags.

Feeling low? – everyday happiness formula I learnt

How can I not share a little something from the Scott Adams book I’m reading 📕. Here it goes – use it like a checklist and you’ll never feel low or unhappy:


  • Eat right
  • Exercise
  • Get enough sleep
  • Imagine an incredible future (even if you don’t believe it)
  • Work towards a flexible schedule (i.e. go for productivity over attendance)
  • Do things you can steadily improve at (choose a career path that affords a continual improvement)
  • Help others (if you’ve already helped yourself)
  • Reduce daily decisions to routine


Quote I’m pondering —

“If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.”
— Rita Mae Brown


What I learnt –

I was listening to the Business Made Simple podcast by Donald Miller where I learnt a different perspective on what caused Kodak to die. Kodak was the company that invented the digital photography too 📷 but chose to stick to film based photography business. Well, but it wasn’t simply that the competition picked the digital technology that caused Kodak to fail. Ironically, people didn’t quite have a use for the countless digital pictures they clicked back in the time (I can completely relate with that. Remember transferring the images into the laptop 💻 and wondering what to do with it.). And therefore, Kodak still could have survived. The last nail in Kodak’s coffin was actually Facebook. Yes, because Facebook meant that those countless digital pictures finally had a home. A home where these images could be shared , discussed and celebrated. (I remember uploading the digital photos on Facebook on my maiden US trip. In fact, I overdid it as I shared the images of my gun shooting experience 🔫 at the Connecticut firing range – a story for another time!). And therefore, the disruption wasn’t because of a direct or obvious competition but because of a new unforeseen one. That’s how disruptions work anyway -disruptively.

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[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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