5-Bullet Friday: Unbelievably Simple Ways to Building Rapport!

Hi All!

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

What I’m reading — The 5AM CLUB by Robin Sharma. Read a few chapters and although I am not too fond of non-fiction being written in fiction format, the book has some good takeaways. Reason I bought this book is not hard to guess – I am moving toward getting up at 5AM, and having a much greater control over my mornings.

What I’m watching — Video on Building Rapport by Tony Robbins. It has amazing insights and powerful methods on building rapport. For example: having your palms casually placed and facing the roof, during an interview can increase your chances of being through by over 50%!

Resource I’m excited to explore — A friend of mine gave this e-book to me: The Creative Writers Workbook, by Catchy Birch. Thanks Adi for this for it seems like an unexpected treasure for me. This book is simple read with many cases studies to illustrate the point that writing and creativity can be mastered by consciously working towards it. That there is no point waiting for the right moment to come when you will get into the mood. Do things that cna set the mood for you today and everyday. It will help remove the obstacle biggest of which is the fear of ‘getting it wrong’.

I have read a couple of chapters and can’t wait to read the rest of it. Here’s an extract from the book:

Karen, one of my students, set herself that very task. She has two young children and works part-time as a computer programmer. As a teenager, she wrote short stories and poetry. For years she had been trying to find time to do this again, but somehow it had never happened. After discussing this in class she agreed that ten minutes a day would be considerably better than nothing. She decided to spend ten minutes of each lunch-break writing (in her car to make sure she was not disturbed). She used an old A4 diary for the purpose and filled a page each day. By the end of six months she had written over 80,000 words, which she is currently crafting into a very promising novel.

I’m looking forward to: applying the technique Tim Ferriss professes instead of doing the new year resolutions. Forget New Year Resolutions. Conduct a ‘Past Year Review” instead. Read this post for more.

Quote I’m pondering. ..In fact not just pondering, this quote was enough to give me to get up and get going on a cold winter morning (and I mean not just literally!)—

“It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer could have done them better. The credit belongs t othe man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives to do the deeds; who errs, who comes up short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strives to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement. and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

(- Originally from Theodore Roosevelt, mentioned in The 5AM Club by Robin Sharma.)

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 weekend, all!


Which Are The Moments That Make You Happy?

“What should I do?”

“What should I do?”

“What should I do?”

Shouted Tanav, my 10 year old son.

It seemed as if whatever Deepti, my wife, was answering was falling on deaf ears..

In fact, it was worse. Every time Deepti suggested something to do to him, it was met with a loud “No!”, “No!”, “No!” and then the set of same questions came yet again:

“What should I do?”

“What should I do?”

“What should I do?”

The dramatic effect soared greater heights with every new iteration. Deepti’s attempt at maintaining calm was fading away. Tanav was on a roll (well, literally) on the floor, and the overall audio-visual effects accentuated the impact!

As you can guess, the situation was soon out of control.

That’s a common story at our home. Every other day these questions set come back. And, I don’t recall even once when any of the options presented by me or Deepti have been received in a welcoming way. Not once.

“Why’s that?”, I have often wondered, but never have I found a convincing answer!

But I have kept searching for the answer. They say, “What you seek is seeking you!” and I finally found the answer in an unusual way, and without even realizing it.

What happened is that I myself ended up being in a situation where I didn’t know what to do. With my life.

Deep down within myself, I ended up shouting out the same set of questions:

“What should I do?”

“What should I do?”

“What should I do?”

I asked friends too. And each time someone advised, I too, like the kids, was infuriated and shouted, “No!”, “No!”, “No!” and, before long, the set of same questions came yet again, and again and again.

I was trying to find what was the right thing for me to do. However, I couldn’t find any help with that!

It was yet another meanigless morning. I was struggling to even find a reason to get dressed for work. The sameness of my days was haunting me so much that I was tempted to ask myself, “Is it yesterday or today?”

I paid little heed to the words emanating from the kitchen. It was Mom, who has a habit of singing old, long lost phrases while working in the kitchen:

Kiya karo kuch kiya karo udhaed kae bhi siya karo. (Hindi)

Do Something. Anything.  Even if it means to unstitch a cloth only to stitch it again. (English translation)

Although I had hardly paid any attenton to that, but I believe that phrase had a seminal impact on my ‘decision’ in the evening.. a decision to do something.

I decided to stand for the position of President and VP-Education for our Toastmaster’s club. Something that was out of my comfort zone – a stetch goal but not an unrealistic one. I felt better. Happier.

I considered why I would be the right person for the job. How will I serve the members. I prepared a speech. (You can find the speech here!) I did this. I did that. I had a purpose. I was busy working toward that.

I understood the way out of the situation when you don’t quite know what to do. In that sutuation, no matter what anyone suggests to you- your boss, your spouse, your friend, you will never find happiness in that.

Even if.. the suggestion came with the best of intentions.

Even if.. it was the right thing for you to do.

Even if.. it was the most fun thing to do.

“Why?” you’d ask.

Well, simply because it was their decision and not yours! That’s it!

The only way out of the situation is to decide yourself. Do listen to others, but then (and don’t delay too much!), after all, decide yourself – it’s fine if that decision is impeccably right, or downright wrong. Decide to do something. Decide to not do something. But decide. And yourself.

“Why?” you’d ask again.

Because more than the coutome, you will be happier that you decided: Something. Anything. Doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong. Whether it will succeed or fail. It’s your’s after all. That’s why you will cherish it.

After the election process was done, I achieved my goal of being a part of the Executive committee for the club.

I reached home and shared the news, “Know what sweetheart, I am the VP-Education for this term“. Of course everyone at home cheered.

A little later, Dinky, my wife asked me, “Are you happy?

I said, “Yes I’m happy I am the VP-Education! But I’m even more happier for the moment when I decided I want to be so!

Coincidently, I held that position before as well, but that time it was just offered to me and I took it. The happiness didn’t last a day. It was all over even before it started. This time is different though. It’s my baby. I love it.

As for my real babies, I had barely finished writing this blog, when Sohana, my 5 year old daughter asked, “What should I do?”

I put my laptop aside and said “Well, as for me, I have decided to go out for a walk, may be you can decide something to do too!

Next thing I see is that Sohana and her brother are wearing their jackets and boots to step out in the chill to play in the park.

I have my script ready for times to come when this question would be asked.

Well, as for me, I have decided to ___, may be you can decide something to do too!

Only pre-requisite: Be upto something yourself too. Soon, it will rub off on them. Fill the ____ with what you have decided to do at the time. Such as:

___ : write a poem for family

___ : read Becoming by Michele Obama

___ : go for a morning walk

I thought they might be perplexed with that response. To which I would simply respond, “It’s okay sweetheart. Now Decide. Commit. Believe. Act.

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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

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.

Five Minute Journal – Which Are The Two Most Powerful Words?

Quote of the day: If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Short and sweet. But if your heart desires for more (like mine), then here’s my all time favorite chinese proverb on similar lines:

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now!”


I am grateful for…

  1. ..having food on my table, clothing on my back and a roof over my head. Did you know: that if you have all of the above, then you are richer than 75% population in the world!
  2. ..having the realization dawn on me relatively early that one can always, (yes always!), look at life as incomplete or complete regardless of ones position – be it in terms of your position in the organizational hierarchy, financial success or even spiritual growth! While there is nothing wrong in desiring more, this realization helps one accept oneself fully and surrender, which leads to a more natural growth.
  3. ..having read The 4-Hour Workweek many years ago! This book had a profound impact on me. I have been following the author, Tim Ferriss, ever since. It opens you to a whole new world and it’s surprising how the author thought much ahead of his time (book was released in 2007). If you’re struggling with a morning routine, here’s Tim’s morning routine that you can use as reference.

What would make today great?

  1. Review the week that went, bring it to the a logical close, and write down the top three goals for next week.
  2. Writing 750words. If you haven’t already explored the idea of 750words.com, do visit the site and subscribe for a month for free and see how this seemingly small change when done consistently changes your life.
  3. Go for a morning nature walk to unclutter the mind, and open it to fresh new ideas.
Daily affirmations. I am …radiating grace!
Amazing things that happened today…
  1. Eating new/ good food ends up being in this section quite often for me. That is surprising (for me, yes!) because until not so long ago I didn’t tread the path not taken as far as food is concerned. Happy for that change in me. Live Wok, the chinese food chain served good Hakka noodles with chicken gravy. Although the wait was long but as they say all’s well that ends well.
  2. Getting a few really good opportunities to write good writing and getting positive recognition for it. Every one often needs a nudge to create something worthwhile.
  3. Glad to have reached home in decent time (8:40 PM, I target 8 PM but given that I had to do the weekly roundup, 8:40 is not bad!) Besides, the traffic was not all that bad and I could have a drink and have a meal with family. Precious.

Family that eats together stays together!

How could I have made today better?
  1. There were times during the day where I felt I lacked clarity. Perhaps, it is clutter that has accumulated over time, or it is worrying over something that’s out of my control. Solution: me time and good use of it. Emptying the BS in the head must be our top priority. Next on the priority list: have  a goal to accomplist for the day that’s coming. Of course planning ahead is important but after having done that, all one needs is faith and daily action.
  2. Having an extra drink or perhaps the brand causes me a slight headache. Now that I know this, why don’t I change brand or stop having one for the go. Some people, won’t learn. Remember Einstein’s definition of stupidity

    [bctt tweet=”Stupidity: Doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results!” username=”mohitsawhney”]

Five Minute Journal – Why You Must Wear The Same Thing Everyday!

Finding of the day: According to Fast Company, Barack Obama, when he was the President, always wore the same thing – a blue or black suit. This was part of his secret to getting so much done.

He wanted to leave his mind saved from Decision Fatigue, which happens when you use your mind for trivial decisions such as what to eat, wear, buy… This let him focus effectively when the time came for more important decisions to be made.


I am grateful for…

  1. being able to witness my little ones growing up into individuals who are self-understanding. That may sound different from what the world seeks for their children- intelligent, smart, confident, good, but that is enough for me! More than enough actually. Loved watching my five year old daughter practicing for her first ever Fashion show at school the coming weekend. Love your cat walk sweets!
  2. the open conversations without any mincing of the words with my better half. Love these. While there is still a long way to go but I am pausing to thank God for the long journey we have covered to get to where we have reached today.
  3. Zen Parenting folks for everything they do. Their tagline to start with which goes, “the best predictor of a child’s well being is a parent’s self understanding!” Some other quotes that convey a similar message which I recollect:

“Your children will not do what you say. They will say what you do!”

A sign of great parenting is not how your children behave. A sign of great pareting is how you behave!”

What would make today great?

  1. I have done everything possible to minimize the morning decision fatigue – While I am not a Presidential candidate and I don’t completely subscribe to Obama way of wearing the same suit daily but still I have exactly decided the night before, what I will wear to work the next day, taken a shower at night to avoid the procrastication or laziness that starts coming in the wintry mornings. Okay, all I am trying to say here is that after having done so much, I would be happy if I reach work by 9:30 AM.
  2. Taking final steps in getting ready with the pack for the BIG meeting that’s tomorrow. Eating an elephant can only be done one way: one bite at a time, and these are my final bites.
  3. Sharing an anecdote with kids before they leave for school. What started as morning prayer is taking new shapes and forms and serving the curious little minds with some food for thought is extremely satisfying.
Daily affirmations. I am …. yes, just that, “I am!”, and that’s about acceptance, iss-ness and being. I am and that’s a short and yet the most powerful affirmations eva!
Amazing things that happened today…
  1. Ate Burritos for lunch at the new outlet with Deepti, my better half. That was something different and removed the last stains of the guilt I was carrying from yesterday (of completely forgetting about Deepti and having lunch alone unaware!).
  2. Used the two hours drive in productive and open hearted conversation with Deepti. This time which would have been spent in complaining about the traffic or half asleep, was well spent. Interested in what our deep dive was about? Well, the question was: Can a young man and a young woman be friends in a purely platonic relationship? (remember: the movie Maine Pyaar Kiya’s dialogue). While we might consider ourselves progressive and immediately answer ‘yes’ but we’re probably still conditioned in our minds differently… where to draw the line, and how does the society we live in see it? Will share more about that and what we concluded another time.
  3. I think I guarded my time much better today. Didn’t get swayed by someone pushing me into something I would not do. Using my time intentionally and not letting people barge into the little margins reserved for family is truly amazing. #ProudOfMyself
How could I have made today better?
  1. Haven’t been able to find a time for daily exercise. Miss it a lot, and before this important not urgent stuff becomes urgent, it’s time I schedule it in the calendar – As they say, what gets scheduled gets done!
  2. I think I need to have a better handle over the overall plan. The handoff edges are not smooth and agreeing to go forward with half-baked information is becoming a norm. I guess “THE BUCK STOPS HERE” approach is what might work best in this scenario. For that, surely what is needed is complete clarity and control – not leaving a thing up in the air.

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.

Journaling For The Busy You – The Five Minute Journal!

Making this new beginning today. Taking the 5 Minute Journal from ‘offline’ mode to online. For more details on the concept, check this link.

Quote of the day: Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.


I am grateful for…

  1. being blessed with so many resourceful and enouraging people around. It makes seemingly uphill tasks a relatively easy and enjoyable journey.
  2. having the courage to use my ability to make life’s important decisions intentionally.
  3. the reunion and connect with old MBA school pals who are all in similar season of life. It’s such a mastermind group!

What would make today great?

  1. Having a clear and realistic plan and set the right expectations.
  2. Resuming the nature walk. 30 minutes today.
  3. Making specific decisions and progress. Collaborate, gather inputs but most importantly, don’t shy away from making decision making.
Daily affirmations. I am … being supported by the universe on my efforts!
Amazing things that happened today…
  1. The newly constructed and now operational flyover was a pleasant surprise. What used to take us a few hours took us less than 15 minutes. Thank God for little mercies.
  2. Amidst the challenges of life, handling people’s emotional outbursts and getting pushed and thrown around, the delicious home made Kadhi Chawal came as welcome break.
  3. Kids called us all into the living room for their dance performance. It lasted for a few minutes, but children’s giggles, smiles and carefree dancing, was almost shouting back at me that the simple pleasures in life are worth more than any millions. 
How could I have made today better?
  1. Worrying unneccesarily wasn’t a good idea. Obviously. It gave me nothing except doubts and anxiety. Could have tackled the feeling when it came, took some action(s), and moved on with rest ofthe day’s agenda. That would have made today better.
  2. They say that “what you schedule gets done!“. While that did happen eventually, but I could have been more intentional and created the schedule in the first hour of waking up.
  3. Could have spent some more time with the kids today. It’s a shame that although I was home, all I did was sharing with them about “The great indian rope challenge”, about which Ruskin Bond had written an interesting article. There’s room.

3 Free Chrome Extensions that Read Browser Text

People are different kinds – ones who absorb best through reading, ones who prefer the audio instructions and then the visual types who understand most through animation or videos.

Then there are also my type – We just don’t want to grow up. Still want someone to read us a bed time story before we go to sleep. Mom’s reading to the grandchildren, wife’s got better things to do in life, but thankfully there are the following tools which happily read out the text from the browser without making a fuss about it. These are all free to be used with Chrome, and my favorite among these is SpeakIt.

Goes without saying, this is a great tool for children also who would prefer someone reading stuff out to them. I particularly enjoy playing and replaying the blog or article for better understanding of the content. This is an aspect where reading usually isn’t that enjoyable, and besides it can harm the eyes. So, tune in guys:


SpeakIt is a simple TTS (text to speech) tool. Kids highlight text in Chrome, click a button, and listen as the words are read aloud. This extension can read in more than 50 languages. Kids can adjust the speaking pace and select from a few voices. A similar TTS option on Chrome is Voice Instead.

Price: Free

Read Mode

Read Mode removes visual clutter from web pages to make them easier to read. It eliminates ads and animations and converts web pages into simple black-on-white text articles.

Chrome has a few variations on Read Mode that your child may want to try. For instance, Reader View also converts pages into text, and lets kids change the font and font size. And with Easy Reader, kids can select one section or part of page to view as reader-friendly text.

Price: Free

OneNote Web Clipper

With Web Clipper, kids can save anything from the Internet to OneNote, Microsoft’s note-taking platform. (Microsoft applications like OneNote and Word can be used in Chrome and other web browsers.) This allows kids to use Microsoft’s Immersive Reader to read text aloud from web pages. They can also look up word definitions and control the spacing, color and size of text for easier reading.

Price: Free

When You Answer Life’s Important Questions..

I am so excited to be on Editor’s page of The Scoop, our Toastmasters club’s magazine. After all, this has been a long and somewhat lost dream. This is certainly BIG for me to be the editor!

In the editor’s note, I share what sowed the seeds of becoming an editor in my mind long back. Sometimes, we get clues about what we want to do in the most unusual places and unexpected times. If you are still looking for what you are meant to do,  pay attention to these times. Because teacher appears when the student least expects it.

Read on for full story…

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.