Tata Tales – Lessons for Life

tata-logoTata – the experience is a part of our lives, knowingly or unknowingly, directly or indirectly when we might be buying our coffee, trendy jewellery piece or a watch, our first car, our five star stay, a pen drive or a packet of salt. It enters indirectly into our lives through their steel, chemicals, and IT interests spread globally.

The brand has stayed with many generations as a rock solid companion in rational and irrational ways. When I was a child and I came to know that Taj Group of Hotels belonged to Tata Group, I felt so happy.

As I brewed a passion for Parenting & Leadership, I found Ratan Tata to be an extremely exemplary Parent. He is my favourite Parent.

Remember, I always believe in Parenting to be an emotion and the most sacred form of Leadership.

Parents are emotional leaders who love to work with people – give chances to them, show confidence in them, encourage them and empower them.

Parents are also silent strategists who deliberately show that they have relegated all powers to their progeny when they actually keep track of overall family environment and the ensuing sentiments.

They are a dangerously determined lot who can lead any crisis at any hour when it involves their children in whom they have invested themselves.

The emotion that we experience with the brand TATA is far deeper than the rare crisis Tata Group has stormed into.

There are various theories being propounded at the moment about whys, hows and what nows. The imminent lessons learnt are:

  1. CULTURE IS STILL IMPORTANT: Culture doesn’t mean symbols. It doesn’t mean teary advertisements. Culture means the core values that you most certainly stand for.

Culture is deep rooted to have an impact. You cannot start fiddling with long standing norms in the name of staying relevant with changing times.

The longer a tree has been around, the deeper and stronger the roots are. The older the trunk of such a tree is, the denser the branches would be.

When it shakes itself even a bit, it causes a storm. It is pretty problematic to strive to re-engineer the roots of such a tree, even if it offers less shade or fruits.

Respecting the roots before championing change is required. Change for longevity and growth of the tree is needed but a young branch cannot steer a new action plan without taking the trunk into confidence.

  1. ACTIONS ALWAYS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS: No amount of verbal or written jugglery can explain the sudden and shocking action.

Such an action without words can only result when the danger is much deeper than what meets the eye.

Such an action goes against corporate ethics of the behemoth. Wouldn’t the conglomerate know that in certain terms?

If such an action is still taken which has a rippling effect forever, it surely means that it was urgently required for reasons that are unknown and will remain so.

A sensible and relevantly active parent like Mr. Tata who understands the present pulse of the new start-up energy, cannot falter in decision making with his first child.

His speedy, sudden, shocking action cannot be frivolous or without thought.

  1. SUCCESSION PLANNING NEEDS CAREFUL THOUGHT, LONG NURTURING AND OODLES OF LUCK: Succession Planning is a dark horse in our scenario planning. It suddenly becomes the most relevant decision for the road forward. A time consuming shaping up is mandatory. Nothing can replace ‘time factor’ in grooming the right person for the tough job. Starting something from scratch is far easier than fitting into famous, droolworhty shoes.

Despite of right genes and perfect grooming, a successor can fail to fulfil the expectations for a number of unexplainable reasons. Call it luck or call it market sentiment. A worthy successor is harder to find if the predecessor is a legend.

Anyone in this role could have faltered. The road ahead is fraught with ‘urgency to choose a dependable younger successor’ while humming “the once bitten twice shy” tune.

The experience called TATA will live. The story called TATA becomes more interesting and ground-breaking now.

Read to Lead – 3 Ways of Reading to Remember

Bookshelf

There are readers and there are non-readers.

Those who love to read, thrive on books and read plenty of them. As it happens with everything, we forget 84% of whatever we read within 24 hours. It is difficult to forget how it made us feel though.

I had a fight with a school friend quarter of a century ago. I don’t remember what caused the heated exchange but I can’t forget the hurt it caused. We remember the feeling if it is intense- positive or negative.

When a poignant page becomes wet, I can feel the closeness to that book after decades though I don’t remember anything that was written on that page.

I read masterpieces by Any Rand, Plato, Amrita Pritam, Mahasweta Devi and many other writers but I don’t remember what it gave me at the time I read it. What I remember is that I considered it as a truly unforgettable experience then.

Does it happen with all of you or I need to pull up my mind for being absent?

I derived a small game plan to make the most of my reading by keeping it alive through these steps:

Underline. Highlight, Write: Never start reading a book without a pencil in your hand or within your hand’s reach. (I don’t read a newspaper without having a scissor in proximity – I stupidly collect articles, dated and underlined in various files titled Technology, Society, Management, Entertainment, etc)

Never shy away from using a pencil beneath lines, especially if it is a small print tome.

I even write words like “Beautiful’, ‘Wonderful’, “Share it’ in the margins to keep me excited when I randomly revisit those pages.

It might be amusing at times to realize that I don’t find those words as ‘beautiful’ or ‘wonderful’ as I found them the first time. At times, I find them as beautiful or even more insightful. It helps me to gauge the change in myself over the years.

If this is not enough, I write down the important page numbers on the empty page on the side of preface/foreword.

Those written page numbers help me five/ten years later to relive, re-enjoy the same feeling.

On Kindle, I highlight/note/email important paragraphs to myself.

Underlining is like touching an exquisite place of jewellery or appreciating the fabric of a new dress.

Writing on the margins is like neatly packing the jewellery or the dress for future use.

Repeat: I have a bookshelf in my mind marked “interesting” and I put a few nuggets on it every-day which I repeat to someone the same day. The receiver could be my daughter, my husband, my students or my audience online or offline.

I push myself to verbally share interesting – informative stuff the very same day. If you are thinking about the context, that can be created. If nothing else works, I say – “I discovered a diamond in this statement/fact/anecdote today”.

Don’t feel awkward by the reaction which can range between a yawn or a clap (my daughter rolls her eyes often!). You did it for yourself. You repeated it to keep it in your mind longer.

If you don’t get any listener (they are always hard to find), write it the way I am writing it right now.

I read about some inspiring and painful Olympic stories today and I will repeat them after hunting for some listener.

Children and Subordinates are good prey to repeat what you just read!

Random Read: For staying active, I generally read four to five books at one go. Though I never finish them together as the more interesting ones reach the finishing line while others languish close to the starting line, I try to mix and match.

I re-read a book while I am reading 2 – 3 new books.

It keeps me connected with my feelings and helps me make better use of what I cherish.

Re-reading is like visiting your old school gate or hugging an uncle after years.

There are so many floodgates of memories that get opened.

My three pronged strategy might benefit you.

What is your ‘read to lead’ strategy?

Dipa Karmakar and Nadia Comaneci: Parenting & Leadership Lessons

moonparenting

Dipa Karmakar.jpgNadia Comaneci.jpg

When I was a child, it was fun to watch Olympic Games on T.V. (1984 – 1996 perhaps). Nadia Comaneci was one of the most loved gymnast whose name and achievements were mentioned during every gymnastic competition despite the fact that she was a champion in 1976 & 1980 Olympics.

She scored an unprecedented 10 in gymnastics at 1976 Olympics game at an age of 14. With a sudden rise of Dipa Karmakar in India, we have become charmed with words like Produnova and gymnastics. Gymnastics has found a special mention in our dinner table conversations and it will perhaps hold some importance for us till Olympics 2016 get over.

  • Nadia achieved success with a lot of effort but ease because her country Romania had a culture for this game and she was fourteen when she nailed the perfect score. There was no pressure on her to perform in 1976…

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She Died While She Was Alive

Being Alive

 

This is be the one line epitaph I intend to have engraved on every heart when I say my final good bye.

The dictionary meaning of the word “Life’ revolves around:

  1. The condition of being alive.
  2. The period for which an organism exists.
  3. The feeling of vitality, energy and growth.

If one mechanically wants to go through the drudgery of ticking the boxes, you can certainly tick on (b), but you might need to check the coordinates of your event called life before ticking on (a) and (c).

From an ailing bed ridden man to a high flying CEO, all of us certainly exist for a period called life. We exist till we breathe. It gives us immense satisfaction, though unconscious, that we are a part of an ever surprising saga called life.

Do we actually flex our mental muscles to find out other signs of being alive apart from breathing and being there?

The condition of being alive assumes that we are mindful of what is happening inside and outside us.

Do we think about how efficiently our bones, muscles, glands, cells and viscera work every second unless we feel a pain somewhere?

We only pay attention to the wondrous working of our body when it gives us some discomfort. Till then, we use it day in and day out without being ‘alert’ or ‘mindful’.

We create an eternity of urgency around our mundane lives giving a childish impression to ourselves of being very busy in something of real importance. We run through the alleys of our occupied brain at a high speed without having any time to find out what occupies the crevices of the brain.

Our insecurities keep us glued to a life which might be more close to ‘mere existence’ than ‘energy or vitality’ of any kind.

Fear of losing what we have, fear of being judged, ridiculed or written off, and fear of failure keeps us bonded to an existence which doesn’t let us grow or evolve.

The repetitive boredom can erode our mental, emotional faculties if we don’t make an attempt to recharge and reignite our batteries.

I don’t mind being unhappy or sad because feeling unhappy is better than feeling nothing.

I think about ninety year old Mahashweta Devi, the legendary author and activist who lived a vital life till her last breath. She survived her two divorces and fought indecisive, often hopeless battles for tribals. Taking all setbacks in her stride, she never stopped persisting. Then, my thought goes towards those millennials who write a suicide note and say good bye. We are failing as a society, as a community to propagate liveliness of life.

We must choose life for life, not for being a happy life or sad life.

It is a crime to be living a day without feeling kicked about it. It is alright to feel depressed or useless as long as it pushes us to stay alive to make it better.

As an individual, I owe it to myself to be mindful of each day I live. I intend to feel varied emotions every hour. I choose to feel alive.

As a parent, I owe it to my children to make them understand the difference between ‘living life’ and ‘leading life’. I want them to feel the tangy taste of failure and bitter taste of anger along with sweet/savoury taste of happiness. I wish to refine their taste buds to enjoy all tastes of life. I wish them to wait and yearn for different tastes each day rather than safely stick to one taste that they like.

Being alive everyday means loving life every day in whatever form it chooses to surprise us. Being alive every day is a challenge to die for.

Choose it now.

Be Happy, Healthy & Hopeful: Three Things Women Must Aim For

Happy-Health-Hope-HeadMy Latest Article for Women published on http://www.sheroes.com on 2nd August, 2016

Be Happy, Healthy & Hopeful: Three Things Women Must Aim For

Recently, I was delivering a session for research scholars at an IIT, and I was happy to see that around 25% of attendees were women. After the session, we were informally discussing the priorities of life. To remain hopeful is a challenge, said one of the girls.

It had me thinking about what women should aim for.

As mentioned in my book Why women are what they are, I believe women lead two lives–an internal ‘dream life’ and an external visible life. They do things more out of expectation and not out of intention.

There are women who act according to family norms, social etiquette and worry about how others will perceive them. There are women who solitarily nurture their inner self and do not bother about people, society, and norms whatsoever. There are women who are aware of both lives and they balance them both, gradually converging the internal and external lives.

Since women are mentally and emotionally far stronger than men, they tend to ignore their mental and emotional well-being.  In societies and communities of India, men are expected to give financial support while women are expected to provide all the other support. With a lot of stereotypes biting the dust in this digital age, we need to reaffirm and reset our priorities.

Besides money required for sustaining ourselves, women must take care of our happiness, health and hope:

Happiness

Most women concentrate on taking care of their families, their homes and neglect themselves. The are so consumed–in maintaining a perfect home, looking after their spouse and kids, balancing jobs, elder care–that they are too tired to look within. They suffer from a burnout as they do things to fulfil expectations; not because they want to.

Women remain unhappy as they allow others to take over. They believe in the image of themselves as created by their near and dear (?) ones, which could be strikingly different from their real selves.

In Rajasthan, I would come across many women who thrived on adventure, loved to experiment but lived a conservative, orthodox life stagnating in a time warp. Women remain unhappy when they ruminate. They keep going back to painful memories of the past and keep rewinding them for daily consumption. It keeps the pain alive.

As they start enjoying their emotionally drained status, women start enjoying unhappiness. It is not only unfair; it is illogical too. Women must work towards forgetting the pain inflicted in any form and start living happily in the present. We need to choose to stay happy.

Health

Women ignore their health because they are deeply engrossed in making each day a perfect day for their families. They keep postponing the regular check-ups and they keep thinking that diseases happen to others. It is hard to detect depressed women as they don’t admit to their mental agony or issues that they can’t sort out on their own.

Women should remember that ‘tomorrow is a disease’ when it comes to exercising and health check-ups. Today is the time to begin, and it should be adhered to every year.

Women need to be aware of their family history and diseases that they are predisposed to. Neglecting health is one of the biggest disservices that women can do to themselves, because men are always taken care of when it comes to health.

There is no age to start taking care of your health. It is our daily duty towards ourselves to eat healthy, on time and to exercise.

Hope

Women get disappointed more, because they are deeply connected to the lives of so many family members–parents, husband, kids, siblings–and something keeps going wrong somewhere all the time.

It is so important for women to keep their spirits high and help others stay hopeful. A friend of mine recently had her nephew hospitalised with a kidney ailment. At the same time, her father was diagnosed with lung cancer. As she was busy helping her mother and brother, she felt guilty of not looking after her teenage daughter well. It lasted more than a year and she felt so low on hope.

Women need their daily dose of hope to sail through myriad responsibilities they eagerly shoulder. Friends, audiobooks and books can be the greatest disappointment-buster for women. Talking to friends and asking for help gives strength and stamina to march on.

Search for HOPE, strive for HAPPINESS and work towards your HEALTH before thinking about the next task.

Dear Sania and every Indian Girl

Sania-Mirza

My Latest article on Famous Parenting published on 22nd July, 2016

I just bought your autobiography ‘Ace against odds’ yesterday and finished it this morning. In twenty four hours, while going through your journey, I felt like being in many different shoes. I felt like your mother when I began, I could feel the consistent, effortful drive of your father, I felt like India – our country and of course, I tried to feel your determination, your fears, your quests and your responses.

Every Indian child and his/her parents should read it so that we can have more happy, confident and responsible adults for future.

Decision of Your Parents:

When your parents decided to come back from USA after spending a year there, you were barely four years old. But the decision revolved around you. They felt that they would be able to give you a better life (swimming, skating, badminton classes) in India.

You could have achieved the same results living in USA too, given your talent and determination, but your parents decided keeping your happiness in mind. There were no big dreams attached, there were no expectations being nurtured. Since you were an ‘outdoor child’ who loved to play, they wanted you to be happy learning these games. It is so essential for parents to observe their children, their interests and let them explore those areas.

Support from Parents

Your mother spent a lot of her time with you in your initial years and that presence has been the most valuable in boosting up your morale and confidence. Having one of your parents by your side must have had a reassuring and calming effect on you.

The discipline and dedication of practising every-day at a young age, balancing school work and other activities prepared you for your future hectic schedules. The vision of your father that ‘impossible feats could be achieved’ is heartening. He believed in you, stood by you and mentored you. That is commendable. But what struck me as a parent and a leader was his words during the break of your Wimbledon Doubles Final last year.

It was a divine moment in the third set when you and Martine Hingis were at 5-all and the covering of the roof (as it was getting dark) took you to green room.Without losing his calm, he told you “This is an unbelievable final. You both should be proud of the way you have fought back. Irrespective of what happens in the rest of the match, nobody can take away this from you. So go there, enjoy and give your best.” This is what most parents fail to do. They induce fear at crucial moments and make success/winning as the ultimate goal which is so detrimental in the long run. Let me accept it: I am a greater fan of your parents than you. They are amazing human beings and superb parents. More power to their breed.

Love For Tennis

You loved tennis – that’s how it all started. The fame, the awards & rewards, the media frenzy are all by-products of your passion – focussed, consistent and brutal. I call it brutal as it costed injuries, surgeries on the physical level and many necessary and unnecessary upheavals on the psychological level. Since “I love tennis” echoes in your ears, throbs in your heart and gives you goose bumps even today, you are a little legend, little in age and legend in achievements.

Destiny, talent, hard work and circumstances prepare a unique concoction for all of us. The difference between a losing and winning outcome is a very thin line.

Success and fame is incidental. Your success is not as inspiring as your consistent hard work. I salute your acute determination to come back from the brink each time you were written off or you wanted to hang your boots.

Thank you for inspiring so many by living a life laced with conviction and confidence. Continue on the same lines, little legend. Your ace against odds is needed and that too badly.

****

I am an Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Parenting expert based in Mumbai. Having written Bestsellers like Don’t Raise Your Children, Raise Yourself (Amazon Bestseller), Why Women Are What They Are, Come On! Get Set Go

I am running Life Lemonade which offers unique Training Programs on Life Transformation, High Performance Leadership, Women Issues and Parenting.

Connect with me on Linkedin, Twitter @drswatilodha Facebook

Also read my best articles here!

POKEMON GO: The Beginning of a new fearful saga

Pokemon

While reading about incubation lab of Google, I had read about Niantic – the business unit set up to create an augmented reality platform. While we were waiting for AR to change our construction methodologies or revolutionize our surgeries, it has turned the whole world into a gaming zone by introducing an amazingly entertaining but dreadfully dangerous game – POKEMON GO.

Though till yesterday, I felt that it is a hype that surrounds every new product, however mundane or miraculous. I felt that children are merely snap-chatting & talking about a new game.

But, the more I read, researched and thought about it, the more scared I felt.

It has the power to change our interactions with ourselves and with our social circle. It can gate-crash into our brains erasing the difference between imagination and reality. It can create a new personal version of reality, tampering with our existing ways of looking at it.

Are we ready for a saga that has started to unfold through Pokemon Go?

It is a free-to-play, GPS based augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic for IOS and Android devices.

Players move around glued to their phones while they catch Pokemon on the go. They search in real locations called Pokestops while playing on their phones. Hold your smartphone in front of you, follow a real time interactive map that shows you where your quarry is hiding. Once you reach the locations, “capture” the critter after which you can train it, fight it or do whatever.

It has released only in USA, Australia and New Zealand but millions of users across the world (including India) have side-loaded the game and have started playing it on the roads.

On the surface, I could think of a few areas where such a game could prove detrimental for the hooked players.

  1. Physical Safety Issues: People are moving around without bothering about coming cars or entering into places like police stations. They can get hurt or get into problems anytime.

Selfies are causing lot of ignorant and meaningless accidents. Pokemon Go will intensify the issues of carelessness and impulsive, reckless behavior.

It is scarier for us because more people died taking Selfies in India than in any other country till February 2016.

  1. Crime Instigation: Players can use it to lure people to a specific place using this game and it may lead to thefts, rape, murders.

A robbery has already happened in Missouri. Police at Missouri said that the four teenage robbers used the game to lure victims by putting a beacon at a location to draw in players.

  1. ­Net Addiction / Screen Addiction: Within a week of its release, people are using it more than apps like Whatsapp, Tinder, Snap-chat or fb messenger. According to Similarweb, the average time spent on this app is 43minutes, 23 seconds a day which is much higher than what it is for above mentioned apps. Imagine teenagers getting hooked by this awesome game or office goers being allured to look for Pokemon in and around office.
  1. Road Accidents: People might start playing it while driving. Earlier they were talking or texting while being behind the wheels, now they might be hunting for Pokemon. We cannot imagine that kind of a scenario unless it happens and leaves us shocked.
  1. Psychological Dangers: While playing these Augmented Reality Games, children/older people might get so immersed in the digitally enhanced world that they will lose touch with what is happening in the real world.

We cannot fathom the extent of changes it can cause to human brain till we receive some actual data on impact of using Augmented Reality for fun.

There are certain positive impacts also that I can think of:

  1. Kids are outside and walking. They are exercising as they hunt for Pokemons, leaving their sedentary lifestyles.
  2. It is new and so much fun. Every person who has played the game has enjoyed it thoroughly and is raving about the fun quotient.
  3. Parents are spending more time with their children as they walk behind them while they are playing outside. Indian Parents are following their teenagers to Pokestops because they are afraid that the children might get into trouble.

But if you want to run and have fun outside with your family and friends through a game, try Supersuit (http://www.wearsupersuit.com) designed by an amazingly talented Mr. Rajat Dhariwal, Founder of www.madratgames.com which will keep you entertained, sane as well as safe.

Let AR be used for serious causes, not for fun which could lead to sad and serious repercussions.

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