Big Treat

Small things that you do can make a big difference in others life.

This Diwali was not all that ‘celebration’ for me… Out here, it is not easy to burst crackers. I am not sure of all the legal formalities before one burst fireworks. The other aspect of Diwali is sweets. I wanted to eat atleast some sweets on Diwali and surely banking on some of my firends to make and gimme some sweets. Unfortunately, Diwali was on a weekday and many did not have time to make any kind of sweets.

Finally, thanks to Bala & Usha for making this tasty & delicious Rava Laddu.

Now that I had my share of sweet, Happy Diwali everyone…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Its another day – B’day

I was thinking and infact told everyone that I only turned 30 this year. Sheer miscalculation from my side. I called my mom and was arguing with her until she said, “You are 31. I know it because you are my son”. There is nothing to argue after that. So, I am not 30, I am actually 31.

Too old… ūüė¶

This birthday was so different than my previous ones. My family was not with me. My wife and daughter left to India few weeks back and I m Alone in San Antonio.

This is yet another time I am not with my family on my Birthday. The first time it was when I joined TCS and was in my initial training way back in 2003. That was a very special birthday for various reasons.

First, when I joined TCS, my¬†goal was to better at conversing in English. I was able to understand and respond but was very bad in talking, atleast when compared to where I am today. I am not saying that I am good at it now, but surely I am better compared to what I was. So, as soon as I reached Trivandrum (where we had the training) I decided to make friends with people who don’t talk Tamil (tamil is my mother tongue and the only language I was¬†comfortable¬†conversing). So, I started talking or atleast be around the people who talk English and only English. It helped to a good extent.

On my birthday, my fellow batchmates arranged for a small party. Around 30+ of them were there to sing Happy Birthday to me. You know Happy Birthday is the most sung song in the world. Out of these 30, there were only 2 or 3 who can talk Tamil and all of them were my classmates from my Masters. So, mission is kind accomplished. On mid-night 21st Oct 2003, I celebrated my Birthday with  a lot of people with whom I could only talk in English. I assumed that I am better in talking in English or atleast it gave me more confidence.

This is not the only reason why that  birthday was special. There was another reason. A girl. At the end of the day, I started from office and this girl offered to walk with me to the hostel. TCS arranges transportation to commute that distance. But guys that age will be ready to walk the whole world with bare foot, if there is an opportunity to walk besides a girl. Also, her voice is so0 sweet that you can talk forever. I instantly agreed, thankfully and happily.

I don’t have to tell about climate in Kerala. No wonder they call it ‘Gods Own Country’. It was awesome. We were walking in this main road with hardly any traffic. I appreciated Kerala’s climate and the time I could spend with this girl. I really loved her voice and so I asked her to sing for me. After the usual girls’ hesitation and reluctance, she finally sang. To be honest, I liked her voice more than the song. The training was going to get over in couple of days and I purchased an audio casette to record her voice (too). On the last day, I actually had few girls sing and recorded them. I would be lying, if I say that one of the primary reasons behind the¬†recording,¬†is to record her voice. There were some other girls who really sang well. But, post training, I did not listen to that casette that much, may be twice, max.

Anyways, that day, after couple of songs,¬† we kept talking about several things, I truely don’t remember now. But that day is something that I cannot dismiss as yet another day. Its a special birthday for the special reason, me and this girl were walking alone for the first time.

There were couple of other birthdays that I celebrated without my family around. Both of them in San Antonio in 2005 & 2006. 2005 was more like a fake wedding than a birthday. For some reason, my roommates felt that I was ready for marriage. So, they arranged this party, inviting everyone for my surprise, fake wedding. As always, there will be one person who would unknowingly break the surprise. It happened in this case also. I got tensed. I have been talking to a girl over phone, almost everyday. I assumed that she flew from Denver for this. I started searching for her in the apartment and almost anxiously waiting to see her. The party started, I had to put on a ring to mark the marriage. Fortunately or unfortunately it was for a Barbie doll, which I think I left behind when I moved back to India.

2006 was more of an Halloween costume party than a Birthday. I was made to wear this frightening ghost costume to cut the cake. I cannot say that I like it that much, but I really appreciated my roommies efforts, especially Ashok. I love my roommates for what all they have been. You can read this to know more.

This year’s birthday is kind of different. TCS at San Antonio celebrated its Family Day. They booked this huge Auditorium and several stage performances that spanned for more than 4hrs. I like it for the fact that the entire arrangement were pulled off by all these people, as an additional activity apart from their regular work. Given that they are not professional program organizers, they did a marvelous job. I enjoyed the day. TCS as such couldn’t have made my day better. Yet another reason for me to thank TCS.

But… What an irony! My office celebrated family day on my birthday, however none of my family members were with me. I felt¬†unhappy about that.

My team arranged for a small party, right in the office at mid-night. My project’s production release was that night. All our work for the last 6-7months were going to go live and earn fruit for the people who trusted us with this job. I guess our team did justice and met their expectations if not exceeded. Anyways, the party was great, I liked the cake. I don’t know who in my team knew that I like Strawberries. It was a Tres Leches cake with Strawberry topping.

In all, this birthday was different for various reasons. One, we had this major project, that I have been concentrating for the last few months, that went live. Two, the great family day celebration. Three, the small birthday celebration at mid night.

I missed my family a lot. Especially my daughter. She is the first one to wish me. She said with her cute little voice, “Happy Birthday Daddy”… What more a father need, other than his 2yr old daughter wishing him on his birthday.

Now I like¬†my daughter’s voice more than the girl I met in Trivandrum.¬†That girl will definitely not¬†feel¬†bad about¬†me saying this.

BTW, I cannot say for sure that my family wasn’t there for my 2003 birthday. As it turns out, the girl, who walked with me that day and sang a song for me, is the one who I am married to. At that time she was not my family but fate had it,¬†that she will become my family in the next 5 years.¬†Thats the same girl whom I was expecting to sit besides me on my fake wedding in 2005. She ended up sitting next to me in 2008 for my actual wedding. No wonder I did not listened¬†much¬†to that casette I recorded. Instead I kept talking to her almost everyday after that.

I surely missed her this birthday.

Posted in Birthday, Fun, wedding | Leave a comment

Leadership – Delegation

Ok. Now what? Leadership again!!! Why am I so obsessed about writing on this topic? Some of my friends and infact even my wife told me that the previous one on ‘Leadership – Form the team‘ was little too much to read. Few used the word boring.¬†There were mixed reaction – few told me they liked it and many told me they did not. I will try to make this one different.

Three friends working in various leading IT companies got togather…

Basu: Hi guys. How r u?
Kasi: ¬†Fine man… Long time, Haah!
Jai: Yes guys, long time. I was wondering why you guys always work so late in office, even after these many years of experience! Make some time for personal life.
Basu: What to do man! Our work-life balance depends on how much our boss expects from us.
Kasi: Exactly…
Jai: Not again. Don’t start ‘I hate my boss’ talk.
Kasi: Yeah. You don’t care man? Your boss likes you and you are enjoying.
Basu: True. My boss only dumbs me with all junk work.
Jai: Don’t you have a team? Delegate.
Basu: Already its my bosses work that got delegated to me and you are asking me to delegate to my team members. That won’t work.
Jai: I do it all the time. It works.
Kasi: And your team is happy?
Jai: Why do I care?
Basu: You don’t care because your boss likes you. I care because I don’t want my team to feel about me the same way I feel about my boss.
Kasi: Atleast our bosses are helping us in that sense.
Basu: Hmmm…
Jai: Hey, this is not fair. How do you know my team is not happy. They are happy because I give them work that gives them exposure to the next level.
Basu: Is it? So, when your boss assigns something to you and you delegate it but project as if you did it and they are still happy! What are they, Gods?
Jai: Hey, enough.
Kasi: Man, no one likes it when someone steals their work and get the credit. That is why we have ‘Patents’ in the world.
Basu: And that is also why all the artists sign their drawings.
Kasi: Yes. I agree. Delegation is also an Art. In the Art, the artist (in this case Delegator) need to convince the audience (in this case the delegatee) that its worth spending their time Рseeing or money Рbuying.
Basu: Nicely put.
Jai: But who gets the credit –¬†Artist or the Audience?
Basu: Artist gets the credit for his work and Audience gets the painting. In your case both goes to you.
Kasi: See, if you delegate something to your subordinate, he must be happy to do that work and he should get the credit for their work. And you can’t delegate everything.
Basu: My boss delegates everything but his salary and certificates.
Jai: What certificates?
Basu: Anything given in appreciation of a task accomplished.
Kasi: Bad. Surely you will not be happy.
Basu: Yes I am not. On top of it, he is saying that I am not a good delegator.
Jai: May be you are not. Why don’t you delegate that to your team.
Kasi: If we all keep doing this delegation to the next level, then all the CEOs tasks will be done by the freshers who are joining the company.
Basu: Exactly. Not everything can be delegated to next level. If I keep delegating everything when will I learn.
Kasi: Yes. If you are not comfortable doing a task, then you should not delegate it. There is a chance that you did not explain it correctly to the delegatee and the overall task will be messed up.
Jai: I agree. How many times you want to do the similar tasks over and over again?
Basu: I agree with both of you. You need to delegate the task that you are more comfortable with and perform the new tasks by yourself. There are 2 benefits. Even if the delegatee messes the task, since you are comfortable doing it, you can take it up and do it. You also avoid doing the similar tasks always. New task, you yourself can do and get comfortable with, after doing it few times.
Jai: Exactly. You got what I mean.
Basu:¬†Man you don’t talk. You delegate everything to your team.
Kasi: Don’t talk like that Basu. After all he is our friend.
Basu: Not just our friend… his bosses friend too. Infact he is more friends with his boss than us. ūüôā
Jai: Cut it man.
Basu: Okay, ok. I have another problem. I am not getting the credit for the work that I do – my boss takes it. How am I supposed to delegate it to my team and make them feel happy about doing it.
Kasi: Atleast you project to your boss the actual person who did the work. He is going to get credit from your boss.
Jai: Don’t do that man. Before you know, he will replace you in your role.
Kasi: Thats just your insecurity feeling.
Basu: I would say – Lack of confidence.
Jai: Whatever? I got what I want. Role, promotion, visibility at next level and whatever good things that you guys are longing for.
Basu: Thats because we are working with a boss like you and you are working with a boss like us.
Kasi: Yes. I agree you got everything. What about your team? Did they get what they want? Are they happy?
Basu: How does he know? He doesn’t care?
Jai: What?
Basu: Man you only said you don’t care.
Jai: You guys are just jealous.
Kasi: Either that or not very political like you.
Jai: Eitherways, i have grown and you guys are not. Its not my problem
Basu: We are not yet done with our careers. Lets see how long it goes.

Conversation continued.

I don’t know who is right and who is wrong.

I have written these may blogs and not many has commented to my blogs. Atleast this one, I think would call for some discussion. May be yes or may be not.


Posted in Leadership | Leave a comment

Movie Experience

Few days back, I wrote about being bored inspite of the fact that I watched 5 movies over the weekend. I was wondering what was the real¬†reason…

To me, there¬†is a lot¬†about watching a movie.¬†Out here, it is an entertainment or time-pass. We get into a theatre here and the movie ends in¬†couple of hours. In India, it is more of an experience by itself. Lets see how…

  • All the long queues infront of the ticket counter
  • Advance online booking for weekend shows
  • Parking the bikes like pile of plates placed vertically in the dish washer
  • Or parking the cars close enough to look¬†like two of them kissing on the cheeks
  • Find the seat¬†in dull light¬†and argue with someone who occupied the one allocated for us
  • Watch all the ‘No Smoking’ adds in outdated¬†slides – I guess most of the theatres would have received these slides as¬†a memento on the opening day
  • Get drenched in confetti at the movie start and at the hero introduction scene
  • Hear 100 dialogues simultaneously elicited by the audience/fans when THE hero tries to go for a punch dialogue
  • Get disturbed by shouting college students & hissing lovers
  • Listening to songs in super-high volume,¬†sometimes high enough to puncture the ear drum
  • Ooh, the interval in the middle of the movie
  • All the smoke in restrooms – somtime it looks like clouds hit¬†a touch down, ofcourse except for the smell & temperature
  • In disarrayed queue against the snack counter, kids trying to buy cone icecreams¬†and¬†guys trying ¬†to buy popcorn & coke for their girlfriends
  • After the movie, storm out and jam traffic

So many more are associated in going to a theatre to watch movies. I miss it a lot.

Posted in Entertainment, Experience, Fun | Leave a comment

Leadership – Form the team

It’s like a pattern. If I am interested in doing something, I keep doing it continuously for a while. Once I stop it, I may not do that for a long time. If you see, I would have had continous blogs for 2-3days and suddenly there is a loooong gap.¬† I did one yesterday and returned back for another one now. Similarly, I started watching the most successful and most popular TV show ‘Friends’ and I didn’t stop until I watched all 10 seasons. Thanks to my wife for getting me the DVDs.

Whatz for today!!! Leadership. I have been leading teams of different capacity for the past few years. I sure have some idea about what it is. I guess there is no one definition or method or pattern or characteristics for Leadership. As long as things are going fine, we assume it is Lead by the right person and when things are not going its way, we feel the leader is not the right choice.

I always try to work with the team and not be a ‘boss’. As much as possible I will try to make my team believe in my capabilities and thereby follow me, rather than enforce authority. Till date, it worked; or so I think.

The first thing that I do with a new team is ‘Form the team’.

Once I have a bunch of individuals assigned to my team, regardless of whether they know each other or not, I would spend the time to ensure that they get to know each other. This has helped in collectively achieving the goal.

  • I first try to understnd each and every individual. As you know, it is not easy or rather should I say impossible to fully understand anyone. Infact sometimes we fail to understand ourselves. Anyways, all I do is, chat with them for¬†a few mins and see how they react to questions, situations and also understand their capabilities. I am fully aware that my inference may be totally wrong. Infact in some cases I have understood totally opposite. But without these inference, there is no way I could make any progress.
  • Then I arrange for team meeting and¬†always plan¬†it at the end of the day. I try to ensure that the meeting happens in a more informal manner. Sometimes I would choose an appropriate locations. May be cafeteria, play area or something similary. I will ensure that less of business and more of fun happens there. Sometimes, I will purposefully drag a silent person into conversations, pull their legs, etc. This meeting helps in the team knowing each other and have a common dislike (thats me). Yes most of the time, the outcome of the meeting is, my team ends up thinking that I am funny and worthless. Now they have something in common¬†– a worthless leader to ignore or complain about. I ensure that while forming the team, I always treat everyone equally regardless of their capabilities. They should not have any grudge amongst themselves.
  • Initial few days of meeting helps in getting to know them and them knowing each other. But having them to work with and most importantly¬† for me, is a little tricky part. I really have to exhibit some talent and make them believe that I am skilled. Once I heard from some one, “to be an expert is just to posses 10% more skill than rest of the crowd”. I do that initial hardwork. If I don’t posses a skill, I will tell my team loud and clear that I don’t posses. Then I work on acquiring the skill (very important and difficult job)¬†and exhibit it in front of them in¬†subsequent meetings. This helps in making people believe that I am capable of acquiring any required skill. Once I get the edge over, I will have most of my team come to me for everything that they don’t know or they don’t have. Eventually they start listening to me.¬†If you¬†believe that just because you are named as a leader for the team, everyone will follow you, then you are wrong. For them to follow you,¬†you need to lead them somewhere and for that,¬†you need to know what you are doing. Acquiring the required skill is most important part of it and demonstrating them is all the more vital.
  • Now that I am a lead for them, they will come to me for work but strictly for work. Their dislike for me is not going to go away just like that. There are¬† steps to¬†make them like me. One, compare myself with someone who is not as good as me and¬†two, spend sometime with each and everyone individually. Let them know what they are good at. Just that and not what they are not good at. I won’t talk about their negatives (Many would like to call it scope-for-improvement. I would rather call it ‘negative’ so that the person gets to know it and there is a real scope for improvement). If you start talking negatives,¬†there is a very good chance that you will never win their heart. Everyone likes to get a pat on the back and when you pat on someone’s back, it helps you to get a good name from them. You give it to take it.¬†Once the team starts liking me, even when I am not commanding them, even¬†when I am not around them, even when I am not working, they will be working to ensure that the expected results¬†are achieved. Whatever contribution expected from them will be fulfilled by them, without even a single command.

Only when the team starts delivering the expected output consistently, I believe that I have formed a team. I look out for opportunities where someone is not completing their task on time. I don’t jump right away to help them or set things right or perform¬†a course correction. I will see if there is anyone else in the team who is capable of performing this task and if there is, I would wait sometime to see if that person is utilized to fix the issue. There are few things to look for.

  1. Whether the person in trouble seeks for help to either me or the other person who can help.
  2. If help was seeked, whether the help was provided.
  3. Whether the capable person volunteers to help.
  4. Whether the volunteering was received with pleasure.

If the answer to any of these is ‘No’ then my job of forming a team is not done yet. Atleast not fully. Ofcourse there is going to be a few exceptional members who always stay outside of the crowd. Regardless of whether that member is forward or behind, that person requires attention. If anyone doesn’t stay within the team, then it is a big trouble. I always tried removing that person from the team and most of the time, it really, really helps in maintaining the team well. There were moments when I sent someone who is performing well, just because they were not working well as¬†a team. Sometimes, I gave them a bad performance review. It is team work that matters and not just the completion of work.

Sometimes, I had members who are having totally different interests. Their interests don’t¬†go well with the team. This gets tricky as it is going to bother¬†& slow down the entire team. Above all, it¬†demotivates either that individual or the rest of the team. These candidates must be sent out or be used differently and should be kept away from the team as much as possible. I believe that they are negative catalist while forming the team.

There are several other aspects in forming the team like avoiding conflicts, resolving conflict, team outing, being unbiased, appreciating, advising, guiding, enabling, etc. which should also be taken into consideration.

I am really not sure why I wrote this blog. But I enjoy being an egotist about being a good leader.

Posted in Leadership | 1 Comment