Weekend Book Learning – The 8th Habit..

I try sending out a weekend book learning email to close family and friends. It is a way for me to remember the learnings from books (i.e. non academic) read during the week and to make sure I do read as well.. Here is the edition for this week. :)

1) Sparkz fly when insecurities meet: This means that insecurity is at the root of every resistance/argument/issue. For example, if we find ourselves resisting or taking a stand and refusing to compromise on something, it just means we are insecure about the issue and it is time to recognize it.. This can be one sided or 2 sided.. A one sided example is when we get frustrated like when we try to help someone and they refuse to be helped and in fact, oppose what we do.

A two sided example is a typical argument between a kid who thinks differently and a more conventional parent. The reason this can go wild is because the kid definitely has insecurities about his identity and place in the world while the parent may have insecurities about whether he/she has been a good dad/mom.

So, the next time we see ourselves losing it – let’s try to pinpoint what we are insecure about..

2) When in an emotional argument, use the (red) Indian walking stick strategy: The basic principle here is that when in an emotionally tough conversation, the person speaking has a stick and the person who wants to go next will first have to clearly describe what he/she felt the first person talked about and only when the person feels understood does he or she pass the stick to the next person for their point of view. This is one way to ensure everyone is listening empathetically..

3) With people, fast is slow and slow is fast: Basically, the efficiency vs effectiveness paradigm. There is NO point being efficient with people…

A chat about values and beliefs..

Disclaimer: This is going to be a long post

I had a great chat with a very close friend who I rarely manage to spend time with – due to a long list of reasons. That aside, when we do, our chats NEVER get over with a half hour or an hour.. there have been many many times when we’ve just started chatting over dinner all the way till the next morning.. And today was similar.. 5 hours flew!

We began discussing various things about university life till our talk fixated on values.. He was playing devil’s advocate on my frequent insistence to base things on principles/values. Maybe it is the fact that I have mentors who do the same or maybe I’m a very loyal student of Stephen Covey or maybe it is the importance my grandfather places on these things.. but he was out to question it and his question was simple –

‘Is it practical? What if you are faced with 5 people out to screw you tomorrow at work? What if you undertake a project where all around you are corrupt.. where you are the only white pawn in a black box? What about your values then?’

After going back and forth on this, what I concluded from my point of view (I learn by talking.. so I was gaining clarity on my beliefs as well..) was that it really depends on what we define as success. As we both agreed, there are very few billionaires out there who (in our humble points of view) have never compromised. A lot of success has been achieved with dealings that we’d prefer not to speak about..

Having said that, not all success works that way. It is my belief that the ones who go out there to succeed with self confidence have no need to prove a point.. and hence have no need to compromise on their belief for the sake of extra bucks(even if we are talking about big extra bucks). It is just my belief that it works out better in the long run.. most importantly, people are then whole or integrated and not a sum of parts (i.e. office face + friends face + family face etc).

I’ve seen my big dream of becoming a big multi millionaire fade over the years. I guess it means a lot less now than it used to mean few years ago. What I’ve also seen happening is a lot of what I thought I wanted doesn’t hold true anymore.. at this point, I think I’d be very happy being a very good family person with (hopefully more than) enough to get by.. but making a difference even if it means just reaching out to people with this blog, for example. I guess a lot depends on our definition of success, why we want what we want and what we are ready to sacrifice to do it..

It was a wonderful experience because these things are among those we hold very close to our hearts and almost never discuss – our plans, our aspirations, our dreams.. I learnt a lot in the process. I also had a tough time trying to live up to my own expectations during the year in my trysts with Sparkz, ArtVibe and the like. I do however think I gave it my best shot and was happy – in terms of running these in full alignment to my beliefs.

Let’s not forget I’m still a stupid student, a (now) 21 year old kid whose seen very little and is in all likelihood getting ahead of himself. And probably a lot will change in the next 15 years about these beliefs and value system.. nevertheless, I’d like to wait and see, I guess..

I am always inspired by this little story –

A reporter was interviewing Ayn Rand (who wrote the Fountainhead, The Atlas Shrugged – legendary books and had a very strong belief in her philosophy of objectivism.

He said – ‘Ms.Rand, I see you are a very strong believer in your philosophy and values. Are you willing to die for them?’

To which, Rand replied – ‘I am willing to do something far more difficult, I am willing to live by them!

What more can I say?

An unexpected call..

Varun – my school + bench mate who’s currently studying at IIT in Chennai was one of the big saving graces at DAV Gopalapuram in my 2 years. While Eli, Adi and I (the 4 of us sat next to each other for 2 years) were constantly bunking classes on the pretext of inter-dav games, culturals etc, Varun was our savior in terms of notes, explanations of what was going on in class. Not only because he was a superb student, also because the sciences were his domain!

Anyway, we’ve pretty successfully kept in touch over these years, more so in the last year. I went to check out his room etc with Mom when I was home this time and he gave me an unexpected call on Gtalk today and we were catching up on general stuff for about 20 mins.

It made my day..

I think I should give someone else an unexpected gtalk call and (hopefully) make their day as well.. :D

Remembering RCS Sir..

This is something I have always wanted to do – remember the spirit of individuals who have had an impact on my life. It may sound a bit like eulogizing about someone dead and gone or something, but I actually feel it is about remembering the spirit of the person and remembering the learnings..

RCS Sir or Ramachandrasekhar sir was my Sanskrit teacher for 3 years at DAV Mogappair (I switched schools 8 times.. so there are going to be many). I was fortunate to be taught by many an exceptional teacher and RCS sir was right up there on that list..

He had a deep impact over those years. A few of the most memorable ones are –

1) The Mahabharata – The Mahabharata is a Hindu epic story. Very basically put, it is a story where 5 brothers are wronged by their cousins time after time and finally decide to fight for their right and against all odds, triumph in an 18 day battle. We once had a lesson about an incident in the war and I can still remember the way he brought it to life with his many stories. He inspired me to buy a 850 page version of the Mahabharata (by Kamala Subramaniam). That is a book I’ve read many many times despite the large size and learnt so much from it..

2) Talking in stories: Sir’s classes were lots and lots of fun because of his ability to talk in stories. This is a lesson that is basic in every presentation skill lesson.. yet I had the privelege of seeing it in action for 3 years. Sudarshan (also a student of Sir’s and friend here) and I still recall the fascinating tales.. Years since, I’ve forgotten the Sanskrit.. but I still remember the stories. :)

3) Treating us as adults: RCS sir was very feared in the early days because he wholly believed in ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’.. but as we grew up and reached our 9th grade(/Sec4 I think..), he began treating us as adults with no policing whatsoever. He was probably the only teacher who trusted us. And sure, there may have been times when the trust was misplaced (as we were a crazy bunch of 30 boys), but I sure am better for it..

I visit all my 3 schools at home every time I visit and it is a pleasure to go back and just catch up with Sir. And of course, being very modern, we are obviously in touch via email. I just felt today should be a day I remember the many things I learnt from RCS sir. The 3 listed above are just the tip of the iceberg..

Phenomenal teacher, wonderful person.. Our RCS Sir.. I know this little note probably doesn’t do him enough justice, still, it’s an attempt. And with every attempt I’ll get better I guess..haha

Thank you Sir.. I shalt never forget.. :)

ES2007S Proposal Peer Review

4.Problem Statement

In a recent interview conducted with Mrs. Corrine Ong, Director of the NUS Career Centre, it was revealed that NUS fresh graduates have a lower employment rate as compared to SMU fresh graduates in the banking and consulting sector. Relatively weaker oral communication skills could be a major contributing factor to this statistic. Additionally, we could also be looking at a factor that could possibly stall careers of students aspiring to build their careers in such firms.

This study aims to determine the cause of NUS students having weak oral communication skills and investigate possible curriculum changes to improve these skills in students, specifically applicable in the banking and consulting sector.

5. Purpose Statement

This proposal aims to convince the NUSEU that the current faculties’ curriculums are insufficient in equipping NUS students with the essential oral communication skills to compete in the banking and consulting sector. And that an improvement in the curriculum must be made.