Connecting the Dots

Very few CEO’s have the sort of aura that Steve Jobs has earned for himself over the years.

As a goodbye to the man, I would like to share his world famous commencement speech. There is a lot to learn from the speech..
I personally love the thought that ‘the dots always connect.’
It has held true in my short journey so far..
Oh, and one last thing (in true Steve Jobs style)
Stay hungry, Stay Foolish :)

Phil Dunphy

I tend to look forward to my 20-30 mins of ‘TV’ time on the computer every night while having dinner. It is my relaxation at the end of a day.
And every once in a while, there comes a character who makes me smile every time he/she show up on screen. Chandler Bing did that with F.R.I.E.N.D.S and Phil Dunphy does this for me with Modern Family.
Modern Family, for the uninitiated, is a show that brings together the families of an old father and his 2 children as one large ‘Modern Family’. What I love most about Modern Family is that they start most episodes with good questions.. and always end it with a meaningful moral. Some of them have stuck with me – especially one that ended with ‘90% of being a Dad is just showing up.
As for the subject of my post, Phil Dunphy is a key character – father of 3 kids and a generally sweet husband.. he considers himself the ‘cool dad’ (his kids vehemently disagree!) and believes in a parenting style called ‘peer-enting’ i.e. where you treat your kids like they are your peers. He is a real estate salesman by profession and quite the tech geek.
All in all, Phil Dunphy is just someone who makes me laugh practically every time he shows up on screen. And for that, Ty Burrell, I must thank you..
There’s so much of ‘grim’ news floating out in the media that it is a relief to have a bit of time just catching up on some good ol’ humor. And Phil Dunphy and the Modern Family cast help me with that..

That Moment of Happiness

I finally made it back to London with all immigration battles fought (for the EU and US citizens who are laughing, it is not funny! :)) and with an all clear to stay here till August next year. That is saying something considering it’s taken a rather annoying and at times, agonizing few months getting these things done.
Happy as I was – a sigh escaped me when I read yesterday that it would be the ‘last sunny day’ in London for a little while.
And I got out of a tube station this morning trying to make it on time for an appointment with it pouring cats and dogs. Another sigh escaped me.. as I rummaged in my bag and pulled out my windcheater, wore it on top of my existing shirt+suit as I needed some cover for my head and then tried fumbling for directions via Google Maps on my phone.
I (thanks to an unusual flash of wisdom) switched off my audio book as I realized I was stressing my system as I know it can’t handle multi tasking.
So, there I was – 850AM in the morning – half drenched with 3 layers of clothing, trying to find my way using Google Maps while trying to make sure my phone is not completely drenched in the process. Possibly more reasons to ‘sigh’ especially if I thought of my sunny Singapore..
That very moment, I remembered Viktor Frankl and a whole bunch of things I had written about, and decided it was time to take control of my own happiness. So, I switched on some music and that moment, I felt a surge of happiness.
Within a few moments, I could feel the spring in my step as I was singing happily in the rain. The sort of spring that accompanies moments of happiness, moments of unexpected joy..
‘Life is not about surviving the storm. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.’
The sort of joy that comes from practicing what I preach I guess.. :)
And since we are on the topic of music, here’s a new tune..

The NUS Workshop: Thrill Your Audience with That Killer Presentation

I was at my alma mater, NUS i.e. National University of Singapore last wednesday for a workshop on ‘Killer Presentations’ organized by the NUS Career Centre. We had a good response (60 out of the 100 registrants showed up which fits with the usual 60% response expectation I generally have with all free workshops).
As for the content itself, the workshop’s focus was purely on 1 thing – The ‘Approach‘ to a ‘Killer’ Presentation. And we focused on the approach by working on our own Self Introductions. The idea was that if you learnt how to approach your own self introduction at the end of the 90 minutes and make it a ‘killer’ self introduction, you could do the same with any presentation!
Slides and Video:
(This is an edited version of the slides – they would hopefully provide a snapshot for those who are interested in the topic and help all the attendees as well.)
In addition, we were well organized enough to actually have videos of the event as well. These are now on Youtube. Click here to go to the video.
Content available Online:
2 of our break outs revolved around content from 2 great videos online. They were
1. BNET’s analysis on ‘How to Present like Steve Jobs’ (Click Here)
2. Simon Sinek’s TEDx talk on ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’ (Click Here)
Overall, the workshop was well received with an average rating of 8.4/10 – which I take as being in the ‘Very Good’ zone. There was lot of good feedback about the content and the style and it did feel like everyone benefited. I am very glad about that.
My Learnings:
As always, quite a few learning points –
People learn most when you let them take action. They key here is to create an environment where they feel encouraged to take shots. We had 10 brave souls take a shot at their self introductions in front of the group. And aside from the fact that they gave it their best, they probably took LOTS away from the experience as well!
I am glad this was a ‘workshop’. Things i.e. ‘work’ got done. It was nice to go through the whole action and debrief process with everyone. Reinforced the importance of this iterative process to me.
– Interestingly, the biggest gripe from the participants was that the air conditioning was too cold (~ Half the group!). A big one for me – monitoring the environment is key.
– We didn’t take photos! We were so focused on putting a video together that we forgot about photos. And we thought we were well prepared.. :)
The principle of (Preparation)^3 -> Action -> (Follow Up)^2 holds true in these things. The workshop took a fair amount of preparation and follow up. The easiest part, as always, was the stage performance i.e. the Action. The other 2 are always underestimated..
Understanding yourself helps. In my case, as driven and excited as I was to facilitate this (it IS a pet topic!), I was even more excited to work with an old teammate who was keen to learn how to get workshops done. So, I requested him to join.. and it was a win-win there.
And this very talented young man, EB (see his sketching and book learning websites) was an important reason the workshop went well – not only because he helped out with the back end but also because he gave me that extra bit of drive.
– You never get anywhere alone. Special Thanks to friends – Abishek, Shweta and Nishanth for helping on and before the day.
All in all, it was a fun experience. I learnt a lot from it. Due thanks to Allan Seow from the NUS Career Centre for making it happen.
Note to the Participants:
Thank you so much for making it! It was a lot of fun and I am hoping you learnt something practical that you have already begun to apply in your lives.
Do leave any additional comments you might have and/or any learnings. Looking forward to staying in touch!

Gifting Books

During my cash-crunched university years, ‘gifting’ was an alien concept for all practical purposes. It was not until my last year that I realized how big a difference giving gifts makes.
The difficulty in the early days was to find a suitable gifts. I did a bit of experimentation – clothes, hobby equipment (eg: paint brushes, pencils for an artist friend) but eventually, I have settled down on books as a rule. The biggest motivation here is that this is a gift that has a shot at ‘going the distance’ and hopefully making a meaningful difference in their lives. When I write my customary 1st page note wishing friends a ‘Happy Birthday’, I hope they will rediscover the book 30 years later and go down memory lane..
It’s a dreamers wish.. but hey, that’s why we call it a ‘wish’.
This doesn’t work as well for my ‘auditary’ friends to whom I gift audio books but then again, I hope that they will remember the books many years later as it would, hopefully, have changed their life in some ways.
And, on this note, I am reminded of the quote from Robin Sharma (paraphrased)
‘Keep reading for there will come a book that will change your life.. and you don’t know which one that is’