Toastmasters Pathways Began my journey again

Pathways

I restarted my journey at Toastmasters under the Pathways Program which is a modernised program. Delivered my P1 speech on Saturday, April 28, 2018. The objectives of P1 are similar as before and it is the icebreaker. Given below is the text of the speech.

The late bloomer

What’s common between Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla, Akshay Kumar and me? I can’t dance like Madhuri Dixit, I don’t sport the same smile as Juhi Chawla nor do I have the physique of Akshay Kumar. Yet, there is one thread that binds us together. We were all born in 1967.

Toastmaster of the Day, Fellow Toastmasters and guests, Welcome to the discovery of my passions in life.

Born and brought up in Matunga in Mumbai, I never left the place and continue to love it even today. My Father has retired now and my mother is a homemaker. Academically, I am an Electrical Engineer even if I can’t change a light bulb. Professionally, I am an entrepreneur who is into software and hardware solutions for the Enterprise and hospitals. My wife, Pauravi has the herculean task of raising two children, one of who is standing before you and as you can see is slightly overgrown.

Our lives weren’t complete until I was 37 as that is when Kavya entered the world and since then things have been different. She is the best thing that has happened to us and I am the lucky one as I get to be called HER father. She knows how best to get her way be it with her grandparents or parents.

I started BKS Iyengar yoga on May 1, 2008. A friend of mine asked me to start that and honestly being well endowed with fat, I thought it would be an easy way of getting rid of oodles of adipose tissue. How wrong I was! It is almost 10 years since I have been doing that (well whatever I can do). My target is to do shirshasana someday without any help.

Kavya learnt to swim at the age of 5 and one day she mocked at me “You still don’t know swimming?” That made me take up swimming lessons at the young age of 42 and believe me it wasn’t easy. But thanks to her, I atleast can now do breast-stroke. My target is to learn free-style swimming.

In March, 2013 I rekindled an old flame as I restarted cycling which I had left off sometime in 1986 after I began driving. Started with a few kms and happy to say that I have done a single ride of 155 kms once and can do 100 kms very easily. Target is to complete 5000 kms this year. 

Thanks to Suneel Agarwal, I got introduced to Toastmasters again in 2013 and got back to my passion for the English language especially grammar so much so that people call me a Grammar Nazi. Enjoy speaking when I can like I am doing today. And it is not just speaking, I had the opportunity to be a VP PR, VP Membership, President and now Area Director. And I would like to continue to learn which made me restart my journey under Pathways.

As a Toastmaster you also attract opportunities for speaking at or hosting events outside of Toastmasters. Suneel once recommended my name as a compere for a musical program. Got to meet some like-minded people there who were equally passionate about R D Burman or Panchamda and we formed Pancham Paagals. I was the default compere for the events and once I sang too. The audience response was good and so I took to singing my versions of Kishore Kumar and R D Burman numbers be it as a part of Pancham Paagals or at my club.

In hindsight, I find that the things that you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling. I discovered a few of mine and continue to discover more at this age of 50. What is your passion? What is your calling? Don’t let it stifle inside you. Let it show up and enjoy life.

And I was the best speaker for the day too 🙂

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My P3 at Toastmasters finally – The Relationship Cycle

MyHercules ACT 110 Project 3 Speech was kind of jinxed as it took me quite some time to write down and then when I was due to give it, I had to call it off as had to travel outside town. Finally on September 5, 2014, I gave it as a Test Speaker at a corporate club, Recall. Thanks to all who made this possible. I finally got the monkey off my back. Here is the transcript of my speech.

The Relationship Cycle

In 1976, a 9-year-old boy accompanied by his father was out to buy his first bicycle! There it stood in the corner, a BSA resplendent in maroon beckoning him as he was all set to spread his wings and fly. His eyes gleamed as he was only too eager to escape from the clutches of his sister’s hand-me-down bicycle. That child is slightly overgrown now as you can see but his love for the bicycle remains unchanged.

Contest Chair, fellow toastmasters and guests, join me on my two-wheeled excursions.

I continued to cycle in and around the building. 2 years down, started cycling to school with Mom’s stern warnings about the traffic. The short distances gradually increased but the maximum I rode was 6 kms away to Siddhivinayak temple. For 7 years, this bicycle remained an inseparable part of mine till someone stole it from Dadar. I was devastated as I cried my way to the Police Station. Alas it was never found. At the end of the academic year, I begged my parents for a new bicycle and bought the same maroon BSA. This cycle was with me till the second year of Engineering when 2 more wheels got added and I began driving in 1986.

Driving a car is indeed different from riding a bicycle. I buried my love for the 2 wheels somewhere deep in my heart for 27 years. Finally on March 29, 2013, after a lot of deliberation, I bought a shining blue Hercules. Like the new-found possession in 1976, I started cycling the very next morning. Mom being Mom continued to warn me every morning. What started as an exercise, soon became fun as I rekindled an old flame. I got hooked to Mapmyride on the phone which measured the distance covered with the speed. It posted the stats to Twitter and Facebook so I could brag about it to all my connections. More importantly, it made me accountable as friends questioned if they didn’t see such posts. This added to the pressure.

Having pedalled for over a year all alone, I mustered the courage to cycle with a group. I was shy and always thought others were fast riders but this group was headed to see the flamingos in Sewree, my backyard. This was transformational. Made so many new friends and began learning. I learnt that my low-speed was because I was riding in the wrong gear for the whole year!

Social media got people to support my passion for cycling. It was now time for me, the cyclist to give back to society. On May 25, 2014, for the first time I cycled for a cause to support the Multiple Sclerosis Society of India. About 50 cyclists from across Mumbai rode in maroon T-shirts. Some of the patients travelled in vehicles and one of them was so enthusiastic that he let his young son pedal with us all the way to Haji Ali and back. It culminated with two senior neurologists explaining to us about the disorder. I decided then I would organise a ride on World Parkinson’s day in April 2015 to highlight the cause of my Dad and others suffering from Parkinson’s.

Now that I have told you about my cycling journeys, let me also tell you about my first love, food! I always relished the local breakfast be it the fresh karela juice at Yeoor Hills, the delectable Mushroom and cheese Omelette at Mondegar or the freshly baked Mawa cakes with Brun paav at the century old B Merwans, Grant Road. Along with food, I also discovered the grandeur of Colaba’s Afghan Church, the greenery of Aarey Milk Colony and the steep hills of Yeoor in Thane to cite some spots.

In conclusion, don’t let your childhood passions be buried somewhere in the corners of your mind. Get out and take the first step – Rent a cycle from the neighbourhood cycle shop. Cycling is the new Golf for networking. Join a group if you can but remember you are not participating in a race but just for fun. Don’t forget to invest in a proper helmet to protect your head and a pair of decent gloves to avoid blisters. Pedal for a cause and I am sure you will be pedalling for life.

The video recording of my speech is here. Sorry but taken on the phone.

Tally Team to Task

This is so true for entrepreneurs. The original post appears here and has been pasted from there.

Does your team match the job at hand? – Thanos Papadimitriou

Every start-up thinks the activity of an organization as the process of sourcing, securing, allocating, assembling, managing, and scaling human and material resources into business capabilities.

Smart entrepreneurs are like accountants, they match the duration of their assets and liabilities, both financial and human.

No one can do it alone. Sooner or later entrepreneurs have to enlist additional team members to execute existing tasks so that they can focus on new, higher value initiatives.

Four things to think about when you are building your team are as follows:

1. Fill in the gaps

A complementary partner is the most important asset available to an entrepreneur. A partner is an additional set of eyes, a sounding board and a reality check-the person whom you trust to tell you when you are wrong. Finding the right candidates begins with honest self-examination. Compare your capabilities to those needed to succeed to find the gaps. Entrepreneurs would be wise to apply the same analysis to every addition they make to the team.

2. Get started with what you have, but upgrade relentlessly

Most entrepreneurs lack the resources or track record needed to attract qualified candidates, and thus rarely have the pick of the litter when hiring. That’s ok. Part of being an entrepreneur is learning to make it work with what you have. That said, remember that difference between “A” and “B” players is not one notch, it’s 100x fold. Covering an empty position for a few weeks sounds horrendous but keeping an inept person in a critical position is crippling. The ambiguity and lag time makes it all the more important to act decisively. Immediately saddling new team members with actionable and measurable tasks can help to uncover subpar hires sooner.

3. Plan for roles to change

This means making it clear to early hires they are filling temporary needs. Make short (six month) commitments, which include flexibility for role changes as needed.

4. Hire for the job at hand

Many start-ups mistakenly hire a professional VP of Sales before finishing the product, much less validating demand for it. Not only is it expensive to have a VP of Sales sitting around before there are customers to sell to (you, the founder, are in charge of evangelical sales, remember?), anyone worth their salt wouldn’t come to work in your basement anyway. It’s just not worth their time yet.

Reblog: Taming the Enemies

The original article appears here http://parichay-india.in/taming-the-enemies

The biggest enemies we face are not outside, but within – Jim Rohn

We are not born with courage, but neither are we born with fear. Maybe some of our fears are brought on by our own experiences, by what someone has told us, by what we’ve read in the papers.

Some fears are valid, like walking alone in a bad part of town at two o’clock in the morning. But once we learn to avoid that situation, we won’t need to live in fear of it. Fears, even the most basic ones, can totally destroy our ambitions. Fear can destroy fortunes. Fear can destroy relationships. Fear, if left unchecked, can destroy our lives. Fear is one of the many enemies lurking inside us.

Let me tell you about five of the other enemies we face from within.

  • Indifference

The first enemy that we’ve got to destroy before it destroys us is INDIFFERENCE.

What a tragic disease this is. “Ho-hum, let it slide. I’ll just drift along.” Here’s one problem with drifting: we can’t drift our way to the top of the mountain.

  • Indecision

The second enemy we face is INDECISION.

It is the thief of opportunity and enterprise. It will steal our chances for a better future. Take a sword to this enemy.

  • Doubt

The third enemy inside is DOUBT.

Sure, there’s room for healthy skepticism. We can’t believe everything. But we also can’t let doubt take over. Many people doubt the past, doubt the future, doubt each other, doubt the government, doubt the possibilities and doubt the opportunities. Worse of all, they doubt themselves. I’m telling you, doubt will destroy our life and our chances of success. It will empty both our bank account and our heart. Doubt is an enemy Go after it. Get rid of it.

  • Worry

The fourth enemy within is WORRY.

 

Just don’t let it conquer us. Instead, let it alarm us. Worry can be useful. If we step off the curb in New York City and a taxi is coming, we’ve got to worry. But we can’t let worry loose like a mad dog that drives us into a small corner. Here’s what we’ve got to do with our worries: drive them into a small corner. Whatever is out to get us, we’ve got to get it.

  • Over Caution

The fifth interior enemy is OVER CAUTION.

It is the timid approach to life. Timidity is not a virtue; it’s an illness. If we let it go, it’ll conquer us. Timid people don’t get promoted. They don’t advance and grow and become powerful in the marketplace. We’ve got to avoid over-caution.

Do battle with the enemy. Do battle with our fears. Build our courage to fight what’s holding us back, what’s keeping us from our goals and dreams.

Be courageous in our life and in our pursuit of the things we want and the person we want to become.

We will be facing the toughest opponent today in our life.

We have to make thing work, if it doesn’t work- we don’t leave but keep on firing our bullets of self belief.

Reblog: Tap of Energy

Reblog: Tap of Energy

I was looking for some motivational reading this morning when I came across this post by my friend, philosopher and guide, Suneel Agarwal. A very good read in the morning.

2014 – A New Beginning

new-years-eve-2013-5666313846390784-hp

The google doodle today is apt as it signifies change of guard from 2013 to 2014. As the clock strikes midnight tonight we will bid adieu to 2013 and welcome 2014. Wish you all a very Happy New Year. May the new year be filled with joy and prosperity. On this occasion, I would like to share a video by Suneel Agarwal – A new beginning.

Another song that has been buzzing in my mind since this morning cycle ride is from the film Mashaal sung by the evergreen Kishore Kumar. A song full of hope and very very lively. Do listen to it if you haven’t.

Lessons to be learnt from Taxis / Taxi drivers

Mumbai Taxis
We have all seen the famous yellow and black taxis in Mumbai either in person if living in Mumbai or in Bollywood films. The thoughts that I am sharing are lessons learnt from the taxis / drivers. These are not my thoughts but have had the opportunity to learn these by interacting with different people over the past few weeks / months.
 
The first lesson is thanks to a dear friend, philosopher and guide, Suneel Agarwal. We often see an empty taxi and curse the driver ahead as he is slow and looking out for a prospect at every possible corner. Our blood pressure often reaches flash point if we are in the car behind such an empty taxi. However if there is a passenger in the cab, the taxi is driving fast and smooth.
 
In life too, such an analogy applies. A man without a purpose in life, without a goal in life is like a taxi without a passenger going about in his own way at his own pace, stopping everywhere and blocking the path ahead of the people following him. Similarly a man with purpose is moving fast in the direction of his goal.
 
The second lesson was had when in Delhi last week when I met a Senior Executive. We were discussing where he lived and commuting to work and home. It turns out that he lived some 60 kms away from his place of work and knowing the Delhi traffic he has taken upto 3 hours to travel one way. One day he was complaining about this and his Mother said “Look at a taxi driver. Does he ever complain? No. Ever wondered why? That’s his job and like it or not he has to do it so he enjoys what he is doing”. In life we too need to enjoy doing what we are doing.
 
The third lesson was learnt when I attended the Mastering the Mind Monkey Session by Dr. Anand Patkar. He spoke of Taxi drivers and asked the audience if we had ever noticed that when we are trying to catch a flight or reach for an appointment, we ask the driver to hurry up. But the taxi driver drives as he would. Can he change the traffic or anything else? No. So he does what is best and remains calm and drives along merrily. We have to bear the brunt of the stress. In life, let us understand that not everything is in our control so best is to leave things as they are and enjoy the ride.