I’m a Social Media Entrepreneur, Professor of Digital Marketing, Author of 5 books, Podcaster and an Organic Farmer.


Lessons from my Portrait Photography Experience and What You Can Learn From It.

Professional Portraits are always a great investment for CEOs and senior executives, even more so if one is active on the speaker circuit. Conference organizers and event planners around the world expect professional speakers to have their photos and bios handy. It’s almost hygiene requirement.

Last year, I had my professional portraits shot by the talented Amar Ramesh , founder of StudioA and I could immediately see the kind of positive impact it had in my speaking career. Perception is key and great photos do a wonderful job for you.

I have made a commitment to myself that I will invest in fresh set of portraits every year. This year, I started to grow a mustache (part of my ongoing coiffure experimentation) and I needed to have photos that reflected my new look. I have known Navanee Vishwa, founder of Studio Navans ever since he did the photo and video coverage for the Professional Speakers Summit this year. Navanee has started to focus on professional portraits and has his own signature style of minimalism. He is an active member of the Professional Speakers Association of India and his passion for speaking made me choose him to shoot my second set of portraits.

Based on my experience shooting portraits both with Amar Ramesh and Navanee Vishwa, here is my set of advice for any person who wants to get their own portraits done.

1) Make sure to get your portraits done in the morning. It’s important for you to look fresh and its best when you have had a good nights sleep. Never keep the photo shoot in the evening for you are bound to be tired after a day’s work. That tiredness will eventually show on the photos no matter how much you smile.

2) Do you homework well in advance. I would urge you to spend at least 2 hours researching on other portraits that you like. Make a selection of good portraits that you like. It is much easier for you to show the style to the photographer to explain what you need. This way you make the communication lot more clearer and this will help the photographer to do a better job. They also appreciate the kind of effort you have taken to prepare for this photo shoot.

3) Practice different poses. During the photo shoot, this comes in super handy. Professional photographers love subjects that give different poses. It helps them in getting better angles. Most people put the onus on the photographer. Don’t. You are not here to get your passport photos done. You are here because you want some creative, good looking photos. The more you help the photographer, the better will be the photos you will get.

4) I would urge you to hire a makeup artist to brush you up. Sure, it is an additional expense but its worth it. For both the photo shoots, I skimped on this and started to immediately regret. I realized that my skin was very oily and it clearly showed on the photos. I had to dab some talcum powder to reduce the oily look. A professional artist knows to to make you look really good on camera. If you don’t want to pay for one, get along your spouse or someone who can help you.

5) Get to know the photographer and the assistants. Get pally with them. Engage with them with conversations. Expect the photo shoot to last upwards of an hour or even two and you need to keep the spirit up. A happy photographer will mean that you will get great photos. Photographers love communicative subjects.

Hope these tips have been helpful. Every professional needs good portraits. My daughter, Krithya, got her portraits done immediately after she joined AIESEC. Consider it as an investment for your professional success. Good luck with your portraits.

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Heading to Manila

Heading to Manila, capital of the Philippines, early next month. Going there to speak at the Philippines Social Media Week. This is my second visit to the city in two years and this time, I am determined to try out new things, new places and new food. Have you been to Manila before? What unique experiences would you recommend I try?

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A Leadership Lesson from Japanese Whisky

I’m not a whisky drinker. My favourites are vodka and beer. Yet, I recently spent a lot of time researching Japanese Whisky. I was hired to host the President’s Ball at Entrepreneurs Organization (EO). It was an upmarket event for the millionaire entrepreneurs and clearly, they did spare expenses. They had the most exquisite dinner. They even imported the whisky that won the International Spirits Challenge to win the title ‘The Best Whisky in the World’. 300 Whisky brands from around the World competed and guess who won? The Japanese !!

Every time I think of the World’s best whiskies, it is always the Scotch whiskies that come to my mind. After all, Scotland is the birthplace of whiskies.  However, I was quite surprised and intrigued to learn that the title pride belongs to Suntory Distilleries of Japan. It is not just by fluke. They have won the ‘Best Whisky in the World’ award four years continuously. Surely, they must be doing something right.

Interestingly, Whisky had not even reached the shores of Japan until 1923. Shinjiro Torii, the founder of Suntory, had tasted the scotch and wanted to be the first to introduce it to Japan. It was a failure at first as whisky is an acquired taste.  Torii envisioned a Japanese approach by choosing a terrain and climate completely different from those of Scotland. Torii chose the region of Yamazaki, on the outskirts of Kyoto as the birthplace of Japanese whisky. The rest is history. Suntory is now the 3rd largest alcohol company in the World

There’s a key lesson here. We don’t have to be a pioneer. But if we have the penchant to customize to our target audience and continuously keep improving, we will succeed. An important lesson I learned from the evening dinner.


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A Customized Birthday Gift for my Daughter

Earlier this year, my daughter attended the Professional Speakers Summit. A few other speakers got their kids along as well and my daughter became friends with one bright girl who had authored a book. She had her business cards and was exchanging with other adults she met. My daughter didn’t have one and I could sense a tinge of regret in her eyes. I made a mental note of this. So, when her birthday came recently, we surprised her with her very own bunch of business cards. We backed it up by launching her own website as well . You should have seen her face brighten up.

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Why a 15 Year Old Tennis Player is Giving me Insomnia

Last night, I couldn’t sleep. I had this urge to get up to find out the score. Two nights ago, a similar thing happened. My insomnia was caused by the keen interest to see how Coco Gauff, the 15-year-old tennis prodigy that is making waves in Wimbledon.

A week ago, I chanced upon a documentary about her life on Youtube. It looked very similar to the documentary on the young Serena sisters I remember seeing nearly two decades ago.  The documentary on Coco showed her modest home and remember seeing the poster of Serena Williams in her bedroom. Little did I know that a few days later, she got a wildcard entry into Wimbledon. She won 3 qualifying matches to enter the main draw. And she faced one of her idols in the first match, Venus Williams. Stunningly, she defeated the 5-time Wimbledon champion in straight sets.

Sure, she is playing really good tennis. But there were two other things that made me root for her. The first is her amazing appetite for success. Her composed confidence is amazing. She didn’t mince words when she said she has her eyes on the title and knows she will be among the greats. Mind you, she did not sound cocky. Just calm self-assured confidence. The second thing that impressed me about her is her answers at the press conference. I enjoyed watching her tackle questions in the press conference as much as watching her play on the tennis court.

I have two daughters and I want them to learn these characteristics in life. If you have kids, make them know about Coco Gauff. There’s so much for them (and us) to learn.


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Getting a Stranger from Across the World to Help You Focus on Your Work

For a guy who truly believes in Deep Work, I must confess that I’m struggling with the ability to focus. I have a mind that wanders and suffers from the ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’. The gap between my To-Do list that I prepare in the morning to the ‘Got-Done’ list in the evening is embarrassingly large. So, I have been experimenting with any tool or technique that can help pin my arse to the chair and get work done.

So, when I chanced upon in one of the discussion forums, I quickly checked it out.  (see! An example of an easily distracted mind). I signed up for a session and must say that it was an interesting experience. The way how it works is that you pick a 50 minutes slot. The system pairs you with another person who aims to do focused work for those 50 minutes. At the beginning of the session, you quickly introduce yourself and the one task that you aim to finish. This takes not more than a minute. Then you get down to your task. The video camera is turned on throughout the session as a way to keep each other accountable. I did 3 sessions in the last two days and have to say that it had a good impact on my ability to focus. I resisted the temptation to speak to my colleagues or walk away from my desk because I know I’m accountable to this stranger across the World who I just met a few minutes ago.

At the end of the 50 minutes, you quickly share what work you got done, bid a pleasant goodbye and carry on with your life. No networking. No bonding. The focus is just on getting work.

I like it so much that I’m aiming for two more sessions today.

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Spreading Her Wings: My Daughter’s Maiden Solo Flight

My elder daughter has finished her school and is on the cusp on joining college next week. Today, she took a step towards becoming an independent woman. She travelled on a flight to Vishakhapatnam for her solo journey to explore on her own. While she has flown many times, this is the first time she is doing on her own.

It’s good to see her thirst to explore and experience things on her own. As for me and my wife, we enjoy seeing our little one step out of our protective wings and spread out her own. #JoysOfParenthood

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Sign of a True Professional

The invitation card to a big wedding of a prominent business family proudly mentioned that the famed carnatic singer, Sudha Ragunathan, would be performing at the wedding.

When I landed at the venue, I was not surprised at the massive hall or the huge turnout of people. That was to be expey. What I was surprised though was that most of the audience did not care to listen to this multiple national award winning artist.

It’s understandable because people come to marriages to wish the couple and catch up with long lost relatives. Not for a carnatic music concert.

That said, I was impressed with the intensity with which Sudha Ragunathan and her troupe performed. She didn’t care if anyone was actually listening to her rendition. She was absorbed in her own world and giving it her best. She was performing for herself. That’swhen external factors don’t dictate your performance. That’s a sign of a true professional.

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