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


How Professional Speakers can get More Speaking Gigs: The HR Route.

If you asked professional speakers what the biggest challenge is, you will get a standard answer. And that is to get qualified paid speaking gigs. So, when I interview successful global speakers for my ‘Global Speaker Podcast’, I’m always intrigued by how they manage to get so many speaking gigs. I started to find a pattern. I notice that Learning & Development departments and Human Resources Departments are rich sources of speaking gigs. You see, L&D depts and HR depts are given a certain budget every year to spend for the betterment of their employees. They are mandated to spend and are constantly looking for good trainers and speakers to help provide value. So, the key thing to note is to find out what value are HR & L&D heads looking for and if professional speakers can offer that, then its a good win-win scenario. That is why for this month’s learning session of the Professional Speakers Association of India, we decided to get the Founder President of the Maldives Association of Human Resource Professionals, Afeef Hussain, to share his thoughts. He is a perfect fit because he is both a speaker and an HR professional. He can bring perspectives from both the portfolios. Make sure to sign in today on Zoom call to hear Afeef explain how professional speakers can get more speaking gigs.

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Getting Inspired by Your Daughter

My elder daughter, Krithya, recently completed her schooling and is at the cusp of joining a college. During this one month break, she decided to occupy herself with certain activities. She has joined our office as an intern. She decided to relaunch her own website at But the one that inspired me the most is how she found the mojo back in writing.

When she was 8 years old, she published her first children’s story book. A year later, she got her second book published. As she began to enter teens, she lost interest in writing and the pressures of academic life took over with the need to score good marks in her 12th standard. With that out of the way now, she now has time to pursue her creative projects. With the launch of her website, she started writing a few blog posts. She surprised us (and herself) with her interest in writing. She enjoyed writing. This was a beautiful, positive reminder for me to get back into active blogging. And what joy, when your own daughter inspires you to get back in the game.

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My Global Speaking Tour Schedule

I set off on a global speaking tour and quite excited for it. I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone by picking up a unique topic for each of my talks. This has a positive effect of making me work that much harder. It also adds to my speaking repertoire. While finalizing my schedule, I have consciously added in a few extra days to factor in additional speaking assignments. If you have any leads for speaking opportunities in any of the countries, I would love to hear from you at or at +91 9841597744. Look forward. As the President of the Professional Speakers Association of India, me and the leadership team have been pushing for ‘GLOBAL’ as the theme encouraging the members to take up international speaking opportunities. This certainly has had a positive effect on me.

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Speaking at Standard Chartered Bank: Fun Unconference on Gender Stereotyping on Women’s Day

Standard Chartered Bank invited me for a very unique speaking opportunity at their campus. Since today is Women’s Day, they had organized for a special event. It’s an unconference with a fun mix of a debate and panel discussion. The topic is on Gender Stereotyping. With technology playing a crucial role in many of the jobs today, the distinction of what a man or woman can do is fast disappearing. Or at least that’s what one side will debate. The other will debate that the stereotyping exists and it is a good thing. And am to play the lead moderator shepherding the discussion. There will be 20 participants, with 10 on each side. Each side will staunchly root for their stand on the topic (For or Against).  I’ve set up points for Clarity, Brevity and Humour. It’ll be loads of fun.

P.S: I’m passionate about Unconferences and have conducted hundreds of them around the World. Even authored a book, one of the very few in the World on this topic.


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Google Local Guides Chennai Meetup

After posting over 5600+ photos on Google Maps which earned over half a million views, I’m inching towards Level 9, the second highest contribution level. Am sure there are equally passionate Google Local Guides in Chennai and figured its time for us to meet up in person. We all have immensely benefited from information on Google Maps and this meetup is a way to give back to society. Even if you are not a contributor and would like to learn how to effectively contribute and be part of this lovely community, please do join in for the meetup.

Time: 4 PM to 6 PM
Day & Date: Sunday, March 10th, 2019
Venue: Writers’ Cafe in Taramani
Host: Kiruba Shankar
Contact # : 98415 97744

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The Cairn Hill Reserve Forest Experience at Ooty

As part of the outdoor experience of the Travel Unconference, there was an option to go on an early morning trek to Cairn Hill.

Having slept only a couple of hours, I contemplated skipping it in favour of good rest in preparation for a super busy Day 2 activities.

But I’m so glad, I decided against it and joined the trek. The early morning chill at 13 degrees woke up solid. The nip in the air was awesome. It reinvigorated me and was raring to get going.

A bunch of travel enthusiasts popped into a van and we drove 2 kms from the Sterling Ooty Fern Hill Resort on the Ooty-Nanjanad Road. It falls on the way from the Ooty city to Avalanche. We got there early morning and there was no one, save for the lone forest guard. Imagine having 271 acres of pristine forest all for yourself!! Fabulous experience.

The reserve forest has been in existence for over 150 years and very impressed to know that this was a man-made forest grown during the British era. We loved the tall trees. We saw sholas, cypress and pine trees. Kudos to the Nilgiris Forest Department for a good job maintaining it.

They have made a Machaan at a view point in one of the trails. There is a hanging bridge too.A must visit place if you want to experience Forest for a few hours away from the hustle bustle. Its completely safe, just carry your own water and some snacks. I was quite impressed that there was hardly any garbage.

We heard lots of birds and saw a few giant Malabar squirrels. We were told there are a bunch of bisons but didnt see

If you love tranquility and nature, you will love this place.

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The Sterling All Stars: Unearthing the Talent of Employees

At the end of Day 1 of the two day Travel Unconference Retreat at Sterling Ooty Fern Hill, we headed to the lawn area of the resort for our dinner. Honestly, it was a reaaaally long day for all of us. We had to wake up at 3:30am in the morning to catch the morning flights, plus a 3 hour cab journey from Coimbatore to Ooty followed by a day long learning and sharing program at the resort. The idea was to catch a quick dinner and head to our room.

But as we entered the lawn, we were in for two surprises. The first thing was tandoori ovens and hot tawas that were being set up with hot coals heating them up. It was a starlit barbecue dinner. The other was a small stage with the backdrop saying ‘ALL STARS’

After a little wait, the program began and we were introduced to the concept of All Stars. It was a program to unearth the other talents of the employees. And there was proof. There were Bharatanatyam performances, cross-genre dances with foot-tapping numbers that mixed top-of-the-chart pop music with Indian classical numbers, Kollywood mixed with Tollywood and magic shows.

I’ve been associated with Sterling Holidays for 7 years now and on few special occasions I have witnessed events where professional dancers and magicians were involved. But I found the performances by the employees more endearing. Even though the dance moves may not have the grace or the verve of a professional dancer, they had more heart. The best part was when they were introduced to us in the end. These are folks from the Front Office reception, Food & Beverages section and Housekeeping. Today, many of us are looking forward to meeting them at the reception, restaurant or at the resort.

This is the advantage of being a member of Sterling Membership. You begin to develop a bond with many of the staff members. Many times we are on first name basis with the staff. Many of the participants will never forget Richard’s name because he was so friendly and informative as he guided us through the trip. The next time we come back to Ooty, you can bet that many would ask for Richard. It is this bonding that makes membership special.

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An Interesting Incident to Remind us of our Our Self-Limiting Beliefs

Here is a very interesting experience that took place during the Travel Unconference Retreat we had hosted at Sterling Ooty Fern Hill. We had invited 10 passionate people who have excelled in their respective domains. The one connecting thread was their love and passion for travel. I had modeled this retreat as an unconference, a concept I absolutely, truly believe in. (Even authored a book). Since this is an unconference, we had requested each of the participants to prepare and present a TED style talk. Each of the participants picked a title. However, there was one participant who called me and expressed her severe discomfort with speaking. That person was Caroline Radhakrishnan, a travel blogger and a hardcore foodie who writes at

She said that she is perfectly comfortable writing or speaking one on one. But if its a crowd, she would feel very uncomfortable. I persuaded her to pick up a topic on cuisine, something that she truly is passionate about. She reluctantly agreed.

Yesterday, when the event started, Caroline was the third speaker in line. She told the entire participants how nervous she was and that she had never given a public speech before. I loved how she confessed her fears and showed her vulnerability. It was beautiful to see the entire audience immediately embrace her weakness and encouraged her to take the stage. As luck would have it, there was a problem with her presentation. She had copied a wrong file on her pen-drive. Could be a case of nerves. Eventually, when we downloaded the presentation, it was not appearing correctly. For a lady who is already nervous, such situations made it even worse.

Eventually, all was set right. When she finally went up on stage, there was a thunderous appreciate applause, the loudest for any speaker. She took a nervous sip of water on stage and told the audience that what she is doing is completely out of her comfort zone. She would either break or prevail. The crowd rooted for her even more. And then she proceeded to talk passionately about her love for cuisines. It was a good presentation with a nice sprinkling of humour and personal anecdotes. The talk wasn’t perfect but it was way better than I or others thought it would be. After she got down from the stage, many of the participants went to congratulate her.

There’s a strong lesson from this episode. Caroline knew her subject of cuisines very well. That’s what made her talk interesting. She had the gift of gab but what was holding her back all along was her belief that she wasn’t good enough for the stage. Today’s episode would’ve changed that perception for sure. Just like Caroline, many of us have self-limiting beliefs. They are just that. Beliefs. Wrong beliefs. Just like Caroline did to bravely step up, we should step up to challenges as well. We will pleasantly surprise ourselves.

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Creating the Right Balance of Work and Life with Sterling Holidays Membership

I’m a huge believer in leading a happy life.  An important ingredient of happiness is the ability to balance out work and life.

However that’s easier said than done. There are times we need to burn the midnight oil.  For many in the corporate world, this is the norm.  In a survey conducted by Kronos Incorporated, it has been observed that Indians are the most hardest working and the most over worked. Furthermore, Ernst & Young concluded in a survey that 30% of the survey respondents in India believed that balancing work, family, and personal matters has become increasingly difficult in the last 5 years.

So what can you do about it? The answer lies in unplugging from the daily grind of work and loosen up. A good way to do that is to go on vacations with family. For the longest time, I used to be one of those guys who would not take vacations. But now, mainly thanks to my wife’s planning, we go out on family vacations at least twice a year. I can tell you with certainty that vacations do wonders to family bonding.

One of the ways to ensure your family is assured of vacations is to opt for vacation ownership. There are several benefits that the membership offers. There are companies like Sterling Holidays that offers you 25 years membership. It features a flexible and a unique points system. It gives you complete flexibility to choose the type of accommodation and season of your holiday every year. With 33 resorts located pan-India, you can choose to holiday at hills, beaches, jungles, riverside, and heritage locations. There are a few more reasons why it makes sense.

1. Vacation Around the World: When you own a membership, you can access 4,000+ resorts in over 100 countries at Indian prices through RCI (Resorts Condominiums International).

2. Varied Destination Experiences:A weekend in your favourite hills station, or a nice evening walks on the beaches? All you have to do is choose! Sterling Holidays has over 33 resorts located across India at several destinations. Make the most out the view of Mt. Kanchenjunga in Darjeeling, enjoy the magnificence of the Taj in Agra, just relax while you are at the serene location of Ooty.

3. Delightful Experiences for Everyone: Thinking what will your kids do while you relax? Are the resorts senior-age friendly? A candle light dinner is a must experience? Well, Sterling Holidays has holidaying delights for everyone! From activity centers, candle light dinners under the star and culinary classes delivered by our chef! You name it and they have it.

4. Hassle-Free Holidays: What often stops us from initiating a task, is the hassle of planning and executing it. Not with Sterling Membership! As a member, just choose where and when you want to holiday and leave the rest to them. From transfers to holiday planning, they enable hassle-free holidays all the way! All you’ve got to do is remember to enjoy!

5. A Gift-worthy Plan: As a Sterling member, you can gift your loved ones a memorable holiday or gift them an entire membership and help them experience hospitality at its best like the way you do.

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How to Make the Most of the Professional Speakers Summit 2019

Based on my experience attending the Asia Professional Speakers Convention in Singapore and the Global Speakers Summit in Auckland, New Zealand last year, here are some of the tips on how you can make the most of the upcoming Professional Speakers Summit 2019 in Chennai on January 26 & 27.

I have grouped the points into three buckets. 1) BEFORE 2) DURING and 3)AFTER the convention. Here goes.


Understand Your Big Goals: The time before attending a big conference is a good time to write down your big speaking goals. Your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). Why is it important? Before having clarity of the goals will help you eke out the best out of the Summit.

List Down the Questions You Seek Answers for: This is an extension of the previous point. Having clarity of your big goals will also highlight the areas where you are lacking and problems that are holding you back from achieving your speaking goals. Write down all of them. Then seek out people at the Summit who have successfully overcome the problems. For example, if your goal is to speak globally, then Fredrik Haren is your man. If your goal is to market better, then the goto person is James Taylor. If you want to learn to author a book quickly, can’t think better than Sha Nacino.

Comb Through the Schedule: With a fine comb. Going through the summit agenda will help you handpick the specific topics that will help you the most in achieving your speaking goals. Keep in mind that there are breakout sessions that run in parallel and it will help you decide the ones that really matter to you.

Google the Speakers: Understanding the profile of the speakers will greatly help you in picking the sessions. For example, one of my goals in 2019 is to improve the humour quotient in my talks. I’ve even overcome my mental barrier by signing up for Standup Open Mics. Hence, attending Chendil Kumar‘s talk on how to lace humour in your talk is high on my must-attend talks. Likewise, pick your favourites. Watch their talks on YouTube. Send out a note to them that you are eager to attend their sessions. Trust me, it’ll make them happy and it will help you make a good connect.

Follow the Speakers on Social Media: Now that you know which topics you plan to attend, its a good idea know what the speakers are like. Most speakers are on Twitter and Linkedin. Follow them.

Polish Your Elevator Pitch: This year’s Summit has already created history. It’s India’s first and has already become one of Asia’s largest events focusing on professional speaking. There will be 150+ professional speakers, CEOs and influencers. That’s a lot of people you will be meeting. Most of them will be new to you and you want to make sure you make a good first impression. When the person you meet asks you, ‘So, what do you do?’, you don’t want to ummm and errrr. You want to describe yourself with succinct clarity that makes a powerful impact. Go ahead and prepare that elevator pitch.

Get Your Speaker Cards: Design and print business cards that describes you as a speaker. This is especially important for people who wear many hats like me who is a digital entrepreneur, a professor, a podcaster and a farmer. You don’t want to give your corporate business cards. Instead, you want your business card to shine the light on you as a professional speaker. After all, you are at a speaking summit.

Offer to Volunteer: Pulling off an event like the Professional Speakers Summit is no joke. It has taken over 3 months of crazy work. The workload for the organizers can get insanely high as the convention dates near. Reach out to the organizers offering to help. They can really do with extra hands. It is an excellent way to bond with people and goes very well with the spirit of the community. Please reach out to Koushik Srinivasan, the Summit Chair at

Update your Website & Social Media: Once you have met people, some of them may want to learn more about you and your speaking topics. You don’t want them to visit your website that has broken links or social media that was updated two years ago. Stay current. Summits such as this are a very good excuse to do digital spring cleaning.

Stay with a Fellow Speaker: This tip is especially for participants flying in from other countries and cities.I understand that this may not be for all. However, it is absolutely worth trying. Last year, Fredrik Haren was kind enough to host me at his home in Singapore for a couple of days. It was a defining experience for me and I thoroughly appreciated the hospitality and kind-heartedness of his wonderful family. I could never have experienced this kind of bonding and insightful conversations if I had stayed in a hotel. That said, it requires getting out of your comfort zone to reach out to the speaker community. If you are travelling from another city and want a stay at in one of our homes, please reach out to me at If you are living in Chennai and have an extra couch to spare for one day, please let me know.

Author a Book: This tip is especially useful for speakers. You want the people coming to your talk to leave with something valuable. At the Global Speakers Summit in New Zealand, one of the speakers, Elizabeth McCormick, gave a small but powerful book with tips on how to get speaking gigs around the world. See if you can do this, even if its a small ebook.


Arrive Early: On both the days of the convention on January 26 & 27, make it a point to come an hour early. Not only will you be able to beat the queue at the registration desk, but it will also give you a wonderful opportunity to meet people in a relaxed atmosphere. It is a networking tip that has worked brilliantly for me.

UnPlug from Work: It is a good thing that the summit takes place over a weekend. Even then, tell your clients you won’t be reachable on these two days. Inform your coworkers that you won’t be checking emails. Take your family’s permission to go incommunicado over the next two days. By unplugging from work and family, you create this fertile, focused time for insightful learning and networking. If there is one advice that I would strongly emphasize, this would be it.

You Don’t Have to Attend All the Sessions: Yes, really. The two days at the summit are going to be choc-a-block with sessions. Remember that your mind can only take in so much knowledge. Beware of the information overload. So, be picky about what sessions you want to attend. Don’t worry about FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Skip a few sessions that don’t speak to you. Use that time to catch up with people or some quiet reflective time on your own.

Get Enough Sleep: Lack of sleep can make you groggy and impede your ability to focus and learn during the sessions. Make a conscious decision to hit the sack early. Take a hard stance to avoid late night meetups with friends. I know you will be meeting folks after a long time but this can’t happen at the cost you messing up your day.

Ask How You Can Help: When meeting people, listen intently. Ask them what their pain points are and how you can be of help. In a world where we all incessantly seek opportunities, people truly appreciate this gesture to help. Be generous with connecting and introducing people.

Don’t be a Business card Hunter: Don’t aim to meet as many people as you can. It’s natural to want to meet many but with only two days and a packed schedule, you can easily spread yourself thin. Focus on developing a deeper relationship with fewer people. Quality is better than quantity.

Jot Down Behind the Business cards: When you meet people, write down interesting things about them, the topic you discussed or any followup actions behind their business card. Don’t trust your brain to remember everything. We overestimate its memory capacity. Writing it down is a smart way to follow up.

Digitize the Business Cards: Later that evening, transfer all the contact details and the notes to Google Contacts, the best place to store contacts. You can use apps like CamCard to scan the cards quickly. Digitizing your contacts makes it easy for you to search and retrieve. Once I digitize it, I usually discard the physical business cards because having them only adds to the clutter and I realized that its cumbersome to dig through a pile of cards to pick one.

Use the Law of Two Feet: I’m a huge fan of Unconferences (authored a book on the topic too) and this is a tip I love. If you attend a breakout masterclass session and for some reason, you don’t find it useful, then use your two feet to walk to another session or head out to the foyer to meet people. The speakers are all professionals and they will not take offence at you leaving mid-way.

Divide and Share: Breakout Masterclasses mean you have to make a choice. By choosing one session, you will have to miss out two other sessions. Such is life. You can overcome this problem by creating a buddy system with a friend. While you attend one session, your friend attends the other. Both of you take notes and fill each other up in the evening. Works like a charm.

Avoid Hanging Out All the Time with Your Friends: I’ve noticed this in previous conventions where people from the same cities hang out together. You are already close to them and you have all the time to catch up when you get back to your city. Out here at the summit, it is a wonderful opportunity to connect and bond with new people.. Step out of your group once in a while to proactively meet and bond with people from other cities.

Write Down Actionable Points: When you take notes while attending sessions, make it a point to write down action-oriented points. For example, ‘Create a Video Testimonial’ or ‘Watch 50 hours of my own talks’. This will help you to follow-through. It works even better if you can put a timeline to finish those actions.

Dedicated Notebook: If you are a digital person like me, I would recommend creating a dedicated notebook on Evernote to jot down all the notes. It gets stored in the cloud and make it easy to retrieve and share. If you prefer the traditional way of handwritten notes, then get yourself a dedicated notebook just for the convention.

Give Honest Feedback: Especially areas where the speakers can improve. It’s easy for them to get praise and how awesome their talks are. But tough to get honest constructive criticism. That’s why this is valued a lot and the speakers will respect you for it.

Organize Evening Meetups: Take the initiative to create a meetup. Last year, Fredrik hosted a meetup at his home for all international speakers. In New Zealand, a few fitness folks organized early morning runs. These are excellent ways to bond. Similarly, feel free to take a lead and organize small, focused meetups and encourage folks to join you.


Extend Your Stay in Chennai: Don’t immediately leave on the January 27th evening. It’s a wasted opportunity. By now, you would have made excellent contacts. Use the next few days to fix meetings with fellow participants. Use the extra days to fix up meetings with prospective clients. I liked how the Dutch speakers who attended GSS2018 approached the Dutch Chamber of Business in New Zealand and spoke to business people. Some like me spoke at Universities. Explore opportunities.

Write a Series of Blogs of Key Takeaways: One of the best ways to cement your learnings is to put them down in writing. This will especially be useful for other participants and other professional speakers who could not attend the convention. In addition to writing blogs, I intend to record interviews with key professional speakers for my ‘Global Speaker Podcast’.

Share Your Lessons in Your City’s Monthly Meetups: When you return to your city, take the effort to band with other folks who attended the event and share your collective learnings in your association monthly meeting.

Watch the Videos of the Sessions for Recap: Once you come back after the convention, it is easy to get caught up in the grind of everyday life. It is quite natural to forget some of the key lessons. That’s why it is a good idea to watch videos of your favourite talks as a way to brush up your knowledge.

Form an Action Mastermind: Attending conventions like the Professional Speakers Summit 2019 is of no use if you don’t put key lessons into action. Conventions are a hotbed of inspiration and it’s up to us to push ourselves to action the ideas. An effective strategy is to form a small mastermind (4 to 5 people) where you commit to each other to complete your action items. Have a weekly meetup (either online or in person) and reevaluate your progress. Push each other to raise the bar to outperform yourself.

What do you think of this list? Are there other tips that you would like to add? If so, please leave them in the comments section. I’ll add them to the list. Would love to hear your ideas. For those who don’t know me. I’m the co-founder and President-elect of the Professional Speakers Association of India. My speaking profile is at and I can be reached at and 9841597744.


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