As I type www.kiruba.com on the browser and click, an elegantly designed web site opens. What I see first is Kiruba Shankar’s visage, smiling faintly with hazily outlined coconut trees in the background. Right below the picture is the sentence introducing him – “Kiruba is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, podcaster and a farmer.”
I got to know Kiruba about nine years ago because he was part of our small group of runners meeting in Anna University campus for running. Then he was a manager in Sify. And I learned from him, he blogged a lot. He moved around the city, including to work, on his cycle.
From then till now, it appears he has not relented on the pace he has set for himself. He has run two marathons and has cycled more than 1000 km all over Tamilnadu at one stretch. Judging from where he has dipped his hand into and has accomplished so far, he has kept a hot pace in pursuing his passions. The list of activities he has given his attention to is long. I am borrowing heavily from what he considers “obnoxiously long egoistic bio” in his web site to make a decent, crispy introduction of him.
Kiruba Shankar is the CEO of Business Blogging, a leading social media consulting firm. He is one among Asia’s foremost experts in Digital strategies. His multiple entrepreneurship ventures in various fields are: He co-founded F5ive Technologies that does ‘Open Source Development’. His passion for agriculture led him to start up Vaksana Farms He has authored 4 books: ‘Copy Right and Left: Understanding Creative Commons‘, ‘Wikipedia – A Beginner’s Guide‘, ‘Crowdsourcing Tweet’ and ‘Unconference‘. He has been a technology columnist at The New Indian Express, Business Standard and Financial Express. He sat on the advisory board of RangDe, a peer-to-peer micro-lending initiative supported by ICICI Foundation. Kiruba is passionate about teaching. He is a visiting faculty at Great Lakes Institute of Management near Chennai and Bharathidasan Institute of Management at Trichy. He has lectured on Social Media at IIM Kozhikode, IIM Bangalore, IIT Madras and Asian College of Journalism. He is the curator of Cerebrate.in, an international event for achievers. He is a professional podcaster and hosts Kiruba.TV where he interviews global achievers. Business World magazine once ranked his blog Kiruba.com as one of India’s top blogs.
Right now, what fills a good part of Kiruba’s horizon is documenting details of the existing Colonial Bungalows – to discover the treasure of rich architectural wealth.
Then, there are those workshops which are unlike the regular ones for their content and method (of not having too much of a method in the conventional sense). For example, Unconference captures the wisdom of the crowds, using interactive methods. At Fail Camps people learn to turn wounds and failures into wisdom. Bucket-list Boot Camp is an annual workshop on goal setting. Then there are Book Writing Camps…
No wonder he has about 56000 followers on Twitter and 6000 on facebook!
Prior to his entrepreneurship role, he was Associate Director of Sulekha.com and a senior manager at Sify.
The activities he chooses to give his attention to, suggests a mind that is prepared to experiment with the new and unknown. He even chooses to experiment with his physical appearance. He is the perennial learner – knowing that the repertoire of an ‘expert’ is limited and, it is only by starting from a state of ignorance that we actually learn.
Kiruba is candid enough to admit that focusing on too many things prevents richness and exponential growth from materializing. He tells me he is passionate about all of these activities that jostle for space in his life.
He subscribes to Derek Sivers’ philosophy – “If I’m not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, then say no”. Kiruba is learning to say ‘no’ to tempting opportunities when he does not feel kicked about them. He does not believe in free stuff, either.
He shares with me about his real “HELL YEAH” passions in his years to come. He is going to give it everything to create ever widening ripples in the digital space. And, he wants to expand his farm and invest enough time in this rooting experience.
All these he says, he would do for and with his close-knit family.
His daughters Krithya and Kalpitha are great individuals in their own right, there is an effervescence about them. Krithya, his elder daughter published her first book at the age of eight. During the three hours I was with him, I could discern the caring space he gives his two adorable kids. For Kiruba, his wife Sujani is his source of strength. I myself was a witness to her quiet, caring charm.
I ask him the inevitable question – what is his higher purpose? He does not entertain pretensions of doing anything for anyone, or for that matter, for changing the world. This is his life and he intends to make it as rich and full as possible – in congruence with his deepest desires and values. He tells me he sees himself as a sculptor chiseling a stone into a beautiful statue – a work of art.
Perhaps, the imagery of a sculptor sculpting a stone pervades all activities of his life. He writes and blogs because it gives him the avenue to sculpt his image as an act of creation for the world to see. And the blog serves as a platform where he delivers value. This is a smart way, I think, of causing people to draw towards him.
To make that happen, I realize, is not an easy job. He gives first. He communicates through his blogs and digital media consistently. And the world gets value from his expertise and viewpoints. He thus develops a bond and trust level with his readers. The trust he has built is an invaluable asset in his avatar as an entrepreneur.
During the course of our conversation, I confide in him how I labour with my writing, taking enormous amount of time. For Kiruba all it takes to write 100 words is just about 3 minutes. So, he needs around 15 minutes to churn out a 500-word article.
Writing has taught him and given him a lot. Writing a book affords him the opportunity to focus laser sharp on one thing – to cull out its essence and share it with the world. He intends to write many more not just because of the catharsis or sense of release he feels, but also because it is his passport that opens up the world for him. And it is also the visiting card causing raised eyebrows in respect where ever he goes.
Whether it is his family, farm, business or other passions he gives them attention in a very immersed type of way.
I was a recipient of his undivided attention when I was with him for three hours.
Kiruba can be contacted on 98415 97744. His website is www.kiruba.com
Today’s Deccan Chronicle newspaper carried a full page story on our farm and the activities that happens there.
The online link to the story is here http://www.dc-epaper.com/PUBLICATIONS/…
After sharing the wonderful video about Pondicherry yesterday (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dBotWLUO7U), a journalist called up to ask why I loved it so much. Here are my answers in today’s DC along with views from fellow Pondicherrian Sankaranand Balaradjou.
A five-minute video documentary on the city and its lifestyle titled, When you’re in Puducherry, is going viral on YouTube
Photographs were, for the longest of time, a medium through which to relive moments. But thanks to the digital era that notion has changed. With people having access to video cams and a good story line, it has become easy for one to shoot a documentary or a short film at their own free will, upload it onto YouTube and simply wait for reactions. This is precisely what one such person in love with Puducherry did.
A video documentary on the city and its lifestyle titled, When you’re in Puducherry, has gone viral on YouTube and many believe it’s because of the manner in which the person behind the camera was able to capture the essence of the city in those five minutes. Though the person behind this video remains anonymous, people for whom Puducherry is home have warmed to it. Says Kiruba Shankar, entrepreneur, who grew up in Pondy, “There are so many memories I revisited when I watched it for the first time. The person behind this documentary has done an amazing job of locating landmarks of the city, he understood the diversity that exists within this small state.
From the narrow roads near Pondy beach, to the quaint temples that pass you by on your way to Auroville, those were places we frequented growing up and to revisit them through this video was simply remarkable.“
The cycles, cafés, walking down the beach, sharing a beer with friends at the end of a long day, the expats who move around on scooters and cycles -Kiruba points out that the video captures it all without glorifying it in the least bit. “One look at it and you’re bombarded with memories, which is something truly admirable,“ he says. Sankar anand B was another viewer who was cast in nostalgia mode on watching the video.
“Puducherry is all about the ifestyle, the different faces it has, the person behind this video has captured this quite beautifully. If I were to describe Pondy, it’s as though he took the words right out of my mouth and put it in the screenplay,“ he says.
Got featured in today’s front page of Deccan Chronicle’s supplement. This was an emotional moment for me. The last time I was on the same front page was in a very negative story around TEDx. Proves that life will have its ups and downs and we need to take both in our stride.The online link to the story in high resolution is here http://www.dc-epaper.com/PUBLICATIONS/DC/DCC/2013/07/04/ArticleHtmls/Explore-travel-and-enjoy-life-04072013112021.shtml?Mode=1
When a senior editor of Deccan Chronicle reached out to me to express my thoughts on the recent spurt of violence against women, it got me thinking. What if that girl had been my own sister? How would I then react? I locked myself in my room and started to jot down my thoughts.
I had a stiff deadline to meet as well. I had to send this 600 word article within an hour to make the deadline for printing. In a way it was a blessing in disguise as it really helped me focus.
Here is the photo of the article that appeared in today’s (Thursday, 20th December 2012) edition of Deccan Chronicle. Below the photo is the text of the article.
A WORLD BEYOND MEN-WOMEN DICHOTOMY
The entire nation is enraged with the news of the gang-rape of the 23 year old medical student in Delhi. For days in a row, it has been the focus of every major TV channel and newspaper. Facebook timeline and Twitter streams are seening outpouring of anger against the rapists with fervent calls for them to be severely punished. Now that most of the accused have been caught, I’m sure they will be dealt with.
However, my fear is that we as a society and the law making authorities are known for our knee-jerk reactions. The incident happened in a tinted bus? OK. Lets ban tinted glasses. Rumors were spread via SMS. OK, let’s ban SMS services!! Was there an objectionable Facebook update? Quick, arrest her! Some of these are understandable because the authorities may be under pressure to show action. But in this case, I really hope there are long term and stricter measures taken other than just imprisoning the culprits.
In my opinion, stringent laws with severe repercussions are the least that should happen. It should give the shudders to the men who even think of committing such an act. I would like to draw a parallel to incidents of ragging that went uncontrolled a couple of decades ago. It was nasty. Some of the acts that the junior students were subjected to do were unprintable. The more the victims kept quiet, the more atrocious the acts became. It took a series of suicides to wake up the nation and for stricter laws to be imposed. Fear of expulsion, imprisonment and a life of doom drove fear into the hearts of possible perpetrators. This cleaned up the system majorly.
I really hope tougher acts are enacted against violence against women. For every woman who gets raped, there are thousands that go unreported. Women wail in solitude fearing repercussions from the society. To change this, we should remove the fear and the stigma of walking to the police station and lodging a complaint. Keeping quiet will only encourage the culprits to continue with their dastardly acts.
Maybe now is a good time for us to dig deeper and look into our entire childhood upbringing. I have seen a stark difference in attitude of boys who study in a co-educational school versus a boys-only school. As a student, I have had the chance to study in both types of schools. While at co-educational schools, both boys and girls get to interact at a very young age and they learn to move with one other. Boys who study in boys-only school go through a bit of culture shock when they enter college. Not only are they less confident but tend to always see girls with coitus thoughts. I feel strongly that more co-educational institutions and early education to treat each other as equals and with respect may be one of the possible answers.
As a father of two daughters, I really want them to grow in a society that respects women and gives them a place to be their own. I would like to paraphrase my friend Vijay Anand who elucidates clearly, “I am ashamed that even in this century we draw such dividing lines, between a man and a woman – and somehow a man has to acknowledge that women are equals. Women are equal whether men admit it or not.” I would go one step further in hoping that there comes a time soon when we stop looking at us as men and women and start respecting each other as human beings.