(Photo credit Peggy Art)
I don’t recall ever reading a book about Swami Vivekananda. Nor have I learned any of his teachings. The closest I have been to ‘him’ is to visit the Ramakrishna Math in Calcutta but that was as a tourist. So, its a bit of surprise that I now spend considerable time on YouTube listening to his talks and reading about his teachings.
So, why this transformation?
On March 27th, I’ve been invited by MGR University to give a keynote speech at a literary fest to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. The Principal had such high opinion about me. She wanted me to give a motivational talk to the students. I had two choices when I received the call. To turn down the invitation citing my lack of knowledge on Swami’s teachings. Or take it up as a challenge, go beyond my comfort zone, and learn about the subject. I loved the idea of the challenge and said ‘YES’. I’m glad I did.
The scene now shifts to the airport.
The last two months has been heavy on speaking engagements. I’ve been traveling around the country speaking at corporates and conferences. I have been wanting to improve my repertoire and learn engaging stories to illustrate my points.
I decided to marry travel with reading. Here’s what I did.
Whenever I’m at an Airport, I pick up a book from the bookstore. The criteria for my book selection is that it has to be small and thin. Max around 100 pages. My goal is to finish the book before the plane lands at the destination. This habit has done wonders to my book reading habit…and my speaking skills! I always aim to include what I learned from the book into my next speech. Its worked out wonderfully. Now I look forward to more speaking opportunities for I know it also pulls up my reading.
What tips did you follow to improve your reading and speaking? Would love to hear.
While I speak at many events and conferences, there are a few that I truly look forward to. The India Leadership Summit 2012 is one such event. The line up of speakers is truly amazing. Dr.Kiran Bedi (Magsaysay Award Winner, Core Member of Anna Hazare Team), Dr.Satinath Sarangi (Leader fighting for Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims), Phanindra Sama (Founder, RedBus.in), Sharad Sharma (Director, Movico Technologies and Ex-CEO of Yahoo! R&D ) to name a few. Some of my good friends like Rashmi Bansal (Best-selling Author), Vijay Anand (Founder, The Startup Centre), Purushotaman (Director-South, NASSCOM) are also there and look forward to catching up with them.
The event takes place at Sree Shakti Institute of Engineering and Technology in Coimbatore on 3rd March, 2012.
I was invited to moderate two panel discussions. The first is on “Passionate Leadership – The Story of Amazing Ascent by Fellow Indians” which features the following 3 inspiring individuals. Scroll down for info on next panel.
Panel Discussion # 1
Muruganatham, Inventor of Low Cost Sanitary Napkin Machine
Mr.Muruganantham has made a powerful impact with his invention of low cost sanitary napkin making machine which won him the ‘Best Innovation National Award’ from the President of India.
He will speak on the personal journey of making the Sanitary Napking making machine. Also about Surviving versus Achieving.
Rajesh Bhat, CNN IBN Real Hero Award Winner, Rural BPO Entrepreneur
Rajesh Bhat, who is just 27 years of age, runs The Head Held High Foundation, which is turning illiterate villagers into BPO employees. “Our intention is to enable every villager, irrespective of whatever the background, caste, creed, religion to live a life of dignity with their head held high and give them an opportunity without charity,” Rajesh said. More about him here.
Rajesh Bhat will speak on his ‘Head held high movement’. What it meant to him when he won the CNN IBN Real Hero Award.
Babar Ali, World’s Youngest School Headmaster
Babar Ali is an Indian student and teacher from Murshidabad in West Bengal. He was called the “youngest headmaster in the world” by BBC in October 2009, at the age of sixteen.
Babar Ali is still a student himself, enrolled at the government-run Raj Govinda school in Berhampore, West Bengal.In the afternoons, starting at 4:00 p.m., he in turn teaches students in a school he founded in his parents´ back yard in Murshidabad. He had begun teaching at nine years of age, mostly as a game, and then decided to continue teaching other children at a larger scale.
Babar Ali will speak on the story of the hsi school, what inspired him to start the school , its challenges, and its success. He will also show a video presentation of his school.
Panel Discussion # 2
The second panel discussion that I will moderate is on the subject of “Passionate Leadership – The Story of Winning the Indian Turbulence” which has these two amazing individuals.
Anousheh Ansari, First Female Private Space Explorer
On September 18, 2006, Anousheh Ansari captured headlines around the world as the first female private space explorer. She also earned a place in history as the fourth private explorer to visit space and the first astronaut of Iranian descent. She blasted off for an eight-day expedition aboard the International Space Station as part of the Expedition 14 crew of the Soyuz TMA-9. This was the accomplishment of a lifelong dream for her. More about her here.
Anousheh Ansari will speak on The power of hope and imagination. Her experience of realizing a childhood dream of travelling to space. Stories of contributions to Space Exploration from Indians […this will act to motivate the young Indian engineers to consider space exploration as a career. ]
Madhan Karky, Computer Science Professor and Lyrics Engineer
Madhan Karky Vairamuthu is a lyricist, research associate, software engineer, and film dialogue writer. He is the son of poet and lyricist Vairamuthu. He is fast moving out of his father’s shadow by becoming an innovative lyricist. He has penned lyrics for songs in movies such as Ko, 180, Endhiran, Nanban, 7am Arivu etc. More about him here.
Madhan Karky will speak on his self-made breakthrough to the world of Movies. […the story of convincing Director Shankar to give an opportunity in Enthiran]. His tryst with Lyrics Engineering [..with atleast 2 examples of songs made through Lyric engineering]. And how he has been influenced by his famous father “Kaviperarasu” Vairamuthu.
Here is the press release that IIT Madras is releasing for the BrainJam session I’m conducting on 29th Oct at 6:30 pm. BTW, its a free, open event and everyone is welcome to attend.
IIT Madras Hosts BrainJam on Entrepreneurship
C-TIDES, the Entrepreneurship cell of IIT Madras, is hosting an engaging UnConference on “IDEA: A Beginning of Entrepreneur’s Journey” by Mr. Kiruba Shankar, a serial entrepreneur, a columnist and an author. Being from an engineering background, Mr. Kiruba has initiated several entrepreneurial ventures like Business Blogging, F5ive Technologies, Vaksana Farms, Verdure Books along with authoring books like Wikipedia: A beginner’s guide, Copy Right & Left and Crowdsourcing Tweet.
This highly acclaimed UnConference would primarily involve adrenaline filled, highly energetic brain jamming session where the audience are encouraged to openly share their entrepreneurial ideas/thoughts in less than a minute. Along with this thrilling extempore, the speaker would also spice up the session by sharing his entrepreneurial success story. He would also be drawing upon excerpts from the lives of the leading entrepreneurs and business leaders. Kiruba will touch upon how they came across their eureka moment of entrepreneurial idea, what mistakes they made, what to learn from them and how they scaled up their business.
The UnConference will be held on the 29th of October 2011 from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. at Central Lecture Theatre, IIT Madras. This is a free, open-invite event and interested person can register by sending an email to email@example.com
For more information, please contact:
C-TIDES, IIT Madras
I’m not a fan of the Kindle. I have a 2nd generation Kindle lying somewhere in my home for over two years and I have barely used it. However, I’m a huge fan of Jeff Bezos. I have admired his ability to envision long term success while braving a short term hit.
The Kindle is an outstanding example of just that. Amazon doesn’t want to make money off the devices but on the e-commerce that it enables. After all, that’s their core business.
Anyways, this post isn’t about the Kindle. It isn’t even about Jeff Bezos. It’s about the presentation lessons I learned from his Kindle launch.
I started watching the full video recording of Jeff Bezos a couple of days after the actual launch. I was hoping to catch a few minutes of the video but ended up sitting through the entire 51 minutes of the complete talk. I found the talk to be brilliant. Some say, he is no Steve Jobs. I disagree. He was just as good.
Following are the key take always.
Include Criticism: Jeff begins his talk by showing three quotes from people who all predicted absolute doom and failure of the Kindle four years ago. He then proceeds to show the graph where the Kindle books have overtaken the real books in sales. An unusual but effective way to drive home a strong point.
Minimal Text on Screen: The emphasis is on highlighting the most important words or numbers. For example, while announcing the cost of Kindle fire, the screen only had the number $199 in big bold font right next to the picture of Kindle Fire. This helps the viewer to quickly shift their focus back on the speaker instead of spending time reading the screen.
Professional Assistance: There is no doubt that Amazon hired a professional trainer to train Jeff Bezos. Getting a Pro makes perfect sense. This is a big stage and the world is watching. The difference between a mediocre performance and an outstanding one can mean billion dollars worth of sales. Spending a tiny fraction in hiring a professional trainer greatly helps.
Thorough Rehearsals: As the country ambassador for TEDx, I have learned that the greatest of speeches have hours of rigorous, repeated rehearsals hidden behind them. I can see the same in this presentation too. You can see the confidence as he moves from one slide to the next. Its perfectly rehearsed. When you know what’s on the slides, you tend to relax and that greatly helps you deliver a better talk.
Intersperse with Video and Audio: Throughout the 51 minute presentation, you will notice Jeff pepper his talk with video demonstrations and TV advertisements. It helps break the monotony of continuous speech while driving home the point.
Share Limelight With Team: Sharing the spotlight is greatly appreciated. In this presentation, Jeff introduces its new web browser, Amazon Silk. He then quickly gives way to a video which has the actual developers of the browser explain its features and how it is going to improve our browsing experience. Am sure that those developers and their team appreciate that.
Don’t Hide the Screen: Its a subtle but important point that most of us ignore. Jeff is on stage which has a monstrously huge screen. When he is presenting, you will notice that he always is either on the left or right side of the screen making sure not to obstruct the view. You will notice that its almost a conscious decision. Often, as speakers we get so much absorbed in our talk that we naturally gravitate towards the center of the stage. Its only out of practice we can correct this.
Recap Important Points: Jeff does this brilliantly. He introduces almost half a dozen new products in his talks. At the end of each segment where he talks about the product, he has one slide that re-emphasizes the key points before moving to the next product. This is brilliant. He followed an important diktat in presentation: “Say what you are going to say. Say it. Say what you just said”. Brilliant.
Overall, I would give it a double thumbs up. But hey, I’m a Jeff Bezos fan. So, take it with a pinch of salt.
AS I conclude, I noticed one huge difference between a Jeff Bezos product announcement and a Steve Jobs Product announcement. Its the sheer lack of applause.
At an Apple announcement, you will notice this almost cult-like atmosphere. Every announcement is greeted with applause along with a blitz of camera flashes. In this Amazon talk, as Jeff Bezos proudly raises his Amazon Kindle Fire and shows it to the World for the first time, all you hear is radio silence!!
There are a couple of reasons why I’m very excited to participate in today’s panel discussion. The first is the topic, ‘Past, Present and Future of Books‘ . It really caught my imagination.
The second are my co-panelists who have been stalwarts in their field. Sivasankari has been a household name and have heard her name ever since I was a kid. Reading her bio below made me realize her prowess in writing.
V.Sriram is a passionate historian and entrepreneur and his versatility amazes me. I have heard of V.Sriram many times but never had the opportunity to meet up with him. But I do know that he is a very close friend of Mr.S.Muthiah, who I proudly call as an inspiration and a mentor to me. Infact, it was Mr.Muthiah who recommended that I be invited to be a panelist.
The organizers have chosen the three of us to represent the three parts of the discussion. Sivasankari to talk on the past, Sriram to talk about the present and me to talk on the future. Guess our age must have something to do with it!
This panel discussion is conducted by the founders of BookandBorrow.com, to mark their 2nd anniversary in association with the Madras Book Club.
Here are the details:
Date : 15th July, 2011
Time: 6:30 pm
Venue: C.P.Ramaswamy Covention Centre, 1, Eldams Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 18
Sivasankari, Noted Tamil Author
Having carved a niche for herself in the Tamil literary world during the last four decades, Sivasankari’s works include more than 36 novels, 48 short novels, 150 short stories, 15 travelogues, 7 collections of articles, one talking book, 4 volumes of literary research book, 2 volumes of anthologies, and 2 biographies – of Smt. Indira Gandhi, the late Prime Minister, and of Sri. G.D. Naidu, a pioneer in many fields.
Six of her novels have been filmed in Tamil receiving popular public acclaim for their integrity and social commitment. One story has been filmed in Kannada and Telugu each.
Her novels on Drug Abuse, Alcoholism and Old Age Problem, written after many years of research and authentic spadework, have been serialised in National and Regional television networks with tremendous public response, and SUBAH – the serial on drug menace – was adjudged as one of the mega hits of 1987
She has also anchored the most popular Talk Show NETRU, INDRU, NAALAI on varied topics of social relevance in SUN TV.
She was instrumental in setting up the RAJAJI CENTRE FOR DE-ADDICTION at the VHS Hospital, Taramani, Chennai.
V.Sriram, Noted Historian
Since 1999, Sriram has been doing considerable work on the history of Chennai and the history of Carnatic Music. He writes frequently on these subjects for The Hindu, Madras Musings and Sruti, the classical arts magazine. Sriram has authored five books so far :
• Carnatic Summer, the lives of twenty two exponents (2004) which was described as unputdownable by APJ Abdul Kalam who claimed to have read it in one night.
• The Devadasi and The Saint, the life and times of Bangalore Nagarathnamma (2007)- this won the United Nations Female Population Award for Gender Sensitivity in writing
• Semmangudi, Life and Music (2008)
• Fifty Historic Residences of Chennai (2008)
• Four Score and More, the History of the Music Academy, Madras (2009)
Sriram has just finished writing the history of the Rane Group of Companies and is now working on the 175 year history of the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Sriram is a much sought after speaker on History and Fine Arts and has spoken at locations such as the India International Centre, Delhi, the Tag Centre and the Music Academy in Chennai and the Gayana Samaja in Bangalore. His talk on Chennai begins the academic year at the National Institute of Fashion Technology and the Asian College of Journalism each year. His end-of-the-year talks at the Tag Centre, on the last two Sundays of December witness record attendance.
Sriram pioneered the concept of heritage walks in the city in 1999. Since then his thematic tours of the city, conducted in August and December each year are famous and much sought after. He has so far done 25 different tours of the city and his aim is to complete a 100 different heritage routes in the city.
He is now the Managing Director of HVK Systems, controlled by his family and which is the largest distributor in India for Eaton Fluid Power, a Fortune 100 Company. He is also the Chief Operations Officer and Director of Broadgate Technical Services (India) Pvt. Ltd., the group’s software company which has clients in the India, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the United Kingdom.
Today at Proto.in, I’m hosting a special Innovation Jam where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs will get an opportunity to build a start-up and raise funds all in under one hour.
For those of you who don’t know, Proto.in is one of India’s leading entrepreneurship events that brings together key stakeholders in the startups space : the entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and media. Proto.in, over the years has showcased and inspired the Indian Startup community with some interesting startups that have come out of this ecosystem.
Theme : The theme is disaster management using Technology & Media. So the objective is to create a CSR product sponsored by Times Of India Group ,which helps both citizens and the government during calamities like floods, fires, terrorist attacks.
Flow of the Innovation Jam
1. After the brief is given ideas are first brainstormed upon by the crowd. All ideas – good or bad go up on a chart paper. The ideas to tackle this issue could be from across multiple sectors – including internet, software, a mobile application, a combination, GPS, a Geo coded app etc
2. All ideas are then voted upon. Each of the participants get 3 small stickers which act as votes. Each participant votes for the 3 ideas by sticking the stickers next to the ideas which he feels are the best. The top 3 ideas are chosen. Then, the entire audience is split into three team and each team is given one idea each. Their task is to build upon this idea with greater details. Each of the 3 groups then comes back and pitches their business plans to the investors + TLabs
3. .All 3 products are pitches with clear articulation on product, business plan and go to market strategy. Product, which will contain the complete feature set of the chosen idea to detail out how it will interact with various affected citizens, government agencies and NGOs to provide an effective solution to the problems faced during the disaster will come through as the winner. This will be chosen by the T-Labs team with Gaurav Saraf of Epiphany Ventures and Pradeep Tagare of Intel Capital. They will evaluate the idea, provides feedback for the same.
There are interesting prizes given to folks who come out with these ideas. The best part is that the best idea actually gets funded by real investors. The entrepreneurs then takes two weeks to spend quality time on the idea and come up with a realistic business plan that can be extention of ideas received in teh innovation Jam.
I’m really excited about this Innovation Jam. We did have it in earlier Proto.in events but this is the first time that ideas are seriously backed up. This coudl well turn out to the best of the Innovation Jams ever conducted at Proto.in. Can’t wait! The event takes place today (9th July) at Great Lakes Institute of Management between 3:15 and 4:15 pm. The event is supported by T-Labs, an early stage investor from the Times Internet Limited.