Kiruba is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, podcaster and a farmer.

TED Crowdsources Speaker Selection. Next Audition in Bangalore.


When I first heard about TED Auditions, it perfectly made sense. I have organized a few TEDx events and attended a few more and I can tell you that some speakers were so outstanding that they truly deserved the main TED stage.

TED is launching a World-Wide hunt for amazing speakers via auditions in 14 cities (Amsterdam, Bangalore, Doha, Johannesburg, London, Nairobi, New York, São Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, Tokyo, Tunis and Vancouver). The auditions are physical events that take place between April and June.

The auditions for India have been announced and takes place on May 20th in Bangalore.

As one of the Global TEDx Ambassadors, I look forward to playing my part by spreading the word and recommending some awesome Doers (who are also excellent communicators) from India.

There are many TED supporters in India and if you are one of them, please take a moment to suggest a deserving speaker who deserves the limelight. More than TED, you would be doing that individual a big favor. Its time we collaboratively, unearthed some hidden jewels in our group.

Please note that Bangalore is the only city in India where the auditions will take place. However, the hunt for awesome speakers is Pan-India. So, no matter what city you live in, please look around your community and recommend names.

TED is looking for the following people. See if it rings a bell.

THE INVENTOR : sharing an innovation with world-changing potential

THE TEACHER : sharing valuable knowledge in a memorable way – to teenagers or adults

THE PRODIGY : young talent ready to break out

THE ARTIST : who can showcase their work in a compelling, new way (Don’t just talk about it. Show us your work!)

THE PERFORMER : music, dance, comedy, drama… or something entirely different

THE SAGE : wisdom the world needs from those who have learned it the hard way

THE ENTHUSIAST : with an infectious passion about a topic they can share

THE CHANGE-AGENT : helping shape the world’s future with work that matters

THE STORY-TELLER : vivid, original, meaningful … with a talent for connection

THE SPARK : with a powerful idea worth spreading

Learn more about TED 2013 Auditions.


Why I Love Teaching at Great Lakes Institute of Management

I teach a 20 hours credit program on ‘Social Media Marketing’ for the MBA students at Great Lakes. Its one of the best MBA institutes in the country and rightly so.

As I began teaching, I found visible difference in the 65 students at my class at Great Lakes as compared to the other institutions I’ve taught at.

First, the students are lot more interactive and the number of people opening up to answer or ask questions is way higher than I had seen. I loved it for they perfectly fit into my collaborative and discussion based teaching method.

Second, they are not afraid to speak their mind. If they don’t like certain sections of the subject or if they find the case studies not up to the mark, they don’t hesitate letting me know during the class or walk up to me to let me know in private. That level of feedback greatly helps a teacher in tailor making the lessons to better suit the students’ needs.

Third, the percentage of attendance is astounding. I’ve had most of the students attend my classes. That may not sound like a big deal until you take into consideration that the students are nearing the end of their gruelingly packed one year course. The fatigue factor is usually high towards the end.

Over 90% of the students have got their job placements done. So, they got what they came to the campus for. Mission accomplished. Its time to “chillax”. The motivation to attend classes wanes. In other colleges, I have seen attendance drop abysmally but not here. Even on the day of Holi, with all the frenetic celebrations in the morning, most of the students landed up for my class. I was genuinely impressed.

I wondered why? Is it the compulsion of attendance? Partially true but its not like the students really care for it much. Is it that the management is very strict with the students? Nope. No sign of that.

I found out the real reason. The students came because they were interested in the subject. They opted for my course inspite of having the choice of over 50 plus elective courses available for them to pick. They weighed in on all the choices, listened to their heart and picked the electives that matched their passion and their career goals. This, in my opinion, makes the fundamental difference. That explains the high levels of engagement and their interest in learning. Infact, over half a dozen students who had chosen other subjects voluntarily sat through the sessions.

I hope our education system in schools and colleges takes a lesson out of this.

As for me, I look forward to heading back to the campus next week to take the remaining classes. Their enthusiasm is infectious.


Everyday Leadership via a Simple ‘Thank You’.

I walk up to the KingFisher Airlines counter at Chennai Airport in order to check-in for my flight to Coimbatore. I hand over the printed sheet with the booking details. The lady at the counter takes one quick look at it and says, “Sorry sir, the flight has been cancelled”.

Cancelled, huh? I wasn’t surprised. Knowing the situation that Kingfisher Airlines is in, I was half expecting it. But I felt bad for the organizers of the ‘India Leadership Summit’ who booked the tickets 3 months in advance for me to come and speak at their event. Its highly unfair to them.

Me and my friend Vijay Anand, who is flying along with me, tell the lady in no uncertain terms that its important that we be there. The lady asks us to wait while she promises to find a solution. Half hour passes. We approach her again. She has no good answer. I begin to get annoyed and the annoyance was clearly written on my face.

I know its not her fault but too bad she’s in the firing line. She pleads for more time. I start to suspect that this is all just a time-wasting game. Just as we had given up hope and mentally thinking of taking an over-night bus to Coimbatore, the lady calls us and hands over two tickets to Coimbatore via Bangalore. Its a longer route but at least we get to fly.

The next day we return back to Chennai after the event. It was late at night and while waiting in line at the Taxi booking counter inside the Chennai airport, we see the same Kingfisher lady.

I felt a bit guilty for showing my annoyance to the lady who in the end was genuinely trying to find a solution. The least I could do is thank her. As I walk up to her, I couldn’t help notice how tired her face was. Obviously a long day of facing the ire of passengers like me. I thank her for yesterday’s tickets. She recognized us quickly. And you should have seen her smile. It wasn’t the plastic smile that airline staff usually give. I can read that from a mile. This was a genuine one.

I can tell that it certainly lifted her spirits. Strangely, do did mine. I’ll never forget her smile. It warmed my heart. I felt good.

3 seconds. That’s all it took to say thanks. And then I wondered if I did that to other people who helped me. People who do little things in our daily lives. I don’t mean a cursory thanks but a genuine, heart-felt one. The answer. Not always.

That’s exactly what Drew Dudley says we should do more of in this wonderful TEDx talk. We have all changed someone’s life — usually without even realizing it. Drew Dudley believes leadership is not a characteristic reserved for the extraordinary. In this funny talk from TEDxToronto, Drew Dudley calls on all of us to celebrate leadership as the everyday act of improving each others’ lives.

Watch this video.


Moderating Panel Discussions on Passionate Leadership at India Leadership Summit 2012.

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.



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