(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.
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.
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 vividly remember the first meeting with Jigyasa Giri & Pratibha Jain. It was a couple of years ago when they had invited me home for a wonderful spread of absolutely yummy home-cooked meal. The recipe for each of the food item was taken from their best selling, award winning book, ‘Cooking at Home with Pedatha’. The book went on to win the prestigious ‘Gourmand’ Award for the ‘The Best Vegetarian Book in the World’ in 2006.
The success of their first book encouraged them to publish their second book titled ‘Sukham Ayu’, a carefully researched book which is the quintessence of an ayuvedic diet. The book is a wonderful collection of recipes consisting of simple, vegetarian dishes with the goodness of Ayurvedic insights.
From left to right : Pratibha Jain (standing behind the podium) is a Ph.D in Languages and runs a language translation service. Jigyasa Giri (with the mic) is a Kathak dancer and choreographer. To her left is Latha Menon, documentary and adfilm maker and wife of Rajeev Menon, famed cinematographer and film maker. Next to her is Andrea Jeremiah, model, Jazz musician, singer, theatre personality and actress. Right most is me, singularly representing the male community, having been overpowered by a very eloquent, multi-talented, beautiful women.
When my turn came to speak, it was rather easy for me. I spoke from my heart. Not only was I impressed with Jigyasa’s and Pratibha’s passion for food and their ability to author books, I was quite impressed with their marketing ability. While writing a book is tough ( oh, just ask me!) , getting the book marketed is even tougher. I personally think that both of them did an outstanding work in using the Internet to get the word around.
They were also living my dream. I always wanted to document my grandmothers’ lives so that their rich experiences and fond memories can be passed on to my daughters and their kids. It always remained a wish list and when I meet someone who walked the talk, they instantly gain my respect.
The book is based on extensive research done at KARE, a health retreat in Pune. Dr.Prakash Kalmadi, Founder and Medical Director at KARE was so impressed with their first book, ‘Cooking at Home with Pedatha’, that he invited the authors to his retreat to start work on an Ayuvedic cookbook.
Just before the event was about to start at the Landmark bookstore in Nungambakkam, an old friend bumped into me. He happened to be there at the bookshop and when he learned that I was there for the book launch function, he asked me, “What’s the connection with you and cooking?”. He caught me off guard and I sheepishly replied, “Eating”!