Love – Life – Living

Echoes from the outskirts of the universe by “The Fringe Guy”

Archive for May, 2010

Your Body Speaks

Posted by livin on May 31, 2010

I gave my 5th speech from the CC manual of Toastmasters today. Here’s a copy of the speech as-i-delivered-it. Hope you enjoy it:

Project 5: Swimming

How do you feel taking off your shirt in front of a group of people ? How about taking off your pants too. ! Pretty awkward, right ? How would you feel if the group of people consisted of a few men, women & kids. What if the women were young & beautiful ? I know some of you with 6 packs would die at such an opportunity but not me.

If I will ever have to take my shirt off, I would go into a dark corner of my room, triple check that the door is locked, from inside, curtains are properly done, lights are off & only then take off my shirt. Not that I have anything special to hide but it’s just that I am too shy. Once my 6 years old niece caught me doing this & asked “chachu, why do you change your shirt like this. What are you hiding ?”. That was the most embarrassing moment of my life.

It was exactly how I felt on that Sunday morning when I was standing, no, hiding in the group of people besides the swimming pool of my apartment complex. & I saw the coach standing on the aisle of the pool, naked, i.e with his shorts ON, standing erect & then diving into the pool. Wow. ! what a dive that was. He jumped in the air & then with his back bending beautifully creating a curve in the air , he splashed into the water, like a dolpin. I was mesmerized with the beauty of that dive. & then I felt a thump of my back & my “swimming mate” was telling me to take off my shirt. With all kinds of protruding bellies around me, I felt at ease & exposed mine & then rushed to cover myself with water & jumped in the pool.

Ouch. ! the water of cold. Ohooooo ohooooo it’s so cold. But then suddenly, the coldness of water withdrew away & I felt I was in a heap of cotton. I have never been surrounded by such a massive body of water even though the swimming pool was just 5 feet deep & 20 metres long but still it was massive, for me, atleast. Friends, I must tell you that feeling in the water was awesome when I filled in my breath, went completely into the water, let me body loose & my body started floating. There was no tension in my body, all stress gone, I was feeling feather light, totally relaxed & I felt my body was nonexistent. There I was in my purest of forms floating on a bed of water. It’s an amazing experience.

In the subsequent sessions I learnt freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, under water swimming. Learning so many things to do in water was simply fun.

I was told that swimming is a great exercise & helps reduce weight & belly both. Swimming surely was a great & refreshing exercise. So refreshing that it would leave me feeling hungry like I hadn’t eaten for days. Result: I ate double than I used to & u know what didn’t reduce. Also, swimming has great effects. It can increase the size of a human being. Don’t believe me. See my size increased – in width.

How can I forget that night. It was 8 pm, a full moon in the sky. I came from office & was very tired. Let’s go swimming, I thought.  Yes, a great idea. It was beautiful weather outside , star lit sky & a full moon. I took off my shirt & noticed someone in the pool. As I lowered myself in the pool, I observed, it was one of those young & beautiful girls in the pool. I couldn’t believe my luck, there I was, swimming with a girl in the same pool. O my god. ! I was so excited. In the next 30 minutes, I don’t know if I did a  single movement. I was plain dumbstruck with the idea that I was sharing the same pool with a girl even though I was in one corner & she another 20 meters apart.

Learning swimming has been one of the best decisions of my life. It has given my legs a space to kick around, my arms a space of move, & my mind, a space to dream. I will conclude this speech by sharing one such dream. One night, after swimming for 4 hours, I saw a dream. I am standing in the balcony of my 8th floor apartment & I feel the urge to swim. I take off my shirt, jump a little high & then dive from the 8th floor. I start kicking with my legs, flap my arms & start swimming .. no… flying, like a bird in the open air & the whole world to explore…


Posted in Toastmasters | 8 Comments »

How to Say It ?

Posted by livin on May 10, 2010

I gave my 4th speech from the CC manual of Toastmasters today. Here’s a copy of the speech as-i-delivered-it. Hope you enjoy it:

Project 4: 1-2-3-LEAD: How to discover the leader in you

Imagine a short stout man clad in a white dhoti standing on a stage in front of hundreds of people & uttering something into the microphone. Or Recall a young guy in his late twenties appearing before an audience of wise men & women & hitting the gavel on a podium and saying “I call to order this meeting of Cisco Vani”. What word comes to your mind to describe that man clad in white dhoti or that young guy behind the podium? The word that flashes in my mind is LEADER.

In the next 6 minutes, I will give you practical tips on how to bring out the leader in you. Play with these tips, experiment, explore & discover the leader in you. And the way I am going to give you these tips is by expanding the acronym LEADER.

L stands for Listen:

A leader listens & listens aggressively, listens with respect in his heart. He Listens with an intent to understand & gives the speaker a feeling of being understood.

Next time you talk to somebody, observe yourself. Somebody is talking to you & what you are doing, just waiting for him to finish so that you can start speaking. Your urge to speak is so strong that sometimes you don’t even wait for the other person to finish & just interrupt in between and start speaking.

L also stands for Love:

John Maxwell said & I quote “True leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.” Unquote.

Connect emotionally with people. Put People first. One of the best learning I have had in Toastmasters is that People are the most important assets of any organization or club.  Create a bond of Love between the people you lead & among the people themselves & they will remember you forever.

E stands for Empathy:

To show empathy is to identify with another’s feelings.

Let’s say, it’s 7pm & you come home after a long day of work & you ring the bell. Nobody opens the door. You ring the bell again & again & after some time your mom or your wife opens the door & without asking anything, you attack them & say “Don’t you know I had a long & tiring day at office, can’t u just open the door at a single bell”.

Let’s switch positions & say you are taking a shower & your wife comes home at 7pm after a long & tiring day & rings the bell multiple times. Now you open the door and tell your wife, “Well, I was taking a shower, can’t you just wait for a couple of minutes.”

This is what empathy is all about. It is to emotionally put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. That can happen only when you first take off your own.

A stands for Authenticity:

“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” said Abraham Lincoln

You can pretend to listen, love, empathize, etc… but you can’t long last if you just pretend. You have to have the “Authenticity of Character” which ensures that these feelings, these traits are for real.

D stands for Discipline:

What I mean by Discipline is “Self leadership”. You lead yourself first & then the other people. A very practical example would be to be Punctual all the time. If you promise somebody to meet at 5pm, it means 5 pm & not 5 pm IST which is equivalent to 7pm.

D stands for Down to Earth:

According to me, “being down to earth” or “Humbleness” is the single biggest virtue of a great Leader. If you remember the movie “Lage Raho Munna Bhai”, Sanjay Dutt gives a simple but profound advice to the young girl going to meet her prospective groom “Just observe the way he talks to the server. If he call him with respect, he’s IN, if he calls him “ch ch” , he’s OUT”.

E stands for Ensure:

To explain ENSURE,I will take an example. We all have a great habit of sending emails. We think that we have sent an email & our job is done. No. You ought to follow up & persistently ENSURE that the job is indeed done.

In My Dictionary, R stands for 2 things

Relate: To be a leader, you need to network, network and network extensively. Every place, every time is an opportunity to network & who knows maybe you find your life partner through networking just like I met mine through my Toastmasters network.

Read to Lead: If you want to be a leader, read a lot. Expand the horizon of your knowledge by reading. Reading Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare would be like teleporting oneself to the 16th century & experiencing the eternal love. What a wonderful experience. !

To conclude, I would just say:

Leader in you is your Destiny, bringing it out is your Responsibility & to ensure that you bring it out, be Authentic & Disciplined, Listen with Empathy, Dream Big & still be Down to Earth. Read to Lead, Relate to people, empower them & Love them.

Posted in Toastmasters | 1 Comment »

Career & Career Transitions

Posted by livin on May 4, 2010

Today at Cisco we had Connected Women Leadership Forum 2010 organized by “Cisco Connected Women”. There were a lot of talks, panel discussions among a keynote address by one of the SVP’s (Senior Vice President).

A whole lot of talk surrounded around “Career” & “Career Transitions”. So, let me put together the key learnings from what i gathered today.


1. The experience, the learning you have on the job counts. No job is demeaning but has lot of learnings embedded in it.

2. Work for the experience and not the Title.

3. Even if that means you have to step back in terms of a pay cut or a lower ‘title’, but if the experience is rich, go for it.

4. The SVP who gave the keynote address mentioned that she spent first 20 years of her career building the skill set & laying a solid foundation and then she accelerated. Now she’s one of the high profile executives at Cisco.

5. Every job demands one key thing – will you get the desired results ?

6. EQ matters as much as the IQ.

7. Resiliency – the attitude of “never quit” counts big time. Sometimes you are hit on the head but how you bounce back shows how resilient you are.

8. Personal commitment to work/projects. How personally committed you are to the success of the project. This doesn’t mean that you need to work long hours. It’s simply an attitude of “care” & “responsibility” towards the project. It’s an attitude of “not letting the TEAM down”.

9. Differentiate yourselves among the group. What specific value do you add and what do you bring to the table.

Some more notes: You need to have a vision, deliver growth & profits, need to believe your intuition etc…

Essence: Career is not a series of job change. It’s a marathon – a long haul.

Career Transitions

1. You need to plan & execute well defined career moves. There will be failures, or setbacks, but then you need to be resilient.

2. Do Shadowing. If you are interested in a role, identify the people who are already in that role, talk to them, shadow them, learn from their experience. And then decide, if you are fit for that role.

3. Network, Network & Network. The importance of Networking can’t be emphasized more.

4. Managing your career is a part of your job & not as a addition to your job. Invest time here.

5. Prepare a cheat sheet of the role you want to be in. Talk to the people, understand what the role requires & then work backwards.

Essence: You need to plan & execute well defined career moves.

I spent around 4 hours attending & volunteering for these sessions. In short, time well spent.


Posted in Cisco | 1 Comment »

Get to the Point

Posted by livin on May 3, 2010

I gave my third speech from the CC manual of Toastmasters today. Here’s a copy of the speech as-i-delivered-it. Hope you enjoy it:

Project 3: Security is a Myth

Sitting on a hefty profit of twenty thousand rupees with a smile on my face, a spring in my step & a touch of arrogance in my head, i left for a cup of tea & for the daily dosage of office gossip with my colleagues at 11:00 am. Over the tea, as i was boasting about my “fundamental” skills that how i can identify the intrinsic value of a company & it’s stock price i received a SMS from Sensex down 10%, trading suspended for 1 hour. The tea cup in my hand slipped & fell to the ground taking along the pride in the heart & the smile on my face.

Mr. Toastmasters, ladies & Gentlemen,

In a matter of 15 minutes, my profit of 20 thousand bucks took a sharp U turn & there i was sitting on a hefty loss of 30 thousand bucks. Friends, in that moment of silence & grief, i realized, Security is a Myth & Safety an Illusion.

All our lives, we believe in the Mirage created by this world that we are secure. That nothing can happen to us. Still accidents happen & people die. Humans, as I have come to the conclusion, are most optimistic fools as was demonstrated by the financial crisis of 2008.

Or let’s take another example & step back a few years in the history. On 26th December 2004, the greatest earthquake in 40 years occurred in Indonesia. The earthquake generated a disastrous tsunami that caused destruction in 11 countries. By the end of the day more than 150,000 people were dead or missing and millions more were homeless. Who of those 1.5 lakh people in their wildest imagination would have thought that tomorrow will be the last day of their lives.

How many times I have read/heard this story. A person, in a good health goes to a doctor in the morning & in the evening discovers that he has a life threatening disease & his days are numbered. Eg: Lance Armstrong, Steve jobs, & even that Jennifer in Eric Segal’s famous novel “Love story”.

Still, we live with a frown on our face & sadness in our hearts. We fight with our neighbours & get irritated by the smallest of provocations. We tightly guard our homes, our jobs, our families, our “stuff” forgetting that all this is nothing but an illusion.

We take unusual kind of risks. We drive like Michael S, beating the speed limits, crossing the traffic signals, believing that nothing will happen to us. However, We never take the risk of following our heart. We always wanted to do something different. May be start a restaurant, or be a part of a NGO or follow our passionate hobby of being a fashion photographer. But we never took that risk fearing the outcome but forgetting that Security is nothing but a Myth.

We have all heard Steve Jobs telling us many times & I quote  “”””You’ve got to find what you love. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.””””

Friends, things happen in split second. Never wait for the “right” time, “right” opportunity to knock on the door. Because your time is NOW. It’s NOW or Never. It’s your life, Make it large.

Remember: A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.

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