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Archive for the ‘Toastmasters’ Category

Persuade with Power

Posted by livin on June 23, 2010

Okay folks, I am done with P9 today. ! What a relief 🙂

I gave my 9th speech from the CC manual of Toastmasters today. Here’s a copy of the speech as-i-delivered-it. Hope you enjoy it:

Project 9: Why be here?

Imagine a place where there is immense love, respect, encouragement, support, learning, admiration, appreciation, recognition, excitement & development – a place of endless opportunities & possibilities, – a place where ideas take birth & are shared, – a place where your imagination takes flight, – a place where you come to speak & share & in the process discover yourself, – a place where the learning acquires a whole new meaning. That place, my dear friends is none other than, Toastmasters.

Mr Toastmaster & my dear friends,

If Toastmasters is such a beautiful place, wouldn’t you like to be a part of it? Wouldn’t you like to grab the endless opportunities Toastmasters throw at you? In the next 6 minutes, I am going to tell you that why you should join Toastmasters, why you should be here in this room, week after week, why you should actively participate in the meetings & club activities, why you should pick up your manuals and do your projects, why you should participate in the speech contests and why you should step up & be elected as officers?

There is a longer version of the answer & there is a shorter version too. If I were to give you answers to all the above questions in a single line, the answer would be: “You should do all of this for your own self development in order to achieve stellar success.”

The longer answer revolves around 3 aspects of Toastmasters: Communication, Leadership & People.

According to Jerry Seinfeld, “People’s number one fear is public speaking. And death is number two. This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

But if you want to be successful in whatever you do – at home, at work or in life in general – you need to have superior communication skills.

One year ago, I was a very shy person & had the same number one fear as most people. I thought of learning salsa or even thought of getting married to get rid of my shyness but in both cases I would have to dance to the tune of my partner. So, I chose Toastmasters to improve my communication skills and since the time I have given my Ice breaker, I have developed the art of breaking ice with anyone. Choosing Toastmasters stands out as one of the best decisions of my life.

Whereas Toastmasters serve as the platform for individual growth by improving your communication skills, it serves as a platform for team growth by improving your leadership skills. As you step up and take different roles every week, you improve your listening, observation, presentation & decision making skills. I can vouch for this from my personal experience of 1 year of being the president of Cisco Vani toastmasters club. The perspectives I got, the situations I got into, the decisions I made, evolved me as a person. It was a huge leadership learning experience for me.

And the most important contribution of Toastmasters is the wonderful people it brings into your life. I have met beautiful people in Toastmasters. Had I not joined Toastmasters, I wouldn’t have met these people in my lifetime. Now they are part of my life, friends for life. Not only friends, you meet new clients, employers & even mentors through Toastmasters.

For instance, last year, when I wanted to file tax returns, I was looking for a CA. I asked my Toastmasters friend, “Can you refer me a CA?” And she gave me the contacts of 5 CA’s, on the spot & I was amazed at the vast network of Toastmasters. There are more than 12,500 toastmasters clubs and more than 250,000 members in over 106 countries.

When you come here week after week, you not only develop your communication skills, enhance your leadership & people skills but you also get wonderful ideas. Every week you hear SAA speech, Presidential speech, prepared speeches & table topics. There are so many ideas & experiences floating around. You pick these ideas one by one & work on them & see where life takes you.

So, here I leave you with one such Idea.

As Neale Donald Walsch said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. So step out of your comfort zone, do your projects, take up roles & responsibilities & bring out that passion in you. Nobody can stop you from achieving what you dream. Dream Big & be the Distinguished Toastmaster you always wanted to be.


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Get Comfortable with Visual Aids

Posted by livin on June 23, 2010

I gave Project 8: Get Comfortable with Visual Aids from the CC manual On 21st June in Cisco Vani Toastmasters club.

I repeated speech 7, Apple vs. Microsoft along with a presentation. Here is the slideshow: Apple vs Microsoft

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Research your Topic

Posted by livin on June 17, 2010

I gave my 7th speech from the CC manual of Toastmasters today. Here’s a copy of the speech as-i-delivered-it. Hope you enjoy it:

Project 7: Microsoft vs. Apple

That day when John came to India, I told him,

“Mr. Chambers, I am really concerned about what is transpiring around us”.

He asked me, “CD, what do you mean, can you explain in detail?”

I said John, “Apple has only 3-4 products & Cisco has all kinds of catalysts, nexus, IOS, XR, NX OS & what not, but still Apple is way bigger than Cisco in terms of Market Cap”.

“Yes I am aware of that CD”, said John. “But then what to do, they have Steve Jobs as their CEO”.

I replied, “Make me the CEO of Cisco. I daily eat apple in my breakfast “.

He said, “Okay, But then how to take care of Microsoft, that’s also pretty big”.

“Let them fight with each other & in the meantime let me grow Cisco”.

After we mutually agreed on this, we posed for the paparazzi following us.

Conversation with John got me thinking about both Apple & Microsoft & I decided to compare both the companies, neck to neck.

What struck me was the similarity in both these technology companies. Apple was established on 1st April 1976 while Microsoft was founded on 4th April 1975. Both the companies have been associated with a legendary figure – Apple with Steve Jobs & Microsoft with William Henry “Bill” Gates III. While Steve Jobs was born on 24th February 1955, Bill Gates was born in October the same year. Similarities just don’t end here. Both Jobs & Gates are college drop outs too. That’s an amazing amount of similarity!

I moved on to compare the financial numbers of both these companies. Apple boasts of market cap of 230 billion dollars, while Microsoft’s market cap is 224 billion dollars. If you look at the Annual revenue, it’s 51 billion dollars for Apple & 59 billion dollars for Microsoft. In terms of gross profit, Microsoft is way ahead of Apple where MS has 46 bd & Apple 17 bd. lastly, the total cash in hand for Apple is 23 bd & for Microsoft it is 37 bd. These are humungous numbers. Both are among the largest companies on this planet.

Now, let’s spend some time comparing their products. Apple has products in various categories. The legendary product Mac has a lot of variants: Mac, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac book. In the consumer electronics category, Apple has truly changed the dynamics of the market. In 2001, Apple launched the first ever iPod. Since then it has launched iPod classic, iPod nano, iPod shuffle & iPod touch. In January 2007, Steve Jobs revealed the long anticipated iPhone, a convergence of an Internet-enabled Smartphone and iPod. And then in 2010, Steve Jobs launched, what I believe is a work of Art, a beautiful device called iPad. The iPad is a tablet computer primarily designed to view visual content including books, newspapers, video and online media. iPad sold 2 million devices across 10 countries in just 50 days. That’s one iPad every 3 seconds.

Now let’s shift our focus on Microsoft products. Platform Products and Services Division of Microsoft produces Microsoft’s flagship product, the Windows operating system. It has produced Windows 3.1, Windows 95, 98, 2000, Me, Server 2003, XP, Vista & the latest & greatest of all, Windows 7. Though, Windows is famous for its notorious blue screen, it has revolutionized the home pc market by potentially putting the pc in every home. MSN, Bing, Windows Live, MSNBC, Visual Studio, SQL server are just some of the products offered by this division. The Microsoft Business Division produces Microsoft Office, which is the company’s line of office software. Entertainment and Devices Division produces gaming console called Xbox, computer games such as Age of Empires, Halo & Microsoft Flight Simulator series.

Impact of both Apple & Microsoft has been huge on technology in specific & society in general. Both the companies have changed the world in their own unique way. Both have created the technologies, products & services that have transformed the way healthcare, education, communication, collaboration and entertainment is perceived & delivered in today’s modern era.

Did I say communication & collaboration in the last sentence? That reminds me of John again & our mutual understanding about the next CEO of Cisco. That evening, I assured him that in the next 5 years Cisco will be way ahead of both Apple & Microsoft because we have “The Communication Hub” at Cisco in the form of Cisco Vani. !

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Vocal Variety

Posted by livin on June 14, 2010

I gave my 6th speech from the CC manual of Toastmasters today. Here’s a copy of the speech as-i-delivered-it. Hope you enjoy it:

Project 6: Honeymoon Blues

Honey, where should we go for our honeymoon? Should we go to Malaysia, Mauritius, Maldives, Manali, Munnar or Mysore? This was my question to my fiancée after I failed to decide on my own even after doing 10 days of 24×7 extensive research on the history, geography, civics & economics of all these places. She shot back & said, “Let’s go to Malaysia”, and I was stunned. Here was a girl, who couldn’t on her own decide which color suited her better, or did that dress look good on her, or should she buy sandals with high heels or long boots. And in whiff of a second, she decided “Malaysia”.

Mr. Toastmaster & my dear friends,

I asked her further, “Honey, How did you decide on Malaysia so quickly?” “Well, I want to go to the topmost floor of Twin towers in Kuala lumpur.” And, I asked, “And push you from there, you dumb ass”.  I realized, I asked one question too many.

But this got me thinking about the decision making process itself. What I was following was analytical, logical, deliberative approach where you collect all the data points, map them into a 10×10 matrix & then follow a decision tree to converge on a decision. And what my fiancée used was an intuitive, gut based approach where you follow your heart, your intuition & the answer feels just right to you.

As they say, Devil lies in the details. And here the devil for me was the cost. Even after revising my budget 4 times, I still couldn’t buy tickets in a budget airline or book a budget hotel in Malaysia. Should I fly by Malaysian airlines or Air Asia? Air Asia is cheap but unreliable & Malaysian airlines is expensive but on time, more reliable airlines. I asked her, why do we have a choice in this world? Why everything has pros & cons? Why can’t we have everything in an all inclusive package and that too for free? She replied, “For that, you should go to bed & sleep because that can happen only in dreams & not in reality.”

Decision making is a constant struggle between your heart & mind. Your heart “feels” that this is a right thing to do but your mind is always bothered by thoughts like “isn’t that too expensive?”, “what will people say? “Will I look good?”

Like when we were deciding on which hotel to book in Malaysia, I felt that Hotel Goodtime looked really nice & we will have a gala time there, but my mind was doing cost benefit analysis. But when your priority is to have a quality time with your partner & especially when it’s your honeymoon, mind takes a back seat.

But that day, when she flew to Bangalore to meet me, my mind didn’t take a back seat but went into overdrive & pulled off a stunner. She wanted to have candle light dinner at a calm place. She suggested “Royal Orchid”, “Leela”, “Zuri”, “Windsor Manor” among others. I looked into my pocket & said sure, why not & took her to “Mayura Sagar” which is just next to my house. It was raining heavily & was very dim there too the only difference being that it was not a candle but a zero watt bulb. But the love in my heart blew away all the fire in her head & made that a perfect romantic dinner.

Sooner or later, husbands become dumb after marriage & I am no way an exception to that rule & hence I decided to become one before marriage itself.  To decide each & everything related to my honeymoon, I would go to The searches would be something like this: “Where should I go for my honeymoon” & the result would show me a picture of dabur honey & the map of moon. I realized I am not the only dumb person on this earth, is dumber than me.

I don’t find myself alone in this sea of indecisiveness. I am swimming alongside William Shakespeare who once famously said “To be or not to be– that is the question”. I really wonder where Shakespeare would have gone for his honeymoon. But to overcome my indecisiveness, what I need is a device similar to iphone or ipad, a device called “idecide”, a device which can decide everything for me. Can you tell me from where can I get that device?

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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…

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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.

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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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Organize Your Speech

Posted by livin on April 30, 2010

I gave my second speech from the CC manual of Toastmasters on 26th October 2009. Here’s a copy of the speech as-i-delivered-it. Hope you enjoy it:

Project 2: Money is Honey

Just 5 days back, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded 76 grants of a million dollar each to public health researchers around the world. An “electronic nose” to detect tuberculosis, a new blood-stage malaria vaccine, and using ultrasound to determine the nature of infection of the mosquito-borne disease are among the projects that received grants from the Gates Foundation. This led me thinking. Wow. !  Money, a super power.  Saving millions of lives by the constructive use of money.

Fellow toastmasters & honorable guests.  Very Good Afternoon to all of you.

I have always viewed Money as a great power. Used constructively, it has the power to eradicate all the miseries of human race. Poverty, Education, Deadliest diseases, Hunger, and what not. Our own Silicon Valley is full of examples that show if used constructively how money has the power to create great companies & make life so much easier for all us.

On the flip side, money is a very dangerous tool. It has such a destructive power that nothing else can match on this planet. The Manhattan Project that created the Atomic bomb led to the nuclear attacks on the cities of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. The attacks resulted in wide destruction & killing of over 2 lakh people.

Few days back, I had my own brush with the destructive power of money. I went to market to buy fruits & vegetables. On my way, I met a banana seller. I asked him, how much did 12 bananas cost. He said 20 rupees. I went around buying other things & when I went back to banana seller & bought a dozen bananas, he charged me 25 rupees. I reminded him that he said 20 rupees & not 25. He started quarrelling with me. And suddenly, he took out his sword & attacked me. Just before the sword hit my neck, I woke up. Somebody was trying to kill me. For mere 5 rupees.

That was a dream i had few days back but when u open the newspaper, you actually see this happening in reality. People kill each other for 50 paisa. Not only this, newspaper is full of brides being burnt, being killed for money, family wars over money. People sell their daughters, wives for few thousand rupees.

Family wars. That reminds me of our own Ambani brothers. What a legend Dhirubhai Ambani was. And what the legends are both his sons. But what you saw few years back & what is unfolding in Supreme Court these days. Essentially, a family feud over Money.

Money has permeated the social fabric of our lives. Things like love, affection, respect have all been replaced by Money. Listen to this conversation I had with my aunt just a few days back when i visited Punjab for a close relative’s wedding. After the marriage was over, my aunt was sitting in the center of a bed with envelops filled with cash spread all around her. What she had in hand was a Register & a pen. Very religiously, she would open an envelope, count the cash in it down to a single rupee & make an entry in the register. I asked: “Aunty, what are you doing? Why are you writing this down in the notebook”. She replied: “Chetan, I am noting down the person’s name who gave this envelope & how much money he gave”. But why Aunty, I asked. Aunty replied: “So that, tomorrow, when anybody of these invites me, I know much to give back”. My head went down in shame. Do we measure today’s gift with how much cash a person gave rather than love, respect & affection.

People change their attitude depending on the how much money the person has.

Once Nizam of Hyderabad invited Mirza Ghalib to a series of Royal Mushaira. Ghalib reluctantly accepted the proposal and arrived at the Palace Gates. In his rundown clothes, he was turned away by the guards even though he introduced himself by telling his name and occupation. When his friend, Zauk came to know of this refusal, he offered his own elegant Sherwani to Mirza Ghalib for next day’s mushaira. Ghalib somehow squeezed himself into an ill fitting Sherwani and presented himself at the gates. This time he was allowed the passage. And in the mushaira Ghalib really won over Nizam’s heart with his moving and brilliant nazms. After the mushaira came the royal banquet. Ghalib was sitting bang opposite the Nizam. And Nizam observed that Ghalib instead of eating was taking the morsels to his Sherwani, then topi, then pyjamas. Nizam had an indication that Ghalib was an eccentric but what he was doing seemed downright idiotic. Nizam could not help asking Ghalib what was he upto? Trying to feed the clothes! Ghalib replied ‘exactly, because Ghalib never came. He came yesterday and was not allowed in. It were these clothes that got the permission to enter. So they deserve the food.

Money is important, but not everything. It’s good to have money but more than that required is the attitude to handle money. If you can succeed in this world, have all the wealth, have all the power in the world & still be humble, you have truly succeeded.

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The Ice Breaker

Posted by livin on April 30, 2010

I gave my first speech from the CC manual of Toastmasters in mid July last year. Here’s a copy of the speech as-i-delivered-it. Hope you enjoy it:

Project 1: Ice Breaker

Mr. /Madam Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters & Honorable guests,

Good Afternoon,

This is my first speech, The Icebreaker. This is the speech where I will talk about myself.  So let me introduce myself to all of you.

I am Chetandeep Singh. Is it true? Ok. I don’t know about it myself, but my parents gave me this name and everybody else calls me by this name. So I should say, my name is Chetandeep Singh. But since the objective of this speech is to introduce you to me and not to my name, let me try to introduce myself.

So, Who am I? Let us ponder over this question for sometime & try to find out, if we can.

In my present form, I began my journey on a tiny planet of a tiny solar system of a tiny galaxy of this incredibly huge Universe at some point of time which humans mark as October 1982 A.D. The significance of that seemingly insignificant moment of time is immense. I got a vehicle called “body” to survive in this world.

I grew up at a place called Jalandhar in Punjab. My parents were in a Government job. I am the younger of 2 sons. I did my schooling from Jalandhar. Did my B.Tech Comp Science from REC Jalandhar. Started my career with Aricent, moved on to Aperto Networks, & now at Cisco.

But why? Why I was born to parents to whom I was born? Why i was born in Jalandhar & not San Jose. Why did i study computer engineering and not economics even though I have a lot of interest in Finance & Economics?  Why i am at Cisco & Why am i addressing you people today? And why only you & not even one more or one less. These are questions to which even I don’t have an answer. But more importantly, I want to introduce me to you.

I have enjoyed a privileged life. I didn’t have a Mercedes or a BMW when I was a kid. Nor do I have it today. But the very fact, that I can see, hear, smell, taste & speak make me feel privileged when I think of those who can’t. I don’t eat at the Leela’s or Taj’s or Oberio’s but the fact that I get to eat 3 meals a day make me feel satisfied when I think of those who sleep hungry. Why I am privileged & why many are underprivileged? These are questions to which even I don’t have an answer. But more importantly, I want to introduce me to you.

Two years ago, I bought a house in Bangalore but the mistress is yet to come. Buying a house left me in monetary debt for next 20 years. But there is a much bigger debt which I am trying to settle for past I don’t know how much time. That is the Karmic debt. Daily I do good things & bad things, creating & paying my Karmic Debt. When will God bestow his grace unto me & my Karmic Debt get over & when I will be free. These are questions to which even I don’t have an answer. But more importantly, I want to introduce me to you.

I have desires, goals & ambitions. I also want to be rich, travel abroad, have a successful career, a great family, and a big bungalow. But will these materialistic things give me inner satisfaction & happiness. I know the answer this time. But more importantly, I want to introduce me to you.

To introduce myself, I should know about myself. This is my limitation. The fact is that I am a work in progress & I am trying to discover myself. To give you a glimpse, I can say, I am a soul, who is on a journey on the path of evolution. I have changed many forms ranging from stones to plants to animals & now I am in a human form. I don’t know what the next one will be. But the future is full of hope. The wise men say, “Your reap what you sow”. I was never born & I will never die. I will only progress & discover myself in every form. And I am very hopeful. One day, I will be able to introduce myself.

–          Mr./ Madam Toastmaster

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