India Welcomes a new leader

India Welcomes a new leader

Once in a long while, a great leader arrives. They are so charismatic, so powerful that they can change the course of the world, of nations and most importantly of attitudes of the people that make up countries.

The leader inspires hope and allows people to believe in a better future than the one we can see for ourselves. A leader often carries within themselves enough will power to alter the inertia of millions of people.

Today, we have a great leader being elected as the leader for India. Narendra Modi, you have changed so much for so many people; and more importantly for me.

The reason why my faith is in you is because of all the beautiful things that you have done. There are many things that seemed impossible that you made me believe.

1. I believe that India’s future will be bright under your leadership

In January, I had the privilege to visit Gujarat and spend 10 magical days there. I travelled all parts of Gujarat, and spoke to many people: from taxi drivers, to resort owners to dabeli hawkers – and all of them had something lovely to say about Narendra Modi; despite their religious backgrounds.

Gujarat has bounced back from the massive earthquake of 2001, becoming one of the jewels in India’s crown. The infrastructure is world class, the cities are planned beautifully and even better, the planning is meticulously executed.

The pothole-less roads through the length and breadth of Gujarat, the bus routes of Ahmedabad, the huge flyovers in yet-to-be-developed towns, the “kutch nahi dekha to kuch nahi dhekha” tourism campaigns, and optimum usage of all kinds of terrain have all converted Gujarat to a state that stands out.

This makes companies from all over the world are choosing Gujarat as the place to be, and is always in the top 3 locations!

Now imagine, if he could do this with Gujarat, rebuilding something from scratch, imagine what Narendra Modi and his team can do with this country.

2. He has made the nation believe in the power of a single vote

With the highest turn out for votes since 1951, you have inspired a nation to get out of their homes and go place their vote.

3. He has made people who had given up on politics convert into political enthusiasts!

I am one of these people. Hardly keeping track of what was going on, because every time I made an effort I only saw disappointment. This time, my eyes are on the screen, I have butterflies in my stomach and I can feel this aura of excitement around me. Everyone’s seems excited!

In my eyes, these 3 things are amazing characteristics to have in the leader of our country. India has won!

How “I wish” can change the world

My company is being incubated by Microsoft ventures for the Accelerator Program. Its been an exciting one month, and another couple more to go. The things I have learned just being around the founding teams of 16 start ups, mentors, established players in the industry as well as entrepreneurs who have “made it big” has changed caused a paradigm shift.

We have been meeting a whole bunch of angel investors and venture capitalists. Reputation has it that these are the biggest, meanest sharks out there. They are interested in one thing, and one thing only: MORE MONEY.

They expect your baby business [which you love, which grows, which changes every day] to be some kind of inanimate black box. This black box – doesn’t matter who, what, where, when or how – but they want to put in $100 and get back $150. And they want it quick.

Knowing everything we knew, we created our PPTs, full of numbers, charts, proof that our idea could be that little black box they were looking for.

Standing infront of them. The first question they asked us was: “WHY?” Why this business, why did you start it? Why do your customers need it?

We looked at each other – this was so unexpected.

After that meeting, I talked to the rest of the companies – and the first question thrown at them was the same.

And when you ask that question, the most exciting stories come up. Answers like:

1. I wished I knew how to dress better, but can’t afford a stylist.

Business: Voonik.com ; your personal stylist online for free

2. I wished my mom could sell her home cooked food and it could reach out to more people:

Business: imly.in ; an online store where home chefs can set up store fronts and foodies can discover home food around them

3. I wish I could access my contacts from anywhere

Business: Intouch ; a way to auto sync your contacts from all your accounts across all email ids, phones, tablets etc with a single app.

What I love is that they changed their “I wish” to an “I do”.

We all use these same words, but more often than not, our wishes remain wishes because we are waiting for someone else to fulfil it.

The biggest businesses, the best entrepreneurs and the things that have shaped out lives started with a wish. Next time you say these words, you may want to think about how many other people may have the same wish, and you might just have the idea that changes the world.

Happy wishing, happy changing the world.

Set yourself free in 2014!

Set yourself free in 2014!

Yesterday, I was installed as the president of my toastmasters club. As I stood there, on the dias- I looked at the members of the committee and the club. I saw the twinkling eyes of those who never gave up on me and brought me to this place.

It was a surreal moment for me – standing there giving my acceptance speech, as it was something I had never forseen for myself.

It shows the kind of journey that I have had in Toastmasters, and how a set of people have changed my life.

Going back in time – My transformation started with the concept of freedom.

Freedom: The power or right to act, speak, think or do as one wants. I am a true believer of complete and absolute freedom, and come on, who isn’t? Who doesn’t want the world to be at their feet and every goal, dream and ambition to be just a choice away?

My whole life – every choice I would make would be centered on “What do I want?” And I got away with it just fine. Every choice was made at the drop of a hat, last minute frenzies being my best friends.

Well, luckily for me – Toastmasters was about to change that.

5 years ago, when I first joined Toastmasters, I was thrown out of my comfort zone. If you wanted to give speeches, you had to inform your Vice President of Education [VP-E] IN ADVANCE. If you wanted to take up a role – you had to plan it – IN ADVANCE. Commitments here, commitments there, commitments everywhere.

Commitment. It was clipping my wings, grounding my beloved freedom, hanging over my head like a sword.

Then, one day, it blew up in my face. My phone was ringing, and Priyadarshi [the past president, my inspiration, motivation and mentor] was on the other line. He wanted my commitment to be VP-E when he was president.

6 months of rolling out the agenda – week after week, coordinating things, PLANNING IN ADVANCE – not just for me, but for the whole club?!

My logical mind put its foot down and said no way – but reason and logic are friends of many others too. I looked to my sunshine family for a way out – for someone to agree with the critic in my head. As I made call after call, not a single person sided with my ciritc.

I was in awe. Here were people, who saw potential in me – beyond what I saw in myself. Here were people that had a 100% faith that I was capable of doing things I never thought I could. These were people who believed in me – even when I didn’t believe in myself.

Filled with self doubt, but trusting my Sunshine family – I managed to give my shaky word.

Now, stepping into the shoes of the president – I look back at the past 6 months, having played my part as VP-E and I realize, it was the best time of my life.

I did so much more in the last 6 months than I had in years put together. I felt freer, like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, like I could do whatever I really wanted.

It is now that I realize for the first time – the connection between freedom and commitment.

Freedom: The power to act, think or do as one wants.

The connection between freedom and commitment lies in asking the right question about what you want.

“What do I want right now?” and “What do I really want?”

What we all want in this journey to Improve our communication skills, leadership skills, make new friends, add value to the lives of others and maybe even to help the less fortunate.

Sometimes, what you want right now and what you really want are not the same thing. It took me 5 long years in toastmasters to learn that:

The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating. In work, in play, in love, and in life. The act of making a commitment frees you from the tryanny of your internal ciritc. It frees you from the fear that parades around like rational hesitation.

To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life, because once you have decided something – nothing and no one can get in your way.

To make the most of 2014, I suggest that you to commit to what you really really want.

Forget about the who’s, what’s, where’s, when’s and how’s – the universe will rearrange itself to help you get what you want.

And it all starts with a simple commitment. Nothing is out of our reach. Weight loss, making friends you never imagined you would have, career goals, writing that book, adventures that will turn into stories- all lay ahead of us.

We have the freedom to achieve our goals – no matter how big or small they are. We have the freedom to ask for help when we need it. We have the freedom to scale to greater heights. We have the freedom to move ahead in our journeys – together.

This year, commit to setting yourself free.

Happy 2014!

Coming out of your Closet

Yesterday, I needed to have a difficult conversation with a friend. I didn’t want to bring up the topic. My hands were tremulous and my stomach was turning over – inside out and outside in.

Finally after two hours of figuring out how to bring it up – I finally picked up the phone and dialed the number.

Well, lucky me – he responded with “hey, I’m in a meeting. I’ll call you back.”

Great. So much for courage. Anyway – over the next 40 min – we texted; and I bravely did the most difficult thing. I was fully and completely honest. And to my surprise – there was no hurt, no anger, no walls – there was honesty coming right back at me.

I loved it. Are all difficult conversations – as simple? Is it in the way we deal with them?

I am so inspired. I have always heard my mom quoting Warren Buffet – “Honesty is an expensive gift, don’t expect it from cheap people.”

Maybe being honest will let me know who should be a part of my life – and who shouldn’t. Shouldn’t the closest people around you deserve to see the side of you with no makeup, no walls and no fears?

I know all tough conversations are not easy. And not all of them have good endings – but like Ash Beckham says – A closet is no place for a human being.

But before you come out – you need to know when you are trapped inside. Some great indicators are:

1. A feeling of impending doom
2. Knots in your stomach
3. Fear of confrontation

If something is scaring you – talk about it, and talk about it today. Have that conversation. Face the facts. It will be tough. It will be trying. It will be soul bearing. But – So What?

At least you will know: where you stand, that you are loved for who you really are, or that someone doesn’t deserve to be in your life – because they just don’t care.

It may be difficult but you will come out of it feeling – a true sense of power. Power over your choices and your future.

I hope you are as inspired as I am – to come out of your closet!

Perils of a limited vocabulary

Perils of a limited vocabulary

I met someone the other day. He had such great command over English. It sounded as though every word was carefully chosen to express his ideas, beliefs and visions.

It suddenly got me thinking. Does my vocabulary match up?

I started to listen to myself – beautiful, nice, awesome. The same words repeated over and over again till the held no more meaning. Not only was I speaking in vague, overused words – but I was THINKING in them too.

How long had it been since I learned a new word? How long has it been since I paused reading to look up a word?

Suddenly scared : I realized that I haven’t been doing much to master my beloved medium for the art we call communication.

Are you sailing in the same boat as me? Well, if you are – there are things we can and should do to rectify this problem.

1. READ.

Yes. I read too! But, I have noticed – I don’t pick up books where I need to look up 10 definitions on a page, even 3 or 4 will put me off. I have become lazy. Lethargic. [And my newly learned word – languid.]

Go back to the classics. They used beautiful language. Go back to the authors who have been talked about for ages and decades. They are filled with the most poetic usage of language.

2. LOOK IT UP

If you see or hear a word that you “kind of know the meaning of,” please look it up. Learning the real meaning will give you the confidence to use it in your daily language.

I just realized – there is something I really love about English. We have lots of synonyms but they all mean slightly different things.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the word success- here are the synonyms:

accomplishment, achievement, prosperity, fame, happiness.

All so different right – nothing with the ring, meaning and intrinsic joy of the word success.

3. USE YOUR NEW WORD

Most of the time – we read, learn and forget. The more you use your new word – the more it gets cemented. The more it will come in handy when you are looking for the right word to express yourself.

Soon, these out-of-your-ordinary words will become a part of your daily speech – and you will be able to think and speak with crystal clear precision.

Coming back, I don’t think this man knew – just how much impact his words had on me. I am impressed. I’m thinking. I’m inspired. I’m looking up and learning new words. I feel like a better person. Because of that one conversation – and he was just being himself.

If we keep up these 3 steps – we can use the seductive power of our slightly better than decent vocabularies soon!

Good luck!

Thursday Inspiration

Thursday Inspiration

Thursdays are special days for me. Just one big fat full productive day left before my all time favorite Fridays.

Anyhow, today, let’s be unstoppable. Courageous. And in love with life and the people in it.

All the things you do every day make the world go around. The habits you create and the things you do on Thursdays [and other days too] define your life. The biggest things were created by taking baby steps on uneventful Tuesdays, Thursdays and late Sunday nights.

Fight for the things you believe in. Be productive. By the end of the day, we will be one step closer to making all our dreams come true.

Happy Thursdays!

The 3 letter word that can take you out of your comfort zone

The 3 letter word that can take you out of your comfort zone

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. A great saying by those who have learned how to jump, dive, roll and walk straight out of their comfort zone into the things that lie beyond, things like happiness, joy, success, learning, love and the feeling of being alive.

It sure is beautiful, but how do you get there. Well, recently – I have discovered that this 3 letter word that we use so often can really help get you there. Its so simple.

Just say: YES.

A friend wants you to do something new? Say yes. A single step forward in a new direction can open up a world of possibilities.

A friend wants to set you up with someone, but you’re not that kind of person? Say yes – and see what happens. You may end up meeting someone really fun, a good friend, the love of your life.

See a stranger that you want to start a conversation with, and your mind is screaming no – say yes and do it anyway. A single hello can start a million conversations.

Wheather its new responsibilities, conversations, or travels – this 3 letter word can change your world.