Monthly Archives: November 2010

Leadership is about Trust..above all

The US Navy competed against military units from all over NATO and won first place.
I think when you watch this video you’ll see why they won.

Notice the trust with which the leader walks through the bayonets of his team without flinching. We seldom show such respect and trust in our teams and flinch at the first opportunity. THAT breaks trust.

Link: US Navy in Norway

Keep in mind, these rifles have “fixed bayonets” and also all those who have handled a Lee Enfield .303 during their NCC days, know that rifles weigh more than a couple of kilos!!!


Leadership Matrices

A corrupted JPEG photograph. Result of a photo...

A corrupted image hides any truth

In today’s competitive business environment people often take the short route to success by sacrificing basic leadership matrices. This may work in the short term but what about the marathon? There, they find themselves marooned, shamed and humiliated in the eyes of the ones they lead and the world at large.

Corruption, nepotism and egoistic policies are the three biggest challenges leaders face. A fall from grace along any of these three is suicidal. The recent spate of scams in the Indian market place depict the rot in standards of leadership being provided to the nation be they in the field of politics, bureaucracy, defence or the corporate culture.

To discuss the first- mother of all leadership ills – Corruption. While adorning the highest possible leadership positions where the temptation is too high – people succumb to this great devil, get caught and undermine the faith of an entire generation in the leadership matrices to be followed. Leave aside the disgrace they bring to themselves, they undermine the organisation they lead and demoralise the very fabric they had vowed to defend and be custodians of. They deserve no mercy.

The next in the cardinal sin is nepotism as a leadership matrix. A large number of so called leaders lead through the power of the pen they yield. Suffice to say that they lead sad enterprises bereft of any team spirit and deliver mediocre results.

The worst sin of the leadership matrix is ego. Leaders operating out of this paradigm of life rather than the true values and systems they are appointed to promote create leaders who are corrupt and breed mediocrity through sycophancy.They may rise in careers for a short time but their fall from grace is the worst. Leaders operating out of  these premises of ego and nepotism finally become corrupt and corrupt the organisations they are supposed to lead. This corruption may not be financial alone but one that corrupts the work environment, breeds sycophancy and marginalises talent in the organisation. The net impact is a corruption of minds and emergence of environment managers who sing the bosses tunes over integrity and loyalty to the organisation.

Good leaders thus must guard against the ills of ego subverting their people and organisation. No amount of repeating the Chetwodian Motto is enough to ensure that you excel as a leader through character borne out of an egoless state in which the credits are of your people and failings are yours.

Only then can you be called true leaders.

Dinaz Vervatwala: A Profile of Dogged Determination and Derring Do

Leadership Lessons through Life

Saina and Dinaz

To those who have often wondered about the book ‘Nice girls don’t make the corner office’ by Dr Lois P Frankel, there are innumerable posits of ladies with the drive, determination and derring do  to rule the world. With fire in their bellies and song on their lips they surmount all odds in this male dominated world to reach the top and redefine success. Frankel cautions women that their careers could get sabotaged by “girlish behaviour” learned in childhood, such as working non-stop without a break, worrying about offending others, backing down too easily, explaining too much when asked for information or “polling” friends and colleagues before making a decision…

The book’s naiveté surprised me. All the women I have worked with or known have been go getters willing to push the envelope at all times better than their male counterparts. Not that I am deriding male workers but some examples will highlight what I mean. My ladies in the office, the stenos and personal assistants are at times better than the leaders they support. Well that may be so but this discourse is reserved for Dinaz Vervatwala – the Guiness World Record Holder for 26 hours nonstop aerobics at the age of 43 to be followed up by winning the Miss Fitness award in the US this year. The Hyderabadis know her too well. This is to excite the crowd across the globe to marvel at this gift of god.

Dinaz is a woman who loves what she does and successfully integrates this passion and her own character into her work. While the narrative is about one, it is reflective of the many wonder women who work in our midst and who make our organization a better place with their unique nature.



Dinaz was born in Jamshedpur, the youngest of three children and the only girl in the family. Her upbringing was far away from being girl like, thanks to the influence of her brothers. Cycling and hiking were great hobbies and pastimes, and formed the fitness foundations that ultimately charted her destiny. She lost her father while she was in Class X and life was hard after that. Her mother worked hard to bring up the children and it took a long time for the family to recover. After her schooling at Sacred Heart Convent School at Jamshedpur, Dinaz left for Mumbai to pursue her under graduation in Accounting hoping to be a Chartered Accountant someday. While studying, she worked at night and completed the course. She returned to Jamshedpur as an intern for S.P. Bilimoria and there resumed her hobbies and added jogging and free hand exercises to her routine.

She got married to Jamshed Vervatwala (an excellent mentor and chef apart from being an oil expert) in 1988 and moved to Hyderabad and continued to study and work towards becoming a Chartered Accountant. The internship was interesting but had long hours built in. Fitness and a healthy lifestyle used to pique her interest constantly, but time was not on her side. Some of her family members were victims of osteoporosis and it was sad to see them fall prey to this deadly disease that according to information available at that point, medication and prayers were the only solution. Many a time, she used to wonder how elderly women in the West were in relatively better shape than their contemporaries across the globe. Standard response to queries regarding women’s problems was attributed to `natural’ causes and fate (which she didn’t buy).

Her opportunity came after she had her first child in 1993. She was at home looking after her son and as expected putting on weight. She decided to start exercising by herself and then it struck her that  that may have been the opportunity she was waiting for. She started on her own, encouraged by her family, started reading and watching exercise videos and getting better educated and informed.

Dinaz’s is Born

In 1993, she opened her classes to the public and waited for her first client. Dinaz’s was born and the rest is history. Since then she has remained committed to the well-being of women. She runs four studios, all wooden-floored and her operating systems of maintenance and management are comparable to the best in the rest of the world. All the instructors and administration show compassion and concern to our clients at all times.

Dinaz at Work

Dinaz says, “I am proud to report that I have distinguished members of society as chief patron and patrons of Dinaz’s, a distinction not found anywhere in the country. The task of motivating women to exercise in society we live in is proving increasingly difficult as labour-saving devices and sedentary entertainments become more easily accessible. With this as a background, I am encouraging a number of youngsters to look into becoming fitness professionals. Today’s fitness pro has to stay on top of things because today’s exerciser is lot more knowledgeable about health and fitness than ever before. In 1999, I opened my doors to the 50-plus women in a programme called “Nifty-Fifty” designed by me to include women in the peri-menopausal, menopausal to the post menopausal population. At that point (may be even today), no structured and scientific programme was available in the country. Today, that programme is popular at all the locations and that caught the eye of the doctors from the Obstetrics and Gynaecologists Society of Hyderabad and the Indian Menopause Society – Hyderabad Chapter who invited me to talk at a scientific session called `Positive Health After 40′. I took along a 50-plus group who demonstrated and that led to us starting an exercise programme for the doctors at the OGSH.

One of the high points of her life was when she was invited by the President of the Indian Menopause Society as an expert to the Second National Revised Consensus & Policy Development Expert Meet on Menopause & the Role of HRT In Indian Women organised by Indian Menopause Society and Apollo Hospital at New Delhi. She presented a paper “Exercising and Menopause – Increasing the Joy of Living”. She was the youngest out of 45 experts to be invited and the only fitness expert in the country.

Our Meeting

I came across Dinaz in 2004 while heading my organization in the army which warranted a lot of expertise on physical and mental well being of my people. I recall that humble and demure lady sitting across me and listening to my male bravado about the stern stuff we soldiers were made of. Whatever she was thinking, she did not trespass my vanity and offered to look at the current exercise regime to offer suggestions at improving output while curbing exercise injuries. I took that as a light hearted activity and agreed to go along with her.

Three days into the grind watching our methods she paused to formulate a programme of “training the trainers” to improve our standards. My officers and men initially scoffed at the idea of a female teaching physical fitness to them and there were many a chauvinistic discussions as to how this might adversely affect the morale. However, having gone through some basic classes in her studio in the meanwhile I had learnt more about her and prevailed over my team to let her conduct the programme. We set about training 30 of my most fit instructors under Dinaz. The rest they say is history – those inspired instructors continue to spread Dinaz’s resolve, methods and scientific approach along with practical nutritional guidelines to stay mentally and physically alert while achieving a fine balance.

Thus we started a study of a lifetime in leadership. Watching Dinaz at work is like watching spirituality in motion. Her dedication, passion and humility transcend regular human behavior. An otherwise quiet and serene lady she is a tigress in her studios. Putting hours in her home work, music and the hygiene factor of the studio, she is a no nonsense task master when it comes to her passion – her clients.

The Catastrophe

The turnaround in life came in 2005 when we were out In Rajasthan and learnt that Dinaz had met with a serious accident in a nasty gas cylinder leak in her kitchen. That was a shocker for all of us who had trained with her. She had suffered more than 40 percent burns and we thought that was the end of the dynamo called Dinaz. However, three months and a miracle by Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad later, Dinaz bounced back in her studio. Brandishing bandages and scares of the incident, she fought back all odds to start her sessions at the studio.

Guiness Record Feat

Dinaz's World Record Breaking Performance

Her recovery was slow but her determination dogged. She recovered soon from the incident and embarked on an ambitious plan to break the Guinness world record of 24 hours nonstop aerobics by a human – male in this case. In 2009, infront of the entire Hyderabad town she achieved a feat which no human had done before her. 26 hours of nonstop aerobics by a living girl – a mother of two at an age of 44 years. Thus she broke the existing world record by of 24 hours by a  man.



Not to stop here she went on to participate in Ms Fitness in 2010 in US and won accolades and a top four position for her outstanding performance.


Yet the feisty young lady is also very sentimental and has always placed great value on maintaining relationships. As a woman, she believes she is better equipped at building and nurturing relationships with her peers, team members and clients. She is convinced that she can be successful only if each one of her team members feels valued, appreciated and important, and has worked hard at achieving that.

Such emotional intelligence has only worked to Dinaz’s advantage. Ever since her early years, her sentiments were paid back in equal measure with  ready support forthcoming from colleagues and managers. On her part, rather than giving directions all the time, she tries to be supportive and encourage team members to take the lead, discuss options with her before arriving at a collective action plan.

Dinaz is of the opinion that women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition! Fiercely independent, she believes that women are much more versatile, dynamic and adept at multi-tasking, which comes to them naturally as they play the multiple roles of executive, mother and spouse.

Dinaz has lived this belief at work. Life does throw in many a challenge along the way but she works through them with resolve. Her motivation to think beyond the normal allowed her to evolve as an individual and kept her going even in tough situations.

According to her, no one can stop women from succeeding, but only if they believe in themselves, dream big, work smart and hard. “Listen to your heart. Be sure. Be strong. Stay focused. Keep up the spirit of a woman,” says she.

Lessons in Leadership

Dinaz’s entire life is a lesson in leadership. Every trait, quality and principle later, she leads change from the front and with her dedication has produced a chain of fitness studios in Hyderabad. A lesson which has made Dinaz synonymous with drive, determination, passion and humility – the key ingredients of successful leadership when blended with dogged determination and will to fight through the thick and thin of life. Perseverance should we say?

I am proud to have worked and built a relationship with a person of her caliber and human qualities. This is my humble tribute to the great spirit of this wonderful lady.




The Choice to Choose is Ours

One single reason for people to be miserable is their inability to exercise the choice to choose.

Being Happy

By Donald Latumahina

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Leo Tolstoy

There are many ways for people to be unhappy, but happy people have common characteristics. That’s why a good way to be happy is to learn the common characteristics of happy people and apply them.

So I studied what the great minds in history say about being happy. I went through hundreds of quotes on being happy and extracted the best lessons out of them. Not only are these lessons useful, they are also timeless in nature.

Here I’d like to share what I learned with you. Without further ado, here are 17 timeless secrets of happy people:

1. Forget the past

One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.

Rita Mae Brown

You won’t be happy if you carry the burden of the past. Did you make mistakes? Did you have terrible experiences? Whatever they are, you should let them go. There’s nothing you can do about the past, so you’d better let them go and focus your energy on the present.

2. Take responsibility for your life

The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage.

To be happy you should have freedom and the most essential freedom is the freedom to choose. No matter how bad a situation is, you can always choosehow you respond to it. People can annoy you, but it’s up to you whether or not you will resent.

But, as the quote above says, freedom takes courage. Freedom to choose requires the courage to take responsibility for your life. You shouldn’t blame someone else when something goes wrong. Take the responsibility and you have the power to choose.

3. Build relationships

Life’s truest happiness is found in friendships we make along the way.

Relationships is where we can get true happiness in life. The reason is simple: only through relationships can we love and be loved. Make relationships yourtop priority and you are on your way to true happiness.

4. Develop multiple passions

The more passions and desires one has, the more ways one has of being happy.

Passions lead you to happiness. So not only should you discover your multiple passions, you should also expand yourself to new passions. This way you will create new ways to happiness.

The key to expanding to new passions is curiosity. If you are curious, you will have an endless stream of exciting things waiting for you.

5. Build your character

Character is the basis of happiness and happiness the sanction of character.
George Santayana

Building your character is essential for happiness. When you are true to yourself and others, you will be in peace.

The way to start building character is by making promises and keeping them. For example, you make promise to yourself that you won’t smoke. When you keep it, you are building your character. Or you make promise to others to be punctual. When you keep it, you build your character.

6. Be who you are

The summit of happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is.
Desiderius Erasmus

You can only be happy if you become who you are. Don’t live other people’s life by trying to meet their expectations. People may expect you to have certain job or certain way of living but don’t be intimidated by them. Find who you are and be yourself.

7. Live your life purpose

The only true happiness comes from squandering ourselves for a purpose.
William Cowper

To have a fulfilling life, you should find your life purpose and follow it faithfully. Find what matters to you and build the courage to follow it. Having a one-linerwill help you internalize and communicate your mission.

8. Count your blessings

Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have.

Being happy is easy if we are grateful. Unfortunately, seeing what we don’t have is often easier than seeing what we have. Sometimes we need to experience loss before appreciating what we have. So don’t take things for granted. Look at what you have and soon you will have plenty of reasons to be happy. You may start with these simple things.

9. Have positive mind

It is not the place, nor the condition, but the mind alone that can make anyone happy or miserable.
Roger L’Estrange

Happy people know how to control their mind. They don’t let negative thoughts come in. While a situation may seem bad to others, happy people look at them in a positive way. They always believe that no matter how bad a situation seems, there is always something positive to take from it. Your mind can make or break you, so guard it well.

10. Work creatively

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

When you work creatively on something you will find happiness. There is a well-known phenomenon regarding this called flow. When you are in the state of flow, you are fully focused on the task at hand that you no longer realize the passage of time. This state of flow allows you to achieve high productivity and being happy at the same time. Here are some tips to achieve it.

11. Start with what you have

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet.
James Oppenheim

Happy people don’t need something they don’t have to be happy. They don’t need certain job or certain level of income. Instead, they learn to be happy with what they already have. They have learned the art of contentment. Be content with what you have and you will be happy.

12. Change

They must often change who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.

Being happy requires you to constantly grow. In fact, the process of learning itself is essential for happiness. Have you ever felt the excitement of being enlightened about something? Have you ever felt the excitement of achieving a new level in life? Top 10 Things You Should Change in Your Life gives you some practical tips on changing your life.

13. Use your talents

True happiness involves the full use of one’s power and talents.
Douglas Pagels

There are two lessons to take from this quote. First, you should find your talents and second, you should use them to the fullest. Working in your talents is a sure way to enjoy your work because it’s something you are “hardwired” to do. Using your talents fully will make you even happier because of the satisfaction of doing your best.

14. Beware of small things

The happiness of most people we know is not ruined by great catastrophes or fatal errors, but by the repetition of slowly destructive little things.
Ernest Dimnet

This is very true. Often it’s not big things that ruin your happiness. It’s the small things that do. Perhaps you don’t like someone or break some “small” promises. But even small leaks can sink your ship of happiness, so beware of them.

15. Distill your ambitions

Where ambition ends happiness begins.
Author Unknown

While wanting to achieve more in your life is good, being obsessed by it is not. Do your best to improve yourself but don’t be obsessed by it.

16. Make others happy

Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is my favorite secret of happiness. The way to being happy is to make others happy first. The more you help other people and make them happy, the more you will be happy. Happiness doesn’t come through selfishness but through selflessness. You reap what you sow.

17. Practice compassion

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
The Dalai Lama

Compassion is perhaps the highest level of selflessness we could have. As this quote aptly says, practicing compassion can make both others and you happy.

But of course, it requires practice. Start with thinking about the people around you. Look at their needs and find ways to meet them. Even if you don’t do it out of compassion in the beginning, your compassion will grow over time.


All in all, I can summarize the lessons above:

Happiness depends upon ourselves.

It’s you who decide whether or not you are happy in life.

The Choice to Choose is ours and ours alone

choose to be happy. What about you?

So Be happy & spread happiness

This wisdom came to these pages courtesy my friend CN Suresh..Grateful to him


Related Articles



The Next CEO

Couldn’t help resist pasting this incredible story



A successful business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business.  


Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.
He said, ‘It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you.’ The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued.
‘I am going to give each one of you a SEED today – one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you.

I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO.’

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed.


Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. 

By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn’t have a plant and he felt like a failure. 


Six months went by — still nothing in Jim’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn’t say anything to his colleagues, however. He just kept watering and fertilizing the soil – He so wanted the seed to grow. 


A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the board room.

When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful — in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him! When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives.

Jim just tried to hide in the back.


‘My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown,’ said the CEO. ‘Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!’

All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified.
He thought, ‘The CEO knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!’
When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed – Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, ‘Behold your next Chief Executive Officer!

His name is Jim!’ Jim couldn’t believe it. Jim couldn’t even grow his seed.

‘How could he be the new CEO?’ the others said.

Then the CEO said, ‘One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead – it was not possible for them to grow. 


All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it.
Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!’  




Moral of the story?


. If you plant honesty , you will reap trust 


* If you plant goodness , you will reap friends 


* If you plant humility , you will reap greatness 


* If you plant perseverance , you will reap contentment 


* If you plant consideration , you will reap perspective 


* If you plant hard work, you will reap success 


* If you plant forgiveness , you will reap reconciliation 


So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later.

‘Whatever You Give To Life, Life Gives You Back’. Live our CORE VALUES, and Reap the returns!





And we all make our choices..

Like a blind man feels his way

Eleven Cs of Engagement

The Universal Inner Structure of Leaders

At the outset you can pin these down to some definitive qualities such as courage to decide, will power to persist, initiative to be a self starter, knowledge of self, ability to deal with people, and knowledge of the job to reach selflessness based on an ideal or vision.

All these are well taken and must exist in varying proportions in a leader. This discourse is set to comprehend the universal inner structure of a leader as out lined in Bhagwad Geeta.

The key is the characteristic inner structure of a leader that should harmonise his thoughts, words and deeds. A leader who can achieve this ubiquitous synergy in this universal inner structure rises above the mill of the run leaders. He can operate from a level of self confidence borne out of his character to achieve the impossible. He can dispassionately and objectively observe the world around him in a holistic manner and initiate his thoughts to spur significant changes in the organisation.

Such leaders are above petty politicking at the work place and can operate under conditions of ambiguity and uncertainty to evolve cogent answers to complex work problems. Once this universal structure is in place, rest becomes a natural function of this trait. Such leaders develop the courage to walk the edge, have strong will power, can deal effectively with people and develop ideal visions for their organisations and the people.

Somehow in our quest for money, name or fame we disturb the fine balance required to develop this inner quality. That is when the doom begins and despite good short term results we sacrifice the long term sustainable leadership position