Sunday, April 10, 2016

Toastmasters Project 1: Discovering Me, Myself and Sagar

Mr. Toastmaster, Fellow members of the Buona Vista Toastmasters club and dear guests – A warm good evening to you. When I found out that my first project would be to introduce myself I was immediately reminded of the many interviews I have taken as an interviewer as well as those I have given as in interviewee. Interviews are all about self-reflection – they say you learn a lot about yourself in an interview than the other person does. Today I will introduce myself through some oft asked interview questions. I like to surprise myself and hope I discover something about myself today as I do that.

Let us start with what I call the ‘ice-breaking-no-consequence” question – “Tell me something about yourself”. Most of the times, the question is used to buy time so the interviewer can prepare for the real questions he/she wants to ask. Let me take a shot at answering this one.

I am a Biotechnologist-turned-MBA-turned power point slide churning management consultant. An average Indian with a below average EQ and above average career expectations, I thought I should do something cool in my life. As a child I wanted to be a dentist. Well that did not materialize but I did end up marrying one (more on that offline). At the time I was exploring options for my engineering degree, Biotechnology was the next big thing – a solution to the world’s pressing problems. After feeding bacteria and fruit flies in the lab for 5 years, I decided I was not cut out for a career in research especially when the next test organism would likely have been a mouse. Somehow I thought I would be a better fit to management and took up a job as a consultant before finally going to B-school. My greatest value add from B-school has been learning ‘jargon’. Suddenly I was transformed into a professional whose core competency was to add value by creating a buy in for paradigm shift in the way business is driven and people are engaged and empowered. Post MBA, management consulting found me yet again, and to date I have been playing along. From sequencing DNA to churning slides by the dozen - it has indeed been quite a personal journey!

Let us move to the next common interview question which I call as the ‘courtesy question before the real question’- What are your strengths? And of course you can guess the question which follows this. Nevertheless let me take a shot at answering this one

Well, there are 3 strengths I would like to share (in consulting there are always three points to any answer):
1.  An average person would think in blocks, categories, models and so on. I can think in power point slides. I have a slide for almost everything – Slide on how to motivate myself after a mindless discussion with my boss, slide on 101 ways to be happy, flow chart slide on having an argument with your wife (we know where that one ends), slide on how to create a slide. You get the idea
2.  I am a creative person so you can count on me for all the wild ideas on the table. Have been into painting, writing poems, theatre, elocution and dancing (salsa dancing)
3.  I have the unique ability to sell you your own idea (more of a professional hazard being a consultant else it can be quite a demanding job)

Let me pick one last commonly asked interview question - Why should we hire you? I typically have 3 versions of the answer but let me give you version 3 which I use when all else fails and I want to make a desperate attempt to shock and awe the interviewer.

My association with an organization has a direct correlation with its longevity and success. And this is statistically proven. My undergraduate college celebrated its 50 years when I was there, my B-school 25, my first employer 25 and my current employer, The Boston Consulting group 50 years. So much so that Singapore is also indebted to me for its development. The year I was destined to move here from India, Singapore celebrated its 50th independence anniversary.

So you see, you can really flip the odds of success in your organization’s favour by simply hiring me!

As I mentioned earlier interviews are a lot about self-discovery. For instance today I learnt that maybe I am not all the bad at putting a smile on someone’s face. I am glad to be part of the Buona Vista community club and hope have shared a few things about me which help you get to know me better. Before I sign off would like to share a few lines from my poem which quite mirrors my attitude towards life– It is called ‘Yearn’

I have castles to build,
I have dreams to gild,
Places to go,
And people to know,
To scale my fears,
To fight the jeers,
To undo the done,
To be second to none,
It is all about wanting what is due,
'Coz if you didnt get it, you never wanted to!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kagaz ki khashti

अपने अन्दर के कलाकार को जगाकर
कापी के पन्ने से बनायीं मैंने एक नाव,
भावनाओ के बहाव में बहता हुआ
निकल पड़ा में अपने अगले पड़ाव |

अनंत सागर मेरा बिस्तर
तारो से जड़ा अम्बर मेरी चादर,
अंजान हवा मेरी सहेली
मेरी नाव थी मेरी दुनिया अकेली |

तूफानों से झूजकर में बड़ा इठलाया
नए रास्तों पे ढूंडने नई मंजिल,
एक किनारे से दुसरे, बड़ते रहा अल्हड
शौर्य, सुकीर्ति, स्वाभिमान किया हासिल |

जीत की ख़ुशी थी, लेकिन तब भी मन था खोया सा
इस बहाव में ठहराव कहीं था सोया सा,
विचलित मन में खयाल विद्युत् से दौड़ने लगे
लक्ष्यहीन अधूरे सवाल लहरों से उठने लगे |

भटकते हुए एक दिन, किसी टापू के किनारे
एक अर्धनग्न नर दिखा, करता हुए कुछ इशारे,
रमता जोगी सा कह रहा था वह ये -
"जो तेरा आधार है, वोही तेरा संसार है"

असमंजस में फसा मन समझ न पाया
उसके स्वरों की गूँज फिर जवाब ले आया,
अपनी कश्ती के कागज को खोलकर मैंने जब देखा
पन्ने की छोर पर मेरे घर का पता था लिखा |

"A traveller goes around the world looking for something and comes back home to find it"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

India – Expect, Explore, Experience

As IIM Lucknow gears up to host its annual management fest (incidentally named Manfest) here are my two cents on the theme of the fest: India – Expect, Explore, Experience.

15th August 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru addressed the nation, “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.” Today, with 62 years of freedom behind us, the moment has come yet again when India steps into the future with a lot to expect, explore and experience.

Expect the ‘Sone ki Chidiya’ to fly to greater heights on its way to becoming the next superpower, to grow by leaps and bounds across sectors especially R&D, pharmaceuticals, BFSI, telecom and to go global shopping – far beyond JLR, Corus, Novelis and Betapharm. Expect the services industry to fuel the future growth of the economy as well as generate employment even in rural India. Expect the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid to guild India’s success story.

Explore the hearts and minds of Indians and what you will notice is a pent up energy waiting to explode. Explore ‘Incredible India’ crowned by the Himalayas in the north and the backwaters of God’s own country in the South and you will be amazed how this nation of over a billion dreams and diverse opinions still manages to “get things done”.

Experience the beat of micro-entrepreneurship in every Indian – right from the vegetable vendor with his mobile phone to the NRI with his new software venture based out of Bangalore. Experience the melting pot of diverse cultures, religions and traditions, of the old and the new, of the brain and the brawn, and of kama and karma.

India – Intellect, Intensity and Inquisitiveness!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Serendipity! What else can I call this?

Back when I was in school we were a very special batch – the batch of the millennium or the batch of 2000. I miss school, the white uniform, the tie, the all girls’ school next door…every li’l bit of it.

Cut to engineering at IIT Kharagpur, my institute celebrated its golden jubilee. And yes! I was fortunate enough to be studying there when this happened. I miss IIT, Netaji, RK, Biotech and most importantly my friends….they mean the world to me.

Zoom to my job. My two year stint there was spaced with the 25th year celebrations of ZS Associates. Miss my colleagues, my stay at home, Pune…miss all things fun.

Back to the present. As I turn 25 this year, so does IIM Lucknow!

Next is what!?

Friday, June 12, 2009


Mann ke is dwand mein,
Kabhi sab apna sa
Kabhi sab anjaan hai...

lab hi to band hai,
kabhi sehme se kamal
kabhi muskaan hai...

Kaya ki sugandh hai,
Kabhi gajro ki mehek
Kabhi kaliyon ke baagaan hai...

Palakon ka ghamand hai,
Kabhi Diwali ki chamak
kabhi ramzan ka chand hai...

Dil hi to razamand hai,
Kabhi natkhat sa
Kabhi pyaar ka paigam hai...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

You Live!

“Sarvagya Dil Phekh Rangeela” he is and truly so. He wears calmness and composure on his sleeves and carries it off with unbelievable style. O! His moustache is the talk of the town. He sports it with the pride of a King.

Happiness never leaves him and Selfishness dare touch him! For someone whose passion is Mathematics you would wonder why he forgets to count himself in the league of extraordinary geniuses. “Anish yaar tu GOD hai”. “Nahi yaar”, comes the quick reply. I don’t think we are quite wrong in calling him that given that the Gods must now be enjoying his august company.

He loves his friends. Always has and will help them in every possible way. Many thank him for his day-before-the-exam sessions. Many wonder what it takes to hold such a logical and thoughtful head on his shoulders. And as they say “Bhagwan jab deta hai to chappar faad ke deta hai”. So just couple his intelligence with a ton of simplicity, a bagful of forthrightness and a truck load of selflessness.

He thrives on passion. Be it for excellence in academics or dedication at work or just to live life. He has been there and done that. And if you ask me, all this is still passe’. Its that genuineness he radiates which wins the heart, its that smile he flashes that soothes the mind and its that “Mein-hoon-naa” tag that he carries which lightens the mood.

Well Anish, don’t you think we need to learn from you how to truly live life kingsize? For you live - in our memories, in those moments and in our hearts. YOU LIVE!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Malshej ghat - The Kulu Manali of Maharashtra

One fine monsoon day. Five enthusiasts. One Travera. One destination. Heaven, heaven, heaven!

The lovely weather, the wind with a taste of rain, the floating clouds.... way to go!

Love the green color and Shail's smile too! ;)

Sunny de nakhre sone lag de ! ('Partner's music rox!)

Ajeet- the dude, the seasoned trekker

This pic was clicked for someone special ;) (Yo Chintu Da!)

Loose control!

The water was ice-cold but it just couldnt keep all of us from jumping right in.

The breathtaking waterfalls..the showers of rain.. the water gushing down the road...sublime!

Vehicles parked all along the Ghat, inebriated people dancing in the rain.....a complete mad rush!

One of my fav pics :)

The bedraggled trio all charged up!

So this was the pinnacle of our trip, and literally so! A narrow path led to this precipitous mountain top. And wat we saw from here is ineffable! The grass dancing to the music of the wind, the clouds rising like smoke forming white and black patches to infinity, the strong wind blowing off waterfalls from their downward course...when I closed my eyes, for once it almost felt like being suspended in mid air!

Now, dont you feel like being in this pic?

One of my best pics ever!

Bachaooooooooooooooooooo! Shail always has a different pose for every pic :)

The Man with the vital stats ;) Any guesses, who?

Happy, happy, happy........

Was a special trip too coz Chintan's leaving the following week for the States. Will miss u, "PAL"!

Truly, a day to remember! All that went wrong was that I forgot to set the camera date right :(