What Gives Confidence?

 

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Confidence is a Feeling!! And YOU can get there.

YOU have been told n number of times to Be Confident. And you couldn’t really place a finger on what do they mean? Here you’re preparing for your toughest test (exam, interview/ meeting/ presentation), having butterflies in your stomach, and this piece of advice. Hello? Blistering Blue Barnacles. Besides, each of us has come across a person, who radiates confidence, breezes in majestically and just for a second, thought, how does he/she behave so confidently? YOU’ve an idea how they look like. How they navigate through challenges? Things start falling in place for such people. YOU wish to emulate them and wonder, how do I get there?

Confidence is knowing what YOU’re good at, the value YOU bring to the table, and acting/ behaving that conveys to the others, ‘Here is a person, who is sure of himself/ herself’. Their presence instills others too of assuredness/ confidence. If there is a team work involved, the team is re-assured that the job will be well done. Confidence has a direct correlation to promotions at workplace. Even at personal level, they seem to be more happier enjoying conjugal bliss. A pilot study at The University of Melbourne found correlation between confidence levels as early as primary school and success in the workplace as adults. A study by The University of Texas showed that students who received some expression of confidence in their ability, even while receiving criticism, performed better later on than those who were simply told to aim for higher standards.

Confidence is NOT something that can be learnt like a set of rules or reading a book. Confidence is a state of Mind. YOU need to practice Positive Thinking, Knowledge and talking to people to help YOU improve your confidence levels. Confidence comes from feeling of well being, acceptance of your body and mind (self-esteem) and belief in YOUr own ability, skills and knowledge. Confidence is NOT a static measure, and can change. Some days we may feel more confident than others. Low confidence can be result of various factors including, fear of unknown (being deployed in a new area during my uniform days), criticism, being unhappy with personal appearance (self esteem), feeling under prepared (exam fever!!), poor time management (YOU reached late for the most important meeting), lack of knowledge and previous failures.

If YOU’re seeking to change this state, my one word advice would be knowledgeRest of things will fall in place. Move out of prescribed books (which are important and required to improve subject knowledge/ marks). But seek as much knowledge as YOU can. BE a knowledge seeker. Watch TEDs. Read Books. Undergo internships. Do certification courses. Interact with people. Meet subject matter experts. Attend seminars. Do anything/ everything YOU can to seek knowledge. Knowledge is the mantra to confidence. If you dig deep, YOU’ll realise, that knowledge will assist you to crack the exam, face that interview, make that all important presentation, prepare YOU for any meeting. Prepare and YOU prepare for success. As for luck, forget it. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

The major contributors to YOUr confidence is Self Efficacy and Self EsteemSelf Efficacy  is when we see ourselves mastering skills and goals that matter in those skills areas. YOU participate in a marathon run. The first time, YOUr brain tells YOU, are YOU mad? 21 kilometers? I’ve never done it. I may collapse. I’ll be a laughing stock. People will shame me. And all such self-doubts crop up. Just take the first step. RUN .. run .. and run some more. Complete the 21 kilometers (and forget the timing). And now see how Self-Efficacy take over. YOU’re in the starting line for another marathon and NOW YOUr brain sends a message – Dude, YOU just ran a marathon, remember? 21 kilometers is a cake walkAnd then YOU do it again and again. This is the confidence that, we master in any particular area. Remember, YOU’ll succeed. Persist and YOUr self efficacy will take over.

Self Esteem reflects a person’s overall emotional evaluation of his/ her own worth. It’s a judgement of oneself; an attitude towards self. It encompasses beliefs about oneself, (what is YOUr self-talk; YOU can never do it OR remember dude, YOUr XII class percentage – 94%. YOU are good!!), and YOUr emotional state like pride, shame, triumph, and despair.  

So the question is, HOW do I build my Confidence?

a. Stay away from negativity and enthuse positivity. Avoid naysayers and surround yourself with +ve people.

b. Change YOUr Self-Talk and YOUr body language and image. A +ve body language and YOUr image will exhibit confidence. SMILE, eye-contact and posture (how you carry yourself) all go into making this change.

c. Don’t Give up and never accept failure (or below par output). Work on this and persist. Remember, the more you practice – the better YOU get.

d. Be Prepared! Remember the motto of The Scouts? Be prepared! For whatever you’re undertaking – meeting, dating, interview, presentation. Be Prepared.

e. Create YOUr life long Anti-Depressant Drug. Jot down all YOUr accomplishments. All. Laminate it and hang it on YOUr wall. Read it often. Watch four year old Jessica’s Self Affirmation. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0ifIQNwXBE).

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Remember, only YOU’ve the right to look down upon YOUrself. If YOU don’t feel confident about YOUrself, fat chance that others will. So master this art and walk out to face the world with C . O . N . F . I . D . E . N . C . E ……..

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If not NOW, When?

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Raise YOUr voice

It’s time to wrap up all the confetti, streamers, buntings and banners for next year. Mar 08, 2018 and we will, dutifully, bring them back. It has indeed become an annual ritual with some of us. As humans we touched nadir when on FB we livestreamed the atrocity meted out to a minor by five animals and it attracted thousands of “likes” clicked on the live streaming. Really!!! Each day there are some new horrors that come to light. Yes, the media goes berserk, grabbing eyeballs and “selling” their conscience.

How much further can we, as humans, sink?

It is high-time we all rose to the atrocities perpetrated against women. Each one of us is part of the system. When I speak to students, I ask them some very hard hitting questions.

If you’ve watched bollywood movies which promote misogynistic ideas (even inadvertently), YOU’ve told the directors/ producers that you accept such ideas/ viewpoints. It’s a pure case of demand and supply. YOU demand and they supply. YOU asked for songs/ item numbers which portray women in a demeaning way/ objectify them. YOU’ve told them YOU want it. The onus lies ‘fairly and squarely’ on your conscience, buddy. Movies that promote the idea that ‘harassing a women for love’ is fine. Which promotes that ‘NO means MAYBE’; No it is NOT!!! Do a ‘Ranjhana’ and the girl will give in. The perpetrator needs psychiatric help – he can’t control his emotions. He can’t take a NO. He can’t handle daily rejections. You don’t need item numbers for movies to be HIT! We know that, right? A Dangal, English Vinglish, BMB, ZNMD, PK et al .. movies without item numbers and yet are box office successes.

Now is the Time to DO!!!!

These five basic steps could be the beginning. Just spread the word. Each one of us are responsible to make ‘Our Society’ the way we want it; the way we would like to have it. The way we would like to leave it for our children.

1.  Know YOUr Basic Rights. This is THE first step. Know that if you’re a women, you cannot be taken to the PS (police station) between last light and first light (sunset to sunrise). Know that the PS must have a lady constable. Know about zero FIR, which the SC has passed in a ruling recently. It says that the rape survivor can register in any PS (not necessarily the nearest PS), it can be done online, or registered post, even after weeks or months after the incident. The PS is mandated to record the statement.

2. Denounce Victim Blaming. Shaming her for the clothes she wore, the time or the place of the act or even her profession. Really? Each time we pass the blame to her, remember these are convenient narratives in support of patriarchal society and the mindset. It is NOT OK to strike/ perpetrate violence against women.

3. Have a Talk with YOUR family. Let YOUR family members know that a boy and the girl, both have same privileges. The rules acceptable for the boys are also applicable to the girls. Raise both of them with confidence. Let not the boy think that he can get away with anything. As parents we need to ‘teach our sons better’. #RESPECT. When the children see their father respecting mother, they take lessons for life.

4. Demand Actual Solutions. Candlelight vigils, sharing on whatsapp, blog on fb may raise awareness (and some just forward it for forwarding sake). It is more important we demand actual solutions. We need to denounce parliamentarians/ men in position of influence/ power to make such ridiculous statements like ‘chowmein is the cause of sexual atrocities’, jeans donning women ask for it, mobile phones or such absurd ideas. What we need to demand is rectify the sorry state of affairs; we need safer public transport, well-lit community spaces, faster processing of cases, higher conviction rates, sensitive handling of cases, national criminal register, and the list is endless. Let US begin. NOW .

5. Stop Forwarding Rape Jokes. It is NOT funny. STOP sharing, forwarding, sharing any/ every insensitive content. PLEASE . STOP . NOW . Reprimand those who do. It is these small things that YOU can do. People asked me in a number of sessions/ seminars, how do we know if it is risque? Hello? Really? OK .. put it through the grandmother test. If YOU can share it with YOUR grand mom, you can share it with your female colleagues. IF NOT, it is sexual harassment.

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NO, means NO!!!

I believe, that if you’re not raising YOUr voice, YOU are complicit and according YOUr consent. Is this the legacy YOU would like to leave behind for YOUr children?

IF NOT NOW WHEN?

WOmen SAFety (WOSAF): Proactive Measures

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How can we address Women Safety issues and prevent such incidents?

I go back to the incident on Jan 29, 2017 in Hinjewadi, IT Park, Pune, where, in an IT firm, a women associate was working late on Sunday evening. She was found murdered in the conference room. A security guard was arrested for the crime. This has set us all thinking and a number of you queried, could this incident be avoided?

A short answer would be YES!!!

But the long answer is: we need to work very hard to get to that state where such incidents can be totally eliminated. The security cams capture the event BUT after the act. All the procedures & processes are in place and YET such incidents happen at regular intervals. What is the matter? Can something be done? Is there NO hope? What’s wrong?

On Mar 08th, International Women’s Day, while I was addressing a group of around 250+ women of an MNC, a number of them queried such and similar issues. I share lessons from the Uniform. The fact I’m alive is due to the Buddy I had and I’m ever thankful to him. Every women must have a BUDDY. In the civvy street, there could be buddies for different occasions; in office, for running, for partying, for trekking. Basically, they should be a pair; the perpetrators are dissuaded and if at all anything happens, the partner can seek help. You go to the washroom, buddy is the drink watcher. You go for movies together. You are together in the office. You need a BUDDY.

This is true for Children too; and we can address the Child Sexual Abuse issue with this. In parks, in playgrounds, in buses, in societies, in schools – every child has a Buddy! This in itself will be one major step in curbing such like incidents.

What else can be done?

Recognize the role of Gender in Violence. While boys and men do experience abuse it is important to remember that the majority of victims of abuse are female and the majority of perpetrators of violence are boys and men. More importantly, Gender Violence is centrally about men. They need to be part of all such conversations. Men need to show courage to stand up and raise their voice, be part of discussions and be sensitive to the issue.

Use social media to spread the word. Express your concern. Raise your voice. More noise we make the energy will get down to everyone and each of us will be gripped by the problem. Just calling it Women’s issue is the major part of the problem. It is centrally about men. So we need more men to be part of these conversations. Spread the word.

Report any abuse/ use/ exploitation of photographs of women/ girls on social media platform. Be media literate and critical of any such issue that comes to your notice. Each drop makes a difference.

Interrupt sexist/homophobic and transphobic language. Words are powerful, especially when spoken by people who have power over others. We have politicians who have come out with such reprehensible remarks. We need to condemn them. Don’t accept such statements. Seek public apology. Gendered name-calling is used and sends a message, that, girls and women are less than fully human. When girls and women are seen as inferior, thus, it becomes easier to treat them with less respect and ignore their rights. Changing the way you speak can change the way you think. Don’t circulate demeaning messages. Don’t share. Have the courage to stand up and say so.

Interrupt abuse. If you see a man get physical with a girl, say something to stop him from continuing to be abusive. If you are at a party and one of your peers or friends is intoxicated and being led away by a guy[s] stop him from being alone with her and help her get home. Help avoid such situations where they are vulnerable to exploitation.

Stop street harassment. Don’t engage in any forms of sexual harassment, such as catcalling, and unwanted touching. And don’t let your friends and peers engage in those behaviours either! It’s not just enough that you don’t engage in those behaviours, be empowered to speak up against friends and peers who do! Don’t look the other way!

Stop Victim Blaming. Don’t blame women/ girls for how they choose to dress or judge their behaviour. Violence can’t be prevented through limiting the freedoms of girls. This only allows the violence to continue because perpetrators become invisible, and those who witness remain silent. It is their choice and as long as they exercise the choice by full import of its repercussions, take adequate precautions, and choose. Men cannot take this as an excuse to pass the blame. 

Stop Rape Culture. One way to stop rape culture is by not allowing people to perpetuate rape culture through minimizing/normalizing rape through jokes. When a friend or peer tells a joke about being violent against women/girls in some way, say you don’t find it funny and let them know that it is not okay. It’s NOT OK!! Period.

Educate yourself on the roots of violence. Violence against women/girls stems in a patriarchal society, where men have overbearing control. Create safe spaces to discuss gender violence. Create an after office club/group where you can openly discuss your views and experiences and support your peers. Educate people around you. Sensitize your workforce. Confront yourself/your ideas. Reflect on your beliefs and why you have those beliefs and your actions, and opinions. Be honest and admit your faults and commit to changing the way you think and act.

Stop stereotyping men’s and women’s roles-Social roles and expectations may affect a man’s decisions about relationships. Men are taught that expressing feelings is not masculine. Examining your social role and learning ways to express feelings directly and non-violently can help to create deeper and more meaningful interpersonal relationships. You don’t have to prove yourself.

Be Supportive. When women tell you about violence they have experienced in their lives believe them. It is extremely rare for girls to make up a story about rape or abuse. You may be the first and only person she tells. Believe her and support her decisions, without being judgmental. Parents need to be approachable. The scar of such incidents can last life-long. You need to understand and reduce the pain. Don’t victimize her. She didn’t ask for it.

Talk to others about ending violence and be a mentor. Volunteer your time to preventing violence by speaking to others. This brings awareness to the issue, which will motivate others to act. Understand consent. Boys and young men need to be respectful when entering into a sexual relationship and should not feel entitled to girls and women’s bodies. Just because you are a ‘nice guy’ does not mean you should have any expectations. Like Thordis Elva mentions, I trusted Tom (Stranger). They had come to know each other when Tom came to Iceland on a Student exchange program. Like a knight in shining armour, he took her home, when she was intoxicated. Laid her on her bed and raped her.

Remember gender violence is not an individual issue. We all have a role in ending violence against girls and women and it is important that we all take responsibility in ending the violence. As a society, we need to mature and respect every human being.

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This is a crusade and we need to be part of this scourge of Gender Violence.

We can make a DIFFERENCE . Raise your VOICE . Make your voice COUNT .

Another Brick in the Wall – Part 2

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The rise in incidents of sexual assault brings to the fore the responsibility of the Society.

The unfortunate incident at the IT office in Pune on a Sunday throws up a pertinent question – How safe are Women in our society? Are we doing enough to make this planet a better place for them to live . love . laugh . It’s very easy to blame the organization and wash our hands off! Well that would be the Ostrich Approach. Find a scapegoat and Blame it on Rio! There are systemic fault lines that need addressing. In my last post, I mentioned that the other stakeholders in this conundrum, with whom the onus rests too! I’ll address each one of them.

Men. The question I keep posing to the YOUth invariably is: think 5/10 years down the line and imagine YOUr daughter walking down the street; do you think she’ll feel safe. If the answer is NO, then what are you doing about it? Each one of us are responsible. Remember, your silence is a form of consent and complicity. We need more men to have the Courage and Strength to stand up and be heard. YOUr voice counts. YOU make a difference.

Men have largely erased from much of the conversation that is centrally about men. The moment they hear, ‘Women’s Safety’, they take it as a ‘Women’s Issue’ and switch off from the conversation. If YOU think hard, YOU’ll realize that gender violence is largely about men perpetrating brutality on the fairer sex. And men conveniently have eased out of the situation. Buddy, remember, in each of such incidents, besides the perpetrator, present alongside the survivor was a man; be it the boyfriend, husband, brother. The men have let them down. They are the ones who couldn’t stand up to be counted.

And then there is this other issue. Dan Ariely, Prof of Psychology and Economics at MIT and George Loewenstein, Prof at Carnegie Mellon University came up with their findings. Their research examined the effect of sexual arousal, on judgments and decisions made by male college students. Students were asked to: (a) indicate how appealing they find a wide range of sexual stimuli and activities, (b) report their willingness to engage in morally questionable behavior in order to obtain sexual gratification, and (c) describe their willingness to engage in unsafe sex when sexually aroused. The results show that sexual arousal had a strong impact on all three areas of judgment and decision making, demonstrating the importance of situational forces on preferences, as well as subjects’ inability to predict these influences on their own behavior. Thus at the ‘heat of the moment’ the man is unpredictable; in fact so unpredictable, that even he has no idea what it can lead to and up to what extent he would compromise his principles/ scruples.(http://web.mit.edu/ariely/www/MIT/Papers/Heat_of_Moment.pdf).

A news channel had come out with a wonderful ad: Three goons board a bus and the eve teasers hand ‘accidently’ falls on the shoulders of a woman (Soha Ali) sitting in the bus. An old man hauls him up for his misdemeanour and the goon says, “it was only a hand, and it slipped. I say sorry”. And the old man quips, how come your hands don’t slip on your sister’s shoulders or a burning hot oven and ends it giving a slap on the face of the goon. And retorts, “Sorry, it was just my hand and it slipped”.  We need to stand up for such eve teasers and raise our voices. Each drop counts. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kk6Bi23Q7-E)

There are certain DON’Ts that every man must understand. (a) Please don’t expect sex in return for buying gifts. (b) And don’t pressurize to have sex; don’t emotional blackmail either. (c) Have the courage to accept a ‘NO’. (d) It’s NOT OK to use force. Under no circumstance can you justify the use of force, EVER. (e) A peck/ kiss doesn’t mean that intercourse will follow. Please. Let HER have the choice. (f) And avoid excessive alcohol/ drugs. They impair your judgment. Besides they let you lose control and deviant behaviour is seen as normal.

Men need to change the macho image. Get used to the fact that women have broken the glass ceiling and they can assert their rights. In patriarchal society, expressing emotions is seen as unmanly. Sensitive males are gentle towards women. You’ll be in connect with your feminine side. Cut off the meek, lame excuses like she provoked it, or she asked for it, or even the ridiculous – I was drunk.

With the nuclear families replacing the joint family system, both the parents are working parents. The onus to teach the children fairly and squarely lies on him too. The foundation of the issues are sown in the family. When the children see their father respecting their mother, they learn respect. Nothing short would do. When they see their father talking/ consulting the mother, they learn to value the opinion of the other half. Inclusiveness. Equality and fairness. Just. When they see their father helping the mother in the household chores, they learn sharing and caring. Responsibility. Duty. Parents need to teach their children better. With such role models in their own homes, they grow up well nourished and with a positive image of the other gender.

Respect . Love . Sharing . Caring . 

If the “boys” are delinquents, it’s our failure. We failed to teach them better. We need to think of the role models they see in the daily lives. The kind of movies that are churned out. The kind of lyrics and the kind of songs. Show me a society where the women are ill-treated/ not respected; and I’ll show you a society which is at the edge of the precipice.

 

 

Hey, Some more on Personal Interviews

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How do I prepare for the Qs?

You’ve decided to join the industry! Great .. btw, did you decide which domain will you like to join? and Why? Which career choice and depending on your personality, whether you’d like to be in sales, customer service, hospitality, travel or the various other choices that are on offer. This is important and this is indeed the first step; as this will decide your ‘doing’ the job or ‘loving’ the job.

Having shortlisted and now preparing for the interview, I’m sure you’ve ‘investigated’ the organization that you’re planning to join. When did it set shop? How many employees? Its footprints and USP? Its clients, vendors and what do they say about them? What is their future, their values, mission and where are they headed? Lay hands on every tidbit that you can – including, preferably from some employees too! Also find out where you “fit-in” in the organization. This will give you an insight into their hiring mindset. If they’ve recently signed a big contract with ‘X’ Company, you would know they would require people to service ‘X’ Company, the technology, the particular vertical or horizontal.

Then comes the Big 5. The five questions, that you’ll have to answer. First and foremost is, Tell me something about you (in various forms/ different words). I touched very briefly about this in my previous post. Most of the interviewees, start off ‘reciting the CV’ (and the CV is right in front of the hapless Interviewer, Imagine!!). What do you think? They can’t read?  This is the biggest blunder you could do to harm your non-selection.

So what do you say? Tell them anything, which is NOT in your CV. Tell them things about YOU which will help them understand you better. Tell them your qualities, which are not reflected in your CV. Tell them things which helps them see how you’re a ‘good-fit’ in their organization. Connect this to the technology they are looking for and how you could work in this particular vertical or horizontal. (This also helps them understand that you’ve read up about the organization and you’re interested!).

2. What are your strengths? Relate your strengths to the role/job. And please give them examples of how you realized that you’ve these ‘strengths’ and not words picked up from Uncle Google! I’ve oft heard: “I’m a born leader”, and this is how the interview progresses.

Int: Why should I hire you? (Strengths).

You: Sir, I’m a born leader.

Int: Aha! great .. can you tell me what did you do in the recent past to display these leadership qualities?

You: Sir, I was the class monitor in Class IV. (You killed; 5,000-0). OR

You: Sir, it were these very leadership skill sets which got me nominated as the College CR. Sir, my role as CR necessitated me to interact on a regular basis to various stakeholders; the management, faculty, students, vendors and various outside organizations. This in turn helped me to hone my skills sets in conflict management, allocation of resources, prioritising and of course communication. (Int killed; 0-100).

3. Do you have any Weakness? If you’re even thinking of answering, NO! Start walking out of the interview room, NOW. Hello, even the Pandavas were in hell. Everyone has some or other weakness. So, do I tell them of my weakness?  They are very experienced in understanding when you are trying to speak of your strength and sell it as weakness. “Sir, I’m a perfectionist?” Hello!!! But for heaven’s sake don’t speak of your phobias as weakness, Ever.

Int: Do you have any weakness?

You: Yes sir, of the many weaknesses (DUH!!!), I’m afraid of lizards. (Believe me, I was told this by an aspirant and sir, I’m afraid of the dark!!!). (You killed; 100-0).

And please don’t mention any of your kinks!! Sir, at times, I lie – only white lies sir. HULLLLLOOOO! or at times I get angry! (and here you’re handling a very important client of the Organization and YOU think of throwing an anger fit!!!). A big NO-NO.

Any weakness you mention, it must be accompanied by four things. How/ when did you realize you had this issue? How did it affect your work? What did you do about it? What is its present condition?

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What are your short term goals?

4. Your goal related Q. Your short term/ mid term goals. Please don’t mention your dream of being an entrepreneur (so, you join me to gain experience and you fly the coop). OR I want to pursue MBA .. and therefore you join me for what? Make this answer relevant to the Organization and the job. Plus how you’ll contribute to the growth of the company.

5. Last but NOT the least. Do you’ve any Qs for me. Please have. YOU better have. I made a mention in my previous blog too. Qs could be related to the Organization (again displaying, how much YOU know about the organization) and how it is relevant to you. Besides, you could always ask something like:

Int: Do you’ve any Qs for me?

You: No sir/ ma’am. (You Killed; 100-0).

You: Yes sir/ ma’am, I would have sometime in hand till I graduate/ join/ passout .. do you recommend I learn any new competencies like … (ones which they’re looking for) OR any fresh language I need to pick up.( Int killed; 0-500).

And as you walk out (with confidence), Thank them, wish them, smile and leave – without a fuss. Throughout the process maintain a very positive frame of mind and a pleasant demeanour.images

Wishing you the very best … Go out and conquer the World.

 

So, YOUre Preparing for Upcoming Interview(s)

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The Art of Ambush: How do you lure the Interviewer to ask YOU, what you want to answer?

 

Having been Global Head, Hiring, I’ve probably interviewed close to 10,000 people and conducted 5,000 group discussions. And here you’re biting your nails to ‘crack’ your interview. Let me see if I can come up with some basics YOU need to know, to enable to come out a winner. Since these tips may not be entirely covered in one blog, I’ll cover them over a couple of blogs. So keep reading and await the next!!

I relate the process of an interview as an Ambush; a military operation, where you lure the enemy, into an innocent looking piece of ground and kill him. Your answers should seem innocent, but leading them (he or her) to ask you the next question related to the one where you dropped off! Simple?

Int (Interviewer): So are you proficient in Java?

You: No sir? (You killed; 1-0). Alternatively, No sir, Java was not part of our syllabus. However, outside my syllabus, I found keen interest in DBMS and pursued a short course too.

In: Aha! What did you learn in DBMS? (Int killed; 0-1).

There are ‘n’ number of such techniques which YOU can master which will help you come out a winner. How does the interviewer know they’re hiring the right candidate (whether the aspirant will be a good fit in ‘their’ organization). They tend to hire an ‘A Player’. No, haven’t heard of such a term? Here’s a rundown on how workers are grouped into 3 categories:

  • A-players: the top 10% of people. They work hard, go over and above, are well liked and respected and typically move “up the ranks” fast.
  • B-players: the 80% of people. They do the 9–5 thing, do their job well and are generally the “good, not great” people.
  • C-players: the bottom 10%. They do just enough to scrape through, don’t volunteer to take on new projects, like (and cause) conflict and have little to no personal accountability or responsibility. (GE issues this bottom 10% with pink slips each year after appraisals. Believes in Survival of the Fittest).

So obviously you want to hire A-players, right? Therefore, once you profile these workers you’ll get an insight into commonalities between them and what ‘makes them tick’; what are their personality traits. Invariably, without exception these people display:

1. Promotions in the Previous Role. They are great at what they do and managers notice this and offer them greater responsibility and eventually a challenging role. Look at their LinkedIn profile and see if, at any of their previous companies, they’ve been promoted. A fresher would have donned roles with responsibilities; being a Class Representative, Organized events etc.

2. Leading Independent Projects. They like to take on more responsibility. They had a previous manager who was so confident in their abilities that they were given a large or important project to run on their own. Works independently without supervision.

3. Their Role/Job would be completely different: As they love challenges, they generally don’t change companies so much as they change roles — because they like the challenge of constantly learning new things and being in new situations. They love to wear different hats and gain immense experience working across different spectrums.

4. Ask them about changes/ improvements/ challenges in YOUr Organization: Since they do research of the company before an interview. They try to understand your strategy, what’s going well and even what’s not. They clearly articulate what they like about your organization and provide constructive feedback on something you might want to change. At times, the interviewer may ask for solutions too, for the challenges being faced in the organization. How would you make an entry into the rural market of NE region?

5. Confident and yet not Boastful. There is a fine line. These players have a great track record and you want someone who talks a lot about being on great teams and having great managers and mentors. Listen to his NOT constantly saying “I this, I that”, generally, giving credit to his team and his colleagues.

6. Committed to Continous Learning: They love learning new skills. Ask them what they learned in their previous role. Ask which book they’re currently reading. Ask what they plan to learn in the next 6–12 months and how they’ll go about doing that. They invariably have a route chart of their personal & professional growth. For freshers, it’s imperative that they read books; besides knowledge, it’s a great conversation starter. And don’t bluff.

Int: So are you are a prolific reader?

You: Yes sir. (Int killed; 0-1).

Int: Aha! Which is the latest book you read?

You: Sir, Tale of Two Cities.

Int: Was that part of your syllabus in class VI?

You: Yes, sir. (You killed; 500-0)

7. And they ask YOU question at the end of the session. Most of the aspirants are too nervous to seek clarity, seek information or even continue the interviewing process; too stressed to be in their presence. A great interview is always a conversation and never one-sided. Look at the quantity and quality of questions they ask YOU. They care about the team they’ll be on, their manager and where you want to take your company moving forward.

Int: So, do you have any Qs for me?

You: No sir? (You killed; 1-0). Alternatively, Sir (or ma’am) what are the learning opportunities for a fresher? Or, what are the chances that a fresher will be deployed working with the new technology that you’ve developed? (Reflecting your knowledge of the organization).(Int killed; 0-50).

 

interview2

Hiring is a mix of Art & Science

 

Remember, hiring is a healthy mix of art and science. There’s a lot more to it than asking just questions. Then there are the basic Qs which YOU could prepare now. Something like, Yes so and so, tell me something about yourself? And, please for heaven’s sake, don’t start with “Sir, myself so and so …” (Just walk out of the room; You killed; 1000-0). This is the classic ‘Tumhara naam kya hai Basanti”.

Int: Hmm, Sir I’m a 4th-year student of ***** (of course you are! That’s why we are here right? OH! you think I’m dumb and I don’t know this, is it?) And then in the next 2-3 minutes give him verbatim things written on your CV/ resume – which, incidentally is open in front of him (Some gall you’ve; first you assume they’re dumb and now you top it; telling them, they’re blind too). (You killed; 500-0).

Alternatively, Sir/ Ma’am, and go ahead and sell your skill sets. How? Come on buddy, not so fast. Till we meet again. (Int killed; 0-500).

 

Another Brick in the Wall

Couple holding hands having sex inside a car

God, forgive them for they know not what they’re doing

A very recent incident on the campus of an IT firm in Pune, bring back to fore the vulnerability of the female employee, even at an MNC. Sad. Sad. Sad. The sad part is that such incidents keep re-occurring and we, society as a whole, have become numb to such happenings. It has become just a number. And this will be repeated over and over and over again. She leaves behind her family members, who would be devastated. And the saddest part is this could be avoided. This and such like incidents can be avoided.

The MNC has done everything it was required to do. All the precautions were in place. The CCTV in the right place with the right angles. Access to the GDC restricted to only authorized personnel. Regular verification of the employees working in the GDC. A background check of the employees. Due diligence by the client. The authentication process in place. Regular checks of persons whom the work has been outsourced. Police verification. And some would say, what else can we do? Really? If that is the question that comes to your mind you have been bitten by the immune bug!! Your thinking processes are NOT working.

People need to understand that all the security cams are devices which help after the incident. All the processes that we put in place are good. BUT, but they are all passive measures. What are the active measures that are taken for prevention of such crimes?

We, as a society, need to foremost prevent such incidents from occurring. There are five stakeholders involved in this; let us quickly see what is the responsibility of each one of them.

1. Women/ lady/ girl: It becomes incumbent on our part to be aware of the situation in and around us; ALL THE TIME. A police document produced post-interview of a number of rapists speak of a victim’s profile (potential victims): a. Someone looking underconfident and walking around looking down (shoulders sagging, brooding, in her own thoughts). b. Someone NOT aware of the surroundings, what is happening around (unplug YOUR ear plugs NOW). c. Someone who has long hair (it helps them to get a better hold of the victim). d. Someone going through their purse (looking for keys/ anything) while moving in the public place.

Ladies: FOREMOST be aware of what is happening around YOU. TIP NO 1. HAVE A BUDDY. (This life-saving tip will always stand you in good stead). Today, I’m alive after facing action (and bullets) is thanks to my buddy. Have a workplace buddy. Have a society buddy. Have a running buddy. Have a train buddy. Have as many buddies for your different activities. Basically, YOU are never alone. Buddies look after each other and save lives. The perpetrators of such heinous crimes are taken aback (think twice) before initiating any action seeing two people. The Buddy system of the Armed Forces is instrumental in saving lives and fighting the common enemy together. 

2. The role of the other four stakeholders in my subsequent posts. The Men, The Government, The Society and last but not the least The Family.

Await my other active measures for WOmen SAFety (WOSAF) that I impart to organizations/ institutions. I dream to make this a better place for women to live.

My mission is to make our Planet a better place for women to Live . Laugh . Love .

 

International Women’s Day

happy8

Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty, we are Free at last!!!

On March 08th, 2017, we celebrate another International Women’s Day. The usual round of seminars, talks and hullabaloo will draw our attention towards the ‘breaking of the glass ceiling/ plight/ atrocities/ conditions and various other issues related to Women.

I’ve been addressing (and speaking) on issues related to Women Safety and the Situation Control measures that each women can take. There would be instances when you’re in an unfavourable position; how do you come out of it unscathed? How do you retain initiative? How do you handle the post-incident trauma? Has the situation improved over the last decade? Does one need to learn martial arts to deal with such hooligans?

I repeat some tenets of WOSAF (Women Safety) and SITCON (Situation Control):

  • YOUr strength emanates from YOUr attitude. Don’t display any Fear.
  • Offence is the only form of Defence (this is what I’ve learnt in my 25 years in the uniform). Here the perpetrators of the heinous crimes are seeking power. Its imposition of their will. Meek submission does not keep you safe.
  • Women are gifted with sixth sense. This innate ability has been honed over ages of protecting the family in the cave. This has wired their peripheral vision to near 180 degrees. They can sense danger. Be alert and trust your senses. If something doesn’t seem right; chances are they are NOT.
  • BUT for your sixth sense to perform there are certain criteria; UNPLUG and be aware of your surroundings. YOU cannot be listening to music or be on the mobile phone in a public area. YOU’ve to be looking around, present a picture of assurance (no nonsense attitude) and stride with confidence.
  • It’s only in reel life a man/women can stand up to 8-10 goons aka Shenshah! In real life escape and run is a good idea. The route out and route in should be planned in advance. Thus avoiding back lanes, unlit areas, lonely parks enroute and avoid bars/ pubs/ hooch shops in the locality.
  • ICE (In Case of Emergency) numbers must be on your speed dial. Have some additional emergency numbers too. There are a number of apps available in the open market these days for your smart phone.
  • Be aware of the laws; especially against ‘Self-Defence’. For the working women, knowledge of Vishaka Guidelines is imperative. Acid attack survivors and their rights.

If at all there would be one, just one advice I would give, it would be parents teach your sons better. The government initiative “Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao” is laudable BUT I would rather have it read: “Beta Padhao, Beti Bachao”.

Happy Birthday, Small Brother

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1962 .. God gifted the cutest baby to the Sengupta family, a baby brother to 4 siblings … he was the most loved by one and all.

1972 .. in Military School boarding and the entire family missed the adorable little brother. His friends could not get enough of him, it seems.

1982 .. An Indian Army Officer, that made his family extremely proud. Commissioned into infantry and his men swore by him.

1992 .. married to his sweetheart from TOI matrimonials & a proud father. Doted on his family.

2002 .. A glorious service in the Army culminating in command of his battalion, fulfilling his duties & responsibilities towards his Nation, his regiment and his unit … He was honoured with ‘Vishist Seva Medal’ for his duties towards his country. He won accolades, medals, laurels and most importantly the hearts of thousands of his men he commanded – his ‘jawans’ brothers-in-arms …

2012 .. a guide and inspiration to thousands of YOUth of our Country. For him ‘Country First’ was his DNA .. He is a proud Indian, a doting father, a loving and caring husband, an adorable brother, a genuine friend and most importantly a good human being. Colonel Prabir Sengupta, VSM … 2017 – wishing you a very happy birthday .. a world of happiness and may you continue to blaze a trail of glory.

This note was penned by my sister on January 2017. Touched and obliged. Mission 600 million.

 

 

 

 

Live a LYF

Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma Phaleshou Kada Chana ! Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani !!

Srimad Bhagvad Gita, Chapter 2, Verse 47

Nobel Prize winning author and iconic realist Ernest Hemingway defines courage in his memorable Spanish Civil War novel ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ as ‘grace under pressure’. Had he added ‘untrammeled genius’ to this definition, he could well have been describing Capt JK ‘Chotu’ Sengupta. An amazing Cavalry officer-turned-entrepreneur-cum-social worker, Chotu (called ‘Jojo’ by family) became ‘profoundly blind’ in medical parlance after a Cobra Missile hit his Centurion tank turret during Sep 1965 Indo-Pak War. Though 100 percent blind; that blindness was a career turnaround for Jojo because he used it with grit to light up the countless lives he touched; all with Hemingway’s understanding of courage as ‘grace under pressure’. Respecting courage in all forms – across uniforms and gender.

chotu-sengupta

Capt Jayanta ‘Jojo’ Kumar Sengupta aka Jojo

What can You Say?

The unforgettable opening lines of Erich Segal’s Love Story come rushing in when Chotu Sengupta is remembered. What can you say about a brave, outstanding Cavalry officer who died at 70? That at 22, he was blinded by exploding binocular glass splinters caused by a missile hit during the 1965 Indo-Pak War. That he was a topper in all he did. That he was handsome, personable, perceptive, blessed with a family that doted on him. That he made blindness seem like a weapon which could be used for societal good. That he proved that when fate closes doors, the human spirit opens windows for achieving world class excellence in any work one chooses to do. That he loved life, helped children of lesser God cope with the travails of life with confidence, panache, that he also loved Rabindra Sangeet, reading, educating, sharing, fine dining, dressing with sartorial elegance. That the only battle he ever lost was surrendering with half smile to insidious lung cancer. May be there is no need to say more, instead, simply salute his memory at a time when the 50th anniversary of the war that him is being commemorated.

Early Genius

On Honour Boards and in the Army LIst, Jojo was called Jayanta Kumar Sengupta. Names don’t matter really as long as we get the point: ‘Honour’ figured prominently in his life because this officer and gentleman was special.

Born on 17 October 1942, Chotu was the second son of Amar Prasad, a corporate executive and Namita Sengupta. He left Huddard High School after making it to the Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC), Dehra Dun, where his genius blossomed. He was adjudged ‘Best Cadet’ and also stood 1st in the All-India UPSC order of merit for National Defence Academy (NDA). He won the Gold Medal for the 22nd course at NDA and again the Gold Medal at IMA, passing out tops with the 31st course.

Commissioned into India’s oldest Cavalry Regiment, The 16th Cavalry, in December 1962, Chotu was awarded the Silver Centurion trophy for the best Young Officer (YO) at Ahmadnagar. When the 1965 Indo-Pak War started, he was attending a Gunnery course at ‘Nagar. Soon enough, attendees were rushed off to war but his peers knew he’d have topped except that destiny had a higher form of life and living in store.

A Cobra Missile Hit: A Hard Knock by Destiny

US based veteran Lt Col Kartar Singh Sidhu-Brar, Chotu’s wartime CO, recalls that Chotu rejoined the Regiment past mid-September; family recall placing his arrival as 17 September. The Colonel recalls that Chotu ‘had a very special place in our hearts and those who knew him’. He recalls Chotu cheerfully roughing it out in the haystacks of village Arjanpur (near Amritsar) where the Regiment was deployed there during Op Ablaze. Pakistan launched Op Grand Slam in Chhamb and the Regiment was moved for the Sialkot Sector – a new area.

The Regiment entered Pakistan at 0630 hours 08 September opposite Ramgarh, Samba, as the right leading Regiment of 1 Armoured Brigade with The Poona Horse on its left. First contact was established with Pakistani armour within hours with mixed results on display. The official record of the MoD published in 2011 shows the Regiment as having shot 14 Pakistani tanks and 4 RCL jeeps but suffering losses too along with two officers who died; one of whom, Maj MAR Sheikh, was posthumously awarded the VrC and the other, 2/Lt Vinay Kaistha (another Silver Centurion) a M-in-D.

On arrival on 17 September, Chotu was appointed troop leader in B Squadron under Maj ‘Morris’ Ravindran. The squadron was then located near Bhure Shah located 2 km northwest of Alhar RS on the Sialkot-Chawinda BG railway line. Pakistani 22 Cav (Pattons) was tasked to hold the ‘Black Line’ – the railway line from Gunna Khurd to Bhure Shah. It was Wajahat Task Force, an adhoc jeep-mounted Cobra Missile set up deployed alongside.

On 21 September morning, Chotu had taken a well concealed position in a sugarcane field with his tank. He was standing on his commander seat, looking out of his cupola for enemy tanks by using his high-magnification periscope (some reports suggest he was conducting Artillery Shoot) when his tank sustained a Cobra Missile hit on the turret fired from Bhure Shah. The metal splinters smashed the periscope’s lens, the glass shards penetrating his eyes, blinding him and ripping up his face, fracturing his jaw and left arm. Capt (later Col) ‘Wendy’ Dewan was close by when Chotu was hit. Blood streaming from eyes and face. Wendy remembers that Braveheart Chotu was calmness personified; ‘I can’t see but “I’m fine”. How are the boys and the tank?’ The tank being serviceable, Chatu was placed on blankets on the tank deck and brought to headquarters as Gen Rajinder Singh ‘Sparrow’ MVC**, GOC 1 Armoured Division landed. He straightaway ordered his helicopter pilot to fly Chotu to the Udhampur MH.

All else Failed but for Chotu’s Spirit

Shifted to Army Base Hospital in Delhi, Chotu was visited by PM Lal Bahadur Shastri who found him cheerful and optimistic despite his bandaged eyes. He was shifted to INS Ashwini and later to top-ranked Walter Reed Hospital in USA but his optic nerve was severed and that meant ‘100 percent blindness’. The Army sent him to London to St Dunstan’s – a world famous medical centre for war-wounded soldiers rehabilitation and mobility training. Chotu learnt Braille and typing there, powered by his remarkable optimis, humility, wit and sense of humour and his zest for life and live. In 1967, he was boarded out from the Army on medical ground with 100 percent disability.

For anyone else that would have been the end but this was no ordinary man. In a rare interview, Chotu avoided speaking about himself, always about others. He smilingly recalled that ‘there was no emotional setback following the mishap. Indeed, my family and the Army were strong sources of support’. He added that his St Dunstan’s stay where soldiers blinded in war are trained was a godsend for him. It was a new beginning and he made it count. ‘I met a lot of Britishers with similar disability. Seeing them go about their work inspired me a lot’. The standards he later set are in actual fact the stuff legends are made of.

A Genius Reborn

Focussing on winning the ‘Battle of Life’, this unassuming, genuine real-life hero attracted people like a magnet to his persona. Nothing deterred, Chotu took up a dealership with Tata Oil Mills. In 1972, he was allotted a LPG dealership in Siliguri and relocated there from Calcutta with infectious positivity.

In 1977, Chotu got married to Ms Rita Biswas, a teacher driven by passion and remarkable self-starting traits. The duo were like minded in visionary goals, compassionate and compelling and together that made magic.  Jojo is on record paying his wife a handsome, heart-felt tribute for the manner in which she brought greater focus, happiness and harmony in his life. Blessed with twin daughters, Sreemoyee and Sreerupa and younger son Bibek, the careers of the trio were on song well before their beloved father, friend and role-model moved on. The lost him on August 31, 2013 but are living out his dreams with rare nobility, success and character.

Jojo kept the Honour Board ticking. He did his BA from North Bengal University obtaining the expected ‘First-class-First’ rating, by now his DNA. He also routinely won the ‘Best Dealer’ Award from the Tata Oil Mills for a number of years. As an LPG dealer at Siliguri, his consumers remember with awe how he had memorized about 8,000 subscriber names, consumer numbers and addresses, compelling people to call up ‘Joy Da’ to verify their details instantaneously when seeking gas refills or terminations/ transfers of LPG connections.

Reaching Out to Help Disadvantaged Society

Having stabilized his family’s future, Chotu went through a transformation in 1990, taking up social work on a big scale. By 1998, he, Rita and friends had founded The Prerana Educational Centre. Flourishing today, it has 145 physically challenged students on its rolls. Earlier, in 1990, Chotu had also founded the North Bengal Council for the Disabled (NBCD) to run the centre. Apart from Prerana, he also reached towards the rural handicapped under the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) program. Since 1998, about 700 villages around Siliguri have been covered to help rural disabled cope. Chotu ensured that the CBR became a WHO certified initiative which today benefits 3,000 people.

The Children Follow Dad’s Lead

In 2003, Sreerupa got married to Maj Gopal Mitra, SM (Retd). By itself, this news should not be a reason for specific mention in a Braveheart tribute but for one compelling fact – Maj Mitra having been totally blinded in a terrorist encounter in Kupwara, Kashmir, in 2000.

Commissioned into 15 Mahar, this St Xavier’s Kolkata, Honours graduate suffered total visual impairment. He thereafter underwent extensive reconstructive surgery but his military career was over. Nothing daunted, this young gallantry award winner. He underwent several reorientation courses, ending up with is being the first ‘visually impaired’ student to top a Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai post graduate course. Mitra then pursued MSc in Development Management at London School of Economics (LSE) with outstanding grades. After several career advancements, he is now with UN Children’s Emergency Fund as Programme Specialist for Disability. Sreerupa completed her Masters from LSE, London and now works at the UN along with her husband Gopal. Her twin, Sreemoyee completed her Masters in Early Years Education from the famous Institute of Education, London and now teaches at Neev School, Bangalore.

Chotu’s son, Bibek, is a top-notch financial expert. Chotu’s sister-in-law, Nalini Sengupta, runs the famous Vidya Valley School, Pune, where Chotu was on the Founding Governing Board. Ms Rita carries on her shared legacy with Jojo and has ensured that the Institutions they started together remain vibrant and blooming.

The Never Say Die Spirit

Suffering for almost a year from lung cancer, Capt Sengupta passed away at Command Hospital Pune on 31 August 2013. He requested the astonished doctors for a shift to an ordinary Officers Ward to be more accessible to his family and friends. He faced death with the same calm and equanimity as he faced the Cobra Missile or his total blindness. There was respectful silence as their tribute for a Braveheart who, though small in size, had set sky-high standards of bravery in adversity and in conduct becoming an officer and a gentleman of impeccable class of the rarest kind.

What can you say for such a man who lived and died in a manner that one hopes future generations will take inspiration from? Nothing more than joining the author in respectful salutes for a man who though, ‘profoundly blind’ taught us to see life in all its vibrant colours; live a professional and socially responsible, cheerful, fulfilling, selfless life.

The tribute has been the work of a very fine Cavalry Officer:  Maj Gen Raj Mehta, AVSM, VSM (Retd), another fine soldier, whom I was fortunate to interact with during my service in the uniform.