15 May

Ten Life Lessons I Learned in P&G

There is Path and then there is Purpose.  We have to stick to our Purpose because that is our true north.  While we have to be open-minded about which Path to take – because the right one will bring us closer to our Purpose.

Today is my last working day in P&G – a great company with great brands and great people. I am grateful, humbled, and honored to have P&G as my path in the last 13 years. And what an awesome path it was.

I learned so much and here are the TEN biggest ones:
1. Trust = character + competence + compassion. Trust leads to influence. Influence leads to leadership. And leadership leads to change.

2. Humility leads to learning. Learning leads to growth. Humility also builds patience and removes the sense of entitlement. This then brings joy and peace of heart. Growth + joy + peace of heart are the ingredients of fulfillment.

3. The only real competition is yourself. Focus on becoming better today versus yesterday. Do not worry about competing with others – you have your path and they have theirs.

4. Passion, kindness, and joy are contagious. Show up with them everyday. Spread them around. They make everyone’s day better – including yours.

5. Choose to give value to others versus receiving value yourself. Giving is way better than receiving – and as strange as it sounds, it is actually more beneficial for you.

6. You are unique. You have your strengths. Find out what they are and use them. It is a disservice to yourself and to your organization if you conform to the norm. Be different – the world needs your being different.

7. Confidence is all about faking it till you make it. The best antidote to fear are habits. If you are afraid to speak in public, keep on speaking until habit replaces fear.

8. Relationships built on trust brings better and faster results than intellect and hardwork.

9. Goals written down get accomplished. Goals not written down get forgotten.

10. Give quality time to your work and quantity time to your family. Not the other way around. Family first. Health second. Work, a distant third.

11. Get mentors. Be one too. Get trained. And train others too.

12. Never take yourself too seriously. Use humor as often as possible.

13. Always exceed expectations. I promised you 10 lessons and i gave you 13. 🙂 One for each year spent in P&G.

The P&Gers are a special kind – they do great work, they posses great minds, and they have great hearts. It makes me sad that I will not get to see my P&G friends as often as i see them now. But at the same time, i have joy in my heart joy knowing that the friendships I’ve built here will remain real and strong even after i leave.

In two weeks time, i start with Puregold. The Path ahead scares me because I am new to it. But in my heart I know that it is one great company too and if i can find a way to navigate it, i will have a great chance not just to get to my Purpose, but maybe help others find theirs too. And this excitement more than trumps the fear. The coming years will either be epic awesomeness or epic heartache. And what’s life without a few risks? 🙂

Goodbye P&G – i was enchanted to meet you. I had the time of my life fighting dragons with you. Long live.

Hello Puregold – nice to meet you, where you’ve been? I can show you incredible things.

Onwards i go. 🙂 #pgemp

14 Sep

Why Relearning Is Important

The most difficult part of relearning is not the mental part, but the emotional part – having the patience to continue despite frustratingly slow progress. It is too easy to just give up and make do with how things are currently done.
And yet if we don’t relearn, we risk becoming obsolete. We risk having our jobs and even our relationships irrelevant.
We can chose to be impatient, stop relearning, and believe that things will always stay the same anyway. Or we can accept the fact that things change, will keep on changing, and the best way to be ahead of the change is to be the ones driving the change.
The only way to drive change is by having new knowledge. And the only way to have new knowledge is to relearn.

12 Sep

How To: Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking

Speaking in front of a crowd used to unnerve me. My body would tense up and I would forget the great lines I wanted to say. I would hate myself after the presentation – which would then make me lose confidence in the next public presentation.

But I knew also that speaking in public – be it just speaking to 10 people or 100s or 1000s is an important skill to learn for the life I wanted to live. So I put in the effort to learn how to do it. After many years of trial and error, I believe I have reached a place where I am more or less comfortable in speaking. I can’t say I’m very good (hopefully I will become very good one of these years), but I also don’t think I am bad.

Here are the tricks I learned thru the years that can be easily reapplied to overcome the fear of public speaking.


1. One of the most common pieces of advice that I read in a lot of public speaking articles is the suggestion to ‘Just be confident!’. I find this extremely funny. It is a useless advice. I believe it’s virtually impossible to just turn on a switch and ‘Just be confident’ when you have not had a lot of experience speaking in public. What worked for me instead is to stop trying to be confident and instead start becoming enthusiastic. It is very difficult to fake confidence in public speaking, but it is easy to fake enthusiasm. Even better if you actually believe in what you are presenting – there is no need to fake it because you really are enthusiastic about the topic.   The good news is, to the crowd listening to you, it is hard to distinguish a confident speaker from an enthusiastic speaker. So next time you have to speak, Be Enthusastic.  You will look confident.


2. What also helped me is going to a place of peace and silence a few minutes before I speak. All you have to do, a day before the presentation, is to think of a happy memory that you can easily visualize. Write that memory down on a piece of paper or on your mobile phone. Then, a few minutes before you speak, clear and relax your mind by recalling that happy memory. Breathe in and breathe out slowly while thinking of the happy memory. This works wonders to calm me down.


3. When you do get in-front of people, you need to be engaging to them – mostly by looking at them (or at least those in the first 3 rows) directly. Problem is, when you look people into the eye, you could get distracted and remember how afraid you are of speaking. My trick, is to look at people’s foreheads instead of their eye. They won’t notice it – but you will appear more engaging.


4. Create a script at least 3 days before the presentation. Scripts are important – they let you identify the key points you want to make. Don’t try to wing it – that usually ends badly. Remember the saying: Hard Training, Easy Battle or Easy Training, Hard Battle. The more you practice and train, the easier the actual speaking engagement will be.


5. Tied to above, is to practice or dry-run with a trusted mentor. If you don’t want to do that, you can also practice in front of the mirror.


6. Segment your talk into chunks of 10 minutes. That is the maximum amount of time you can keep an average person’s attention. So every 10 minutes, give a story or an analogy – or show an image or video that breaks the monotony of your speaking.


7. Scout the area a few days before and an hour before the presentation. If there are participants already, mingle with them to make yourself comfortable in their presence. Practice your presentation in the actual room you will speak in. This will be a big confidence boost by the time you actually speak in front of the crowd.


8. Use your own style of speaking – don’t be a clone. For me personally, I like putting humor or strange trivia in my presentations. It may not be appropriate most of the time, but I stick to it because it is my style and it makes me that much comfortable – which in the end, makes me do well.


9. Finally, keep your presentation materials simple – and your main points easily understandable.  At the end of the day, a public speaking engagement has the objective of communication.  If you are confident with your content and insights, it will help calm you down and help you deliver a great presentation.


If you fond this helpful, please like/share below to help others discover this. 🙂 Were you suffering from Fear of public Speaking and found a solution? Please share them in the comments section so others can learn too.

20 Jul

Learn Something New in 45 minutes


Blog post of the week: (link) Learn how to make better presentations.  From a TED editor. (~15 minutes)


Video of the week:  (link)  Appreciate classical music again. More importantly, be inspired by how passion of one person can be contagious and easily spread like fire to hundreds. (~20 minutes)


Tweet of the week: From Aaron Levie (‏@levie)  The first internet era: digitizing interfaces that already existed (catalogs, newspapers).  Now: creating the ones that should have existed.”


Site of the week: (link)  Wonderful site to relearn music theory. Great for teaching your kids music.  MusicTheory.net.


26 Jun

How to: Get the Role You Want

You woke up one day with this realization: you don’t like what you are doing and you want to do something else instead.  The problem is, you don’t have the network or the skill to make the jump.  Here are 3 steps to help you ease the journey as you chart a new path for your life.

  1. Learn the minimum skills required for that job/role/business.  This is easy.  Go online, you can find a free course for almost anything you want to learn.  I emphasized minimum, because don’t spend too much time here – move to step 2 as quickly as possible.  (my favorite skill-building sites: http://coursera.org, http://udemy.com, https://gibbon.co, http://instructables.com, http://khanacademy.org)


  1. Do the work for free – with the objective of building serious skills.  Lessons will give you the basics – but expertise will only come with experience.  If you are in the corporate world, volunteer for work outside your formal work plan that will let you build the skill you want.  If you are an entrepreneur, make connections with non-profits and offer your services.  Don’t worry if you are not getting paid with money.  You are getting paid with experience, connections, and credibility – you will find that they are worth more than you initially realized.


  1. Patiently be on the lookout for opportunities – luck favors the prepared.  This last step is the hardest one – waiting for the opportunity to come.  Don’t worry though – what I’ve learned is that the prepared almost always gets the opportunity.


Personal story: I really enjoy working on innovation.  3 years ago, I decided to learn more about it by reading as many books and blogs that I could get my hands on (#1 step above).  I then went ahead to partner with folks in my company to start an innovation team.  We did the work for free – just for the enjoyment of doing it.  In the process, we learned developed serious skills and credibility (#2 step above).  Finally, a month ago, my manager mentioned that there is a brand-new innovation role that will be created – to which I immediately raised my hand up for (#3 step above).  The role did not exist before – it was recently created, and I was in the right place to take it.  Now I get to play the role that I want the most.

Luck favors the prepared.  So ask yourself…

What can you do now that can help you get your dream role/job/business in the future?

What can you do now so you will be favored when the opportunity comes?

05 Jun

Should you quit if you don’t love your job?

Friday.  You look back at the work week and wonder why you do something you don’t love doing.  You are stressed.  You are tired and you ask yourself whether what you do is worth it.  You look around and you see the same look in other people’s faces.  Can’t we all just have jobs that we love?

If this is you – then you have started to believe a really bad career advice: that we need to have jobs that we love.  They say, “Life is too short to do something you don’t love”.  I say, “Life is too wonderful to seek love from what we do”.  Love is for relationships.  Not for jobs.


You don’t need to love your job.  You just need to have a job that allows you to love yourself and allows you to build healthy relationships with the people that you love.


There is so much pressure nowadays to find the perfect job that we will love.  Every post we see of others professing their love for what they do makes us cringe of why we don’t have that type of connectedness with our jobs.  But why do we need to love our jobs?  It is not a person.  Find a job that gives a path to your purpose – but never make your job, your purpose.


A lot of people suffer from mid-life crisis (and more recently, even more people from quarter-life crisis) because they go home one day thinking that they don’t love what they do – while everyone else around them seem to.  Don’t be fooled – wake-up!  Your job does not define you.  Your job does not matter in the greatest scheme of things.  Relationships are what matter – and your job just needs to be good enough to fuel those relationships.


Anyone who has worked with me (especially on my best days) knows how engaged I can be – how my energy can be seen as passion and even love for my job.  Let me be very clear, I don’t love my job.  If I loved it, I would do it for free – and NO (in case you are my salary manager), I will not do my job for free.  (Dear Salary Manager, please never make me do stuff for free.  Thank you).


The inevitable question is, shouldn’t we do the things we enjoy doing?  Absolutely – we must do those things!!!  But there is a big difference between:

“Life is too short to do something you DON’T love”


“Life is too short to NOT do the things you are passionate about.”


The first one reeks of entitlement – one of the biggest problems of our time.  It points at immaturity – the belief that you can win battles (and have the glory) without putting in the sweat in training (which is never fun).


The second belief accepts that time is limited, and that even though we sometimes have to do what is necessary (versus what we enjoy), we still have to carve out the time to do the things we are passionate about.  The important thing to note is that we don’t need to earn from what we are passionate about doing.  If we do, great!  But it’s not necessary.


I enjoy writing – I woke up today at 4:30am just because I had the burning desire to write this article down.  Writing is its own reward for me.  I do it for enjoyment – not for money.  (However, if you really want to give me money, please send to me your credit card number, security code, name of your first pet… Rest assured that I will love you more than your job.)


Finally, I believe that the pressure to find a job that we love is ridiculous.  Our parents got it right – they went to their jobs to earn money, and went home to their families to experience love.  Nowadays, there seems to be a trend where people go to their jobs to experience love, and then realize they need to go home to their families to earn money.


Never quit just because you don’t love your job.  You don’t need to love your job.  You just need to have a job that allows you to love yourself and allows you to build healthy relationships with the people that you love.

Thank you for reading.  We’ve just talked about a reason not to quit.  What do you think can be a good reason to quit?  Share your thoughts below.

attribution: Header photo by @miare of sxc.hu
29 May

How to: Handle Bullies, Tyrants and Impossible People

Today I was asked by a friend how to keep calm when dealing with a difficult person.  I remembered a very good book I read about 7 years ago on Handling Bullies, Tyrants and other Impossible People.  I liked the book very much (it helped me a lot) that I created a 1-page summary of the book. 
I recommend you buy it for the full details, but let me share here my summary.  It’s all about being N.I.C.E.
I hope this helps you.  Ask me a question in the comments section if there is something unclear with the summary.  
Attribution: Header photo by @duchesssa of sxc.hu
07 May

When Quitting Makes Sense

When is the right time to quit?  If the quotes below are to be believed, the answer is NEVER.

  • Winners never quit. Quitters never win.
  • Rest, but never quit.
  • Once a quitter, always a quitter. 

They all sound inspiring, motivating…but should we really NEVER quit?

  • If you are married, and your spouse beats you and your kids up?  Shouldn’t you quit on the marriage?
  • If you are working your hardest and delivering great results, only for your success to be swallowed up by a toxic and demeaning office culture, shouldn’t you quit and find a better workplace?
  • If your business is failing and has already drained all your money to the point that you don’t know when your kids’ next meal will come from, don’t you think you should quit?

I believe there are many instances when quitting is not just a valid option, but is actually the correct option.  So when does quitting become ok?

Purpose vs. Path?
First thing to do is to ask yourself – are you quitting on your Purpose?  Or are you quitting on the Path to the purpose?  

Sometimes we can’t decide whether we should quit because we get confused on whether we are quitting on the path or on the purpose.  For example:

  • Purpose: Becoming a very successful entrepreneur so you can help a lot of people
  • Path: Buying, owning and running a tea business
  • Purpose: Having a healthy boyfriend-girlfriend relationship
  • Path: Becoming boyfriend or girlfriend of Emma/Andrew
  • Purpose: Having an enjoyable career that provides good livelihood to the people you care about
  • Path: Working for company PNC   
  • Purpose: Becoming Happy inside
  • Path: Having a relationship with Emma/Andrew (sorry, I just watched Spiderman)

Do you see the difference?  There are many Paths to a single Purpose.  So here is the simple rule on quitting:
It is OK to quit on a Path, it is NOT OK to quit on your Purpose.

Once you differentiate the path from the purpose, and you know the issue is with the Path, then you should seriously consider looking for a different path that will give you a better chance to achieve the purpose.

Escaping vs Going to a better place:
Once you have made the distinction that indeed the problem is the path – don’t quit yet.  Be patient and look for another Path first.  You have to be objective though – when you hate something, everything else looks great!  So before you quit and jump into something else, ask yourself – by moving to a different path, are you doing it because you really know that the new path is better?  Have you spent sufficient time checking out the new path?  Or you are doing it because you just want to escape from the current path?

To help you, seek advice from people who have done the same jump that you want to do.  Just make sure that the person you are seeking advice from is someone who can be very transparent with you and will not try to oversell what he/she did.

Be responsible:
Finally, if you found a much better path – don’t just jump right there and then.  Please be responsible.   For some of us, other people depend on us.  Spouse, Kids, Parents, Sibling, etc.  If you are responsible for others, consider the impact to them as well.  Get their support (if they love you, they will most probably support you.  And if they really love you, they will also smack you in the head if what you are trying is stupid).

I have no respect for people who consciously risk the security of their families just to chase a whim.  If you are a parent, it is your #1 responsibility to take care of your family.  Chasing your dreams is just #2.  The good news is, the more you take care of #1, the higher chance you have, to get #2.

Last thoughts:
Quitting is really a valid option in some cases.  And though quitting can be scary and can put you into the unknown, sometimes you will need to be brave and just take the plunge.  But before you do, remember the three questions:

  • Are you quitting on the path and not on the purpose?
  • Are you really moving to a better place?  Have you reached out to trusted mentors for advice?
  • Have you taken care of the other people you are responsible for?

Yes on all three?  Maybe it’s time to quit.

(image by lm913 of sxc.hu)