Subba’s Serendipitous moments

September 25, 2007

Peer pressure has more effect than family influence

Filed under: Inspiration,Learning,Perspective — Subbaraman Iyer @ 9:02 pm
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A recent study seems to indicate that there’s absolutely no corelation between the actions of children and parents. It makes interesting reading because it is generally accepted that one of the major responsibilities of the parents is to pass down their values to the children.

Clearly the study is just one experiment and more work needs to be done.

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The best apprenticeship for leadership

Filed under: Business,Leadership — Subbaraman Iyer @ 8:24 pm
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I have always believed that one of the best school for developing leadership traits especially in the corporate world is surprisingly in an area which is far removed from the corporate sector — the non-profit sector.

It is not very easy to be successful there, but it provides a great opportunity to develop one’s inner compass– something that stays for a long time. My own apprenticeship came about with my stints at a drug rehabilitation counseling centre and at another counseling centre dealing with people suffering from mental distress. It was here that I learnt the art of empathetic listening, re-framing issues, being able to focus on the short term keeping a long term plan in mind and more importantly the passion to make a difference in the lives of others. All these have always served me well in the corporate world.

Hence I am really happy that companies like GE, Google and Deloitte are hiring people from Teach for America (TFA). I am happy that Business Week published this amazing story of Wendy Kopp (the founder of TFA) and a lot of what has been written in that piece resonates with me very strongly. The last line in the piece: “Vision creates energy and energy creates charisma– an essential ingredient to successful leadership communications” sums it all very well.

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September 24, 2007

My reflections after listening to Randy Pausch’s lecture

Filed under: Uncategorized,Winning — Subbaraman Iyer @ 2:24 am
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It would be no exaggeration if I said that I was deeply moved after listening to Randy Pausch’s lecture. While it has forced me to examine many of the things that I am involved in, one constant thought has been that it has brought to intense focus the kind of death that I would prefer.

Unlike many people, I have never felt the urge to live a long life. Even as I write this, I am ready to meet my Maker, if he is willing to meet me now. But, if ever I am given a choice to decide the moment of meeting, I would like to meet him when I am just in the midst of doing something that I truly love. And that’s when I am usually in deep conversation — either teaching a class of young students, or talking to friends on an issue I am deeply concerned about, or in an active counseling / coaching session trying to help people build their perspectives and lives.

Surprisingly, I arrived at these choice of moments many years ago, and even though I have often considered whether other moments would make sense, no other moment appealed to me. After listening to Prof Randy Pausch’s lecture, these feelings about choices got not just reinforced, but intensified. I only hope that the good God would grant me this wish.

And should I ever be faced with a terminal illness, I would always exercise the choice to forego treatment and get admitted in a hospice centre if I can’t have the luxury of an active physical body or a sound mind. If I do have the luxury, I would want to continue leading a very active life, doing the things that matter, which is to spend time doing the things that I truly love as listed above. The last thing that I want to do under those circumstances is to be a burden to the health care system, or to the family.

I also find it very amusing that people plan their lives and all yearn for certainty in their lives. However when it comes to death, (which is the only certainty), people rarely think about it. In fact, they avoid thinking about it other than trying to provide for their family members.

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Randy Pausch’s last lecture

Filed under: Inspiration,Perspective — Subbaraman Iyer @ 1:42 am
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The last lecture series is a regular feature in many U.S. universities where eminent faculty members deliver a lecture that may be a parting word of advice or inspiration as though the lecture was their last lecture. Prof Randy Pausch’s last lecture series is very significant since this eminent professor as he suffers from an advanced state of cancer.

Prof. Randy Pausch is an icon in the field of virtual reality. In this lecture he speaks of his childhood dreams and what one could do to fulfill the dreams of others. The lecture is humorous/ entertaining and is entirely peppered with nuggets of wisdom. But most importantly, it is very inspirational and it is something that truly should not be missed.

The links for the lecture are here:

Part 0 of 10

Part 1 of 10

Part 2 of 10

Part 3 of 10

Part 4 of 10

Part 5 of 10

Part 6 of 10

Part 7 of 10

Part 8 of 10

Part 9 of 10

Part 10 of 10

Prof Randy not only lived a full life, a life of achievements, fulfilling all his childhood dreams, enabling the fulfillment of other people’s dreams and is living life to the fullest despite his terminal disease. In a way, he is treating death the way the poet John Donne describes death. The last 2 lines of John Donne’s poem is defiant and it goes something like this:

“One short sleep past, we wake eternally,

And Death shall be no more: Death , thou shalt die”.

For those interested, the entire poem on Death is here

What Prof Randy manages to do is to enable us to pause, reflect and come to terms with what we have been doing with our lives and how we want to continue further.

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