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Role of HR post Covid crisis

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What could be the role of HR in the post Covid scenario ? This is a question, which may be lurking in the minds of many people. I would state that HR could evolve their “Ten Commandments” post the Covid crisis is over and employees gradually trickle back to the workplace.

1. Job Security : In the post Covid scenario, most employees would be worried about their jobs. This would mean a lurking fear that their organisations would have lost revenue for more than a few months and this could result in job losses for many. So, the first duty of HR could be to make the CEO communicate to all employees how they plan to get over this crisis and assure employees at all levels that they would not lose their jobs.

2. New Workplace : The new workplace will have a new normal. It will not be the same place of work like in the past. Apart from physical sanitisation of everything, there would be silence and loneliness at the workplace. There is need to make people adapt to this new work environment through effective communication and counselling by the managers and leaders at all levels.

3. Cost optimisation : While HR leaders should try their best to save jobs, they could be the champions of cost reduction efforts in the organisation. They could engage with employees at all levels and enable formation of teams so that cost reduction is in everybody’s radar and the organisations are able to make up for the losses incurred by this pandemic.

4. Employee engagement : In the post Covid scenario, employee engagement actions become all the more critical. It is important to make employees adapt to the new workplace and at the same time realise that we need to continue to serve our customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders and all other stakeholders as we did before.

5. Work from anywhere : While the Covid crisis forced organisations and employees to adapt to the work from home option, it may be an opportunity for HR in organisations to enable employees to work from anywhere. This means no fixed workstations, laptops for everyone and they could work from any office or any place of their choice in the future.

6. Re-engineering processes : This is a great opportunity for HR to facilitate all the functions in the organisation to challenge all their existing processes and eliminate unwanted ones, simplify those needed and automate wherever possible. The shop-floor could also be digitised and automated so as to minimise human interface in routine operations and use employees for human value addition, which robots or machines cannot do like listening to and attending to customer grievances.

7. Rewrite the HR manual : Just like the Constitution of a nation gets amended from time to time based on the needs of the nation, this is a great opportunity in the history of the organisation to re-write its HR manual. It may be helpful to keep it simple, eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy and all paper work if possible.

8. Productivity : While many of us may not realise that India still has one of the lowest labour costs in the world but our productivity is not on par with the best in the world. This reset post Covid gives us an opportunity to rejig our productivity levels at the shop floor, in our offices and also in all our processes with suppliers and customers. For eg. is it possible for all employees to deal with all HR processes through their mobile phones and eliminate all paper work in the future.

9. Digitalisation : The ability to go digital in all aspects of work is a real possibility in the new workplace. Sales can happen online and service can be remotely handled. This means manufacturing can be digitilalised and automated and so can be all other processes. If banks can provide all their services through digital means so can all other organisations and this is the best time to transition and go digital, wherever feasible.

10. Employee Health & Safety : This crisis provides the best opportunity for organisations to rewrite its health and safety standards. It is not only physical health but mental and emotional health and wellness, which will get tested post this crisis. So , it is the best time for organisations to prepare for similar unknown crises in the future.

While I may not have listed down all possible things, which HR leaders could do post this crisis, I have focussed on the most important and called them the “Ten commandments for HR”.

Do let me know if I have missed out anything ? You can make your own “Ten commandments for HR” based on the needs of your own organisation.

S Ramesh Shankar

12th May 2020

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Relearning from childhood…

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Learning is a life long journey. I was sitting with my grandson, who is 7 years old. He asked me if I knew how to use Instagram on my phone. I said yes. He asked me if I could take a photo of his with the whiskers of a rabbit. I told him that I did know how to do it. He readily agreed to teach me.

He advised me to open the app on my phone. He then showed me as to how change the setting on the phone and then take a selfie as in the photo above. I was quite stunned. It was great learning to use a mobile app from a 7 year old.

As children, we are inquisitive and curious. We learn continually by observing others and things around us. When I asked him as to how did he learn it – he said that he saw my son doing the same on his phone. As we grow up in life, we possibly forget to be curious. Our inquisitiveness is buried within us. We feel shy to ask questions and thereby our learning retards.

It is time to look back and learn from childhood. If we cannot turn the clock back, we can observe young kids around us and learn from them. Another incident made me realise how simple observation can be of great learning value. My grand son was at home for his school vacation. We were playing with each other. Then he wanted to download a few games on my iPad.

I gave him my iPad and enquired which games he would like download. He glanced through the app and shortlisted a few. When I was about to download, he told not to do so. He informed me that every app has a preview. We should preview the game and only if it is interesting, we should download the app. It would otherwise be waste of money. I could not believe that a young kid of 7 years could be so knowledgable on how to carefully download game apps from the internet without wasting money.

To be honest I was not aware of it. This helps learn an important lesson in life. We all are good learners as kids. We observer everything around us and learn. We do not hesitate to ask questions when in doubt. As we grow up our observations skills fades away and hence may be our learning ability also diminishes. We are scared of asking questions when we do not know so as to hide our ignorance rather than learn from others who know.

It is time to reflect. It is time rekindle the child in us. It is time ask questions of curiosity from everyone around us including kids. It is never too late to change. It is also never too late to unlearn, learn and relearn.

Time to restart is today ?

S Ramesh Shankar

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Joy of giving…

I have always be in awe of our festivals in India. Diwali is no exception. Apart from lights and crackers, one recalls Diwali with fond memories because the entire family got together once in a year and celebrated together. We got up early at dawn and had an oil bath before sunrise and enjoyed all the sweets and savouries all day.

Today I got a new insight on Diwali. It is celebrated in India with two different beliefs in the northern and southern part of the country. In the north, people believe that Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after his 14 years in the forests and hence is welcomed back with lights and crackers. In the South, it is believed that Lord Krishna killed a ghost by name Narakaasura on this day in Dwaraka Yuga.

The new insight I got today is from a forward about the story of Narakaasura and the lessons for all of us. It is believed that Narakaasura is the “I” or ego residing in all of us as humans. When Lord Krishna killed Narakaasura, he eliminated our ego and released more than 16000 evils in us. So the next day on amavasya we pray to Godess Lakshmi to lead us to the right path.

Every ritual in Hindu religion and so in other religions has a deep insight for all of us. We generally get swayed by the rituals and start believing that they are of no use and most of us including me give up rituals because they serve no human purpose. I have been no exception. Now that I have all the time in the world, I am able to reflect and get new insights into these rituals.

Another interesting belief that we should clean our home and get rid of all the unwanted things. This is also symbolic that God wants us to give up all that is not necessary and take up the good things in life.

It is also enshrined in our religions that the best way to serve God is to serve the human kind. If we give more, we get more. If we are content with what we have, God always gives us more than what we need. This is the challenge for all of us. How much is enough – is a question difficult to ask and answer for oneself ?

I have admired people who give away without expecting anything in return. Recently another friend forwarded a message with a great insight. It was a couplet from Rahim. When Tulsidas looked at Rahim donating, he found his eyes looked at the ground and so asked him ” O great person, where have you learnt this amazing way of giving ? “. As your hands rise ( to give), your eyes look down. “. Rahim replies – “. The Giver is someone else ( God Almighty), giving day and night. The world has a misconception that I am the giver. So, I lower my eyes in embarrassment. ”

The best people I have met in life are those who give unconditionally. They are anonymous most of the times and recipient does not know that they are the donors. They give because they have a surplus and they are grateful to the Almighty for it and want to thank him for the generosity bestowed on them.

It is like the exotic orchid in the photo above, given my colleagues at work, which are blooming because of their unconditional love.

This blog a salute from my side to all the wonderful people who have made me what I am today. They have given me support, advice, money and love unconditionally. I can never ever return their favour in any form. I promise to give back without expecting anything in return as I bow in gratitude to them.

S Ramesh Shankar

27th October 2019

Bully leaders …

It was the Festival of Lights today morning in India. One of my young colleagues messaged me that she was upset and wanted to share something. She felt guilty that she may spoil my festival day. I encouraged her to share since I as a leader learn more by listening to others.

She then explained how she was upset with some leaders, who behave rudely and treat her very badly. She further enquired if I could write on how to cope with such bully leaders at work. I listened to her patiently and she appeared relieved. I thanked her for giving me yet another idea to write a blog on a subject, which may help youngsters to cope.

I have come across leaders right through my career, who have thrive on bullying others. Their behaviour is atrocious and the less said about it the better. However, the interesting thing is that such leaders do not realise how much their behaviour and language impacts others. They think they can get away with such behaviour right through their career.

Some of them also think that if they are successful in their career or competent in their field of operation, they have the license to behave rudely with others. This is neither true nor desirable. Every leader needs to realise that their rudeness will not get them anywhere. While they can get away with their ill behaviour with their team members, it does catch up with them at some stage of their career.

I have always believed that while we can build competence in people, it is difficult to change behaviours. It is important for all of us to realise that our behaviour defines our personality. People do not remember our functional competence but always remember the way we made them feel. The earlier we realise this, the better it is for us to grow and evolve as a respected leader.

It is important for organisations to focus on leadership behaviours. Many organisations are willing to tolerate bad behaviour of leaders if they are able to deliver on their results. This may harm the organisation more in the long run than they may realise. While nobody would like to work with such leaders, their results are also not sustainable in the long terms since their poor behaviour will come in the way some time or the other in their career.

The damage Bully leaders can cause on their team members is irreparable. While a physical injury can get cured, a mental blot does not go away so easily. Such leaders impact the confidence of their team members. Their behaviour ruins their self esteem and in turn demoralises them. It is for senior leaders and HR in every organisation to keep an eye of such leaders and deal with their behaviour immediately. The earlier we correct their behaviour, the better it is for them and for their team members.

One of the questions asked is – “how to cope with such leaders ?”. While we may not be able to avoid such leaders, since many of us cannot choose our bosses, we can learn to cope with them. It is important to give feedback to such leaders privately and in a polite and firm manner that their behaviour is demoralising. It may be worthwhile to speak to your HR partner so that they can help these leaders by giving feedback on behalf of employees. It may also help to keep a social distance from theses leaders and not participate very actively in their projects. This will be a good sign for such leaders that many team members are not keen to work with them and hopefully this will also be a significant feedback to them.

Another important lesson I have learnt is that it is easier to change our behaviour rather than trying to change others. We need to learn to be courteous to such leaders but at the same time make it clear in a polite way that rude behaviour is not acceptable to us. It may be easier said than done. But, in life, the most difficult challenges are this way. We need to learn to catch the bull by the horns or else the bulls will continue to rampage our lives and we may be the losers.

Lastly, it is important to realise that all of us are also leaders in our own right. We need to learn only the good things from such leaders. After all everyone has some good qualities. If we learn how to bully others, it may harm us more than help us. We need to learn that bullying as a leader is neither an acceptable trait nor a desirable one.

If leaders behave this way, there is no difference between a bullying monkey and the leader’s behaviour. I would rather say that comparing such leaders with the monkey may be an insult to the monkey.

It is time to stand up to such behaviour and have “zero tolerance” just like we would do to company values like ethics, safety and compliance.

Time to start is now, not even today.

S Ramesh Shankar

14th Nov 2020

Listening to the silence

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In my view the one quality, which each one of us have to continually to develop is our ability to listen. We are used to listening to noise all around us. We need to learn to listen to silence. Listening is different from hearing. Most of the time we tend to hear. Active listening means understanding what is said, what is not said but meant and how it is said. This includes the verbal and non verbal behaviour of people.

I was a poor listener in the beginning of my life. As I grew up, I am developing the art of listening. Although it is a continuous journey, I believe it is a useful skill to invest in. One can never believe you have mastered the art of listening. It’s a life long journey to learn this art. But, one can experience the benefits of listening as you learn to develop it. You realise that you learn more as you listen more.

Most of us have a penchant for speaking. We get a kick listening to our own voice. In this process, we do not realise what we miss. Imagine going on a morning walk in a beautiful forest and listening to the birds. If we listen actively, we can smell , hear and feel nature all around us. On the other hand, many of us are busy with our mobile phones messaging others or talking on the phone while we are walking in the forest. This deprives us of a wonderful opportunity to connect with nature and listen to the beautiful melodies of the birds around us.

It is equally true in an organisational context. We as leaders have a tendency to express ourselves and want our teams to listen to us always. We are reluctant to listen to our colleagues and happily interrupt conversations to make our point. We get irritated when interrupted by our team members but feel it as a matter of right to do so ourselves. This way we do not realise how much we miss out on the invaluable views of our team members on different issues.

I was recently on a vacation. The silence of the forest in front of me taught me more than the noise of the cities. It taught me lessons on listening more than any course I could have attended. We get a lot of valuable inputs everyday from people around us. But we lose out most of it due to our poor listening skills. We either do not listen to them or cut them off just to make our own points.

Even if we reflect in our family environment, the scenario is not very different. We as parents want our children to listen to us all the time. I should admit as mothers are better listeners than most fathers. This may be more true especially when mothers spend time with their children. Children are inquisitive and have more questions than answers. Most of the time we tend to shut them up since we do not have the patience to listen to their curiosity.

It is time challenge ourselves. It is time to learn to listen to the silence around us. A morning walk in the woods or the garden. A quiet time listening to your favourite music. A digital detox of keeping away from our mobile phones may help us to listen better. Learning from the active listening in our family, friends or office colleagues may also be a good exercise to undertake.

While admiring the sunset over the ocean, while you can listen to the waves, you can also listen the silence of nature as in the picture above.

Listening is an art or a science ? Either way, we need to learn and practise it every day. We should not spend time debating whether it is an art or a science. We should spend time learning to listen from all the people around us who are better than us in this skill.

Let us start today.

S Ramesh Shankar

Love….

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Love is the blood of life. It is to be experienced to be understood. One cannot express love in words easily. One can share feelings of love or experiences of love with others. Love has many forms as experienced by all of us. Let us examine love from various experiences in our cycle of life.

A child experiences love of the mother without even an exchange of a word. It could be sign or even touch, which makes the child feel love. The mother knows when a child is happy or sad. She can feel the emotions of her kid like no other human being can in her life.

As the child grows up as a kid, she is loved by everyone in the family. The young child loves her parents for some things and her siblings for other things. These expressions of love can be in the form of comforts in life or even a small help or favour. A pat on the back could be considered as an expression of love for the child.

Now the child grows up into an adolescent and love has a different meaning to him. He is attracted to the opposite sex and relates more to physical touch and feel. He lives in a world of fantasy and dreams of love in various forms in his life. He takes the love of parents and siblings for granted and is willing to sacrifice everything to win over the girl in his life.

As you grow into a young adult, this romanticised form of love grows more realistic. You start your work life and look at colleagues at work as partners to success. You do not live in a dream world. Your feet settles on the ground and want to make a mark in life and work and love is secondary at this stage of life.

Once settled at work, you plan to settle in life. Now one looks for a partner in life. The criteria for an ideal partner goes beyond physical looks and transcends to emotional and compatibility needs. You are willing to take your time to search for your ideal partner and are not in a great hurry. Love is a journey and not a destination in life.

Now you are married and consider your spouse as your equal. Each of us want to be an ideal partner and expect the same from the other. We try to put our best foot forward and live in a honey moon period till love lasts. As the feelings of love fades, we start finding fault with each other and do everything possible to find fault in our partner. It takes courage and humility of either of us to admit our mistakes and move on in life.

We then have kids and settle down in life. Our children bridge the ever growing gap of love between us and we get closer to each other – thanks to the bonding with our children. We realise our mistakes as we grow older and are willing to compromise and support each other at this stage of life. Love seems to connect us all over again as partners.

Our children finish their education and move on to their independent lives. The empty nest syndrome sets in and we realise that we need each other more than ever before. Love gets redefined at this stage of life. It is much more than physical. It is emotional, social and psychological bonding between us. We learn to support each other to experience love.

Love is cyclic. We almost become kids again as our grand children arrive in our lives. It is to be experienced to be believed. These tiny tots light up our emotions all over again. The child in us is re kindled as it had got buried deep inside us as adults.

It is time to experience love in every phase of life. Live and enjoy love as it evolves.

Love happens, it is never planned.

S Ramesh Shankar

25th June 2018

Negotiating life

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We end up negotiating throughout our life. It seems to start in our childhood and never ends. We negotiate with our parents for time to play when we are supposed to study. We bargain with friends for borrowing a cricket bat or football. This extends to every aspect of our life at this stage. We end up negotiating with our teachers to submit our assignments late.

Life seems to lay the ground for negotiations. It begins at home and extends to friends, school and everyone around us. We learn to craft our strategies and win most of the time. We learn to live with failures too. Successes boost our morale and failed attempts makes us learn better.

As kids we learn to master the art of negotiating from our siblings and friends. This then extends to classmates at school and college too. The competitive world around us makes us want more than we need. It appears natural for us to demand more than we deserve in life from our parents and teachers.

As we grow up in life and get into a job or pursue our own dreams as an entrepreneur, our needs to negotiate increases. We tend to believe that negotiating life is more an art than a science. There is no logic to win a negotiation. In life most of our decisions are emotional and than we apply logic to justify them.

It is not very different in life. We tend to live life beyond our means. Our wants exceed our needs and thereby end up negotiating for everything in life. This may look natural and also essential to survive in an over zealous world. But the sooner we realise that we may be hampering valuable relationships, the better it may be for us.

I find negotiating quite normal in life as long as we are within our limits. Now, the question may be – who will define our limits. For me, it is like living your values in life. We do not need a written code of conduct or an external being to guide us. All of us are endowed with an inner voice, which guides us all the time.

As in the photo above, siblings end up negotiating for rewards in response to a favour done to each other in every day life.

We need to listen to our inner voice. This voice will always caution us when we are crossing our limits and which may hamper our relationship with others. It is at this time we need to reflect and learn. If we don’t then we end up negotiating with our parents, teachers and elders, whom we need to give more than we receive at all times.

Life has been a great learning journey on negotiations. I have made innumerable mistakes and burnt my fingers. But every time I learnt a lesson from a mistake, it has helped me take a step higher in my quest for improvement. It is normal to err but it is valuable to learn from our mistakes.

Let us learn to live life to its full.

S Ramesh Shankar

Anything new is good….

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All of us crave for new things most of the time. We like to have new clothes, new friends, new car, new house and et all. This habit develops as a child and continues possibly throughout our life time. While the saying goes “Old is gold” – new continues to enamour us. We may not have reasons to justify our behaviour all the time but we continue to crave for new things all the time in our lives.

Let us examine this behaviour from various angles. The first and foremost is the psychology of this behaviour. It may be due to boredom with existing things around us. It could be the belief that anything new would be better than the old we are used to. It may be due to our yearning for newer things in life. As the child grows up, we are fascinated by the changes in their behaviour. We clamour for a new word and new action every day and are overjoyed when it happens. I remember the first word my daughter uttered in her life. It was “Chidiya”(bird) and it was one of the most joyous moments in my life as a parent. She looked at a sparrow and named it as a bird the first time in her life.

Let us examine it from the lens of relationships. Most of us grow up in the secured environment of a family and get used to the relations around us. We look forward to establish new relationships when we go outside our homes in our quest for higher education or for jobs. We eagerly look forward to how every relationship will evolve. We put in our best efforts and look forward to a mutually rewarding relationship based on trust and mutual respect. This happens to us as individuals too. As bachelors or spinsters we lead a carefree life. Then we get married and look forward to a new relationship of equal intensity. We want to give our best and receive love in equal measure.

If we move to material things around us, the phenomenon is similar. We may have most the things we want in life. We still crave for new things on every possible occasion. We justify buying new things to changes in technology or our own needs. Sometimes, we want to upgrade our social status by buying more prestigious brands as we can afford them now. Every time we believe that anything new will be good for us. Our craving for new material things continues throughout our life journey. The only lesson one can learn is that if we can balance greed and need it may be helpful for us as human beings.

Now let us examine it from our own selves and how it adds joy to our lives. It can be different things may bring joy to different people. One may get joy buying a new pair of shoes although he has many pairs of shoes in his cupboard. It could be watches for some or handbags for others. I remember the first time I bought an expensive watch for myself, I felt guilty as I already had two watches. One of my colleagues also commented that all watches show the same time. This may be true but the joy of buying a new watch is not an experience which can be ignored. After all we need to live life that gives us joy every single day.

This craving for new things has to be within your affordable limits. We need to ensure that while we have every right to enjoy buying anything new in our lives it should not be at the expense of others or our own well being. Some of the ground rules I have been following in buying new things are – a. Never borrow and buy new things, b. Never sacrifice your well being to buy new things, c. Our craving for new things should not be at the expense of others d. Learn to donate old things when you buy new things so that your greed and needs are balanced.

As in the photo above, a new microscope is more fascinating for the kid than even ripe mangoes in front of him.

The joy of new things are to experienced to be believed. Joy for ourselves should not be at the cost of others.

What do you say ?

S Ramesh Shankar

Transgender is ?

Trans is webinar series

Who is a Transgender ? What does their world look like ? What are the challenges they face in society ? What is our world view of transgenders ? What can we do ? How can I make a difference ?. These are some of the questions which came to my mind when a friend asked me to join a webinar series called “Transis “

Today after attending 16 webinars I should confess that I realise how little I know of this genre called “transgenders”. Every webinar opened my eyes to their world. Every session I attended I realised how little we know about those sections of society who are disadvantaged in more ways than one.

I am neither competent to write on this topic nor will attempt to be an expert. But my ignorance inspired me to write about how little I know and what difference we can make as individuals in society. Most of us think, what can I do to transform society.

It is like that famous story of the star fish and the small kid on the sea shore. If each of us can throw back at least one star fish pushed to the sand by the waves, we can save the life of that star fish. Similarly if each of us can help understand one transgender person and enable them to integrate into the mainstream of society in whatever way we can make a positive difference to their lives.

I realised how difficult the world of a transgender is when I listened to their stories. A person is not born as a transgender by their choice. They are born into a family by nature’s ordain. Most families consider it a curse that a child of this nature is born into their family. So the challenge for this category of people starts from the day of their birth on this earth.

Imagine a child who is born into a family for no fault of theirs is discriminated and cursed for no fault of theirs. Many a time the child is thrown out of their home or discarded even before they become an adult. A child is born as a male in a female body or a female in a male body. They do not have a choice to live the way they want. Neither the family nor the community around them or the society at large supports them in any way.

I should admit that till today I thought that women, differently abled, minorities etc. were the disadvantaged sections of society. Today I realised that the transgender community have much bigger challenges to face not only to live but survive in a society, which has repeatedly failed to understand them and their issues. We have not only failed to understand them but also have not yet even imagined to create an eco system for their fair living.

If we take a peek into their world, we may realise that their challenges starts at their birth and possibly does not even end at their death. They are rejected by their own family leave alone the community around them. Societies and nations have not formulated adequate policies to enable them to lead a decent living. They find it difficult to get admission to educational institutions, employment opportunities almost do not exist and they do not even have a choice to live a life of dignity of their own choice like you and me.

I hope this blog has opened more eyes than one and each of us commit to change their world by impacting the life of one person at a time. Lets resolve to do whatever we can in our own personal capacity without waiting for the United Nations to write a charter for them.

Lets begin today.

S Ramesh Shankar

9th Oct 2020

Night Owls…

I was playing badminton and one of my partners asked as to “Why most of the youngsters today are “Night Owls” ? Why do the youth today love to sleep very late and get up late. I thought it was worth pondering over.

I have personally never been an early morning person. During my school and college days I preferred to study late at night and get up a bit later in the morning. On the other hand some of my siblings practised the reverse. They used to study at dawn and sleep early at night.

I would say there is nothing wrong in being a “Night Owl” nor anything right in not being one. It is each person’s personal preference. I would imagine it becomes difficult for us to accept somebody else’s behavioural pattern when it does not match with our own. It may be time to challenge ourselves on it.

I have read of geniuses around the world who spend the whole night creating music or sculpting a piece of art. On the other hand, some others do prefer doing the same during the day. How does it make a difference to others ? This is the point to ponder.

My life is my life and I have the freedom to live it my way as long as it does not impact others. This is to be remembered. As long as I sleep late and do not deprive other people at home of their sleep, it should be fine. It may also be worthwhile to remember that my daily routine should not make life inconvenient to others.

If I get up late, I should have the courtesy to make my own coffee, cook my own breakfast and put things back in place in the kitchen and other rooms so that I don’t make life difficult for my own family members. As long as my actions and behaviours do not create inconvenience to others, it should be fine.

On the other hand, if I lead a life which is diametrically opposite to the others and are least bothered about the impact of my life on others, it is unfair. It is like i love music and play at midnight and disturb everyone around at home and my neighbourhood , it would be uncivilised. However, if I want to listen to music at night and put on my headphones and do the same, then it is perfectly fine.

We just need to remember that our lives are not independent. We live in a inter dependant world and it has always been like that. We cannot inconvenience our parents or siblings at home for our preferences. On the other hand, if we can manage our preferences in such a way that our life does not negatively impact others, it is fair and reasonable.

Our ability to accept a diametrically opposite lifestyle whether at home , work or in society will make all the difference. Life is different for each individual and so are our likes and preferences. So be it. Why should someone else live life the way we like it. Of course it is important to lead life in your own way as long as you do not make others pay for your life style.

When your day ends, their day may begins and that’s their life, not yours. They may even like to go for a drive at night to feel the chill in the air as in the photo above.

Lets learn to live and let live.

S Ramesh Shankar

20th September 2020

What it means to be a professional ?

Many people have asked me this question right through my career. The answer is simple but we make it complex. We think professionalism comes only from professional education or joining professional organisations. Professionalism is a way of life. It is the way we live, act and respond to everyone around us in life.

My five Commandments on how to evolve as a professional would be as follows :

A. Keep your time : The simplest, yet the most difficult thing to do in life is to keep your time. Yet most of us fail in this simple thing. Whether it is a time givento your kid or to your vendor, supplier or employee, it does not matter. It also does not matter if the person is higher in social status or lower. In my view, you are a true professional only when you keep your promised time with everyone around you with equal respect.

B. Respond : Another simple thing we fail to do every day is call back people, who called us when we were busy or away. It could a phone call, a message or a visitor. It is always a good idea to call back each and everyone who called you irrespective of whether known or unknown ( except toll free numbers and marketing calls). We do not consider it important to call back people.

C. Empathise : Every decision we take will be perceived fair and professional if we are able to put ourselves in the shoes of the persons, who are likely to be impacted by our decision. Any amount of data analytics cannot substitute empathy and its related emotions. Professionalism does not mean unemotional decisions.

D. Dress for the occasion : One has to be one step better than what the organisation promotes as a dress code. It may be worthwhile to find out and dress appropriately. A business suit does not necessarily make you a professional nor a casual wear makes you unprofessional. However, remember that you need to be better dressed than what they expect of you. You could do research and find out what is appropriate dress in an organisation or even a nation, when you go abroad.

E. Keep your commitment : If you promise someone, something , you have the liberty to think before you promise. But, you do not have the luxury to go back on your commitment. Again it does not matter whether you have made the promise to your family, friends, colleagues, suppliers or customers. A promise is a promise and one needs to do everything to live up to it. In case, there is a delay, one could always seek for extension of time rather than forgetting it and lowering one’s professional image.

One could argue that there are multiple dimensions of being professional. I agree but it is worthwhile to start from the basics. These are the basics and the simplest. The simplest things in life may not be easiest to follow. It is like our new year resolution of going for a jog every day. How many of us have been able to live up to a new year resolution even to ourselves.

It is worthwhile to remember that professionalism may not be taught in business schools or other professional institutions. It is a way of life and culture. We need to learn from the environment and people around us both at work and beyond.

S Ramesh Shankar

15th July 2019

The red carpet

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I have always wondered as to why we use a red carpet to welcome important people on festive occasions. It could be a tradition or custom. It could also be a symbol of celebration. I should confess that I have not done any research on this subject. But I felt it may be worthwhile to spread my wings and let my imagination fly for the reasons.

In many religions red symbolises goodness. This could the reason. It could mean the occasion is auspicious and hence the red carpet. It could mean that you are remembering God while welcoming a guest.

Red could also a symbol of blood. It could show that you are welcoming your guest with your body, sweat, blood and soul – in a way whole heartedly. Blood may also relate to life and relationship and hence a connection is established between the host and guest.

In some countries red cars symbolise energy and youth. I understand that red cars are even charged more insurance. This is because they are likely to drive fast and more likely to make insurance claims. Thus red could represent energy and enthusiasm while welcoming a guest.

Red in Hinduism is sacred. It is supposed to protect you from all evils. This may also may be a way to welcome your guests and protect them from evil eyes being cast on them. It is fascinating how a colour could reflect so many things.

I wonder why the carpet could not be blue or yellow as they are also primary colours. I have no reason to believe why it is so. A simple logic could be that red does not fade easily and hence it may be easy to maintain red carpets unlike other colours.

It may be useful to reflect that colour of the carpet does not make the difference. It is the spirit in which it is used. In India there is a quote, which states that ” Respect your mother like God, Respect your father like God, Respect your guest like God and Respect your teacher like God. “. This means that the guest has to be respected like God. This could also be a logic for using a red carpet to welcome guests.

The red colour reflects royalty. It possibly is linked to the kings and queens of the past. If we look at the world of cinema, a red carpet is the symbol of the Oscar ceremony and may be reflects a regal ceremony.

I have no doubt that red is royal and regal. It expresses the emotions of the host to the guest in visual form. We have no doubts that a visual representation speaks more than a million words. This could also be the reasons for using red to welcome guests.

Red is used in most advertisements and this may also be a factor. Red could represent a colour which is striking and will be viewed by all. We can either believe our past and agree that there is logic in using a red carpet for any or all the reasons above. On the other hand, we can forget the past and change the colour to blue or yellow and see what people around us react.

The choice is ours. Red or blue – the emotions remain.

S Ramesh Shankar

8th June 2018.

Did you see the moon today ?

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Every evening I look at the night sky to look at the moon. The moon is beautiful everyday it appears in the night sky. It is romantic and soothes your mind. I have wondered many a time as to why the moon is so romantic. What is the beauty we see in the moon ?

A sculptor sees beauty in a raw stone. An artist admires the beauty of nature all around her. A child admires the beauty in the eyes of his mother. A poet is inspired by the moon or the sun. Each of us see beauty in some thing or the other.

I admire the beauty of the moon. I can sit on a sea shore and admire the beauty of the moon all night. It symbolises coolness. It reflects the sun light and thereby shows its generosity. It is non discriminatory and goes around the earth to share its beauty with everyone around the earth.

I admire the sun as well the moon. Everything in nature is admirable. If I miss to watch a sun rise, sun set or the moon in the sky, the day is incomplete for me. The moon by itself is sheer beauty. When it is reflected on the ocean, it multiplies its elegance to the human eye.

Let me try to reflect on the qualities of the moon, which makes it so adorable. It is sparkling white in a dark blue sky. It is selfless and reflects the sunlight for our benefit without keeping anything for itself. It is hard working and tireless as it revolves around the earth throughout the year without a break.

What do I lose if I miss to see the moon on any day ? I miss a thing which I admire. I am devoid of the beauty in the night sky. Sometimes on a new moon night, I realise the absence of light and how difficult life would be without sun and moon light every day.

I have wondered many times how poets and lyricists have written so much on the moon. Now when I sit and reflect I realise that if I can tirelessly admire the moon every day, there is so much inspiration for them to write endlessly admiring its beauty.

The sun, moon and the stars are nature’s gift to mankind. While each has its unique qualities, the moon is the most beautiful of all. I can watch the sun for a few moments and the stars forever without really seeing much. But the moon gives you the unique opportunity to admire it forever and without any break when it appears on the night sky.

The moon also teaches us to be devoted and grateful. It revolves around the earth without a break and transmits light to us from the sun without asking why. We as human beings find it difficult to give anything without knowing the reasons. May be the moon can be a good source of inspiration for us to give back more to society.

Life without the moon will be a life of darkness. Let us hope the moon will continue to shine in our life and inspire us every day.

S Ramesh Shankar

17th June 2018