Sparks of brilliance…

All of us have genes of brilliance ingrained in us. It is like the diamond hidden in the carbon below the earth. We need to keep looking within and one day we may find to our surprise what we are brilliant at.

It is generally our parents or teachers who find the gems in us. They look at every child as a potential and look for what we are good at. As we grow up, they make us realise our potential. However, as we become adults and work in organisations or even on our own, we either tend to forget our potential or do not find a mentor who can see that in us.

I realise that everyone of us has sparks of brilliance and it is upto someone to help us discover it. So, all of us as parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, bosses or even neighbours have a responsibility to help individuals discover their full potential.

Every child is born with innate talent. If someone in their life is able to help the child realise that capability through careful mentoring and support, then they become gems in life. Otherwise, that potential goes waste and neither we nor others benefit from it.

It is like any team game. In football, cricket or hockey, it is the coach, who helps every player reach their full potential. If the coach is not a great motivator, a true friend, a wonderful teacher or a mentor who never gives up, the best of every player is never seen. On the other hand, ordinary teams show sparks of brilliance when they have a great coach.

I have seen repeatedly in life that great parents or teachers transform the lives of children and bring out the best in them. Similarly great coaches make ordinary teams look extra ordinary. Similarly great bosses, make ordinary employees perform superbly.

On the other hand, a negligent teacher, an impatient parent or poor boss can make individuals less confident of themselves and we may never be able to discover our true worth.

As an employee throughout my life, I have learnt that the best in me came out when I was given the freedom to experiment, the luxury to fail and the time to discover myself. Every manager has a role to play to treat every individual in their team as an unique potential talent.

Every one of us has something within us. We need the right environment to flourish and encouragement to fail and learn. The recognition that we are capable of much more than we have done so far will be of immense help.

Every word of encouragement motivates us. Every act of support enables us to try our best. Every recognition of minor accomplishments makes us excel in whatever we do. It is people around us who make us what we truly are. Of course, we need to put our best foot forward.

As in the photo above, every mother discovers the brilliance in her child.

The light within us is always burning. We just need to ignite the spark and then we realise that the flame can be brighter than we thought and makes us realise our best.

Let us discover the best in us today.

S Ramesh Shankar

21st February 2021


I have always wondered as to why people are forgetful. Some are forgetful from childhood and others like me have become forgetful as I grew older. Some creative people are considered forgetful. I am not sure as to what makes people forgetful.

My spouse has been forgetful for quite some years now. So, this defies the logic that forgetfulness is linked to one growing older. I have seen my college professor being very forgetful. He was a genius but not very creative. So the link between creativity and forgetfulness is also not always established.

My grandson who is ten years old is very creative but not at all forgetful. So all our theories on “forgetfulness” has to be forgotten. We need to believe that anyone and everyone can be forgetful and nothing wrong being so.

I wonder why we are forgetful. Some of us genuinely forget while some others fake forgetfulness. Either way forgetfulness embarrasses us more than anything else. We forget to brush our teeth before our morning coffee. We may forget our bath before going to work or forget our breakfast before leaving home.

We may forget to drop our kids to school and put our family in distress. We may forget to keep our timelines at work or commitments to other stakeholders. Every way we learn from these incidents every day. However, some of us learn and change while others continue to forget the same way.

Many of us may remember that we forgot to do our home work in school. Most of us would have faked this excuse to our teachers and would have gotten away a few times. But life does teach us that that the more we fake to others the more we betray ourselves.

We can expect from others what we deliver. If we forget on our commitments to family, friends, suppliers or customers, we may realise sooner than later that they may do the same to us in return. Every thing which goes around, comes around in life.

All of us may have used the “forgetfulness” card at home, school or the work place some time or the other. It is fine to try those pranks and learn from it. However, if we make this prank a habit, we tend to lose more than others in our lives.

I personally feel that there is nothing wrong in being forgetful as long as we don’t fake it. It is human to forget things and there are many ways to remind us as to why we forget things in life.

The earlier we realise this basic tenet of life, the easier life becomes for us. If we don’t we can continue to be knowingly forgetful and be ready for others in our lives to be as forgetful as us or even more.

Let us remember not to deliberately forget from today and if we do, we lose in life more than others. If we forget unknowingly, it is human and anyone will forgive us for that.

Let us forget to forget, knowingly from today.

S Ramesh Shankar

Selective Learning…

As humans, we possibly start learning when we are born and it may be ending only when we die. At least we are not aware as to what happens to us post our death. Every stage of life teaches us new lessons every day. It is upto us to learn from every experience and every person we meet in our lives

If we walk through every stage of our life, we realise how much we learn. As a child, every action of ours is a new learning. Starting from learning to crawl, walk and run, we have so many opportunities to learn every day.

We learn from everyone around us. Our parents, siblings, friends and neighbours teach us new things every day. We crawl, walk, fall down and get up again to run ahead in our lives. We cherish every moment and are grateful for the people who enable us to learn every day.

As we grow into an adolescent, we tend to learn what we want to. We ignore things which does not interest us. We also rebel when we are forced to learn things against our wishes. We have a world view of ourselves and believe there can be no alternative view.

As an adult we tend to become more rational. We learn by our own choice. We categorise things based on our mindset. We decide what we want to learn and what we don’t want to. This I would call as “Selective learning”. All the curiosity of our childhood gradually fades into selective interest and learning. In this way, we lose many opportunities to learn from experiences and people around us.

One good example is learning when we travel around the world. While we want to learn all the things which we possibly need not, we ignore things, which we should learn. We learn to accumulate things more than we need in our day to day lives but we ignore the self discipline which we see on the roads or even in everyday life.

We learn to be self centred in our lives but we fail to learn to give back to society. It is important to realise that every experience of life is an opportunity to learn. Every person we meet and interact with can teach us something if we are inclined to learn from them.

Out of our own ignorance or ego, we decide what we want to learn and what we do not want to. This leads to selective learning. A side effect is that we lose multiple opportunities to learn and grow in life. It may be worthwhile to challenge ourselves and ask why this happens.

One of my best experiences in learning is my travel around India and the world as in the photo above.

I believe it is never too late to learn in life. I was recently reading an octogenarian lady attending computer classes since she wanted to email her grand children and chat with them online. I also have read of grand parents pursuing research or post graduate degrees when they do not need to at their age. This proves learning ends only in our mind and not with our age.

Lets us learn to learn unconditionally from everything and every person around us all the time.

S Ramesh Shankar

9th November 2020

Education & Intelligence


Today in most situations formal education does not prepare a kid for a career. It only enables the award of a degree and certificate. While we may say that the current education system possibly lays a theoretical foundation, it lacks in application. Further, it assesses the ability of kids to memorise and reproduce and not apply their intelligence to solve a problem.

What do we need to do to change the system ? In my view, education should prepare kids to assess themselves and realise their full potential. As a kid, I should be clear what my strengths are and what my passion is ? We should take children to places where they can live their passion. Imagine a creative child working in an organisation like a BPO where the job is process driven and not much scope for innovation. On the other hand, imagine an analytical child trying to innovate and create new designs in an advertising agency. Both the kids are likely to be unhappy and may not be fully equipped to do their jobs.

Our system conditions the child to believe that some careers are more prestigious than others. The inequity in salary and wages also makes children force themselves to take up high paying jobs although they may not be enjoying it. Similarly, the environment also does not encourage entrepreneurship. It is generally believed that smarter people take up certain kind of jobs only.

All these fallacies in our system makes us believe that it is time to reset our education system. Starting from schooling we need to delink education to our ability to memorise things and reproduce. It should be more vocational after an objective assessment of the child’s potential. Some kids are analytical, some creative, some love sports and others dramatics. We need to create a system which enables each child to make a self assessment on what they are good at and what type of work will give them joy.

My experience teaches me that we need to enjoy what we do in life. If we enjoy what we do, we give our best and live our passion in life. Otherwise, it becomes a ritual and adds to stress and agony in life. It does not matter if we are playing a sport or teaching in a college. We need to do what brings out the best in us. We need to experience joy in doing it and add value to ourselves and society at large.

At primary level, kids should not be in a competitive environment like today. They should be free to play and learn and understand what they enjoy doing more. This will take them to their area of strength. At the mid school level , it should help them self assess and then decide on which area they would like to study. At senior school and college level, it could be a right blend of theory and practical application in the field of their choice. This should be supplemented by compulsory internship as part of the curriculum to test their application skills.

All the above steps will prepare a child to go where they want to go. No destination is final. If a child realises that they have made a mistake on the way, our systems should be flexible enough to for them to choose an alternate path. This way we can ensure that children find their passion in life always.

As in the photo above, a child is not the most educated when young but could be more intelligent and creative and can trouble shoot many issues if they enjoy doing what they do.

Organisations needs to support internship for children so that they can assess themselves and make them industry ready. This could include businesses who can prepare kids interested in starting their own ventures and improve their risk appetite.

After all education is the foundation for a better tomorrow.

The journey has to begin today.

S Ramesh Shankar

2nd June 2020



Power of Music

I have always wondered as to what is the power of music. I can share some of its healing properties through my personal experiences. I listen to ghazals whenever I am on a flight and can write blogs non stop listening to them. They relax my mind and thoughts flow through my fingers onto a iPad like water flowing down the river.

I always listen to music to relax my mind. Instrumental music from all parts of world fascinate me. They have the power to heal my mind and calm my soul. They can make me sleep or bring out the best of my writing skills too. Music can make me creative and enable me to give my best too.

Many of us enjoy music while driving. It not only makes us enjoy the journey but keeps us relaxed and enables us to drive for long hours without getting bored. Of course the choice of music could differ from one individual to the other but almost everyone enjoys some form of music.

I know people travelling hundreds of miles just to listen to their favourite music. The good thing today is that youngster who are passionate about music are willing to take it up as their life long vocation and passion.

The good thing in the world today is that everyone is open to live their passion. Music can change the world for people and humanity. It can heal the world and cure a person of a dreadful disease. Music can be used as therapy to cure the incurable. It can cast its magic on everyone who needs it.

Music can relax our mind, body and soul. In these days of hectic everyday life, music can help us calm down. It can help us to relax and enjoy every moment of life. It can enable us to think differently. It may help us to resolve conflicts within us or with others.

Music an be life for many. The power of music is not yet fully harnessed. It’s potential is unlimited and it is upto us to realise it. I have seen the impact of music even on animals. An angry dog can cool down if she listens to a music of her choice.

Let us learn to enjoy the music of life.

S Ramesh Shankar

16th July 2020


“H” stands for being human and “R” stands for being responsive. Many people have asked me the role of HR especially post the pandemic. If I have to simplify, it is just to be human and responsive to every employee who needs help.

Although, it may look simple, the most difficult things in life are the day to day things, which we fail to do consistently every day. Someone once asked me – “What it means to be a professional ?. I had stated that responding always, keep your time and commitment, dressing for the occasion and being empathetic always.

Today I would think its simpler. Just be human, grounded, accessible and respond to the stated and unstated needs of every employee. During this pandemic, quite a few young employees reached out to me and expressed their concerns. I would share two case studies to share their anguish.

The first was a young employee working in an multinational. She reached out to me knowing that I had retired more than two years back from an active corporate role. When I asked – “Why she reached out to me – she said that I was always accessible and she was sure I will respond to her call. She sent me a message on social media and I did respond.

We then had a call and followed up by multiple calls. Her concern was that “work from home” has ruined her work life and personal life. She said that she had to respond to international calls even at 11pm and her spouse was not amused nor were her kids. She said she was more stressed than ever.

The second case was a mid level manager from an Indian corporation. His query was – why is it everyone is under stress nowadays ? Can stressed employees deliver their best ? He went on to state that this sort of stress neither is good for the employees nor the organisation. Again, when I asked why he contacted me as I have not even met him, he said that some of his friends told him that I would respond positively.

The two cases are symptomatic of what is happening in organisations today. Employees, managers and leaders are all under stress. They are finding it difficult to balance work and life and the pandemic has made it more complicated for them as the line between office and home has blurred.

What can “HR” do to help employees ? I would say – lets keep it simple. HR needs to be human and responsive. They need to be accessible to the employee all the time. They need to be empathetic listeners and employee champions. They need to respond to every employee irrespective of them being an introvert or an extrovert, a junior or senior employee in the hierarchy. I would rather say, HR needs to reach out to the quiet employees much more and respond to their needs.

Some may ask – “What it means to be Human ? “. Being empathetic and responding to every employee by putting yourself in their shoes will make you respond in a human way. If we respond the way we expect others to respond when we are in a crisis, is the human way.

It is like the murmuring of birds in the sky. Nobody knows who the leader is or who HR is. They sway together and support each other when attacked by a predatory bird always as in the photo above. HR needs to be like the invisible saviour of the birds in the sky within organisations.

If we are human, grounded, accessible and responsive, HR will be the function, which employees will hail as their messiah in distress. Otherwise, they may wonder as to why HR exists in organisations ?

It is time for HR to be human and responsive always.

S Ramesh Shankar

30th September 2021

How do you define success in life ?

Success in life could mean different things to different people and that is absolutely fine. It is like beauty could be defined differently by everyone based on their own perceptions in life. While some of us may think that creating wealth is success, there could be others who define success as helping as many people in their lives.

Each one of us look at the world through our own lenses and define success in our own ways. In my view, an individual has a right to define or redefine success the way they want to as long as they do not decry the definition of success by others.

The word success is defined by us based on our own life experiences and perceptions of the world. We are born in a family which is the basic social unit of society. Our family moulds us in a particular way and we form our idea of success.

Then as we grow up, go to school and college, our teachers help us in refining our concept of success. This further gets reimagined when we enter our career as a professional or an entrepreneur. Our journey in life adds to this definition and we keep re-inventing ourselves as we grow up.

Our friends and colleagues also influence our thoughts, deeds and actions. Certain life events impact our world view and we keep reflecting on “ what success and happiness means to us in life ?”

As I said earlier, there can be no right or wrong answers to this fundamental question of life. Each of us have a right to look at it the way we want to and keep changing our definition as we experience life over the years.

The only caution could be that we should not look at others from our world view of success. A sportsperson may look at an Olympic medal as their ultimate success in life. A career professional may want become a CEO. On the other hand, a social worker may be interested in saving human lives in every possible way.

We cannot say one is more successful than the other. If we look at so many ordinary women and men, who have been conferred with national and international awards, we realise that success can and will mean different things to different people.

I would go one step further. Let us define and redefine success with every learning in our lives. It is evolutionary and has to be so. There can never be a beginning or an end to success. It is like excellence. Success is a moving target in life and it can best be defined by the individual only. The moment others try to define success for an individual, it becomes redundant for that individual.

Let us learn to experience life in our own way and define success the way we want to see the world. It is like some people may like to see the sun rise, while some others may enjoy the sun set. Neither of this group is right or wrong.

If you do not like to see sun rise or sun set but want to enjoy only the moon, it is your choice and you have the absolute right to ignore the sun and only watch the moon. Success is indeed ephemeral and it is up to us to make it tangible the way we would want it to be.

As in the photo above, success could mean “capturing the right moment” for a professional photographer.

We need to learn to live life in absolute and not in relativity. As long we want to compete with everyone around us and live life vying with others, success will always elude us.

Let us evolve success in life our own way on every single day in our lives.

S Ramesh Shankar

9th August 2022

Valuation versus Value creation

One of my friends, who heads HR of a large start up group  suggested that I should write about this topic. At first, I felt that I had no experience of a start up and hence may not be qualified to write. But later realised that life is no different than a start up in its own way. So I agreed to make an attempt.

Many start ups around the world are born out of a great idea and then the promoters convert that idea into reality and try to commercialise it so that they can make money. Most enterpreuners have succeeded in life this way. However, it is important to remember that not every start up succeeds and not every idea fails in the market place.

If we look at the Indian IT and services industry, they all started as service providers and are growing up the value chain. In the services sector, cost of operations is the competitive edge for the organisation. So , we have seen in our life time that many shared services have already moved away from high cost countries to lower cost countries. Similarly, IT services will also transcend to markets, which can provide the same service at a lower cost.

One of the reasons many IT companies have focussed on product development is because products create value to the customer and cannot be replaced by lower cost products unless they can create the same or higher value to the customer. This is possibly the reason why a high quality product always sells at a premium and cannot be easily replaced in the market by competitors.

However, in the start up eco system, the competition today is not to create better value to customers but more value for their own brand to later sell it in the market place. This is the “key difference” between value creation and valuation. Many start ups are vying with each other to create better valuation so that they can make a fast buck when the market is hungry and they can disappear from the competitive landscape. However, the start ups which focus on value creation for their customers are the sustainable ones and will always sell at a premium. In short, “Valuation” could be creating value for self while “Value Creation” could be considered as creating value for others.

I realise that our life is no different. Whether as individuals or as professionals, if we focus on our valuation based on our income or wealth, we are in the race for valuation of ourselves as a commodity. It does not matter if we are selling ourselves as commodities in the marriage market or in the organisation market place. On the other hand, if we evolve as balanced individuals creating value to our family members and society at large by contributing more than what we get from the communities around us, we create value and that becomes sustainable and invaluable.

So, it does not matter if we are a start up or an individual growing up in our respective space. We need to learn to create value to our customers or family or community around us. If we focus only on accumulating wealth without any value addition to others, we may fade as fast as we made an impact. The choice is ours always. It is upto us if we are interested in value creation or not. Either way one can make an impact. One is positive and sustainable when you create value for others and other is negative since wealth does not necessarily create positivity and value for others always.

Just as in the photo above, the time we spend with our friends is value creation as long as we do not evaluate it in terms of return on time spent with them. As otherwise, it would become valuation.

Life is like a start up. Let us focus on value creation and not be swayed away by the ephemeral cycle of valuation.

S Ramesh Shankar

27th July 2022

Gurus in our lives

Who is a Guru ? Someone who teaches you something in life. It could be your teacher in the classical sense of the word. But, in my view, it could be anyone around you. I would like to explore people in my life, who have always taught me something. I am every grateful to them and I would call them “Gurus in my life”.

Let me start with my family. My parents taught me simple living and groundedness. My father taught me patience and my mother resourcefulness. My spouse taught me organising my life. My daughter taught me hard work and my son has taught me to live life king size every day.

If I look at my career, there are innumerable people in my life, who have taught me many things. My first boss taught me magnanimity and selflessness. My colleagues have taught me almost everything I learnt in my career. Whether it is learning about computers when I first used them in the late eighties or about apps which I use them today.

My friends have made me what I am today. I remember my first days in my career, when one of my best friends of my life evolved and he taught me what fairness and humanness is all about. Some friends have made me experience giving without expecting anything in return. Others have taught me as how you could be around for someone without even physically being there.

If you look at the place you live, you realise that the people who work in your community teach you something every day. My house help has taught me to live life smilingly irrespective of all challenges you face. Another person has taught me how to be creative with the available resources you have and only mind is a limiting factor to our imagination.

I have learnt a lot from the public at large and even from people whom I have not met a second time again in my life. I remember travelling with a sportsperson once and he taught me how to learn from failures. I learnt how one could serve the community without expecting anything in return from many people in public life.

I have learnt a lot from politicians too although we generally think they are useless people. I have learnt how one could be a great orator if you can master a subject of your liking. I have learnt how one could serve your constituency to the best of your ability even though you may not have all the resources to support you always.

I have learnt a lot from animals too. A Labrador at home as a pet taught me loyalty, gratitude and selfless behaviour. Birds teach me to live life frugally every day. The cats teach me how you can keep your environs clean all the time. The bees teach me how you can contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

Life is a teacher. Everyone around you – human or otherwise teaches you something or the other. It is upto us to learn. A good student can learn from anyone. Age, experience or vocation is not a qualification for a teacher. It is the genuineness of the student and the eagerness to learn, which makes anyone a teacher for you. Our ability to observe and our willingness to submerge our egos may make us learn from everyone around us.

As in the photo above, our parents are our first Gurus in life and will always be for our life time.

Let us learn to be good followers. Teachers will always find us.

S Ramesh Shankar

30th May 2020

Learning by doing…

Choosing the right pan

I have always believed that learning best happens when you “learn by doing”. Today this concept got reinforced in my mind. A simple incident in my life but a great learning for my life time.

I normally have a half day fast once a week mainly to cleanse my body of all toxins. It is generally observed on Sundays but this week we were travelling and hence we observed on a Monday. Our routine is simple. No coffee or breakfast and fast till lunch with only water. Then break fast at lunch with fruits. Evening we take some dosas and end the day with curd rice.

Both my spouse and me undertook this weekly fasting exercise about a year and a half back. It helps us give some much needed break to our digestive system which works 24 x 7, 365 days otherwise. It also helps us refresh and rejuvenate for the week ahead.

We generally have fruits and then have a nap. When we get up,, we have dosas made of pulses as our first normal meal for the day. This not only is healthy but enables necessary intake of proteins and vitamins for the day. Normally my wife makes the dosas. Today she was a bit tired and hence I decided I will venture into the kitchen and try it myself.

I always thought making dosas was child play for me. This was because I had grown up as a child eating dosas and have had it at home and outside for my entire life. I have seen how dosas are made from the batter to the plate. The batter was already made and kept ready in the kitchen.

I had to just make it. So as I entered the kitchen I realised that I was not aware where the dosa pan was kept. Searching for it was the first task. Then I had look for the oil. As I got the oil I was not sure which of the two oils I should use as there was oil in two containers and both looked the same.

Then as I speak the batter on the pan, I thought I have made it till I realised after a few minutes that the dosa got stuck to the pan. I had chosen a wrong pan, which is normally used to make rotis. I did not know the difference between the two.

So as the dosa got stuck, I gave up my experimentation and waited for my wife to get up and help me with the making of the dosa. She got up and immediately pointed out that the dosa got stuck on the pan because I chose the wrong pan.

It stuck me that this was a simple exercise and just theoretical knowledge or observation was not good enough to do my job. In organisations, we think if we know the subject from college or have seen others do it, we can also do it. It may not be that simple. We need to learn by doing it ourselves.

This dosa experiment taught me and reinforced my learning that “ Learning by doing” is one of the best ways to learn and make others learn. We may end up making mistakes but that’s a learning too. I burnt the dosa and it got stuck on the pan but I did learn how to do it the right way , this way and hopefully next time will not repeat the same mistakes.

Our ability to accept our mistakes and learn from them makes us a better learner in life too. We need not feel bad that we have goofed up. Everyone does in some thing or the other. As long as we have the courage to accept and learn from it, it is great.

Life is always “Learning by doing”

S Ramesh Shankar

21st Dec 2020