I met with an old friend of mine yesterday who worked with me in Singapore many years ago. He is from the Philippines and was visiting Singapore on business. He is some 7 years younger to me, but is wiser than me and I should say, more broad-minded. I always try to meet up with him whenever he visits Singapore, and has been the beneficiary of his counsel on many matters of life.
He thinks highly of me as well, and shares his views on business and life with me. We know each others’ families, and I have stayed with him in Manila during one of my trips. My views on the Philippines is largely shaped by his commentary on his country.
Yesterday’s meeting was no different. It was a real pleasure to catch up, and the meeting veered towards substantive life issues. Charlie has been impacted by his father’s recent demise. He also described the cancer plaguing one of our mutual friends in the U.S. He mentioned that life is fragile and we all need to do things which we enjoy right away without any undue delay. No procrastination. Spend more time with your family and friends. Do not have regrets.
He asked me a rhetorical question – “is the world going to miss you tomorrow morning if you are gone today”, and the answer was a firm “No”. The world will move on with its business, and a small group of family members and close friends will probably shed tears and express remorse and grief, and that would be all. Things will get back to normal and even close family and friends will move on in life, except for occasional remembrances.
It is kind of difficult to understand and digest this aspect of life. What can we then do today that would impact folks around us? How can people feel the positive impact of anyone in their lives? We are not talking here about the great historical figures who built nations (like Mahatma Gandhi, or Lee Kuan Yew), or who discovered scientific breakthroughs (like Albert Einstein, or Thomas Edison), or the first astronaut who flew around the earth (Yuri Gagarin), et al. Many of these people have had strong impact in the manner in which nations and lives have developed during the 20th Century, and there are hundred of such figures whose names can easily be recalled. But, how about yours? Will anyone outside your immediate circle recall your positive contributions to society? Will anyone even remember us?
If a person has led a good life, causing no harm to others, always wanting to help others especially the downtrodden, and tries to contribute to society in some positive manner, it is not necessary that he or she should be famous with an easily recallable name. The small positive contribution will be recognised by the society. However, the most important effect is that his or her children carry on the same principles in their respective lives, and inculcate similar philosophies in their immediate circles. A small group of people will surely recall how good a person was during his or her lifetime. And, that should be enough.
Coming back to Charlie, he was gazing beyond me yesterday and thinking seriously about the fragility of human life. I told him that I completely synchronise with him on his line of thinking, and suggested that we should spend more time together discussing these aspects of life. It is critical to decipher when one becomes happy, and most of us do not ask ourselves that question – “what makes us truly happy?”. Think about it for a couple of minutes and you will see that the answer is quite complex. There are many happy things that you can do, there are things that you can do which makes others happy, but what exactly that you do that makes you very happy? Think about it.
May be sailing in the sunset with your life partner will make you very happy, or celebrating the arrival of your first grand-son or grand-daughter will make you very happy. But do you become very happy when you receive a huge sales commission or you sell a share for a big profit?
What are you going to do with that money?
We still live on 3 simple meals a day, and our wants are minimal (at least for most of us). One does not need to have huge amount of money unless one wants to donate to charity and help people of Syria, Rwanda, Angola, and other very poor countries.
So, it is time to ruminate your position in the circus of life and whether you are playing it well, not just for your own benefit but for others’ as well. Are people around you happy about you? What are you doing today to positively contribute to the mood at home, or to society at large?
A lot to think for the weekend, I guess.
Have a good one.
15th July 2017
Today, I had the opportunity to meet and catch up with some old friends from the same old company that we all worked for more than a couple of decades ago. It was wonderful to see kindred spirits with the same old sparkle in their eyes !
We met on a beach on the east coast side of Singapore. I was surprised by the amazing camaraderie that I witnessed, as though we never separated from that grand old IT company that we all worked for. This can happen only if we were all close knit while working together, and if our personal value systems aligned with that of the company. Both were a strong positive in our context, and we thoroughly enjoyed every moment of our get-together.
I was seriously looking for differences in thought processes, differences in the way a person approaches a problem, and differences in the way a person looks like. I did not see any ! And, that was indeed very surprising, though it should not have been surprising at all.
These folks are the regular sincere networkers, who have always been dedicated to the field of IT and to each other. I do not think that any one of them will give up on any one else in that group. Indeed, it was a tight-knit team which could stand up and perform in the same or better way than what they did some 25 years ago. This is simply unbelievable. and shows the quality of the intake at the company we worked for in those days.
Everyone shared their views on the current situation, asked questions of each other, probed each other for their thoughts on matters of relevance, discussed companies in both start-up mode and established ones, highlighted achievements, et al. It was fantastic, though I felt that the time was rather limited. I proposed that we continue our engagements at a higher frequency, say atleast once in two months, which was quickly accepted. We also decided to pursue communications using the same WhatsApp group which was used to invite us all for today’s get-together.
As we get older and supposedly wiser, it becomes critical to seek out folks with whom you have worked in the past, to achieve faster synchronization using familiarity and dependability as very important parameters for the socialization. The group then becomes a sounding board for ideas and innovations, and gets tighter together. Who knows, there might be a way to work together again in some way !
In a nutshell, these are the kinds of meetings and catchups that I do not wish to miss. Very important to stay connected, communicate and share thoughts. I am going to push for more frequent communications amongst the group members.
Have a great evening, and a fantastic week ahead,
24th January 2016
I am not that consumer-centric ! Ha Ha Ha !!
But I thought, sometimes it is crucial to recognize the few readers that I have who keep coming back for more. It is also that time of the year when we recharge our batteries, get together with our families and network with our friends as we herald into yet another exciting year.
I have always felt that this is the ideal time of the year for committing to do something new. Something more impactful in life. Something that will help one to recognize his or her importance and contribution to the lives of others. Something which creates new excitement. Something to look forward to.
It is a very important time for connecting with family and friend. I am planning to do exactly that. As I engage more in social and family conversations, I hope to get away from computers. Let me try !
I will be back to writing my blog from 2nd January 2016, which is the first Saturday of the New year. See you then. In the meanwhile, here’s Wishing You All a Merry Christmas and a Fantastic New Year ahead in 2016 !
19th December 2015
I met my secondary school classmate yesterday in Singapore. He lives in Germany.
Apart from the sheer pleasure of seeing someone from yesteryears, especially one from your school years, there is also the comfort feeling of being in a position to discuss any topic under the sun without any inhibitions. This is not possible in a friends’ gathering where most people may be just acquaintances. It is not even possible with close friends whose friendship has been acquired during the business or social life, as possibility exists of misunderstanding one’s thoughts.
Yesterday I felt like talking to my old classmate about certain topics like how I am turning into a socialist (from a capitalist) and how I feel guilty of not having contributed enough to society. I do feel a little odd when I am having an expensive lunch/dinner or even having a good coffee sometimes, because occasionally my thoughts stray towards the refugees and orphans who are streaming from the Middle East to Europe without even the possibility of having a good meal. I am not sure if my smallish contribution to an orphanage in India is reflective of what I could have done better over the years.
I shared with my classmate friend about the annual guilt removal feature that exists in many of us who make a small donation and get away from all the poor, inadequate, sick and orphaned children. Money can never replace time. We should be contributing our own time for free (I mean those of us who are decently well off), rather than just throw some money and in the process attempt to address our guilt.
I believe this was a good discussion as I was able to articulate what my restless mind seems to be telling me in an incessant manner. I was comfortable sharing my thoughts and feelings with my friend in a mutually friendly manner. I think this provided a lot of comfort to me and my soul.
As I was returning home, my mind was contemplating the quiet support that my friend appeared to be extending to my views, notwithstanding any difference of opinion that might have existed. I believe it is a critical facet of friendship and understanding. In fact, my friend and I are almost at the opposite ends on another topic – religions and godmen. I explained my position given that my friend is of a different viewpoint, and there was mutual quiet acknowledgement of our respective positions without any attempt to thrashing out such positions. I did tell him that I had attempted such things in the past with relatives and friends’ groups and eventually reconciled myself that sometimes it is better to keep things to oneself. In other words, achieve peace without acrimony of any sort !
Well, it was a great meeting, and I look forward to more such interactions wherein my comfort level allows me to share more of myself with my old friends. I relish the opportunity to do so !
Bon Voyage my friend.
21st November 2015
I met with one of my secondary school classmates after a gap of almost 40 years (39 years to be exact). He is a successful Criminal Lawyer in Chennai, and is well known in the legal arena. His name is Chander.
I instantly recognized him standing in front of Hussaini’s house (Hussaini being my other famous classmate) near the beach in the Southern part of Chennai, as I approached the house. I walked out of the car and embraced him, and he was very warm towards me, and said that he has missed seeing me all these years.
Such is friendship. While I was a studious kid, not indulging in any extracurricular activities, and was known as a quiet person, many of my classmates were extroverts with multiple talents and even business skills those days. Coming to think of it, we even had an entrepreneur (Ravi) in our class, and several businessmen (like Malik, Ashraf,…..) and sportsmen (like Nanda). And, we had a hugely talented Hussaini, who is now a multi-faceted personality – there is none like him. We also have a judge (Sudhakar) and lawyer (Chander).
We spent a evening amongst ourselves, talking about those old school days, our teachers, our other class mates, and the latest developments in our lives. I realized that Chander, Hussaini and a few others have accomplished a lot in life. I don’t wish to compare, but in my case I have only been in corporate jobs, I did not choose a profession. A profession such as lawyer, doctor, artist, sportsman, etc., gives a choice to excel in creativity and professional achievement like no other job. I am not demeaning other jobs, I am just pointing out the difference in accomplishing something in life which impacts other lives.
So, it was a great evening with some good food and drinks, but more than anything else, it was a reunion of minds. It was the sheer acceleration of old thoughts rushing into the head, recollection of incidents, the review of class actions, and the rapid clicking in the mind of the impact of those early days in life. Though I was meeting Hussaini for the second time in just 4 months, and have been in touch with Nanda over many years, it still was a great occasion, accentuated by the presence of Chander. We also had Ravi Shankar from our senior batch and I struck a new friendship with him.
It was clear to all of us that we need to have more such bonding sessions, and all of us promised to ourselves to facilitate the same in future.
01 August 2015
How does one form a trusted network of associates ?
Not via LinkedIn. Not via FaceBook. Not via anything just purely electronic.
For a dependable network of friends, there seems to be only two approaches – fall back to the old boys’ network of school friends that you really loved to play and study with; and/or, carefully handpick friends from a network of known people, not just acquaintances.
Many a time, people will approach you from a pool of industry companies, for example. Or, from an acquaintance you had met in a friends’ get together. Such approaches could lead to future business, one can never say. However, it is critical to examine each such person carefully, and meet up if found to be valuable. The process of selection of associates is long-winded and sometimes, quite annoying. But there is no shortcut. Everyone that you select has to be time-tested for repeatable consistency of behaviour, output, commitment and ideology. It is just not easy.
Sometimes, we mistake close friends to be capable of becoming business associates in the future. Nothing can be farther from practical reality. Friends wish to be friends, satisfying mutual needs for a relationship. If the relationship expands to a business outcome, then many a time the relationship gets muddled. I have seen this happening.
Forming a close network of dependable associates, therefore, does not occur by accident.
Network is a difficult and time-consuming operation, generating long-lasting value to all participants if executed carefully.
I spend a lot of time trying to analyze the potential networks around me. Sometimes, I do get surprised. Networks operating around me are sometimes based on pure longevity of friendship or working together for a long time. While these are not parameters to be discarded easily, the objective of network formation for mutual benefit is missed out. People just get together to drink for example, and have meaningless chat. That is not what I mean by network.
A network of close confidantes is formed diligently by like-minded folks – and it rarely exceeds a count of four to five persons. The objective of mutual benefit is clearly understood and that drives the network formation. There is a sense of mutual comfort, a sense of mutual consultation without inhibitions, a sense of friendliness, a sense of sharing. All these have to be in play before a network actually starts working and delivering results.
If the alignment of thoughts happens at the beginning of the network formation, such a network will invariably perform well. Once alignment is accomplished, the network of associates works together well, and tries to achieve something productive during every interaction. Such a productive working together invariably leads to planned outcomes. All these need to be thought out well at the initiation of the network formation.
Such small networks are productive and might eventually lead to a joint venture.
This is different from chatting over LinkedIn mails and FaceBook messenger. While network formation is still part of “social media”, it is a different and more advanced kind of social media which is designed for business outcomes with high productivity and result orientation.
Well, more on this topic as the idea develops. Of course, what I am saying here is nothing new. I am capturing what comes to my mind directly on to this blog post, and I hope it will be helpful to the readers.
24th May 2015
Today I had the rare opportunity to hear a voice from the past.
While it is not strictly true that I am hearing that voice after some 23 years (having met the person sometime 12 years ago), it still had a big and pleasant impact on me.
It is rather surprising, isn’t it ? We are so used to new relationships forming every other day in our corporate and business life, and sometimes in personal life, that we tend to forget the importance and impact of some old voices from our past.
I had a long chat with that friend who called me this morning, we talked and talked and chatted about inconsequential anecdotes from our lives and how our lives have changed in all these years.
While talking, he remarked that it is all about our judgement and decisions that we continually make in our respective lives that causes our “rivers” to change course and navigate in the long journey of life. We could have made different decisions which would have made us richer or happier, for instance. We always tend to compare with those folks who used to work with us in the past and who continued to toil in almost the same job for decades but who are in a much better position today. All that is natural, right ?
My friend said that at the end of the day, everything is relative – there is no absolute richness or happiness or even an absolute comparison. I joked that his intellectual capacity seems to have been enhanced over the years as maturity is catching up on him. He made other rather unsavoury remarks and we laughed for quite some time !
In any case, long lost voices add a sense of bonhomie and conviviality to one’s self and enhances the self esteem. I am sure it happened to my ex-colleague and friend who called me today. I told him specifically that he needs to derive far more wisdom by regularly reading my blog ! He may not understand but it would eventually help him !!
It was a good and pleasant chat, and more meaningful as life goes on……..we still remember and recall the petty incidents which energized our lives in those distant past years………..we recall the people we were working with……all that is amusing and energizing. We try to find out what happened to all those folks.
Good, hope we can do such things more often in our lives,
25th January 2014