My take on why it is essential to invest in the brand ‘YOU’ , something that will set you apart from the crowd and help create your own identity!

My latest article on People Matters:  http://www.peoplematters.in/article/2014/06/05/strategic-hr/brand-who-yes-you-brand-me-ceo/6013


My People Matters column this month is a tribute to all the women in my life. This article ( totally from a male perspective) explores the dichotomous, often complex relationship between man and woman.

Here is the link for your ease. Look forward to your comments…


Thank you for the overwhelming response to “What’s your Lego set? Tap you hidden reservoir”- my article that recently featured in the Economic Times. A feedback that kept coming back was, the article was too crisp. So here is a fleshed out version of the same theme that I hope will add more perspective.


I recently authored an article predicting that many of us will hit professional irrelevance by the time we hit 40, and that we will not be prepared for any disruptive change that hits our work environment. I had suggested we step out of our comfort zones and build new muscle groups (i.e broader experiences) so we are able to manage this imminent change.

While most readers agreed, they were hard pressed to get out and do what is required to build a diverse portfolio. Their issue – “I already work 18 hours a day. Where on earth can I go make that extra time to prepare for the switch?”

I couldn’t agree more…I had the same questions too but here is how I discovered the way.

A few weeks ago, I was due to give my 7 year old son a gift.  So on the way home, I picked up a Lego set for him, knowing that he was passionate about building things. Fatherly duties done I forgot about it completely. I was pleasantly surprised to reach home, late one evening, to find him asleep on a half constructed Lego set.

Apparently, the Lego set had caught his fancy and he couldn’t get his hands off it.  He was so taken by it, he even negotiated with his mother that as long as he finishes his schoolwork and doesn’t get up late in the morning, she should let him build his masterpiece on weekdays.

Here was a 7 year old juggling school, swimming lessons, and play time yet making time to follow his passion. He did not blame weekday curfew or extra classes – he found a way around all of it.

Between, our 14 hour workdays, impossible deadlines and constant demands of the workplace, could we find that one activity that would compel us to work as hard in the office but also engage and keep us fresh?

Yes, and to do so, before we step forward, we will need to step back a little.

What was your childhood ambition? Did it revolve around being a pilot, an auto driver, a swimmer or a trapeze artist? Whatever the desire, wasn’t passion the fuel? You would do anything to achieve it and never gave capability or circumstances a second thought. Even if it meant scouring old book shops for material on airplanes or coaxing your unrelenting parents to take you to the circus, or befriending the rude auto driver, just to get a feel of the auto rickshaw. Clearly time-ability-cost-accessibility….nothing mattered.

Then what happened? Adulthood! Passion was replaced by pragmatism. We joined the rat race and suddenly passion was replaced by reality. The auto-driver-dream – replaced by i-want-my-boss’s-job, the next promotion, and onsite assignment and aah! the bigger pay packet.

Is it wrong? Should we quit and pursue our heart’s calling, give up your mortgage and live in penury?  Of course not! What if instead, we figured out how to bring that childhood passion back?

A young colleague helped drive this point home for me a few days ago. According to him, whose twin passions were wildlife and photography, his day job funded his weekend passion. And his weekend passion energized him enough to do his day job better. His once short fuse at colleagues who wouldn’t move as fast, was mellowing with the patience built in hours of waiting for the right shot near the waterhole for that elusive predator.  The last I heard, he was negotiating with his boss to send him to Boston on a business assignment so he can go whale watching on the weekends.

It’s not about giving up the 9 to 5 job that pays your bills, but instead figuring out how we could do more and achieve more. Its all about mastering the art of tapping into your hidden reservoir by pursuing the vigor of your childhood dreams and yet balancing reality.

For me, its writing. A few years ago, a colleague of mine wanted help in drafting a note for the Board, and came to me.  I realized that I enjoyed putting it together – the late hours just to get this right didn’t matter. My colleague was impressed and wanted to know how I had brought so much energy into this exercise despite having a day job. Writing, getting on stage and talking to people was something I always loved, and somehow this request tapped the hidden reservoir. Soon enough, I started writing a blog, articles in leading newspapers and magazines and landed a book deal.

My work schedule hasn’t changed. I still travel like crazy, have 14 hour days and deadline pressures. But somehow each time I sit to write, my shoulders don’t sag from the weight of the work, but lift from the excitement of doing something I am passionate about.  Writing is my “Lego set”.

Now go find yours and open yourself up to a whole new level of commitment and engagement.

The response to yesterdays blog notice was overwhelming!! And as they say, when it rains, it pours. So here is the next one. A piece I had written a few weeks back, published in today’s edition of the Economic Times.

Do those who agree with us, really go out and execute what they agreed to do?

Read on at


Once upon a time, dressing formally used to be synonymous with being a corporate executive.  The moment one thought of IBM, the picture of a well groomed executive wearing a dark blue suit, black shoes and a sky blue shirt came to ones mind.  It was almost a brand characteristic of IBM.  Dressing formally was then considered to be as essential as knowing your subject matter or your business.  A few years back when I worked for MphasiS and EDS was still around and invested in MphasiS, I heard this urban legend around how the founder and the then CEO of EDS, Ross Perot was obsessed about formal dressing.  He apparently refused to sign an important deal once because the client’s CEO came for the meeting with him wearing laceless shoes!  Not sure if the story is true or not but the importance of formal dressing it highlights is not too far fetched.


 Fast forward to modern times and you find more and more corporations getting relaxed about formal dressing. It started with dressing down on Fridays, but soon Friday dressing became the norm on other days of the week as well.  Having said that, there still are certain occasions, such as senior executive meetings, important sales presentations, or even job interviews, which still demand formal dressing.  However, since people are not used to doing so, when the situation does demand, their attempts at formal dressing usually are inadequate.  Having spoken to many such people, I came to realise that ignorance and ill informed assumptions are often the cause rather than lack of intent.  Penning a few simple rules and clarifications I thought might be of help for many such people.


 One has to start with the shoes.  The first rule is that the only permissible colour for formal shoes is black.  Not even brown, let alone fancier colours like burgundy would be truly formal. The second rule is that formal shoes are always laced. When in doubt, it’s best to keep the shoes plain, but patterns such as the Brogue and the Oxford are definitely formal as well. The last rule is that the soles can only be leather.  Rubber or synthetic soles are not on.  And needless to say, black shoes can only be paired with a black belt.


 Formal dressing has to consist of a suit.  The suit should always be a dark shade of blue, black or grey. Sorry to disappoint some of you, but brown is not the colour of a formal suit.  Prohibited colours of course are red, green and pink, and no value judgements are intended in saying so.  Wear a jacket with less than two buttons or more than three and you are in violation once again.  And ofcourse, the fabric is to be wool, always!


 A complete faux paux would be to match up this elegant dark suit and black shoes with light coloured socks, the worst of them being white.  Some people believe in this myth that socks should match the shirt.  That maybe true or at least permissable when dressed casually, but for formal dressing, the socks have to be the same shade or only slightly lighter in colour than the suit.


 By now it would be an obvious guess that I will recommend plain white or light blue coloured shirts as the ideal formal wear.  But this is where you can experiment a bit.  You may be able to carry off very light shades of pink or cream.  You could also try some pin stripes or textured patterns.  But I must caution you that experimenting too much can take away from the formal effect.


 Last but not the least comes the neck tie.  This is the area plagued with the most misconceptions.  The popular notion is that as long as I have a piece of cloth around my neck I am in good order.  That is far from the truth.  Ties have various grades of formality.  The most formal ones would have not more than two colours, and the pattern if any would not be more than the size of a 25 paise coin.  Stripes are fine too as long as they conform to the two colour rule. Once again, a little experimentation may be ok, but stretch your imagination at your own peril.


So it isn’t too difficult after all, is it? All you need for a formal impression, are black laced leather soled shoes, a black belt, a blue/black/grey woollen suit, a White or light blue shirt, and a two coloured tie, and you have a perfect gentleman walking. And dear friends, please do me a favour, no Micky mouse pattern on the tie pleeaaassee!


I know some of you are turning your noses and saying ah! These days are past… let me assure you , they are still relevant and matter at the global workplace. Remember you don’t have be formal always but at the appropriate times. I for one believe that even when you dress causually, dress smartly, it only helps build your brand.


For the ladies I am sorry my repertoire ends with the gentlemen, hopefully Elango will get somebody else write on ladies attire.

‘A picture speaks a thousand words’…  Presenting this weeks blogs notice sans any flowery introduction. The comic strip below will tell you what my People Matters column this month is about…

Here is the link:


 Let me know your views…Both, on the article and the cartoon!

Credits: Nagnath GS


What was your childhood ambition? Did it revolve around being a pilot, an auto driver, a swimmer or a trapeze artist? Whatever the desire, wasn’t passion the fuel?

Then what happened? Adulthood and passion was replaced by pragmatism. We joined the rat race and suddenly passion was replaced by reality.

Is it wrong? Should you quit and pursue our heart’s calling, give up your mortgage and live in penury? Of course not! What if instead, we figured out how to bring that childhood passion back?

My article in today’s Economic Times, will tell you how…

Here is the link for your ease:


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