Friday, 22 May 2015

3i's of an Icon

She calls me the 'lighthouse of hope'. Guess who is the light?

Some people have the ability to light up a room by their mere presence. The rarest of rare have the precious gift of lighting up a soul and setting it free.
Yes, some mentors have that kind of impact. Without being overbearing, she makes each step of mine easier. Mine was a cathartic journey. What an inspiring influence to have to light up the path! It was an important juncture of life when I had begun writing my first book, a book that has considerable social significance. She too is committed to the cause and graciously volunteered to coach me during this crucial period.

Jennifer Sertl is an internationally reputed Author, Keynote Speaker and business strategist.

She is a thought leader in the emerging field of corporate 
consciousness and a recognised influencer in social media.Jennifer is President and Founder of Agility 3R which helps leaders become more resilient, responsive and reflective.

If she focuses on the 
3R's in course of her coaching, what do I make of her as a person? I have the great fortunate of being coached, cajoled and lovingly coerced too, at times in course of video conferencing sessions. These sessions are worth their weight in gold- at a time when the mind is tentative, this brilliant soul has stood by my side to guide me.
It is her coaching that germinated the three magical mantras of 'Authenticity','Vitality' and 'Compassion' for my path forward. She is nothing short of an icon to me, and shall remain so well after the mentoring is officially done with. Well, wisdom gained is a long term asset which appreciates over time, isn't it? I attempt here to describe what I find so special about her as a mentor.

I would replace the '3R's' with '3i's' for my 'i'con.

intellect: rarely does one come across a woman (no I am not being sexist) of such intellect. Her capacity to incisively analyse like a surgeon operating with a laser, cut through the confounding fuzz of facts and get to the essence is remarkable! I found that to be her single most amazing quality. As in a surgery, this happens in real time during the sessions, not after much deliberation. She also has the uncanny 'dual focus' ability, so rarely found in leaders. This rare gift helps her to scan the horizon as well as take in the smaller details almost simultaneously. I have benefited immensely from insights: truly path-breaking thoughts and ideas. 
"Sometimes, it is better to be wise than to be nice."
This gem of advice by her was when I was torn between choices I had to make and it nudged me into taking that troublesome decision.
'Navigating Complexity- Hold onto your Core'
integrity: a mentor's integrity must be beyond reproach. Only then can one fully trust the advice and guidance received as well as intentions behind them. That kind of person has to be herself sure of her identity and be in alignment with her authenticity. Adhering to one's pure, authentic self and to one's chosen path unaffected by the alluring distractions of the manipulative world calls for an inner conviction of the highest caliber. 

I benefit hugely from these sterling attributes of hers. Her reflective nature has also empowered her with the wisdom of thinking beyond herself, of realising that she has so much to offer to causes dear to her. Being a private person, to my knowledge, she hasn't publicised these contributions. She does all this with staggering humility and grace, so rare in today's times.I had first hand glimpses of her sensitive and empathetic side too. 
'All Hallow's Eve & Identity'
intensity: I wonder how she juggles around with time to get so much out of it! I say this because her speaking and coaching assignments entail globetrotting and if those were not challenging enough she is well connected with thought leaders spread across the world and actively engages in collaborative initiatives. It could well be that she is so well sorted out 'within' that she puts in everything in her appears as if there are no doubts tugging at her, so sure she is of herself! This is why probably, her enthusiastic brainwaves rubbed off on me and had me so committed to them. With her sharp focus and sense of priorities, Jennifer manages to balance personal and professional calling beautifully. I am myself privy to insights on this front in course of my coaching. 
'Ode to Teachers & Celebration of Learning'
As I write this, I cannot help but wonder how much of the Book, which is now ready for publishing, is written by me and how much have you contributed to it with your insights! I would not sully our friendship by saying that I shall forever be in debt, Jennifer, but grateful, yes, to have experienced the magic. I end this with a small gift for my soul sis. 

I owe our friendship to a common friend and equally noble soul,
Dr. Amit Nagpal
: Gratitude!

Yes, God has been kind to me!

(This was first published by me on Linkedin and has been modified)

Saturday, 11 April 2015

3 Key Elements Of Personal Branding

It is well known that a strong presence across Social Media platforms is vital in building one's Personal Brand. What and how we communicate gives a sharp focus to the way we are seen by the world. In my view there are three key elements that are integral to each person's brand.

1) Authenticity
It all begins with understanding 'Who am I', 'What do I stand for' and 'What is my deepest passion'. To round you off as a person, you could add 'What are my interests'. Some people are very sure about almost everything in life. If you are not, reflection is a great way to find out what your essence is. Being a deeply spiritual helped me in separating the essential from the superficial. It gave me clarity of thought.
Being yourself helps shed the flab of being what you are not.

Interaction with mentors whom you respect and trust is a great way of knowing more about yourself. They often spot hidden strengths and give you invaluable insights. (Honestly, I have liberally used this thanks to the generosity of my mentors). It is like somebody else holding a mirror to your soul.
Now you have the ingredients to prepare a strategy that helps build your brand.

You'd also do well to develop a 'voice' of your own. To rise above the clutter one needs to constantly be innovative, creative and speak up without appearing to be an attention seeker. While it is important to say what you really mean to, not hurting the feelings of others is also of equal importance.
One has to learn to make this shift from 'Personal EgoSystem' to Social Ecosystem. After all, we are all intricately connected.

2) Vitality
Whether it is a product, service or a corporate brand, it has to vibrate with energy. A personal brand is no different. Coming across as a person brimming with positive energy (which you are, or else no amount of branding will ring true) helps you communicate your message with conviction.
You might have noticed that posts that have positive or cheering content are liked and shared the most on social media (research backs this). Don't people get enough of bad news from their newspapers? That's not to say that you share only feel good stuff, however being a permanent town crier is not such a bright idea.
Your brand, therefore, needs to reflect the energetic, positive and confident you. This strategy should be in in sync across all forms and interactions. Whether digital or your emails or how you come across in person.
Also, your brand should make the desired statement without you having to make a song and dance about it.
3) Compassion
As large corporations and brands are shifting their strategies from B2B and B2C to H2H, it is time we realign our strategies accordingly. There is a decided advantage in doing so, too. 
For example the advertising tagline of a luxury sedan a decade ago would have typically read " Now you can tell them you have arrived." It is more likely to be on the lines of "When you don't need to make a statement any more"~ there is a subtle shift from emphasis on brand aspiration to acknowledging the rise in customer's stature.
When the focus is on connecting to the heart (instead of head), there is a decided shift in communication content and form too. For instance storytelling works brilliantly in creating a lasting impact as it appeals to emotions and is more memorable~ facts and excessive information on the other hand, lead to monotony.
The same principle applies in one's Personal Branding communication, since storytelling works very well and inspiring storytelling even better! Depending on the platform (Twitter/Facebook/Google or Blog) one can use quotes, couplets/visuals or longer stories.
Another aspect of H2H is coming across as a person who cares on Social Media- all interactions, comments and posts should reflect this facet. Leaders are known to be always ready to be of help. People look up to people who care.
We could take this a step further. What elevates you as a compassionate being like nothing else does, is a genuine, no strings attached commitment to a social cause. Whether it is by means of contribution of time or resources or acts of philanthropy. The billionaires of the Western world have already shown the way and the Indian Tech tycoons are no laggards either. 
What stops us, in our own small way, from doing so and sharing our passion for a noble cause in a genuine way that works to inspire others? (I am passionate about quite a few causes and I know how tremendously it helped me grow as a human being).
So, speak up with Authority and Authenticity, make your Brand Buzz with Vitality and Connect with Compassion.

Gratitude to Person Branding Coach and Storytelling wizDr.Amit Nagpal, a Mentor beyond compare as well as one who handheld me from my 'green behind the ears' days onto my Personal Branding career. You have helped me immensely in my evolving as a human being. Friends like you prove how invaluable Social Media can be in bringing people and minds together.

Jennifer SertlBusiness Strategist and thought leader in the emerging field of corporate consciousness~ what can I say about you, my Soul sister across oceans as well as my selfless life coach. I owe the theme of Authenticity, Vitality and Compassion to your insightful inputs. You have literally held a mirror to my inner self, sharpened my focus and guided me dexterously. Your belief in me makes me believe in myself like nothing else can! Bless your luminous soul!
This Post was first Published by me on Linkedin

Sunday, 5 April 2015

We Are All Connected

It was predawn and I was walking barefoot on the beach, the sea to my left and ahead was a long stretch of inviting white sands for me to explore, the cool early morning breeze caressing me.

The scenic surroundings made me stop and I was compelled to drink in the abundant beauty. I held out my right arm and cupped my hand, as if to catch rain water. If I drank from my hand, what would  I actually be drinking? Wasn't my hand empty?

Or was it, did it not hold air? And what about the air that surrounded it, that which was above it extending far into the skies?

I then waded into the shallow waters barefoot and enjoying the cold waters, I again cupped my right hand and tried to scoop up as much seawater as I could. Then I tipped my hand and let it feet were already in water. All the oceans of the world are interconnected. In that sense all the rivers flow into the same body of water! Engrossed in the stream of thoughts, I had forgotten all about my walk.

As I gradually retreated from the waters to the beach, I looked at the sand beneath my feet..surely the same ground is not shared by the planet... The vast oceans separate the continents. No they don't actually, that's just what is visible to us, the common plate of land runs right through, a massive part of it just happens to be submerged under the vast oceans. Nonetheless, it is therefore, a single land surface and to imagine that at very moment I was standing on land connected to the Himalayas as well as the Sahara desert!

Here I am standing, connected to the entire world's oceans, air and land.

It takes some doing to feel that.

Talk about serendipity! I recalled an inspiration I had drawn from one of my meditation sessions. A voice inside me made me believe deeply at that time:

"I am connected to the universe, the universe is in me, I am the universe."
An expansion of consciousness while meditating made me feel this. Similarly, every cell of my body, my thoughts and energy are connected to corresponding frequencies of the universe.

I then reminded myself that I was here to enjoy my morning walk. Continued with a smile on my face.

Couldn't stop my mind from interrupting me-
Okay, I shall allow myself one last thought, I said to myself.
Since we are all connected,

I am not alone.
We are not alone.
Let's walk together.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Thoughts On The Run

A random collection of ministories

Began the project with a Mind Map,
brought clarity to the central ideas 
Roped in a publisher 
designed the cover  
Toyed with names
fine tuned to five
settled for one
Wrote the first pages
A few Chapters emerged
doubts came up, I stagnated
There was this interminable lull
tapped my creativity reservoir again
The words now just began to flow..
Yes, the last chapter was at last in place!
Scanned through it, reediting it, adding to it
a reputed editor will bring his craft to play
Watching my baby come to life, stand up on its own 

The joy of being an author
, the thrill of shaping my very first Book‬


Worried about her daughter's behaviour, a mother decided to consult a Psychologist.
As she waited in the reception area for her turn to come, her eyes fell on a poster about what Autism was all about. Before she could get to learn more about it, a father with his twin sons, both special children, walked in.
He was cheerfully conversing with them.
Her mind had been preoccupied with her daughter's issue until then. She instinctively reached out to one of the small boys.
A thought crossed her mind.
Am I not much better off? She was suddenly reminded of her failings. Imagine the helplessness and pain of a parent who brings up a special child? If I would have been the mother, I would have cried each time the boy faltered or if someone made fun of him.
I would have prayed to God, why my child?
Imagine the plight of a mother of a stillborn baby?
Her eyes moist, she quietly walked out of the clinic without meeting the Doc. On reaching home, the first thing she did was hug her daughter and she wept.


Offering a rose to my niece, I said,
"Will you be my Valentine, pretty lady?"
"Valentine!! That's so passe! Don't you know what the buzz is about? 
Today is Friday the 13th and it's all the more special this time around~ do you know that Friday 13's have fallen in consecutive months after 123 years!!'
"Now where on Earth did you dig that one out from?"
"Just made it up. For dramatic effect. Am so excited about our party! Hey, could you just come up with a theme for it?"
"Hmmm, lemme see, The Hunger Games 13th~Apocalypse?"
"Yep! That's brilliant, actually! I could go dressed as Katniss Averdeen! Yippee!"
Pretending to be jealous, I asked her, "BTW, who's gonna be your Peeta?"
"I've reserved Peeta for V. Day!" She gushed.
These girls, I sighed.

Wifey was coughing in the morning and she said to me, 

"I think that I have Swine flu"
"Darling you have broken your promises so many times before that I cannot count on you anymore. Anycase, it better not be Swine Flu."
Smiling, she said "I know you care for me! You just pull my leg."
"Nothing of that sort, dear. Swine Flu is highly contagious. Think of something that does not take me with you."

I called up my niece yesterday evening.

"Happy Birthday! Where's the celebration?"
"Oh thank you, join us, we are at Oberoi Mall."
"Uh Huh. I remember someone having told me that she could not party because she'd be studying late into the night.."
My niece giggled "Don't be so nasty. It was all decided at the last minute by friends to surprise me. Please do join us!"
"Hey, I don't want to spoil all your fun...I know you must be saying,
'why did I let out the party bit to him!' "
"No, no! I am serious!"
"You are not allowed to be serious on your Birthday, no way.
And I am serious about that."
We both laughed at that and that was that

We were discussing something in the morning and wifey was adamant about her point of view.
I said smugly, 'l give in as l usually do. But there's also something you'd have to admit where I am always right.'
'And what would that be?' asked my wife indignantly
'That the wife is always right!!'
Wifey's turn to be smug.
'At last you are enlightened. Forgive them who know not what they do.'


The allure of the rose ahead of me

Took a stride and bent down to be near it
Closed my eyes and took in its fragrance
Very gently caressed its petals
Took a step back, could not stop admiring it

Pluck it, I dared not, am not that cruel.
Wouldn't that mean being ungrateful to nature,
which has blessed me with bountiful treasures?

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Story, Story, Story

And quietly our story began
with the magical powers of a pen

The lighter I felt with each word that I read
Each sentence healed a wound, I sensed

Every joyful incident I recalled warmed my heart
As with people in life, characters played their part

Some sniggered and tried to pull me down
True friends pepped me up, cheered me on

Every chapter made me turn my back on the past
A turn of a page made space for new dice to cast

The plot got racy, and this time I was game
Be the challenge daunting or be it tame

I actually began enjoying this journey
A road outlined by a fine pen's nib

A stroke of this pen cut through the chains around me
As I finished the book, it gave birth to a new me.
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