Building rapport

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Be interested, not interesting.

Checking your ego at the door and simply just listening is incredibly empowering, both for you and whoever you’re meeting with.

The less I talk, the more I feel in control. If I’m 20 minutes in to a monologue about something, barely taking a breath let alone a question from the audience, how can I possibly be sure I’m on the right track?

Humility, empathy and listening are key skills to develop as a Program/Project Manager along with the ability to use silence and pauses as tools to control dialogue and it’s outcome.

Indeed, as someone more introverted, being in control by listening comes much more naturally than trying to dominate and drive a conversation through words alone.

Maybe it’s just me.. but I find it works well for my style.

 


Fear of the Unknown

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Whenever we reach an uncharted territory, we need to remind ourselves of Joseph Campbell's words: "The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek."

We need to own the fear, find the cave, and write a new ending for yourself, for the people you are meant to serve and support and for your team. We need to choose courage over comfort. We need choose the great adventure of being brave and afraid..at the same time.

 


Kobe Bryant

Devastated! I am devastated that Kobe, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed  in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, today morning.  My heart is with the loved ones of everyone who perished in that tragic incident. He was truly an inspiration  to many.

Remember shaking hands with this legend back in 2004-2005 at the Vons store Newport Coast between my tutoring sessions. He was easy to talk to and was very approachable. What is special about Kobe? He constantly worked on getting better.. Constantly worked on himself..Really fearless , Laker. Can't believe this news..I definitely wish this is not true.

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#WillmissyouMamba #ReturnIfPossible


Lessons learned: 2019

-Karthik Gurumurthy

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Thankful to lead an incredible team in Amex. It was a great opportunity to learn and serve an  amazing, passionate, sharp team of Engineers and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. As a TPM (Technical Program Manager) while  we finish one project/program, we always reflect on the lessons learned from the sprints/iterations/ projects/ programs. Likewise end of the year is a good time to reflect on lessons learned and how to make 2020 year better.

  • What are we thankful for? It is not enough to just count our blessings but to rehearse, relive and revisit them constantly. One of the things my wife does very well is to write thank you letters and she does that with our son on  a regular basis. Lot of times, it is easy to get complacent and tend to take things for granted.
  • What did the past year teach us? What are the good things that we are going to carry forward to 2020? What are the things that didn't go too well which we will improve upon in 2020.
  • Over the years, I am realizing the value of simplifying life is  to focus on the right priorities and remove the things in the agenda that doesn't add value. We all need to realize and reduce the time we spend on less important things/trivial which doesn't add value from our day-to-day routine. Past will equal future if we do not change.
  • One of the things that I learned from my boss  ( Dr. SV) is  to always have  a learning agenda. Whenever he had free time, he consumed himself with learning new technologies, getting his hands dirty and implementing what he learned. What do we need to learn or want to learn in 2020 to move on to the next level?  Cultivating curiosity,  expanding intellectual bandwidth sets a great foundation to move forward in 2020.
  • 2018 was awesome with regards to exercise and diet. With traveling and staying away from home for extended period of time in 2019, diet and exercise got really messed up. Developing a proper routine in 2020 with diet and exercise will pave way to better health.
  • Every day, asking ourselves “How can I be of greater service?” Volunteering to help prevents self absorption and serves a higher purpose. Who and how can we serve in little and big ways in the coming year?

Success is never an accident. Improving requires intent and we need to work on it on a day-t0-day basis.  Let us make the 2020 the best year of our lives. Happy New Year 2020!

 

 


Inside Bill's Brain

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I just finished watching the Netflix series “Inside Bill’s Brain" and I love how it ended with a quote from Mary Gates and it is worth sharing the same:

“Each one of us has to start out with developing his or her own definition of success. And when we have these specific expectations of ourselves, it’s more likely we will live up to them. And ultimately, it’s not what you get or even what you give; it’s what you become.”


Fight like James Holzhauer

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I have been watching the show "Jeopardy" for the last 20+ years. Why am I talking about the show now?

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Let me give a blurb about this gentleman James Holzhauer. He has been unstoppable for the last 32 shows  and his total winnings were  $2,464,216 until he lost to a librarian from Chicago- Emma Boettcher yesterday. Eleven times during his winning streak, he went a whole game without buzzing in incorrectly. The way James took control of the game for the last 32 days left most of us in awe. I am sharing today what I learned by watching and observing James which all of us can benefit from.

  • Don't just follow the pack. Most  players begin at the top of the board, where the more straightforward questions are located and work their way down. They do this to get some wins under their belt. That is not the case with James. He starts at the bottom of the board, so he can accumulate the wealth needed to make significant bets when he hits a daily double. He also does this to unsettle his opponents. What's the lesson here? Just because everybody does it doesn't make it right. We need to be fearless. We need to stop  looking for easy tasks and it pays well to go the extra mile to get challenging work.
  • Be relentless. Every now and then James answers a question incorrectly but when it happens, he doesn't dwell on it and lick his wounds for a long period of time. Instead he keeps charging ahead to the next question.
  • Playing to win. There is a huge difference between playing to win and playing not to lose. James does have to play defense, as his offense is so fine-tuned, others can't keep up. We have to create a strategy that will put us in a position of dominance.
  • Creating a buzz. Everyone who watches this show talks about James. Is anyone talking about you/your work in that way? We have got to change this and we have got to do that now.
  • Go all in.  I love it when James hits a daily double, and when asked how much he’d like to bet, he cups his hands and pushes them forward while saying, “all in.” This guy knows that to win big, he has to bet big. He’s confident that he’ll come up with the right answer, which he did! Let us think about your work..Are you all in or partly in or sorta in? That makes all the difference. Isn't it?
  • Continuously upgrading the knowledge base. Few weeks back, the program host Alex Trebek asked James how he prepared himself for ‘Jeopardy!’. He said he spent time in the children’s section of the library reading children’s books. Proper Prior Preparation is the key. He had prepared himself to succeed. How are we preparing ourselves? Are we still talking about what we did 10 years back or are we constantly upgrading ourselves?

James kept winning and dominated for 32 days mainly because of the above factors. For us to be in the cutting edge in our chosen profession, we need to do the same and let us challenge ourselves to get better everyday. Let us do it!


Giving 100% effort

-Karthik Gurumurthy

In high school at one point of time, I struggled with Math. Try as I may I just never seemed to get the grades I desired. I was attending all the classes, doing my homework on time, studying for my tests and yet falling short. I got increasingly discouraged. One session my Math teacher  NR said “What matters is that you put in your 100%, the result you get may or may not be the best, but that does not matter.Hard work will always reap rewards." It is the best piece of advice I have ever received but it is also the most difficult to follow. We live in a time where results matter most. We are being judged by our test scores, GPA, class standing, school ranking. We are result oriented. When we put in efforts we expect results in accordance. But sometimes it is good to take a step back and enjoy the journey. It is good to appreciate ourselves even when things do not go our way. Efforts matter more than results.


Lessons learned 2018

-Karthik Gurumurthy

What a fun-filled year it was!!

  • I was able to take control of health. Lost about 22 pounds and through self-discipline, moderation, it was good to change sizes for better in a period of 7-9 months.
  • Learned a lot with regards to Tableau/Collibra at work.  Loved working with the data analytics team @ UCLA. 
  • Got some places off the bucket list and thankful to all the travel done in 2018
  • Awesome to take time off to  catch up with Susi and his family and reconnect.
  • Thankful for the new opportunity at Amex, Phoenix.
  • Would like to learn more and update my knowledgebase in 2019.
  • Get SAfe/ Harvard- American Express Leadership Excellence/ PMI- ACP certification successfully done  in 2019.

 


Daddykins

-Karthik Gurumurthy

My copy of #Daddykins arrived on time and I couldn't put the book down.

Kalpana Mohan writes magically about her father, his life, all the way from his days in pre-independent India, to the 21st century. I was transported to his village in Palakkad, to the Madras of old that him and his family made Home in. Mostly though, the words paint a breathtaking picture of a man through his daughter’s eyes, through his Man Friday’s eyes, through the lives of those he touched.

Daddykins
A read that was both sad and funny, a story of a love that is both universal and unique. Nothing can ever extinguish the aching sadness of the loss of one's parents; all we are left with are stories and memories. Kalpana Mohan has captured these so beautifully. It is the story of her family, the life and times of her beloved Daddykins and a host of others who were part of his milieu. I can totally relate to her narration as I lost my dad to cancer in 2012 as soon as I heard about his illness, I dropped everything to take care of him. Kalpana has used unswerving probity coupled with a defining and underlying compassion – making us laugh and cry with the family. ! I am teary eyed right now, having literally lived the last moments of Daddykins in the past hour!!  It is a rare book that can appeal to everyone – Daddykins is one such – for we can, each and every one of us, relate to someone or something in the book.  Five stars, that is my vote. Wonderfully written!!