Do a Good, Clean Job the First Time Around


Growing up in India in the 70s, I used to run many errands for mom. One of them was to run to a neighborhood vegetable vendor for our daily needs of chilies, mint, garlic, etc. Those were the days of no refrigerator at home and we bought fresh, ate fresh, and were, of course, total vegetarians.

This specific vegetable vendor used to display his wares from a concrete platform the size of a double bed, with no walls but with just a thatched roof for cover. There were times that I used to reach him way before he would be ready to sell from his shop with no walls. He would make me wait.

Wait I did, while he would very ceremoniously sweep, clean, wash and mop his whole shop. Wait I did, while he swept and watered the whole area surrounding his platform. He would then open his new stock delivered in freshly washed gunnysacks. Slowly, item by item, he would dunk them in water and set them up in tiny heaps for a single purchase. All the time washing, cleaning, and rinsing everything around him and his hands every so often. Wait I did, while he tied back the knots on the gunny sacks of stock and then light up some incense sticks and bless his abode and business. He would then stick the incense sticks into a potato and place it in a strategic location of his empire. Tucking his loose, white trouser bottoms under his legs, he would then, proudly, plop himself down in a lotus posture in front of his fine and fresh display. He’d put his hands together and announce that he was now open. He’d say, Namaskaram!

All this while, parts of me would wonder why doesn’t he just hand me the darn things I needed before the whole rigmarole. At the same time, parts of me would be spellbound by his rituals, his ceremonies, his discipline, and his dance of being clean, tidy and organized. Mom would insist that I buy all our needs from him rather than all the other vendors in his neck of woods. I did not understand her insistence then but years later, I did. He was not the biggest vendor, he was not the cheapest vendor on that street but his goods were always fresh, just rightly priced but his self-discipline was endearing and because of that, he, his goods and service could be trusted.

That was a long time ago. Now that people have moved on to buying fresh, buying from smaller vendors, buying closer to the source that is clean, tidy, and trusted I am wondering how popular and successful this vendor from my childhood would have been? He would not have needed all the noise, the buzz, and the big neon lights that many need. He would not have social media buzz to plug their products and services as we all do. He would have been a natural draw. His following would have been huge and totally organic.

My friend from Singapore, Philip Merry says, “Your number one (often overlooked) marketing tool-Do a good job the first time around.” That was true back in the good old days; it is true now and will be true forever into the future. When we do a good, clean, tidy, organized, value-creating job the first time around, the world does light up our brand, in neon lights, across the stratosphere.

I remembered this story and the lesson it brings forth when Patricia Aliphon spoke about how she keeps her presence on social media tidy and clean. “KonMari,” she called it. To me it sounded like Namaskaram!

It strikes me that no matter what we do and what we put out into the world, it must be clean, it must be tidy in presentation, and it must do a good job the first time and every time.

Many businesses took a beating last year. Matter of fact, all of us did. Most all of us are scrambling back onto a world that acquiesced new rules of play and the words tidy, clean, and good have become crucial parts of all conversations and conversions. We are doing the same with our offering to our market. We are not just concerned with being cheaper, better, and faster but we are disciplining ourselves towards being tidy, clean, fresh, and creating real value in real-time. And, I am betting almost all of you are on a similar journey. The little improvements we make towards our service and offering do, authentically, enhance our presence and influence on our worlds. From that tiny vegetable vendor in India to all of you across the world, Namaskaram!


On February 18, we are running a free webinar on Authentic Influence™ for Entrepreneurs. We will be happy to have you all over to talk about how we are all bouncing back and bouncing back higher.

Here is the link:


Or, you might want to download a FREE book on Five InSights into Success, here you go:

Facilitation and Midwifery


Ever since I took a deeper dive into the art and science of process facilitation, I have not been able to shake off the apparent similarity between a facilitator and a mid-wife. Yes, that is correct; it is a hard image to erase once it gets etched onto your mind.

A year or two ago, the image increased resolution and clarity when Certified Professional Facilitator Theresa Ratnam Thong of Malaysia said; “Sometimes my clients just call me and ask me to just be present during their proceedings. They just like for me to be around.” “Like a holy ghost,” she added laughingly.

A mid-wife does not carry any intention of becoming a parent to a child that she helps bring forth into the world. She was not there when the desire to conceive came about. She will not be there once the child develops into an adult and into a productive citizen of the world. She begins to turn up, support, counsel, observe, listen, guide, energize, nudge, advice after conception, and all the way until the newborn catches a glimpse of a new sunrise. She walks away from this creation with a little token of gratitude from the parents and a lot of satisfaction from having helped bring forth a new life. The intention, the outcome, the short and long-term benefits of this new creation belong to the family.

The knowledge, skills, and behaviors required of a proficient and professional midwife are not far apart from that of a process facilitator. They need to acquire and maintain updated knowledge in the field. They need to own and operate many soft techniques and tools that contain and care for the process and the outcome. They need to plan, prepare, and collaborate deeply and trustingly with the parents.

The three essential things that both these angels of change and co-creation need to consistently do are:

One, become really and truly good at what they do. Day in, day out all the immersion into acquiring new knowledge, building skills and minding behavior needs to have one singular focus and that is to serve the needs of the client, the customer, the need for creative construction.

Two, stay flexible and fluid to the dynamics of change. Keeping the client-desired outcomes in mind the facilitator must live and thrive in the moment of what constantly emerges. Fuel the emergence gently when it is virtuous and empower the client to stretch and own the change when it is not.

Three, strive to stay invisible in the present and become redundant in the long-term. No better glory in driving change when the change recipients come and claim that they did it on their own and they can continue to evolve and grow on their own.

The service quality and mindset of this mid-wife in rural Pakistan are worthy of applaud and emulation. The way to let others shape their own tomorrow is to be there when they need you and become invisible way before, much before they begin to lean upon you.

Essentially, between facilitation and midwifery, go be holy and be a ghost too until a new vision and a new life takes form.


Raju Mandhyan


Compassion – A Leadership Competency

GROWING up in India, I went to a Zoroastrian School. It was a good school and as with most schools, it had all kinds of teachers. Some were nice and some not so nice. Some were passionate about their work and some regarded their work as just a job.

Of all the teachers, teacher D. N. Irani stands out in my memory – he was tall and lanky, with very little fat on his body. He wore his salt-and-pepper hair closely cropped and was always clean shaven. He was about the size and shape of Clint Eastwood, as Clint Eastwood looked in his 50s. In a light blue short-sleeved, bush shirt with khaki chinos and soft brown leather sandals he seemed to serenely glide from classroom to classroom.

In this school with its reputation of toughness, D.N. Irani walked tall and spoke slowly but always carried a big chunk of subtle influence. The boys would part in the hallways to let him pass, like Moses’ Red Sea, although nothing in his attitude or behavior demanded such from the boys.

Whenever other teachers or even the school head master was faced with a hooligan crowd in class they would always send for D.N. Irani to come and restore peace. And D.N. Irani never failed at quieting down a class simply by turning up quietly and planting himself in front of us like a mountain at peace. In the middle of all storms his mere presence would, somehow, make everyone see the bright and beautiful side life at school.

After seconds of gently staring us down, all he’d say is “You boys ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Go back to your studies; it is for your own good!” And, we’d all go back to work for weeks until the monkeys within us would get restless again.

For decades I used to wonder what it was about D.N Irani that had such impact on hooligans like us.

Today, as a leadership trainer and a coach, I have come to the conclusion that we responded the way we did to him because in the marrows of our bones we knew that he really and truly cared for us. We knew that he wanted us to grow, to become better and discover our own worthiness as human beings. We also knew that he felt and shared the growing pains in kids at school and that the shenanigans we played were just a cover up, a distraction to soothe our angst.

Beyond being visionaries, strategic thinkers, and excellent at execution leaders need to have deep compassion for people they work. Compassion — that ability to see, hear, sense, understand and want to help out others with their concerns, challenges and even pain is that energy binds and ignites every other leadership competency.

Research studies in 2012, by Olga Klimecki and Tania Singer of the Max Planck Institute, Germany concluded that compassion and compassion training increases pro-social behavior and strengthens resilience amongst leaders.

Three ways to enhance and strengthen compassion abilities within us are:

• Be mindful all the time: That is keep your senses of observation, hearing and sensing perked up towards others, towards the surrounding and in the moment. Obviously this requires that we lessen our own urges to talk, consistently being doing things and grab at life mindlessly.

• Recognize common humanity: That is when in the presence of those that we interact with, we bring forth onto our minds the fact that they are just like us in many ways and we too, maybe, in many ways be just like them. I believe it is referred to as “kapwa tao,” in the Philippines.

• Stretch out to be of service: Not that we can always help others out of their dilemma but efforts, mental or physical, do bring up some results for others and, more importantly, also nourish our own natural needs to care.

Sometimes people may think that being compassionate is being nice yet there is a fine difference. In being nice one does kind things that provide relief without really sensing what others may be going through. Like a child helping out a homeless person. While compassion comes wrapped in feeling how they feel and wanting and making mental and physical efforts to help others out of their situation for good.

Besides the studies by Dr. Tania Singer and Olga Klimecki on Empathy and Compassion, Dr. Thupten Jinpa of Stanford another researcher on compassion claims that “having compassion frees us from fearing… it turns our attention outwards, expanding our perspective, making our problems part of something bigger than us, that we are all in together.”

The amazing thing is that it is a learnable skill. The path to it is not long but the way is slightly deep. You cannot just walk there; you have to take a leap.

(This piece has been inspired by the book, the HeART of the Close and is a feature on Business World.)

Inner Sun

A Minute to Arrive, A Minute to Leave

A FEW YEARS AGO, I’d taken up three speaking assignments in one day. The first was in Antipolo, a location 25 kilometers north from Makati City where I operate from in the Philippines. The second speaking assignment was in Makati City and the third, late in the afternoon, was at a convention center in Pasay City which was about 10 kilometers from Makati City.

I had calculated the speaking and the travel time well for all three engagements and also did make it to each one of them in time. But, I must confess that my speaking performance in each one of them wasn’t of the quality that I’d like to fondly remember. Getting from one venue and event to another had my nerves so frayed that on stage it was more about overcoming the wobbly knees from driving than from the fact that I was on stage. Though I don’t want to remember the day, I am sharing the story in hope of purging it from my system and preventing others from such mistakes.

I don’t quite know what it is about us humans and humanity itself that wants us to pack our hours and minutes with so much to do.

From the moment we wake up we get hooked to our smart phones, our tablets and every other thingamajig that we think will help us get productive. We also sign up for meetings, get-togethers, lunches, workouts and late night online sessions to fill our days. All these activities are frantically weaved in with reading news, posting, liking, sharing and commenting on every little beep on the blooming internet. We call it living it out loud in the Volatile, Uncertain, Changing and Ambiguous world.

In this messy scramble of commitments and appointments we claim that we can make it because we are of the 21st century and we are multi-tasking, multi-talented, omnipresent creatures lurching into future. No, we are not!

Research in neurosciences will tell you that we are on and off between tasks. That means we do one thing, we stop and then we do another. We do not do many things at the same time. We stop, we start, we start, we stop and eventually end up burned at both ends. Research by the Mindful Leadership Institute in 2010 showed that barely 2% of business leaders succeed at this, 47% are, usually, in a state of chaotic, mind-wandering and 70% confessed to constantly tuning out from the tasks at hand.

The answer lies in what a professor, unknown to me, at the Ateneo de Manila University makes his students practice when they enter his classroom. He invites them to sit down, be still and then just be silent for one whole minute. His claim, as I have heard my son share the story, is that when we move from one venue, one event to another we must let our minds catch up with our body.

My “mind” enter my body? That is exactly what I hadn’t done on that day when I’d zoomed from one speaking engagement to another and then to another. I was a maniac driver on the road and a zombie pontificating on stage.

Today, I practice a habit called “one minute to arrive.” Get up in the morning and take a minute to arrive and appreciate the day outside. Sit at breakfast, take a minute to arrive, smell the food and appreciate the company. Enter the car and take one minute to arrive and be amazed at the wonders of technology. Enter a business meeting and spend a whole minute to take note of the place, the people and the potential in the room. Connect everything to an inner quietness, a greater awareness, and curiosity for what is and what else may unfold. Some people call this grounding while others call it quiet time. Regardless of what it is called, the beauty lies in the fact that it increases our calm, our clarity and our abilities to become creative and productive.

The same practice can also be applied to leaving a room or a meeting. One can just sit up after all the talk is over and let all the little and big conversations come together in our heads then let them find their way into our deeper memory. Call this “a minute to leave” and has similarities to a respectful “paalam” in the Philippines.

The beauty behind this practice is that our forefathers knew of it and, thus, created words and rituals to remind us of it. Another truth behind this practice is that science is quickly catching up on its mental, emotional and performance benefits. Practice it for a day and it will impact you. Practice it for a few weeks and it will become a good habit. Hang on to the good habit and it will become a trait of being present in the here and now. Think of it gently, “a minute to paalam.”

This article was featured on Business World

Inner Sun

Stolen InSIghts

Anecdote, Learning and Application-ALA

She wasn’t asking or saying much at one of the many workshops I was running on Corporate Storytelling across India. Though the program was generic in design, and was targeted towards organizational development consultants, employee engagement enhancers and brand builders, the room that day had quite a few attendees from the financial industry. They were in the room to take away lessons on how to use storytelling for increasing sales.

As a facilitator I’d stirred up the room with philosophies, principles and practices to source, structure and serve all kinds of stories.

Anecdote, Learning and Application

Anecdote, Learning and Application

To the sales-minded people in the room, I offered ALA-Anecdote, Learning and Application/Action as a framework to use for using stories and storytelling for sales.

Arzoo, as she was called, was a content writer for one of the largest event management companies in India hesitantly stood up to take a shot at the storytelling model for driving sales. Now, most all of the times it is the learning facilitator that finds fulfilment when participants absorb, accept and apply ideas shared in class but, this time, I must confess I was bowled over with Arzoo’s touch of class and creativity in using the format ALA.

She began by talking about how elegant, suave and brilliant Audi the car was and how over the years it had evolved and adapted itself to changing times and technologies. She then went on by saying that when she wrote, she thought of Audi as a living, talking and a thinking person. And how, as when she did that, the content that she created for Audi and her clients was usually beyond brilliant and most always picked up a lot of brand traction.  After she had done that, she slowly slid into how creative content writers immerse themselves into the persona of a product or a process and then personify it. Give it a human touch, they do, she said. She eventually transitioned into how most brands and businesses can benefit from good content creation.

It was a pitch, yes but, boy was it the classiest one I’d ever heard. The anecdotal part was more like a little chat about a car with a personality; the learning part was more like a realization on the part of a content writer and the call to action absolutely subtle and sublime. The whole delivery had zero hard edges to it and none of the sides were coarse but the traction the performance got was phenomenal.

My thrust in all I do and say about storytelling is that our approaches, our proposals must be structured and served such that they may be smoother than and sweeter than any smoothest and the sweetest of wines our client-partners may have ever had. At the end of conversations with our clients as and when they do acquire our services they must walk away with the feeling that they were not “sold to,” but it was them who struck a deal of a lifetime. Happy, for ever after they should be about the whole interaction.

Drawn from my book, the HeART of STORY, I still have one more open to public workshop in Bangalore on Corporate Storytelling on December 07, 2016. Catch me if you can. I shall be more than pleased to have you there.


Here’s what Ms. Arzoo Singh of SaltXP Events and others had to say about the workshop:

“It was very engaging and has surely added to my skills.” Arzoo Singh, Salt XP Events, India.

“It was fine with good learnings…looking forward to more like this.”  Devrath Singh Raghav, Birla Sun Life, India.

A very good session!” Karan Khanna, New Delhi

Amazing session! Great learning and practical, doable, valuable inputs from Raju Mandhyan.” Swapnil Parlikar, Mumbai, India.

Anchored In Love

Of the hundreds of times that I have discussed values in a class, a workshop or a smaller interaction every single of those discussions, and declarations of values boil down to one single value-love; love in its most generic and agape form.  For example honestly boiled down to the love for truth, independence to freedom, honor to self-identity and pride.

There was this one moment in my class when sitting across a couple I heard the husband espouse “commitment” to work as his core value while the wife, testily, declared family as her chief value. When I drilled the husband through his choice he went from claiming fulfilling his commitments would gain him credit, gaining credit at the workplace would earn him promotions and growth thereby he’d be able to improve the quality of his own life and that of his family. When the wife heard him end with family as his last word her jaw dropped and tears of love and forgiveness filled her eyes. What, thus, kept both going and driven in their lives was still love.

Called by different names with slightly different application like empathy, sympathy, passion, compassion, “malasakit,” kindness and respect it all really boils to the fact that at the bottom of it, at the core of everything that drives us and makes us strive for growth is love. Success in business is usually a powerful driven by the love of creating value. Taking up the helm of leadership lays the love for others, for a community or a country.

Courage isn’t just a lack of fear; it is the love for what lies beyond that fear.

When we settle down, accept and acknowledge this fact of humanity, on being humane then most everything we think, say or do will become a process we have to follow or journey we need to traverse. Thus, whenever faced with a daunting challenge at work, a tough and a demanding relationship or a mean mountain blocking your path know, appreciate and anchor yourself into the personal value that calls upon you to face that challenge, work that relationship or move that mountain. Anchoring into that value will uncover the love for the outcome and you shall become invincible and unstoppable. Like courage will not just be a lack of fear; but will be love for what lies beyond that fear.


P.S. Didn’t realize until I began to post that there is an upcoming event called Anchored In Love featuring Bethany Hamilton on whose life the movie, Soul Surfer, was made.   Here’s the link to the event if you are interested

I hope they don’t mind me sticking their image here into my blog:

My upcoming public workshops:

Advanced Selling Skills in Vietnam:

Appreciative Leadership in Vietnam:

InSpire Like a CEO:

Appreciative Leadership:

Corporate Storytelling in Dubai:


Posts on Facebook:

Talks on You Tube:

Choice Clips from the TV Show, ExPat InSights :




Continual Christmas Leadership

Any business organization, like a tree, when it begins to die it begins to die from the top. It doesn’t matter whether they are giant multinationals or small startups but their lifespan and their social impact last only as long as their leaders learn to walk the line straight and walk it with persistence and vision. Most important of the three elements is their abilities to walk the line straight especially where their “people” dealings are concerned.

Do they treat and grow their people right? Do they serve their customers beyond their own self and do they stay accountable to the state-which too, is made up of people. A robust and successful business is driven by integrity and the integrity of an organization is made up of the character of its leaders.

Continual Christmas Leadership

Continual Christmas Leadership

Thus, if you are hiring and placing someone to sit atop your organization and manage things then check and look if they are made of stuff ethical and accountable leaders are made of. And, if you are running your own business than promise your-self to walk the path of integrity though good times as well as tough because the strength and the spirit of any organization germinates from the top and feeds it’s heart.

Here’s what Benjamin Franklin had to say about “Let no pleasure tempt thee, no profit allure thee, no persuasion move thee, to do anything which thou knowest to be evil; so shalt thou always live jollity; for a good conscience is a continual Christmas.”


My upcoming open to public events:

11/17/15 Communicating and Leading Across Cultures in Dubai :

12/14/15 Inspire Like a CEO in Mumbai

12/21/15 Appreciative Leadership in Bangalore

Books on Amazon:

Posts on Facebook:

Talks on You Tube:

Choice Clips from ExPat InSights :

the HeART of STORY:Stories, How they Serve Organizations, Part 2

Mention the name of Tata in India and every loyal Indian consumer will raise her chin higher as her eyes light up in approval. For nearly 75 years now, Tata and all its divisions have been serving the Indian nation well.   Yes, they had a difficult start in the troubled times before Indian independence, but they persistently held on, determined to focus on quality and to serve a young and a hungry nation. Over the years, families, employees, and all other stakeholders in the Tata group of companies have each had a story of his own to tell. In the 1960s and 70s, skilled workers would queue up for jobs in the production lines of Tata Motors. Once in, they would consider themselves successfully settled and would stay with Tata for life.  Such was, and still is, the reputation of Tata Group of Companies in India.

Connect, Engage and Influence your World Creatively!

Tata knows this and consistently organizes and aligns itself to the image and expectations that stakeholders look for in this brand.  In the 1990s when the Indian economy picked up momentum and produced a larger middle class, Tata realigned itself to the growing needs of a new nation by providing them with the world’s cheapest and most fuel-efficient car, the Nano.  Today, Tata continues to be ranked the number one brand in India and among the top 50 brand stories of the world. Images, emotions, and relationships in the form of stories have been the drivers behind this magnificent performance and brand from India.

In the Philippines, no matter how many times it is repeated, the story of how Jollibee Hamburgers started off as a little family-owned ice cream parlor always brings a sense of pride.  This success story is wrapped in deep, powerful Filipino values of family cohesiveness, nationalism, and the endeavor to constantly improve and innovate. Embedded in this brand story is the legendary David-and-Goliath plot of how a small, insignificant entity took on a giant, global hamburger chain and brought it to its feet.

Regardless of another global brand’s performance being  a few notches higher in the world stage than that of Jollibee, its “story” as being born of a humble Filipino enterprise that respects and appreciates family and togetherness makes Jollibee  the nation’s best-seller. Jollibee knows this to be the reigning reality. They continuously exert all-out efforts to improve their products, service, and performance not just to elevate quality standards but also because they are motivated by the stories that come with the brand.  They are smart to do so.   It makes good business sense and it makes good developmental sense. Living up to your brand stories is a sensible and a strategic ideal.


Drawn from the book, the HeART of STORY on Amazon.


Don’t Think of a Pink Elephant in 2015

I am not in the habit of using the word “not” as often as I used to, when setting goals.

The reason is simple. Our triune, naturally positive and highly visual,

Appreciative Feedback

brain does not accept a negative command.

Try, when I say, NOT to think of a Pink Elephant.

Please do not think of a Pink Elephant.

What are you doing? What’s on your mind? A “Pink Elephant,” you say?


Your visual brain had to first upload a picture of a Pink Elephant and then it made efforts to delete it.

Tough!  Real tough!

So, let’s say you want to NOT be fat this year and you will work at it. What is your brain doing and what will it do during the period you work at NOT being fat? It’ll be holding up a picture of a FAT YOU to motivate you to NOT being FAT.  The whole exercise backfires on you, you become what you visualize-FAT!

So the goal-setting and building good habits in 2015 way is to claim what you want to Be, Do and Have rather than NOT be, NOT do and NOT have.

So, here’s an example goal stated positively. Stated in a way where the picture is consistent, affirmative and in a language of “as if” I am already what I want to Be, Do and Have.


I can add to that.

It is fine sunny morning. I am in my bedroom. My window is open and I hear the leaves in the garden rustle. My waistline feels flat. My trousers feel loose and light on it and my back muscles are nice and sinewy. I like myself.

With that living, breathing, vivid picture in my mind, I work a plan of;

  1. Eating ONE whole meal of just fish and all green vegetables every day.
  2. Drinking 12 glasses of water every day.
  3. Biking for 30 minutes every day.
  4. Swimming for 30 minutes on every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  5. Sleeping for a minimum of 7 hours every night.

After consistently working this Neuro-SMART plan and checking my progress every 15 days,  there I am on the morning of March 31 weighing exactly 175lbs.  I flex the muscles on my back and feel good about them.

Do you see that?


Of course, you can!

That is easy, peasy, lemon squeezy!

You can see it, smell it and feel it but I did NOT say that did I?

Have a Happy 2015!