5 ‘Daily Rituals’ of the Greats!

daily RotualsIn his book ‘Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration, and Get to Work’, Mason Currey documents daily rituals of some of the greatest artists, thinkers and scientists of our time from Darwin to Dickens to Picasso to Mozart and 160 others. Here is a gist of the 5 habits that were apparently common across all these stalwarts:

  1. They all worked very hard and, frequently, for VERY long hours.
  2. Regular, extended exercise – usually walking – was frequently an important part of their routines.
  3. They were mostly early risers, with significant exceptions, and did their best work in the first several hours of the day. There were a few nightowls but not many.
  4. They had a work routine that they adhered to almost fanatically.
  5. Finally, implicitly, habits were key in their successes and productivity.

The “cheque dilemma” of women leaders!

This very accomplished CXO from a US based Financial Major once told us of an interesting dilemma she faces as a woman leader. While it’s definitely tough for woman to move up the leadership pipeline, she said, it is equally and sometimes more challenging to keep validating the position every single day in the most inconspicuous of situations! In a restaurant for example, she may be hosting customers, her team or partner colleagues but when it comes to billing time, the waiters always hand over the cheque to one of the male members on the table! “They have a tough time imagining a woman is the host of this important looking delegation; so the cheque would never come my way!” she said. How did she solve this sticky situation? By imitating the alpha male game! Now whenever she’s taking people out for a meal, she ensures she sits at the head of the table, when she walks in she ensures she sends enough “I’m the woman in-charge here” signals to the waiter serving her table and right before the finale, she makes eye contact with the waiter while requesting for the cheque! Hard work eh?! Every single day!


A “life-changing movie” that a cabbie recommended

runlola_7403Everybody has their favorite cabby story and mine just happened a few weeks back. On my way from to office one morning I started chatting up with my middle-aged Indian cabby. Hearing about my company’s work, he pushed two fat books towards me. “I am learning coding and testing too” he said. It so turns out, he drives at day, learns coding at night and in between also runs a web design company. For the latter, he said, he had found inspiration from Malcolm Gladwell’s famous book ‘Outliers’ and was now looking for a “lucky break” which could take him to the other side. “Life can change in a second” he philosophized and then asked me to watch a movie that he swore would change my life too! Its apparently a German movie called ‘Run Lola run’ – an intense, fast paced action film with a rather simplistic plot and unexpectedly deeper philosophical implications about fate, chance, time, choice, and consequence. The movie is one of those underground pieces of art that only true connoisseurs are aware of and understand; to see a cabbie peddle it so fluidly and evocatively had me totally stumped. As I got down from his cab at the busy London Bridge intersection, I thanked him for a riveting conversation and hurried my steps to the office. There was a gazelle in town.


6 Off-beat Questions to test your leaders #6 – Luck or Duck?

Question 6: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how lucky are you?”

This is a question which can test a person’s personality in a deliciously clichéd way. Be prepared to get standard blockers like “I don’t believe in luck etc”; persist on getting a number. If they say ’10,’ things have likely come too easy–they may not be able to read situations very well. If they say a ‘2,’ it’s a likely sign of someone who consider themselves a ‘misunderstood genius.’ When it lands closer to a 7, there’s a sense that the candidate has a healthy balance of appreciation for their good fortune and an equal ability to work hard.”

6 Off-beat Questions to test your leaders #5 – Are you a good ‘Mail-Man’?

Email.pngQuestion 5: “How many messages are in your inbox right now?”

Again this is more of an interview question but throwing this as a googly in your chats with your top Execs may also be a good way to understand their time management capabilities, the only trait that is crucible-level in the top echelons.

Note: Stay tuned for the remaining 1 questions that I will share tomorrow…

6 Off-beat Questions to test your leaders #4 – Pepsi or Coke?

Question 4: “Are your clients Pepsi or Coke drinkers?” YK1zi

For a B2C company this question can reveal how deeply you have researched your consumers. I’m in a B2B company and I think this is a good question we can also ask the Client Partners or Sales guys who are managing accounts and it would reveal just how often they’ve had informal chats with their customers and how closely they know them.

Note: Stay tuned for the remaining 2 questions that I will share in the next 3 days…

6 Off-beat Questions to test your leaders #3 – The Petri-dish imperative!

This question is really asking, where in a company is it most safe to epetri dish.jpgxperiment and ask radical questions. You can’t do it everywhere. “As an established business,” says Tim Ogilvie, author and entrepreneur, “you’ve got all these promises you’re keeping to your current customers—you have to stay focused on that. But that may not have a future.” So the question becomes, “Where, within the company, can you explore heretical questions that could threaten the business as it is—without contaminating what you’re doing now?”

P.S. Petri-dish is a small, clear, round dish used for scientific tests in a Laboratory.

Note: Stay tuned for the remaining 3 questions that I will share in the next 3 days…

6 Off-beat Questions to test your leaders #2 – Dishwashers need motivation too?

Question2: “How will you motivate the dishwashers?”

This is one of those weird interview questions and can out-wit someone who is not a quick-thinker. When I posed this question to my husband who is a successful leader in his own right, he said he will motivate the machine by putting more dirty dishes in it! Experts says that the only correct answer to this question, posed to manager candidates in a hotel chain, is “If they are overloaded I would roll up my sleeves and start washing right alongside them.”

Note: Stay tuned for the rest of the 4 questions that I will share in the next 4 days…

6 Off-beat Questions to test your leaders #1 – The question that changed GE

Successful leaders excel at the art of asking goodquestions and sometimes these 100-200 words odd-ballers can unlock so many hidden layers of a person’s characters and even his leadership potential.

My next 6 posts are going to be on such odd-ball/off-beat questions which you can use to assess your potential or existing leaders.

Question 1: “If we weren’t already in this business, would we enter it today? And if not, what are we going to do about it?” -Peter Drucker, management expert and author

The late Drucker posed a variation on this question to Jack Welch in the 1980s. It inspired General Electric’s “fix, sell, or close” strategy for exiting or restructuring unprofitable businesses.

Note: Stay tuned for the rest of the 5 questions that I will share in the next 5 days…