Journey That Inspires Others

My journey in life and career is largely inspired by what other generous folks have shared – both online and offline.

A boss who believed in me when I didn’t, a book that altered my perspective for better, a few blogs that clarified my thinking one post at a time, an inspiring video that uplifted me, a podcast that I often revisit, a virtual friend who opens a door of possibilities, a family member who guided my perspective about life and the list goes on. When I think of everything that I have received for free, I am only filled with gratitude.

We are all surrounded by generous folks who freely share their lessons, ideas, resources and insights which inspires our own journey, directly or indirectly. 

The critical question then is: If your own journey is inspired by what others shared so generously, how are you making sure that your journey serves as an inspiration for others?

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In the photo: Train and tracks fading away on a foggy winter morning!

SHRM Top 25 Indian HR Influencers on Social Media 2014

Last week, SHRM India published a list of “Top 25 Indian HR Influencers on Social Media” for the year 2014-15.

I am glad to be ranked amongst top 5 influencers for the third consecutive year. Each year, SHRM India raises the bar and changes evaluation method. This year, they considered activity/interactions beyond Twitter to cover Blog, LinkedIn, Klout and Quora.

This recognition underlines my belief in the human aspect of how work gets done. Which also means we need to do better at creating systems where human beings can thrive and make a difference.

And therefore, I am excited!



Also Read: 6 Lessons On Creating a Lasting Influence

Lessons from 9 Years of Blogging

QAspire blog completes 9 years this month and here is how I feel at the moment.

They say and I agree that time flies when you are having fun. 2006 was a year when I had just transitioned into my first leadership role. Every single day and interaction with others was turning out to be a tremendous learning experience. (and it still does!) I felt a strong need to document my lessons somewhere and just about the time I started journaling my learning in a paper diary, I discovered blogs. After initial experimentation, I started writing on this blog in April 2006 – a time when Twitter was a new born and Facebook was a toddler!

In August 2006, my blog (then named “Software Quality and Management Insights”) was first noticed by Michael Wade who added it onto his blog roll. In a comment on this blog, he encouraged me by saying,

“I enjoy reading your blog. Anyone who can write clearly on software issues is, in my mind, the equivalent of a translator of ancient Greek.”

When encouragement started flowing through comments and conversations, my enthusiasm for blogging just went up. I realized soon that generosity is the currency in social world – the more you share, contribute and converse, the more you learn, gain and connect. This is even more crucial in a hyper social world that we live in today.

Starting this blog was a play for me and there were no external goals like getting more traffic or building the subscriber list. The goals were (and and still are) internal – to have fun, to learn, to sharpen the writing and to connect with others meaningfully. I learned that the only way to really learn more about things is to do them in spirit of curiosity, play and joy. Have you ever noticed that a kid learns the most between first three years of their lives and then, when they are subjected to scores and grades in the school, their joy is robbed? All rewards, recognitions and external validations are merely by-products of pursuing the inner joy of doing things.

Blogging strengthened my faith in humanity. Kindness and generosity has enriched the web and made it into what it is today. I learned that people are amazing. When you work hard to blog, every single comment, mention, view, re tweet and ‘like’ feels nothing less than a gift. The generosity and kindness of people in blogosphere (and in social media) has never failed to amaze me.

As the community around this blog grew, I was drawn to pick up the phone and talk to some people across the globe whose work I admired. These calls not only strengthened the relationship but took it to a different level. Conversations are a currency of social media and so, I learned that in social media, being social is far more important than the media.

What started as a medium to document lessons soon became a platform to express my thoughts. Any act of self-expression requires a great deal of emotional labor and is fraught with risk of failing. I learned that if we have ideas or strong beliefs on something we care about, it is our obligation to express. Our fear is mostly imaginary.

In 2010, I experimented with writing three posts each week. Recently, I experimented with daily blogging. My big learning from these experiences is – inspiration never comes before discipline – and if it comes, it does not stay. Inspiration first looks at your preparation and discipline before showering the grace. As they say,

“Discipline and perseverance beats talent.. every single time.”

Writing for a long time gives you a good view into your own mind and how thoughts have evolved. Contexts changed, thinking evolved and learning grew. This observation of the self tells me that learning is not an destination but a journey – a journey where perspectives grow, focus widens and old beliefs may give a way to newer ones. Writing a blog is perhaps the best way to stay in touch with your own thoughts.

I continue to enjoy this fascinating journey and looking forward to conversations, learning and connections it brings along.


A Note of Gratitude:

I know I can’t thank everyone who has encouraged me by visiting this blog, commenting on it or amplifying it elsewhere, but here is a list of people I am totally grateful to have connected with amongst many others:

Rajesh Setty, Michael Wade, Kurt Harden, Wally Bock, Nicholas Bate, Utpal Vaishnav, Mitchell Levy, Becky Robinson, Mary Jo Asmus, Phil Gerbyshak, Lisa Haneberg, Tanvi Gautam, Ashok Vaishnav, Folks at Pearson TalentLens, John Hunter, Dan McCarthy, Paul Schwend, Gautam Ghosh, Yashwant Mahadik, Nisha Raghavan, Mike Wong, Folks at WittyParrot, Gurprriet Singh, Folks at SHRMIndia, Folks at Hirers, Jurgen Appelo, Folks at ActiveGarage, PeopleMatters Team, Folks at Impackt Publishing, Karen Martin, Jesse Lyn Stoner

How to Establish Thought Leadership? Interview With Dr. Liz Alexander

Thought leadership is important for building careers and for building organizations. It is the most important tool we have as professionals to build our personal brand and establish credibility. What is thought leadership? How does one build thought leadership in his/her area of work?

Let’s find out from Dr. Liz Alexander who recently co-authored a book titled ThoughtLeadership Tweet. In the following interview, Liz shares her ideas on how authentic thought leadership is established.

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[Tanmay Vora] Liz, when I started my own blog in 2006, I had no idea about the concept of thought leadership. But our world is getting hyper-connected and hyper-competitive and clearly, building thought leadership is the best way to attract opportunities. For the benefit of readers of this blog, how would you define a thought leader?

[Liz Alexander] I consider true thought leaders—not content curators, subject matter experts, or trusted advisors who frequently adopt the label—as those who disrupt others’ habitual approaches to issues that concern organizations, industries, or society at large. My co-author Craig Badings and I describe them as advancing the marketplace of ideas by positing actionable, relevant, research-backed, new points of view.
My rule of thumb? If you’re calling yourself a thought leader, likely you’re not. It’s a term bestowed on you by others because of your recognized ability to shift their thinking; it’s not something you get to adopt.

[Tanmay Vora] Most people think that having a blog and sending out tweets is a way to build thought leadership. What all goes into making a thought leader?
[Liz Alexander]
While undoubtedly it’s important to channel your contributions out into the world, thought leaders require three things: the right environment in which to think (consider that for a moment; how rarely do today’s organizations provide this?), a strategic focus for those thoughts (again, how many organizations consider up front what they want their thought leadership to achieve?), and the courage to explore possibilities that the vast majority of people never see.

Let me say a little more about that. Natural thought leaders foster their curiosity, are brave enough to challenge established points of view and willing to explore approaches that may appear controversial, at least at first. Wipro’s concept of Intelligent Terminals; Blue Dart Express’ championing of corporate social responsibility in India through their “Living Corporate Responsibility” campaign; the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation’s AMUL model that champions farmer empowerment– these are all examples of organizations who looked broader, thought deeper, reached higher. True thought leadership in action!

[Tanmay Vora] What is the role of “real accomplishments” in being a thought leader? I mean, when we talk about “thought leadership”, is there something called “act leadership” or leadership by doing things?
[Liz Alexander]
I was struck by an analogy I read that described thought leaders as people who sold you tickets for the bus tour, but weren’t necessarily driving the bus. That is, they are doing the thinking that intrigues, inspires and incites others to take the necessary tactical action, such as the three examples given above. They innovate conversations rather than offer up cookie-cutter tactics.

Thought leadership, in order to have any value, must provoke meaningful change. One of the most important “acts” that thought leaders inspire in others is to get them to think through the practical, personalized implications of adopting a new perspective or way of perceiving their industry, organization, or customer base.

[Tanmay Vora] What are the key lessons individuals can take away from your book #THOUGHT LEADERSHIP tweet?
[Liz Alexander]
That there is more to designing and executing a successful, effective thought leadership campaign than most people realize. We’ve done the preliminary thinking for readers by compiling 140 tweet-sized prompts with which organizations can review their existing culture (Tweet # 14: Is your environment supportive of a culture of innovation? How have you demonstrated that in the past?); determine their strategic focus (Tweet #34: What is it you want your target audience to do when they receive or interact with your thought leadership point of view?); and ensure the right people are campaign champions (Tweet #109: Who will be involved and how in the design, development, and execution of your thought leadership campaign? Why did you choose those people?).

[Tanmay Vora] Thank you Liz, for sharing your ideas and book with the readers of this blog. I am sure they will pick some important clues to build their own thought leadership.
[Liz Alexander]
I’m grateful for the opportunity, Tanmay. Thank you!

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Get the book on: Amazon | Flipkart.com (if you are in India)

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Bio: Dr. Liz Alexander is a business book strategist and consulting co-author who works with executives and consultants in the US and India, providing the questions (and solutions) to help them discover and communicate their unique thought leadership space. Her 14th book #Thought Leadership Tweet: 140 Prompts for Designing and Executing an Effective Thought Leadership Campaign is designed to ensure aspiring thought leaders consider all aspects of a successful thought leadership campaign before investing time, money, and effort. One of her favorite words is “why?”

BLOGTASTIC by Rajesh Setty: A Blogging Guide

Why do I blog? Why do people blog?

I blog because it helps me see my thoughts. Get clarity. Make a small difference to my community. Build meaningful connections. Establish credibility.

One such connection I made during my blogging journey was with my friend and mentor, Rajesh Setty. He is one of those who has, through his writing, taught me some very important lessons in my blogging journey since 2006.

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Coming back to blogging, most people think that having a blog is ‘such a cool thing’. They are allured to start their own blogs. They focus on a great design, using the right service, an appealing logo and so on. But then, they get stuck on content. Either they don’t have anything unique to say or they don’t know how to say it. Their blogs die a slow death.

Blogging is a great tool to build a personal brand, develop your unique voice and generate influence. But how do we approach it?

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Rajesh Setty recently released a very informative and interesting eBook titled “BLOGTASTIC: growing and making difference through blogging”. It is a comprehensive guide for bloggers (and the aspiring ones). What I liked the most about this eBook is that it just doesn’t talk about blogging tactics. It addresses the mindset required for effective blogging. Apart from some very valuable insights by the author, this eBook also offers experiences of 33 other successful bloggers across the globe.

Tips and blogging insights in the book makes it very interactive and interesting. Here are a few tips/insights from the book:

“Take yourself to the next level before you can take your blog to the next level!”

You can rarely become memorable by being a chronic critic.”

Your blog readers are your customers who pay via their time and mindshare”

Your accomplishments outside the blog will directly influence the reach of your blog”

This is a book that gets to the heart of what blogging really is. If you are a blogger already, the book will provide you with ideas to take your blog to the next level. If you are someone who is thinking of starting a blog ‘some day’, this book will give you the much needed instigation to start sooner. In any case, you will definitely learn.

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The good news is: This book is offered free by MobStac, so download, read and share it with anyone you think will benefit from it. You can also download this book from Slimbooks (paid).

Carnival of Leadership Development and 4 Years of Blogging

2836828090_d44f5278bd[1] This month’s Carnival of Leadership Development is hosted by Sharlyn Lauby at HR Bartender blog. I am happy to have my post 3 Lessons in Building Great Relationships with Customers featured there along with some of the best posts on Leadership Development. If you are looking for some fantastic reading on leadership and allied subjects, you should quickly check out the latest Carnival.

Sharlyn and Mr. Bartender are celebrating their 23rd anniversary and hence, the posts in this month’s carnival are organized according to the blog anniversary. During the submission process, I was asked “How long have you been blogging?”

That is when I realized that I will be completing 4 years of productive blogging later this month. When you immerse yourself in doing what you love doing, all ‘metrics’ take a backseat. You just keep doing it without any expectations, simply enjoying the process.  That, to me, is the cornerstone of all success and satisfaction.

My blogging has taken me places without going anywhere. I have some great friends across the globe with whom I share ‘thought-based relationship’. We are connected by our thoughts. I am no where near to being famous or earning money through this blog (and that is not even a distant ambition!). I just love doing it – everything else is a by-product.

I started blogging in April 2006 and wrote my first post titled “Solutions Perspective”. I have come a long way since then experimenting new stuff, overcoming my own resistance to write and sometimes overcoming the “writers block”.

Why did I start blogging?

  • because I was passionate about sharing lessons I learned while doing my work.
  • because I always wanted to get better at writing and expression.
  • because I wanted to ‘explore’ this new fad called ‘blogging’.

How has it helped me?

  • It sharpened and shaped my thinking. I became an ‘observer’ to my own thinking patterns and happenings around me.
  • It helped me become a better writer and get good at expressing myself clearly.
  • I had a heightened awareness about my areas of focus and learned a great deal about them. Lessons I wrote came from things that worked for me and also from reading/thinking.
  • Blogging helped me increase my reading, subscribing to other great blogs and discovering new blogs.
  • Blogging encouraged me to do more – more reading, more writing and more thinking.
  • I understood the power of ‘contributing’ – comments, link love, guest posts and so many other ways of adding value.
  • It opened up new opportunities for me through people I came to know via blogging.
  • I get immense satisfaction after I write a good post that resonates well with so many people. If any of my blog post so far has helped even few individuals for better, I think all the effort so far is worth it.

So this month is special in more ways than one. Stay tuned for special offerings this month – to mark the 4th anniversary of this blog. I am super-excited.

Have a wonderful week ahead!

Photo Courtesy: Kristina’s Flickr Photostream

LinkedIn InApps – Connecting WordPress Blog to LinkedIn Profile

I always thought about integrating my blog to my LinkedIn profile. The only way I could do that so far was to add my blog URL in LinkedIn profile – and add a LinkedIn profile button onto my blog. I always wanted something more than this.

And it finally happened with LinkedIn introducing “InApps” – a collection of applications that can be used in your LinkedIn profile. I used “Wordpress” app and connected my blog to my profile in a way that now people can also see summary of recent blog posts from within my LinkedIn profile.

Great that Web 2.0 is finally coming togather to enable someone have a unified and integrated profile. There are some other good apps one can use – go, check it out!

Hat tip to Web Worker Daily blog for pointing me to this useful resource.