Category Archives: Expert Opinion

My Top 5 TED Talks

  1. The Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    Watch this TED talk and discover yourself as Chimamanda Adichie exposes your biases against the world and reveals, how a single story can skew your world view. After watching this, I hope you’ll give people a chance. A chance to show you, who they really are.
  2. The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen by Hans Rosling
    As advanced data analytic tools become ubiquitous, as people start learning statistical programming languages – it will only enable more people to use data. Regardless of the protest behind ‘democratization of big data’, people will continue to work on making sense of data to seek a better understanding of the world they live in. And this is one of the many gems generated through free visualization tool developed by Hans Rosling’s own nonprofit Gapminder (software has now been bought by Google). 
  3. We should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    This is Chimamanda Adichie’s second video I am recommending. Since I’ve discovered her work – I have grown a huge admiration for this lady. In this TED talk, Adichie beautifully puts everything that I ever wanted to say about being a feminist.
  4. Educating a New Generation of African Leaders by Patrick Awuah
    The reason this is one of my favorites is because I relate to the conditions of Ghana to an extent. West African countries like Ghana and Nigeria are in far better position than Nepal. I am definitely not comparing these countries, but our struggles are very similar. Year after year our political leaders make new promises. At the end, we are led nowhere. So, where does the solution lie, is something Patick Awuah tries to answer on this TED Talk.
  5. We are the Stories We Tell Ourselves by Shekhar Kapur
    Who am I?
    A contradiction.
    Everything’s a contradiction.
    Need I add more?

How to Get a Standing Ovation – By Guy Kawasaki

In today’s day and age – public speaking is a must have skill. You need to be able to speak and express well. If you’re hesitant or you think you can get away with it, you are so wrong, there is seriously no way out. Being a complete introvert- public speaking is one of my greatest fears. But I know, if I don’t do it now – I’ll never know how to ignore my fears. One of the bests advice I’ve received is to focus on the message. In case, you do get nervous – learn to ignore it. You are not important – what you’re saying is far more important. Find the passion to educate, entertain and inspire your audience, then you’ll find your purpose and your voice. This desire I have to be a perfect speaker is also making it difficult for me to get over my fears. That’s why it doesn’t hurt when someone like Guy Kawasaki shares his words of wisdom on ‘How to Get a Standing Ovation‘. It was recently shared on linkedIn and other platforms. Turns out it was written long ago.

  1. Have something interesting to say. This is 80% of the battle. If you have something interesting to say, then it’s much easier to give a great speech. If you have nothing to say, you should not speak. End of discussion. It’s better to decline the opportunity so that no one knows you don’t have anything to say than it is to make the speech and prove it.
  2. Cut the sales pitch. The purpose of most keynotes is to entertain and inform the audience. It is seldom to provide you with an opportunity to pitch your product, service, or company. For example, if you’re invited to speak about the future of digital music, you shouldn’t talk about the latest MP3 player that your company is selling.
  3. Focus on entertaining. Many speech coaches will disagree with this, but the goal of a speech is to entertain the audience. If people are entertained, you can slip in a few nuggets of information. But if your speech is deathly dull, no amount of information will make it a great speech. If I had to pick between entertaining and informing an audience, I would pick entertaining—knowing that informing will probably happen too.
  4. Understand the audience. If you can prove to your audience in the first five minutes that you understand who they are, you’ve got them for the rest of the speech. All you need to understand is the trends, competition, and key issues that the audience faces. This simply requires consultation with the host organization and a willingness to customize your introductory remarks. This ain’t that hard.
  5. Overdress. My father was a politician in Hawaii. He was a very good speaker. When I started speaking he gave me a piece of advice: Never dress beneath the level of the audience. That is, if they’re wearing suits, then you should wear a suit. To underdress is to communicate the following message: “I’m smarter/richer/more powerful than you. I can insult you and not take you serious, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” This is hardly the way to get an audience to like you.
  6. Don’t denigrate the competition. If you truly do cut the sales pitch, then this won’t even come up. But just in case, never denigrate the competition because by doing so, you are taking undue advantage of the privilege of giving a speech. You’re not doing the audience a favor. The audience is doing you a favor, so do not stoop so low as to use this opportunity to slander your competition.
  7. Tell stories. The best way to relax when giving a speech is to tell stories. Any stories. Stories about your youth. Stories about your kids. Stories about your customers. Stories about things that you read about. When you tell a story, you lose yourself in the storytelling. You’re not “making a speech” anymore. You’re simply having a conversation. Good speakers are good storytellers; great speakers tell stories that support their message.
  8. Pre-circulate with the audience. True or false: the audience wants your speech to go well. The answer is True. Audiences don’t want to see you fail—for one thing, why would people want to waste their time listening to you fail? And here’s the way to heighten your audience’s concern for you: circulate with the audience before the speech. Meet people. Talk to them. Let them make contact with you. Especially the ones in the first few rows; then, when you’re on the podium, you’ll see these friendly faces. Your confidence will soar. You will relax. And you will be great.
  9. Speak at the start of an event. If you have the choice, get in the beginning part of the agenda. The audience is fresher then. They’re more apt to listen to you, laugh at your jokes, and follow along with your stories. On the third day of a three-day conference, the audience is tired, and all they’re thinking about is going home. It’s hard enough to give a great speech—why increase the challenge by having to lift the audience out of the doldrums?
  10. Ask for a small room. If you have a choice, get the smallest room possible for your speech. If it’s a large room, ask that it be set “classroom style”—ie, with tables and chairs—instead of theatre style. A packed room is a more emotional room. It is better to have 200 people in a 200 person room than 500 people in a 1,000 person room. You want people to remember, “It was standing room only.”
  11. Practice and speak all the time. This is a “duhism,” but nonetheless relevant. My theory is that it takes giving a speech at least twenty times to get decent at it. You can give it nineteen times to your dog if you like, but it takes practice and repetition. There is no shortcut to Carnegie Hall. As Jascha Heifitz said, “If I don’t practice one day, I know it. If I don’t practice two days, my critics know it. If I don’t practice three days, everyone knows it.” Read this article to learn what Steve Jobs does.
    It’s taken me twenty years to get to this point. I hope it takes you less. Part of the reason why it took me so long is that no one explained the art of giving a speech to me, and I was too dumb to do the research. And now, twenty years later, I love speaking. My goal, every time I get up to the podium, is to get a standing ovation. I don’t succeed very often, but sometimes I do. More importantly, I hope that I’m standing and clapping in the audience of your speech soon.


How to Make the Decisions That Will Define You – By Jeff Haden

Recently on LinkedIn I came across this post by Jeff Haden – about choosing the harder path. It instantly clicked with me. In a professional world, you will most certainly come across moments when you will have to make choices. Choices that could be very minor to something significantly major. You may not necessarily know it, yet one day when you look back and connect the dots – you realize why you chose the path you chose; which will then come to define you.

1) Effort creates its own reward.
The hard choice usually requires the most effort and the greatest personal investment on your part: And when you put in the time, you learn more, grow more, and achieve more. Always choose to work harder. It always pays off.

It almost sounds like a cliche. But it’s true. You may have to work longer, harder. But in the long run – you’ll be glad you put in that effort.

2) Luck is occasional, but intent lasts forever.
Luck in today’s day and age is purely opportunity meeting your preparation. Luck matters but it’s the intent that counts. He gave an excellant example what he meant by this:
“We’ll go ahead and ship this… if we’re lucky the customer will never notice the problem.” (Almost everyone who has worked in software or manufacturing has decided to let a quality problem go so they can meet a ship/release date and hopefully avoid the cost of rework. Sometimes you get lucky…and sometimes you don’t.)

While it’s painful to make the, “I’m sorry, but we’re going to be a day late but we found a quality problem we need to take care of,” call, it’s a lot worse to answer the, “How could you ship us this garbage?” call.

3) The angel lies in the details.
Shortcuts, high level decisions, quick fixes… sometimes they work out, but they also mean you lose the chance to spot other problems, identify other solutions, or find different ways to improve. “Quick and easy” creates an illusion of success. Effort and application – and a willingness to do what others are not willing to do – builds the foundation for lasting success.

4) Hard choices build outstanding reputations.
Staying late to complete a project, making a tough call to a customer, tackling an employee issue head-on, biting the bullet and taking responsibility when you make a mistake… you don’t have to do any of them. In a crisis there are always easier options.

But there is usually only one right option — even if it’s the least attractive option.

We all admire people who sacrifice, who compromise, who stand tall in the face of adversity – so do the right thing, even if the right thing is the hardest thing, and in time you may become someone other people admire.

5) The hard choice is always binary.
It’s easy to convince yourself that a black-and-white situation is actually gray. Usually it’s not: Needing to fire the employee who doesn’t fit; needing to bypass a senior employee for promotion for a person less tenured but more deserving; needing to call investors to let them know results are falling short of forecast… you can talk yourself into thinking there are reasons not to make the hard decision, but in the end you’re just rationalizing.

Usually there are a host of wrong answers, and one right answer. Think about a tough decision you face. You can probably list a number of easy answers – and one very difficult choice. Bite the bullet and pick the hard choice.

– Link to the original article.