Forum Posts

Aruna Krishnan
Apr 03, 2021
In Leadership
The pandemic has resulted in a scarcity of TV viewing choices. Streaming platforms have attempted to fill the gap by bringing back classics and have also opened the door to a lot more sub-par programming. As a result, my daughter and I have rediscovered the CBS show “Survivor” (on Hulu). I watched seasons 1 and 2 back when it was on CBS and then got turned off when they announced the winner of Season 2 - It was anticlimactic. The runner up had earned his way to the final two and the winner just happened to tag along (in my opinion). But that is all a part of the game, I guess. Back then, it was a three to four month commitment to get through a season! Now, we can get through a season in a week. Yes, I admit, it is very tempting to binge. We’ve watched about 11 seasons to this point. The part we really enjoy is watching the interaction between people and how that ultimately defines who gets to be selected as the winner. Now, much like in real life, it is not always the most deserving that wins. It’s who you know, and whether you’ve made good or bad relationships with people. Sound familiar? The “Outwit, Outlast, Outplay” tag is fitting for the nature of the show but bringing it back to real life, it is more about bringing our BEST self forward. Challenge yourself, learn new things, and be innovative in both your thinking and creations. SPOILER ALERT!!! A few of my favorite winners include, Yul, Cochran, Jeremy, and Natalie. They all seem to have similar qualities. There are also some winners that don’t fit this category and could even be considered polar opposites of these favorites. I’ll save that analysis for another day though. This is my assessment on why Yul, Cochran, Jeremy, and Natalie are well-liked winners: They are not obnoxious. Easy right? There’s nothing more annoying than condescending, know-it-alls and people who lack courtesy or emotional intelligence. This behavior increases your chances of being “eliminated”. They listen and observe. Self awareness and awareness of one’s surroundings is a mandatory skill in any type of leadership situation. It helps you build stronger relationships by understanding how people function in certain environments (and with certain people). They build trust. Without trust, there is nothing. There can be no friendships or “alliances” which in turn reduces your chances of advancing (your purpose). Building trust is about being genuine and helping others without the fear of “losing”. Now all these strategies don’t guarantee a win in “Survivor” (there have been some downright non-endorsable methods over the years), and have also backfired in some cases. But these principles will definitely put you on the right path in your life, career, or business. Written by Aruna Krishnan. Originally published on LinkedIn
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Aruna Krishnan
Feb 26, 2021
In Leadership
In the world of psychology, there are two extremes in how people can perceive themselves and their abilities - Imposter Syndrome and the Dunning-Kruger effect. Needless to say, with all extremes, neither one of these are healthy. Imposter Syndrome On one side, we have people of extremely high capability, sometimes referred to as “gifted”, who truly don't see the gift they possess. They trivialize all their achievements because they somehow are not able to see the extent of their talent and potential. Even if they receive validation from the outside such as close friends and family, their perspective remains unchanged. People on this end of the spectrum tend to deny themselves opportunities they are more than capable of handling simply because they feel it is beyond their reach. This may sound like a self-confidence or self-esteem issue, but from my experience and observations, it is slightly different. It is more so the inability to acknowledge and recognize one’s academic prowess, talent, skills or brilliance despite all the accomplishments to-date. If we find ourselves here, how can we get out of that slump? The first step would be to reset your self-awareness. It truly has to come down to the point of YOU believing in yourself. A few things that can get you there are: Being self aware - stop that negative thought before it gets deeply embedded. Negative thoughts simply reinforce your misconceptions. Compounding those thoughts only make the matter worse. Reflecting on your successes - Looking at the big picture and asking “How many people have done this?”. That provides more accurate weightage to the uniqueness and demands of your wins. Treating “failure” as stepping stone to success i.e. when things go wrong or off-course, use that example as an opportunity to learn and grow rather than tie it back to your competence or abilities. It could take years to eliminate the Imposter syndrome, but once you own and recognize the problem, you will progress out of that state at an exponential rate. Dunning-Kruger Effect On the other extreme, we have people of low competence (in a specific subject or discipline for example) that truly believe that they are experts! If you are anything like me, you’re first reaction to that would be, “Seriously??!!”. These people unfortunately get less than favorable labels in a corporate situation. Up until a month ago, I did not know there was an identified “Cognitive Bias” that would cause people to behave in such a manner. I chanced upon this concept when watching a documentary on a particular conspiracy theory. Enough said. :) People on this extreme basically overestimate their expertise in relation to others, resulting in the conclusion that THEY are experts. So how can this issue be addressed? Here too, it starts with self awareness and additionally self-calibration (or recalibration). Being self aware - Honestly looking into oneself to assess one’s level of humility and integrity. This will automatically kick-off the recalibration process. Reflecting on the relativity your successes - Looking at others’ skills or successes to get a relative assessment of your level of expertise. It could affirm that you are in the 99th percentile or, more likely it could give you a realistic view of you stand. Treating “failure” as stepping stone to success - If we view the concept of “failure” as something that allows us to grow, that will lead to less defensiveness and/or blaming others and a better likelihood for collaboration for better results. The first step to solving a problem is to acknowledge it. That would probably be the hardest part for people on this end of the spectrum. Conclusion Although I have simplified the definitions and potential solutions for these cases, both extremes are issues that in some cases may even warrant professional help. As observers of this behavior, we can help by empathizing with these people, for starters, and seeing how we can help them break out of that way of thinking. Finally, I leave you with this question: “Where do YOU fall within this cognitive spectrum?”. Originally published on LinkedIn by Aruna Krishnan.
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Aruna Krishnan
Feb 17, 2021
In Business Talk
I had a major “a-ha” moment about 2 years ago. After attending a cubing competition with my son, I was inspired to learn how to solve it. I first tried this about 15 years ago by watching a young man on YouTube. I did solve it by following his instructions to the tee. I walked away from that thinking that there was no way I could recreate that on my own. Fast forward 15 years…after observing the diverse crowd at the cubing competition, I felt that it was definitely worth another try. I started with a less daunting cube – the 2X2. After some research and executions, I concluded that it was easier to follow written instructions rather than watch a video (that in itself was an eye opening moment). I learned how to solve it in a day. I had just graduated to the 3X3! I continued to follow the path of written instructions, supplemented with advice from my son, and worked on it. After about two days, I was somewhat comfortable with the patterns and the steps required. After another two days, I was solving it without help! It all came down to 4Ps - Patterns, Patience, Persistence and Practice. The same 4Ps are applicable to solving problems that we encounter in our careers. Patterns In order to recognize a problem, we need to recognize symptoms (patterns) first. This is mainly done through observation. Never underestimate a leader that doesn’t feel the need to talk all the time – they are most likely observing, learning and assessing in that silence. Recognizing patterns helps us understand when there is disarray and indicates to us that action is needed. Patience Once we recognize the symptoms, we need to get to the root of the problem. There are documented techniques that can be used to do this such as the “Fishbone/Ishikawa Diagram”. Techniques aside, it is more important during the process, we maintain patience. Problems are generally not solved overnight. It is an iterative process (with a hope of incremental improvements). The first round of problem solving might clear some symptoms, but not all. Persistence This is when we need to persist. We should be willing to drive the problem to resolution even if our attempts fail on the first, second or even third attempt.  When we finally get to the desired state, the feeling is priceless! The intrinsic reward is quite high and that gives us more love and motivation for what we do. It helps us grow both as a person and as a professional. Practice Problem solving only becomes better with practice (lots and lots of it). The more experience you gain, the faster you recognize patterns. That in turn results in quicker assessments and decisions on what path to follow in order to correct the situation. Practice also engrains the process so that the steps you follow become more instinctual and natural. Patience and persistence thereby become built-in traits rather than ones that are forced. Take Away So try out your hand at problem solving. Take the mystery out of the (Rubik’s) Cube. Start small, say with a 2X2, and then progress to the 3X3. The lessons you learn in that process will most definitely provide you with insight into other aspects of life! Written By: Aruna Krishnan (Originally published on LinkedIn here).
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Aruna Krishnan
Feb 01, 2021
In Leadership
We have all heard the expression “There is no I in Team”. This is an expression that is used to discourage dysfunctional behavior within teams and encourages better team dynamics. It primarily drives home the point that every team member is working toward a singular goal and therefore it is the unified team that achieves results rather than a particular individual a.k.a the “I”. Although all the points above are completely valid, I have come to realize that there IS in fact an element of the “I” that is essential for every team to be successful. Without the “I” there could actually be confusion, inefficiency and a complete lack of harmony. The importance of the “I” Strengths Every individual possesses skills that they can consider “Strengths”. If these strengths are not acknowledged at an individual level, this could be a lost opportunity for the team as a whole. A team that has a homogenous set of strengths may be less likely to be creative or innovative because of the similar mindsets. A team with more diverse skill sets on the other hand will challenge each other to think differently and ultimately open up the possibilities for innovation. As a team member, start by acknowledging your biggest strength and understand how it can be an asset to the team as a whole. Roles Soccer, Basketball, Football are all examples of team sports that need specific roles. These positions are generally not interchangeable. A team cannot function at its best if those roles are not filled. It is important to find people with passion and clarity on how their part fits into the bigger picture. When someone signs up to take on a role, it is on them to serve that function to the best of their ability. Unless that individual takes it upon themselves to do their job, there cannot be progress. It is important to be aware of your role (and what you need to do it well) so that you can complement the rest of the team. Growth The definition of “Growth” differs from person to person. This is true for both personal and professional growth. As a team member it is important to understand and potentially express your parameters for “Growth” so that your actions support that goal and become a part of the team dynamic and culture. For example, if a Developer is looking to move into an Architecture Role, there is an opportunity for both mentoring and learning. If this desired direction is shared with the team, there can be some training and knowledge sharing that can occur. Be clear on what your desired next steps so that avenues can be created for their fulfillment. Conclusion Just as it is important to maintain your individuality in life, it is equally essential to acknowledge and define your sense of “self” in a professional environment. This holds true whether you are a part of a team or an individual contributor. My response to the expression, “There is no 'I' in TEAM” in the famous words of Dwight.K.Schrute is “FALSE!”. :) Without your sense of “I”, you cannot be fully present as a team member. Originally posted on LinkedIn By Aruna Krishnan
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Aruna Krishnan
Jan 28, 2021
In Leadership
Have you ever thought about what it would be like if all our relationships remained static? Admittedly, it would be extremely comfortable. The “Honeymoon” phase would be eternal! We wouldn’t have to work to maintain them. We would not feel the need to make new friends. We would have a relatively fixed perspective of life. The truth is that no relationship is static…and neither is it meant to be. A static relationship indicates a lack of personal growth in the parties involved. A dynamic relation provides us the opportunity to learn about compassion and empathy i.e. the two key factors needed in the art of relationship building and problem solving - two very important life skills! Let’s take a look at some similarities between skill sets and relationships. Static Skill Set If we do not strive to gain new skills sets throughout our careers, we will be left behind. We will not be able to deal with new challenges and/or opportunities in the changing market place.  Imagine trying to parent a teenager in much the same way as you dealt with an infant. It just wouldn’t work! Infants need basic nurturing, but a teenager requires a balance of nurture, discipline, empowerment, encouragement, support and, yes, PATIENCE! Outdated Skill Set Some skills beat the test of time. In other words, they can be used throughout your life. Being able to write or read is a basic skill that will never go out of style. On the other hand, there are some skill sets that fade in importance with time due to advances in technology for example. This is similar to how we outgrow some friendships. New circumstances or changes in personal preferences or goals makes us connect with new people that share those interests. This also causes us to naturally drift away from old friendships. The old friends remain a positive memory for us but are not at the core of our lives. Diverse and Random Skill Set Have you heard the phrase “Jack of all trades but master of none”? You could refer to this as being a “Generalist”. Although this versatility can be a good thing in certain situations, it can be perceived as and/or a direct result of a lack of focus in some scenarios. Not having your purpose or “Why” could cause you to waste your time and energy on the wrong things. At the end of the day, this will not give you any sense of accomplishment. It will even make you question if you are adding value to your organization. Think about this in terms of our social lives. Do you have a large "network" or a small set of friends? In most cases, people feel more fulfilled after meeting with a few friends in a personal setting rather than schmoozing with a large group of random acquaintances. At the end of the day, the conversations in the large group tend to be superficial and meaningless. Harsh but true! Specialized Skill Set At some point in our career, we find a unique skill that we really enjoy. We tend to excel at it too! Although we have a portfolio of other relevant and useful skills, we are drawn to work that utilizes this specialized skill. We go out of our way to develop and apply this skill to achieve positive results for our organizations while expanding our knowledge base. This is the same as that close friend that each of us have and treasure. Although we have plenty of acquaintances, the close friend truly enriches our lives. We learn to be less selfish and realize the importance of being a reliable friend. It is a mutually beneficial situation in that it makes both people in the relationship a better person. Conclusion Skills sets are like relationships. Not tending to our skill sets can cause us to lose what may be importance to us. Not being in the moment and recognizing current market needs is as good as conceding our best friend to someone who is more observant and caring. Not defining our “why” will make us follow a long windy road of wrong jobs before we land on "the one" we truly care about. So be aware, be there and nurture your skill sets in much the same way as you would your most important relationships! (Originally published on LinkedIn By Aruna Krishnan - here)
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Aruna Krishnan
Jan 20, 2021
In Business Talk
This is an excerpt from my interview with Ben Ivey, CEO of The Entrepreneur Lifestyle. Ben shares the 5 keys to entrepreneurial success. 1. The Daily Power – This step puts you in the right state to do your business. It includes a few elements: a. Gratitude – Being grateful for what you have. b. Visualization – Having a vision of what do you want to create. c. Conditioning your identity – Being the person today what you want to become. Focusing on the present to influence your future results 2. Business Boundaries – Beware of "The Hustle” Stop to take a breath,enjoy the process, and become more creative. The “hustle” mentality can cost you important opportunities. 3. Core 7 – Identify the core 7 things to do in your business and outsource the rest to help you focus on growing your business. Eventually, scale those 7 back. Choose to work in your business vs. having to work in your business. 4. Lifestyle principles What lifestyle do you want to follow when you are building your business. e.g. Exercise, Relationships, or time for yourself. Establish this to have the balance to recharge consistently and avoid resenting the business. 5. Weekly Evaluation This is the best way to consistently stay on track. It is a series of questions asked on weekly basis to see if you are on track in certain areas of your life. It helps you assess if you have kept balance on lifestyle principles. It acts as a constant reminder of what is important to you to move forward sustainably. Are you doing these things to prevent burnout? Listen to the full episode here. Would you like to learn more from Ben? Ben can be reached at: https://www.ben-ivey.com/ Free Resources https://www.ben-ivey.com/overwhelm https://www.ben-ivey.com/procrastination-worksheet
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Aruna Krishnan
Jan 15, 2021
In Leadership
In my book, "Lead That Thing!" I provide a survey for assessing your leadership skills. The categories below are some of the traits needed to be a strong and effective leader. Making Decisions (and saying “No”) Leadership involves making decisions. Even if they utilize a data-driven decision model, they may be forced to make decisions that are unpopular with their teams or peers e.g. when their final decision is in conflict with the opinions of the team. Consensus can be good in some situations, but a leader cannot always wait for consensus to drive efforts forward. A leader mustn’t be fixated on being popular. It is impossible to be liked by everyone. In life, we look to be our best based on how we treat ourselves and others.  Likewise, companies and their leaders look to do good for their company, employees, and their customers. Along the way, there will be people that do not align with your goals, and that is something you need to be comfortable with instead of taking it personally. Working horizontally and vertically (with peers and leaders) As a leader, you will be expected to provide information or direction to either your peers or your superiors. This requires confidence and good communication skills. It is important to understand that the amount of details will vary with each group. Communicating vertically to superiors and executives demands a more concise and specific message which they can use to draw insights on the company performance and make decisions accordingly. Presenting information horizontally to peers, on the other hand, requires more detail. This is because peers need that detail to effectively support you and your teams. Delegation Whether it is running a home, school, company, or business, it is generally not possible for one person to do everything. Unless the scope of work involved in any of these entities is minimal, there will be a need for division of duties. Without this there would be overloading and eventual burnout. A leader needs to be comfortable with letting go of control and assigning work to others by providing clear expectations of outcomes. This frees up the leader to focus on more strategic matters and also develops more high performing individuals and teams. A confident leader would not see the delegation as a threat, but rather as a duty to provide more people opportunities to lead and grow. This builds trust and loyalty and helps retain talent. Deferring to the experts Leaders cannot be experts in every single topic, but they need to have a good understanding of their business and industry. To gain knowledge on specific topics, however, they need to talk to experts and leverage their expertise when required. It would be foolish for a leader to pose as an expert on a subject when there are others with a vast amount of experience on exactly that topic. Leaders that know when and how to leverage their in-house experts do not see these experts as a threat to their position as a leader. Instead, they take pride in knowing their organization has the right talent to help achieve its goals. Giving credit to others When a project is successful, do you praise your team for generating that positive outcome? Or do you feel that your leadership was the bigger reason for the team’s success? In most cases, success is a combination of both factors. Good leaders do not thrive on their ability to lead, but rather, on the success of their teams. Leadership should bring out the best in teams and should always keep team morale at a good point. Leaders that struggle to give credit to the teams generally have insecurities about their ability to lead. They fear that the team may be seen as self-sufficient and reduce the leader’s value in the organization. This is not something a true leader would be concerned about. Strong leaders constantly look out for the team's success and give credit where credit is due. Owning your mistakes Have you ever worked with a leader that could never admit they were wrong? This can play out in a few ways: They throw their team under the bus for their bad decisions They defend their decision despite all the facts against it They are unable to admit that they could have done better This type of behavior does not help the leader, the team, or the company! I have worked with a few leaders with this flaw and it is nothing less than aggravating. As a leader myself, I have seen that owning a mistake and focusing on what could be done differently in the future has helped me become a better and trusted leader. As a leader, I am not there to pose as though I know everything and can make no mistake. That is unrealistic and pretentious. It would also prevent my teams, peers and superiors from seeing me for my true abilities as a leader. Leadership Survey Take some time to look at the factors discussed above and see where your comfort level lies on each of those points. Use a scale ranging from "Extremely Uncomfortable" to "Extremely Comfortable" for each factor to determine your leadership baseline. This can help you easily identify whether you are ready to be a leader, or which behaviors you need to tweak (or which to acquire training for) to become a better leader. Where to start To become a better leader, you have to start with yourself. Developing the right mindset and temperament is the first step to being successful. Leadership is about bringing out the best in people. This means that you, as a leader, must learn to focus on how you can help others thrive to have success as a whole. COPYRIGHT © 2021 By Aruna Krishnan All Rights Reserved.
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Aruna Krishnan
Jan 14, 2021
In Business Talk
2020 has prompted change in many ways: Individuals have been forced to consider a different outlook on life Businesses have had to to rethink their operating models Relationships have either withered or have been fostered All the changes have been prompted by a NEED… to survive, to improve, to succeed. Change is not an easy process. It has to start with acknowledgement that there is a need for change, and followed up with acceptance of a new path forward. Easier said than done in most cases, right? “Change is the only constant” is a common expression implying that the world moves forward and that we need to be prepared to adapt so as not to be left behind or lost. I like to use a variation of that phrase, “Impermanence is the only constant”. The difference in the latter expression being that it drives home that all aspects of life, good or bad, are not permanent. This helps us understand that we need to better appreciate the positives in our lives and have faith that we can and will overcome the negative. Mindset is everything! Once we get our mindsets aligned with positive change, there are 5 key steps to transformation — Reflect, Rinse, Restart, Reinforce, Repeat. Let’s see how these apply to a personal transformation: Reflect — Asking ourselves what we want to change and why? What are our desired outcomes? How can we measure success? Rinse — Releasing all the thoughts, forces or entities that have been creating negativity to our lives. Restart — Reset in terms of mindset, relationships, and self. Aligning with our true “why” and associating with allies that can support you. Start a new today. Reinforce — Change does not happen overnight. Persisting with new found ways to define the new you take time. The more you stay on the path, the more intuitive it becomes. Repeat — Go back to “Reflect” to determine the progress you’ve made and adjustments needed. In Season 3 of my podcast, Lead That Thing!, I focus on Personal Transformation with the 5Rs, providing a further breakdown and actionable advice on each phase. This has helped me get from “Fear to Freedom”. You can listen to here — https://leadthatthing.podbean.com/e/s3-ep1-5rs-of-transformation-waruna-krishnan/ What have you seen or experienced from a Transformation standpoint?

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Aruna Krishnan

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