Enlightenment, Leadership, self-development, Technology

Leadership models: Mahatma Gandhi and Steve Jobs

Leadership models: Mahatma Gandhi and Steve Jobs

I had the opportunity recently to present a talk on Leadership at a seminar at our university. The attendees were about 60 graduate students. I began my talk with a wide-ranging view of leadership, including my own lessons on leadership (posted on this blog), Steven Covey’s 4-role model of leadership, among other perspectives. Included in my presentation were two case studies of Mahatma Gandhi and Steve Jobs. These were worthy case studies as one was about socio-spiritual leadership, and the other one was about technological-organizational leadership. The case studies were of comparable quality, and were full of colorful images. A fellow presenter later observed that the attendees were much more alert and engaged when I spoke about Steve Jobs. This happened at a school where we focus a lot on spirituality and morality, based on Vedas and consciousness.

I wonder why Jobs was the more attractive message to the multicultural graduate students? One simple explanation could be that most of these young people use Apple products such as Macs and iPhones and are interested in all things Apple. Another reason could be that a majority of participants in the seminar were computer science students and therefore technology leadership would be of greater appeal to them. Yet another explanation could be that Jobs is a contemporary figure who died only a few years ago, while Gandhi died way back in 1948. Yet another reason could be that this talk was held in the US, to an audience who might care more about American icons rather than the distant ones from Asia. Most students had already seen his 2005 Stanford Commencement speech.

There are any similarities between the leadership models of Gandhi and Jobs. Both were transformative leaders of planetary scale: stubborn individuals who bent the existing reality to their dreams and purposes and achieved great results. Both had strong spiritual underpinnings: Gandhi was a believer in universal brotherhood, and Jobs was influenced by Zen. Both were adventurous, creative and lived on the edge: incessantly innovating and keeping their opponents on tenterhooks. Both played two major transformative innings each: Gandhi won his moral leadership spurs working for Indians in South Africa, and then moved to India to achieve India’s freedom from the British Empire; Jobs made history with the design of personal computers (Apple-II and Macintosh), and then helped Apple achieve even greater success with the iPod/iTunes music ecosystem and the iPhone/Apps computing-communication ecosystem. Finally, both died unconventionally, one to an assasin’s bullet and the other to cancer.

I think that Gandhi’s leadership model is very relevant even today (or else I won’t have bothered to present it). Gandhi worked towards universal goals such as freedom and human dignity using innovative paths such as truth, non-violence and self-reliance. These goals and paths were worthy of emulation by Martin Luther King Jr. In the US, and by Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and Aung San Suu Kyi in Mynamar, and many more.

The concept of freedom may have different meaning today. There are wealth inequities and technological colonization in the world today. The French economist Thomas Picketty has analyzed the causes of wealth inequities, and made a strong case for a ‘global income tax’ for global growth and happiness. Mohammad Yunus has innovated with micro-finance. On the technology side, Elon Musk is revolutionizing transportation with electric cars and inexpensive space travel. Google and Facebook and Amazon are also transforming the world. There is room for a new kind of a leadership today, beyond Gandhi and Jobs.

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Business Intelligence and Data Mining, Creative Writing, Enlightenment, Happiness, Leadership, self-development, Travelogues

2014: A Transformational Year

2014 was a transformational year for me. With my first book published (business intelligence and data mining), this new blog (anilmah.com), new travel (South Africa), a new talk (personal development through transcendence), and more, it was a productive year for me. The next year will surely bring its own joys!

Book: I wrote a well-received book on business intelligence and data mining. It was launched as an ebook on Amazon in May. It has consistently sold a couple of copies every day. At the end of the 2014, it was published by Business Expert Press (BEP), a NY-based publisher, in both print and e-book edition. (See the page on My Book).

Blog: This blog started in May of the year. There are quite a few posts on it. The topics range from travel to information technology to enlightenment to Vedas to good old Leadership, and more . My first post was a travelogue of my amazing trip to Kumbh Mela last year, and it was a big hit with the readers. My recent post on leadership lessons from organizing community events brought me more followers than all others previous posts combined. I continue to post from lived experiences.

Travels: I also had two major international travels this year, to South Africa and to India. The main purpose of the South African trip in June was to teach a course as part of an Executive MBA program. However, it also included visits to Gandhian monuments in Johannesburg and Durban. It also included sightseeing including the gorgeous city of Cape Town. (see my blog post on SA visit). The main purpose of my trip to India In November-December was to deliver a talk on personal development through transcendence at a conference in IIT Roorkee. After that I went to Yog gram for a week-long naturopathic detoxing retreat, and to Rajasthan to see my extended family (See my posts on the visits to Yog Gram and Pushkar).

Talks: I have delivered a talk on ‘Personal Development through Transcendental Meditation’ four times during the year 2014, three times in the US and once in India. Each time the talk was very well received. I essentially talk about how Transcendence is an orthogonal dimension to Intellect. For intellectually smart people, transcendence can open up new infinite avenues for creativity and fulfillment. I also share about how transcending using TM and TM-Sidhis over the last 2 years helped release my inner stresses and set me up for writing creatively from the heart and getting a great reception.

In addition, I led our South Asia community at our university into celebrations for six major festivals. Three of the celebrations included large bonfires. (See my blog posts on bonfires, and on leadership lessons from holding these events).

I am sure 2015 will bring its own joys!

Enlightenment, Happiness, self-development, Travelogues

Visit to Yog Gram in India

Visit to Yog Gram in India

My wife and I spent a wonderful week at the naturopathic institution called Yog Gram near Haridwar in India, last month. This piece describes the nature of our nice and beneficial experience there.

YogGram

Yog Gram, or Yoga Village, was set up just 6-7 years ago by Patanjali Yogpeeth, which in turn is owned and managed by the famous yoga guru Swami Ramdev. Yog Gram is a residential retreat place. It has nice air-conditioned cottages for people to stay for rest, recuperation and detoxing. The minimum stay requirement is one week, and the maximum stay allowed is about two months. Accommodation has to be reserved well in advance, as usually there is a waiting line for getting the chance to get there. The cost of stay is reasonable. It costs only a couple of thousand rupees (about US$40-50) per day for a couple to stay in an air-conditioned cottage. This automatically includes the cost of the ayurvedic food, the naturopathic treatments, doctor examinations, and more.

The first thing that unmistakably hits the visitor to this place, is the abundance of flowers. The place is full of fresh flowers of all colors, sizes and shapes. On both sides of every pathway there are fragrant fresh flowers. This abundance of flowers is painstakingly maintained by 30 full-time resident gardeners. Just being in the midst of such beautiful flowers was uplifting for my soul. I called it floral therapy. In addition, the air quality is amazingly clean by Indian standards. The reason is that this place is next to a forest, the Rajaji national park, and far from the nearest city of Haridwar. Another natural benefit is that it  is in the land of the Holy Seers, so the vibrations are still there. Between the flowers, the pure air and the vibes, the place is like heaven.

When you check in, the doctors in residence examine every health-seeker, and then prescribe the meal patterns as well as the naturopathic treatment for the morning and the evening.

The daily routine is reasonably packed with activity. People wake up at 4:30 am and go to sleep at 9:30 pm everyday. In the morning typically there are cleansing treatments like enema, and sutra-neti and eye-wash etc. There is a 2-hour morning session in the Yoga Hall, which includes yoga practice, and group counseling. After a light customized breakfast, one goes for naturopathic treatments as prescribed. After lunch there is some time for rest. Then again there are healthy juice drinks followed by a mud-pack treatment. Then there are more naturopathic treatments in the afternoon. After a light fruit juice, there is the evening yoga session and group counseling. Then there is customized dinner, after which the health-seekers (as every visitor is called) retire for the day.

The food is custom-prepared for everyone. We were given something to eat or drink 7-8 times during each day. There are 76 different types of naturopathic treatments to select from, in consultation with the doctor. Among the treatments are many kinds of massages (head, back, full-body, etc), and baths (hot-cold, full-back, steam, sauna, etc), and wraps (for the calfs, or the abdomen etc) to name just a few.

We enjoyed and benefited from our stay at Yog Gram. It is a very nice place overall, and a very good value for money. With some minor changes, this place has the potential to become a world-class facility. Currently almost all of the visitors are Indians. The place does not yet offer the privacy of treatment that the western visitors are used to. However, the cost is a small fraction of the cost for a similar naturopathic treatment in the US. So given the value-for-money, soon foreign visitors might make a beeline for the place.

Enlightenment, self-development, Travelogues

Trip to Pushkar – the king of pilgrimage sites – India

Trip to Pushkar – India

It was fascinating to visit and earn about an ancient and famous place, the holy town of Pushkar, from the eyes of a family members who grew up there in a prominent social position. I had gone there a few times earlier too, but never quite had gotten a feel for the place.

Pushkar is often called ‘Tirath Raj’ or the king of pilgrimage sites. It is also one of the oldest living cities of India. (For more visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pushkar.) Pushkar has the unique distinction of having the only temple in the world dedicated to Lord Brahma, the creator of the world according to Vedas. I visited Pushkar in December for just a few hours with my wife Neerja and my mother-in-law. I knew that my mother-in-law was born and had grown up in Pushkar. I requested her to come along with me and show us the town as she lived it. Once we reached there, she became quite animated when showing us where when the important things and important activities were, during her childhood days. Very understated by temperament, she let slip that her extended family (the Maloo family) owned half of Pushkar! I knew about her coming from a rich family in Pushkar, but this seemed really big. As an instance she said that when her father and his brothers separated, each one got many mansions in inheritance. She also stated that they used to own bricks of gold. Those bricks were mortared into walls to keep them safe from robbers. No one trusted the banks, they all trusted gold.

PushkarRaj BrahmaTemple

We visited Pushkar Raj (pic on left), the holy lake in which everyone likes to take a holy dip. It has 52 ghats, or sides from which one can access the lake. We also the Brahmaji temple (pic on right). We visited the other famous temple in Pushkar, the Ranji temple, … the old Ranji template and the the new one. We then visited one of my mother-in-law’s family mansions, which is currently rented out. We bought loads of ‘Maal Puvey’, the rich creamy pancake-shaped dessert for which Pushkar is famous.

I now had a feel for this ancient city.