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Friday, November 19, 2010

Corporate Becky - what do you think?

Inspiring Leaders exist all around you! 
Corporate Becky

Leadership has different meanings for everyone, for me I think a good leader has the perfect mix of knowledge and confidence; the recipe varies. I continually seek out ways to connect myself to people that exude both attributes– fortunately Accenture has been a place where it’s been easy to find great leaders. A leader does not need to be considered a “boss” or a “supervisor” and I believe you can find leadership from your peers, those that report into you and even strangers depending on the time and place.

My most recent spot for inspiration comes from my children. While they don’t work for Accenture, they motivate me to do my best every day because I am committed to giving them a good start on life. I cannot imagine leaving school, friends, having to cut my hair short and start at a new school in a new country. That is what I asked my son to do. While I have three children, the oldest has the toughest adjustment to our new life in India. His sports that he participated at school do not exist here in his Bangalore school (i.e., sailing, wrestling, track & field), there is not a traveling orchestra and his best friends are no longer a quick bike ride away. Each morning he is the first one up, he walks the dog, exercises, packs his things for school and maintains a consistent level of discipline in his studies. When my inbox is exploding, the commute is long and I just don’t know how I can have an impact in such a large organization; I look to my kids who are not complaining, producing good grades and embracing a new life. If they can do it, I need to figure out how to as well.

Professionally, I have had the opportunity to work for some of our current global leads when they were managers or senior managers. I now listen to their recorded video messages or read their email announcements knowing with full faith they are in the right role to take Accenture forward. It was those years on ground, working on staffing plans, running moderation meetings that I got to know them for their integrity and ability to make an unpopular decision because it’s the right thing for the people or our business. I go back to that mental archive on a regular basis when I am faced with a tough decision or needing to give guidance to our team. Leadership lives on and when you are a strong leader, the people around you take that forward and influence others.

Finally, I look to regular people who influence the world. I think back to Rosa Parks, an African American woman, who refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man (which was the law at the time) and that incident started the American Civil Rights Movement. I solemnly remember the group of passengers who confronted terrorists and averted their plane from crashing into Washington on September 11th. These people did not wake up that day to change the world; however they followed their instincts, stood up for what they believed in and influenced others to make a positive change for a greater population. We all have that power and we should choose to execute it.

I recently met with a group of our IDC entry level HR people, I left them with these parting thoughts
- We are typically not faced with life and death decisions, so take a few minutes to get to the right answer.
- Don’t let a bad day yesterday ruin your day today, understand what went wrong, commit to doing the things in your power to prevent it in the future and start fresh again
- Never send emails in the heat of the moment, once it’s written you cannot take it back; it’s much better to take a quick walk around the bay or climb a few flights of stairs to reset yourself.
- Giving people the bad news is just important as the good news, don’t let either kind go unnoticed.
While these tips seem basic, they are tactics I employ every day to help me manage my inbox, employee situations and processes that are going awry. I am not academic in my leadership principles; I rely on perspective, good judgment, experience and confidence in myself and others to lead… And if these fail me, I have a great network of smart, confident people across the globe to help me sort it out.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lost or Forgotten

11th anniversary necklace "Lost"
Let's start off by saying I am a highly organized person.  I do not misplace, lose, forget or borrow anything.  I will remember the first time I saw you, what you were wearing and where we met.  Makes for a tough argument.    I know where each pair of my 200 shoes are at any given time; all my accessories are sorted and stored.     I enjoy cleaning out closets and making labels for fun.   So call me Monica (Friends TV Show reference....).   My journey to India has flipped me upside down - literally.     In the first 2 months I have "lost" black pants, eyeliner, cover up, a David Yurman Necklace and a black diamond ring.    Additionally, I regularly forget my employee badge, cell phone and current notebooks.     I have been feeling lost.   Personally I am feeling a loss on multiple levels;  friendship, comfort and routine.  Professionally, I feel lost in a sea of very smart people.    Finding my way is part of the journey in India.  

Here today, gone tomorrow is the story of my life these days.  I see something I like in the grocery store - buy it now - because it might be three months before Ragu spaghetti sauce comes back...or more realistic two weeks before you pass by this particular store at a decent hour.     Events have unfolded indicating I am not a complete lunatic, some items have "reappeared."  I am convinced my favorite maid/ cook is borrowing my things while I am not home.     The entire family turned every drawer upside down and not one of my lost items was found, however the day we filed the police report, the make up reappeared- clearly used (YUCK).    So tomorrow is the ultimatum.  Jewelry back or job lost.   I will not be able to forget.  

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Great Escape - Facebook, the movie

Even a totally normal activity is somehow different in India.   We went to see the Social Network this afternoon with Emma and Nolan.   I am sure it's rated PG-13 or R back in the States but in India, no rating applied and all the f* words are cut out - so we figured it was a safe family movie since our other choice was Due Date that does carry an Adult warning in India (must be pretty bad).    Here the story begins, we arrive 10 min before showtime and make use of the ATM like movie ticket dispenser - all is good - 4 tickets Rs1000 ($22 USD).    Walk through an airport type security line which includes a scan of my purse.    Ok - good thing they are checking for weapons but the teenage security guard seemed more focused on outside food that might be tucked away in my purse.    On to the concession stand - Value Pack #4, 2 large popcorns and 2 small pepsis Rs250 or about $5.50 USD.    Pretty good value.  

In India, you can only get to your seat about 1 minute before the movie is scheduled to start; so like anything else here - there is no queue just a semi-organized blob.   First in and we pick the center seats mid-way up the seating.    As we are munching away on our snacks we notice people really paying attention to their tickets and looking at the seats.    Could it be assigned seating?    This is a movie theater, open seating, right?   Just as the movie begins we are told we are in someone else's seats but fortunately they were kind enough to direct us to G5, 6, 7, 8 just one row up.    Surprised by this level of organization, we settle in the darkness focused on the big screen.

The movie was great, I actually forgot I was in India for a good portion of the show.   College campuses, American jargon, Justin Timberlake (filling the role of the guy who created nabster - rather poetic I think).   It brought me back to my campus days, about 10 years earlier, even the AEPi fraternity party - some sort of Carribbean theme which is just like one I attended @ Michigan where the basement was filled with sand.    I think that this was the first time I totally relaxed, detached from life and work since I have arrived...Until Intermission hit - back to the concession stand, refill the popcorn and then finish the movie.     We topped the night off with dinner at McDonalds.  No Masala.  

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Road Trip - India Style

Big Banyan Tree
Festival Season is upon us here in India.    This week marks Diwali (also spelled Deepavali) which is the festival of lights.   Di is Light in Hindi and Deepa is light in Kannada the local language here in Karnataka State.  The kids had a short school break and I had a work holiday to celebrate this occasion.     Diwali is like Christmas for Indians, all sorts of sales at the stores, commercials advocating the gift of massive jewelry this Diwali (O.K., I like that part) and massive sales of fireworks.    The kids were mesmerized by the pop up shacks of firecrackers (as they are known here) along the side of the road, in empty fields.   In Bangalore alone, 260 Crore were sold in just a few days which equates to 260 million.   Additionally, there doesn't seem to be any regulations on where you can shoot off the 'crackers and what scale of explosives is appropriate for a residential neighborhood.     We have been experiencing rapid fire fireworks non-stop for the last three days.   

Thursday morning we packed up our car and headed to Mysore which is the royal city of Karnataka.  The Maharajah still lives there and it's only a 2.5 hour ride.   Our driver accompanied us for the trip and he had his own agenda in mind.    Javeed is very proud of India and especially the history of the local area.    He initially wanted to leave at 6 am, we pushed that back to 9 am.    It was of course a day off for all of us, so we enjoyed a normal wake up time.     Most of Thursday was spent hopping in and out of our car at various spots along the way to Mysore.    Javeed ensured we saw the highlights of the area - both historical and from local films.    The Big Banyan, Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace, the Cauvery River, a very old Hindu temple and other architectural remains.    Doug and I enjoyed seeing the history and learned something new about the Hindu, Muslim, British and then back to Hindu ruling groups.   The kids were hot and yearned to get to the hotel pool and room service.    We arrived at 430 pm, quickly checked in and then headed out to Brindavan gardens to see the light show and the damn.   Our night ended with dinner at the Tiger Trail, complete with Kingfisher beer, french fries, naan and dahl.  The perfect mix of American and Indian foods.   Our hotel was complete with the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.    It's been a while since the kids watched their favs while I drifted away.
Emma - International Ambassador

Mysore Palace

Family Shot @ the Zoo- see the Giraffe!
Friday started early with a trip to the Mysore Palace.    What a fabulous place, built in just 15 years for Rs4.5million, the equivalent of $100K USD, this architectural gem was finished in 1912, complete with electricity.   I highly recommend this as a day trip if you come to Bangalore, I will be taking my Christmas visitors back in a few weeks.     The kids loved the audio tour and learned something, this I know because they repeated tidbits through the remainder of the day.    Next was the zoo.    Nothing brings you back to simple pleasure like walking through a zoo and seeing the magic of nature.   Plus in the Indian zoo, you can actually get quite close to the animals - Bengal tigers, white tigers, African and Indian elephants, monkeys galore.    Back to the hotel for pizza and swimming, checked out the next morning.    Nolan and Emma wanted an extra night - I guess that's proof we planned a good trip.

Emma achieved Britney status on this trip, every place we went people asked to take their picture with her.  She is growing in India, because these requests did not disturb her as much as the first time.   It was interesting to see the rest of us get passed over for requests but once Emma agreed to a photo opp, others stepped out of the crowd to get their turn.   

On a shoe note, our white sneakers are now clay red after traipsing through the dirt paths ...

No Tricks, All Treats for Halloween in India

It's good to know that Halloween in the expat communities in India is alive and well.    Houses are decorated, pumpkins carved, spooky music bellows down the streets and kids are decked out in costume.    We had two opportunities to celebrate in Bangalore.   First we checked out a party sponsored by the Overseas Women's Club at a local hotel.   The kids were a little old for the group, however we did get to do some rock climbing, hold a baby goat and win a ghost cake.   All was not lost. 
On Halloween, we headed over to some friends house for a light Indian dinner and some good French wine.   The host travels to Paris frequently and was kind enough to share a bottle of Bordeaux from a recent trip; I lapped it up.    Then we let the kids loose in Palm Meadows (our neighborhood) for 2 hours of trick or treating.   Ms. Starburst (a.k.a. Emma) joined a bag of Peanut M&Ms (a.k.a. Sonia), Will dressed as Uncle Sam (no pictures available) found his friends and Ironman (Nolan who refused to wear the mask) joined Percy Jackson and an Arabian Night.     We draped fake spider webs across our landscape, hung paper pumpkins in the trees, placed our illuminated pumpkins on the laws and handed out American Candy.   Apparently the kids like to trick or treat in Phase 1, which has the bigger houses, but we still got our fair share of kids in Phase 2.     Doug and I decided to leave the bowl of candy on the porch and took a stroll with our pup to check out the houses and see the action.     We ended the night with a family movie.