Birthday Specials – Shivam Naman Sinha

My last blog was on the occasion of my wife Pooja’s birthday about 45 days ago. Just when I thought it would take some more time to get back to writing a blog, another special person’s birthday comes across. Today is Shivam Naman Sinha’s birthday.

There are some friends who you look up to as role models in certain aspects and want to emulate them. There are also some friends, whom you just feel like chilling around with and sharing all your joys and sorrows. Shivam belongs to the second category. Talking to him calms you down and makes you realize that it’s ok to screw up things and everyone else is also screwing up things. Life is not perfect at all and Shivam has the uncanny ability to accept it calmly, laugh it off and move on. I haven’t seen him cribbing or whining about spoilt milk. He’s had his share of raw deals and missed chances but he’s always laughed it off and come out stronger.

When I was just about to become a dad , everyone around was giving a lot of advice on how to do this, how to be that ideal dad etc but then I spoke to Shivam . Shivam being Shivam, he calmly explained to me the practical side of what you can’t be and some examples of how he has messed up in certain situations. It calmed my nerves and made me breathe easy.

Shivam works calmly under high-pressure when deadlines are approaching and it brings the best out of him. This has been his strength since college days. During our XLRI days, Shivam had multiple nick-names. One of it was “Undead” for his exceptional ability to be awake through the night and still be fresh during the day. He was equally adept at being the DJ for the in-house college parties just hours before an important presentation deadline and still create a great presentation.

The other great quality of him is his ability to completely switch off from work once he’s back home. He ensures he takes two vacations a year at the minimum to spend time with family. Small but significantly important things. In my friend’s circle, there is one set of friends who are only thinking about savings and investments. Shivam does his basic bit here but for him, enjoying the now is much more important than worrying about the future. Not worrying too much about the past or the future is a quality which very few people possess and Shivam has got this.

Amidst all the busy-ness of corporate life, Shivam still manages to ensure that he attends every outstation trip which our group of friends plan every year. Every year, there are one or two people in our group of eight who cant make it but for Shivam, the trips are an equally important priority. A chai-lover, Arsenal loyalist and an expert “candid photographer “, trips and hangouts with him are always fun. He has a regular collection of funny anecdotes which he repeats in every trip but you still can’t help laughing every time.

Shivam’s favorite quote is “ Attitude is matter”. In a world filled with people who invariably end up becoming part of the corporate rat-race, Shivam stands out as a refreshingly calm, level headed, “take-it-easy” personality who is always willing to help out. He may never have topped the class for his academic abilities, but for his sportive attitude, he will be right up the charts.

Shivam Naman Sinha – here’s wishing you a happy birthday. Hoping you wont change one bit in the years to come as well.

Cheers to lots of Chais , photographs, trips and “Siskaaris” (Even Google wont tell you what a siskaari is -you need to know Shivam to understand the meaning of this 😊)

P.S: I could have gone on and on about Shivam but it would go against his personality trait of less gyaan , more action and keeping things short and simple.

Birthday Specials – Pooja Iyer – Freaky Fridays – Weekly Blog

Over the past few months, since the time I have rejoined work, I have shifted my weekly blog to Sundays instead of Fridays as I make time during the weekend to blog. Exceptions can be taken for exceptional individuals , so I have come back with a Friday blog for a special individual whose birthday is today.

I first met Pooja 3.5 years ago in Hyderabad. She was the only good thing which happened during my time spent on Bharat Matrimony.com. During my first interaction, Pooja had come across as a genuine, simple, friendly, free-spirited individual who takes each day as it comes. Not much has changed in all these years. At that time, she was doing her first year of DNB in radiation oncology ( for the non medicos, DNB is like a P.G course like MBA/ M Tech). This was her second P.G and I was amazed by the persistence the medicos put in to make a mark in a competitive world.

Pooja did not think too much about the future and was not bothered about the world at large but she had her limited set of priorities which she cared about. She was upfront about what she had in her mind regarding marriage and beyond. She loved Bollywood and followed cricket. She was scared of dogs. These were a few commonalities between us. We were poles apart in all other things – she was 5 feet , I was close to 6 , she loved partying while I was a minimalist in this aspect. She was a doctor who knew nothing about MBA. I was an MBA who knew nothing about medicine and still the status remains the same. But still we got along and within 6 months, we got married ( November 2016).

Pooja’s choices for honeymoon were very clear- Greece, Corsica, Australia , Spain. The common connection was Bollywood. Three of these locations were based on Ranbir Kapoor movies but finally after eliminating options based on weather and number of days required, we chose Country na Milegi Dobara – Spain.

Pooja always wanted to be a doctor since childhood and she loves her profession. She loves the fact that she is able to contribute in saving lives and that is her single biggest motivation to pursue a career. Again, this is completely opposite to me – Electronics engineer, software job, MBA in HR, moved to Sales, now in Client Engagement. She comes from the school of thought that you will excel in something only if you love doing it. When I told her that I wanted to try out writing and see how far it takes me, she was the first one to egg me into blogging as a means to improve my writing skills.

Being a doctor, listening to people whining about their problems comes naturally to her I guess. She still continues to patiently listen to my regular cribs about everything under the sun. We all need that one person to pour out all kinds of feelings without worry of being judged. For me, this person is Pooja. Everytime I feel low about something, she is able to spot it immediately and make me open up and feel better. She has a very very small circle of close friends but she will move heaven and earth for them. Both of us are Tamilians but for some reason, we speak to each other in Hindi – I still don’t know why. She has made me do some really silly things like binge-watching CID daily for almost a year. My dressing sense has improved substantially after being with her 😊

She’s a sport and she doesn’t mind me calling her “Gurr-inder Singh” for her quick temper. When I told her that I wanted to take a paternity break and support her during her first few months as a mother, she was extremely supportive and did not say no at all. Its very difficult to support such decisions without hesitation but I have been fortunate to have such a mature partner. Between the two of us, she was the one who transitioned quickly to being a parent. She has understood and accepted the changes quickly. For example, it took a while for me to accept the fact that I could no longer get up late but for her, it was a default auto-setting. This rubbed off on me.

One of her wishes is to get herself clicked with Ranbir Kapoor. I hope this comes true sooner than later. I am a terrible singer. Otherwise, I would have sung a nice song for her today. But now that I am taking a shot at writing, I will end this post by dedicating the following lines to her ( slightly filmy ending but being a Bollywood fan she will not mind 😊)

Tum Ho Toh Gaata Hai Dil
Tum Nahin To Geet Kahan
Tum Ho Toh Hai Sab Haasil
Tum Nahin Toh Kya Hai Yahan
Tum Ho To Hai Sapno Ke Jaisa Haseen Ek Samaa
Jo Tum Ho To Yeh Lagta Hai Ke Mil Gayi Har Khushi
Jo Tum Na Ho Yeh Lagta Hai Ke Har Khushi Mein Hai Kami

Tumko Hai Maangti Yeh Zindagi

Happy Birthday Pooja – may all your dreams come true. Keep rocking!!

Birthday Specials – Gaurav Gupta – Super Sundays – Weekly Blog

It’s been a while since I have written a birthday special blog. Amidst the hustle and bustle of life, we sometimes miss out on appreciating the goodness around us. Last Tuesday ( Sep 17th) was my and good friend and former colleague at Coty, Gaurav Gupta’s birthday.

Gaurav’s journey as a hairdresser has been really inspiring. He started off his career in Sales in the pharma industry. After a couple of years, he figured out that this was not his true calling. He decided to take the plunge in a field which he was passionate about – hair dressing. A very unconventional career choice , especially after having started in sales, but Gaurav had the clarity and desire to follow his true passion. He learnt his craft and started off as a hairdresser in a salon and steadily inched his way up and today, he is one of the most respected trainers in Coty India. He currently heads the training (education) vertical for South India. He has numerous accolades to his credit, winning the Trendsetter award ( best trainer in India) multiple times.

Gaurav was the first person I had met when I had joined Coty. An extremely warm and pleasing personality, the biggest strength of Gaurav is his positive attitude in all situations. He had come in and taken over the South market in challenging circumstances, but his positive attitude and problem-solving mindset rubbed off on his team and he was able to turn things around. I had just joined as the Divisional manager for South and this quality of his was a great source of strength for me as I was initially finding it tough to manage the business. Gaurav would always have a solution when his team would come to him with issues. He also had a sound understanding of business, which is generally a challenge for many trainers as most of their focus is uni-dimensional ( majorly on training delivery).

We all need a colleague at work with whom we can talk freely- without inhibition and worrying about disclosure concerns. Gaurav was one such colleague, whom you could trust. He would always see the lighter side of things in stressful situations and ensure we find a way out. It is this quality which I think holds him in good stead. With him as my counterpart, I always knew that the training function was in safe hands and help me focus on the business side. Gaurav would never shy away from taking up challenges and would figure out some or the other way to come out of a problem.

We have travelled together a lot and I would make it a point to have Gaurav in meetings with top customers as his subject matter expertise would really go a long way in enhancing the quality of the discussion. All the customers held Gaurav in high regard for his subject matter expertise and his practical approach.  Gaurav reminded me of another Gaurav ( Gaurav Manjeshwar) in my Mahindra stint,who also was a similar personality and a subject matter expert. The other Gaurav will be a subject of a blog some other day.

One really good quality about Gaurav , which I really admired was his constant efforts to upgrade his skills. He would always be looking to learn the latest techniques and not rest on his laurels and this had a rub-off effect on his team as well.

Gaurav Gupta – it has been a pleasure knowing you. I am glad our paths crossed and I am sure you will keep marching on and achieve all your dreams. You have shown that passion can be converted to professional success even if you have started on a different path. Keep inspiring.

Belated Happy birthday and cheers to a colourful life. Stay blessed.

Jai Hind