The Tale Of Vintage Watch Gift And Leadership Principles

There are moments in our lives that define or redefine our leadership principles and our lives. One such incident just happened and brought me back to my core values. One of my previous direct reports came to meet me and gifted something very special. He appreciated me for my leadership style of transparency, empathy, trust and getting the best out of people. It was a humbling and life redefining moment for me! As it was was a redefining moment hence thought of sharing here.

Vintage watch gifted by my team member

The Gift

This is a priceless gift for me as he invested thoughts, money and then loads of time. This is a 1970 vintage watch that he bought online for approx. $500-$1000. He spent lot of time cleaning the inside mechanism, restoring the outside/bezel and installing a brand new leather band. He loves to restore vintage watches and this one was very special for him. As per him he went through all this labor because he appreciates my friendship, leadership and the value I have added. I may never be able to repay him for this gift and I doubt if I ever added that much value into his life.

At this time you must be thinking, how is this vintage watch related to my leadership principles? Please trsut me and stay with me for another minute.

Leadership Principles

Since early childhood, I have lead teams at school, college, community and now in the professional world. All these years I have built my list of leadership principles that I lead with on a daily basis. These are leadership principles that I either discovered (not invented) in the process or learned from other leaders by following or reading books on leadership. Here are my top 10 leadership principles:

  1. Be the example of the culture you want to build in your team and remembered for
  2. Respect your team members in every situation
  3. Lead with empathy and transparency as it builds TRUST in short and long term
  4. Operate with accountability
  5. Enable performance by promoting the culture of short term wins and celebrating them as a team
  6. Focus on the strengths of your team members. Only coach them in areas of weakness if it is hurting or will hurt them
  7. Feedback is a gift. Be vulnerable as a leader and allow your team members their feedback on you
  8. Follow the principles of situational leadership
  9. Be humble, invest in continuous learning
  10. Have fun with your team. Culture is not built while you are working on the projects but when you are not. Find opportunities to have fun time, learn about them, their families, journeys, aspirations etc.

The connection

So here comes the link between the two that I promised you earlier......

We all live in real-world where we often swim with sharks. I have been going through some rough patches in my life and questioning my leadership principles. I have been questioning their validity in the corporate world where there is a cut-throat competition. What matters in those environments is goals/numbers in each quarter, your perception among your seniors and peers and much more. Questions that have been bothering me for months are: Do I need to change to survive and be successful in the corporate world? Do I need to change my leadership principles and be one of the “sharks”? Do I need to stop being that “Nice Guy”, “servant leader”, “Strength finder”?

...Here is the connection back to the wonderful gift. I am glad you waited and continued the journey to see how this all connects...

This thoughtful gift and the humbling incident brought me back on-track. It answered my questions that I must continue to be who I am. I am defined by the principles, beliefs and values that I have lived with. Yes, I evolve those to become better as per the North Star of my life but I cannot change them completely or in the opposite direction. These are the leadership principles that align with my True North.

This team member appreciated me and gave me such a thoughtful gift because he likes to be led with these leadership principles. These leadership principles have enabled him during those years when was part of my team and believed in him, trusted him and enabled him. We have always been a family that works hard, extra hard in times of need, backs-up each other, and then have fun together.

When I retire from my professional career, I will like to be remembered for the value I created in the life of my fellow co-workers and the organizations. I will like to be known for the value I gave back to the community that I helped me become better every day. I will like to be known for the smiles I brought, careers I enabled and dreams I helped to come to life for my family, friends and colleagues.

Closing thoughts

Only existing or new leadership principles can help me reach my True North and not some shallow principles that may help me be temporarily successful. This gift empowered me to continue believing in my leadership principles. It forced me to think again about my end game and not just this small destination which is part of my long journey. Once-again I believe in the power of my decades-old leadership principles!

I hope my story inspires you to question yourself and identify your leadership principles. What will you like to be remembered for? What are the memories you want to retire with? How many lives do you want to touch & add value? I hope you will share your story one day and inspire me!

Hope over fear

In this time of fear and chaos, I have a choice just like everyone else, every day, every minute and for almost everything. The choice is to choose hope over fear or fear over hope.

I have a choice to choose hope that me, family, friends, and community will stay safe or fear and worry about who in my circle may be infected with Coronavirus

I have a choice to choose hope that there were will enough groceries for my family or fear that there will be no supply left and I must hoard.

I will take this as a great opportunity for my family to be together all the time for the next few weeks or worry that WFH and kids Learning from home (LFH) will create chaos at my home.

I will take this as an opportunity to serve my circle in need instead of fear and worries on Coronavirus that pushes me hard to just think about me and my family. I have the choice to act one way or another both offline and online.

I choose hope over fear!

Times of change

The major issue with what we are facing in the moment of change is that we see it as a problem! Perhaps, we probably have dealt with these particular circumstances that appear perplexed and more we think about it more challenging it seems.

However, in the truest sense, it isn’t a headache. This is just a transformation of the way something used to be and this is definitely a thing that we can adjust to. Ultimately we will find how to address it successfully or live with it peacefully.

Once we have this attitude, now we are self-advised to perceive this experience more about adapting to new than fixing certain problems. Once we start seeing it that way; Observe! the whole situation is getting to look much simpler and brighter.

Leader, take your vitamins first!

Today morning life gave me an opportunity to be a better leader. I learnt a lesson from my son that I will always apply to become a better leader. My 7 yr old son has been a very healthy eater since he started eating.  Lately he turned into being a picky eater, not interested in eating kids vitamins and no more love for protein shakes ( being vegetarian, shakes are the biggest source of protein for us).

Something has definitely changed! He used to love taking protein shake for lunch with his food, take his vitamins without being asked and eat almost everything that was cooked in home. Me and my wife had many conversations with him and we used many techniques to put him back into his healthy habits. All convincing has not been working since last 1 year.

Today morning, I was shocked! My son was almost ready to eat his favorite cereal and then he gets up to grab his vitamins without being asked. Day before he asked for a protein shake/smoothie when he returned from school. Since last few days he is no more a picky eater to a good extent. I have been trying to understand what is making him change especially when neither me or my wife have convinced him in last few weeks.

Actually it is me who has changed!

My son has been watching and being influenced by the change I have brought in my life. Since last few weeks I have started exercising daily, taking my vitamins and eating healthy food.  Actually I have been “Walking the walk” or “leading by example” or…… In last few weeks he has seen me drinking protein shakes. When he got up for taking his vitamins he saw me taking my vitamins with my breakfast. Finally I am practicing and not preaching and that is the change.

“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.” – Mahatma Gandhi

This is how we really influence our teams/organizations/families/society. Knowingly or unknowingly everything we DO (and not say) is what is really replicated. One question that has not left my mind since then, do I lead my team/organization/family/… By walking the walk?

As leaders if we expect accountability we are the ones who should be accountable to our teams first. If we expect an extra effort from our team we are the ones who always have to go an extra mile. If we expect loyalty then we should be the most loyal to our teams, and the list goes on….

I hope you are a leader like that!

“Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others, as what he does from day to day to lead himself.” ~ Thomas J. Watson, Former Chairman of IBM

Thank you! Happy Thanksgiving 2015

With a limited understanding of Thanksgiving, all I know it is about being Grateful and celebrating it with food (especially Turkey). Grateful to everybody who has contributed to your life in the preceding year. Being a vegetarian I am not going to eat Turkey but I can still be grateful to everyone who has helped me.


From the day I started thinking about my career until today there are so many family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances and unknowns who helped me become a better person.  Since last many years I wanted to write this post and show my gratitude to everyone who has helped me directly or indirectly. Finally here is my grateful list (besides my awesome family) with names of many who helped me this year and during many previous years:

  • Puneet Rampall for influencing and helping me learn computers. You are the reason why I am in technology today (all for good).
  • Sanjay Kohli for believing in me and getting me my big break.
  • Anoop Jain for teaching me technology properly and helping me become confident in Java.
  • Inder Pal Singh for being that awesome friend and colleague. I have always looked at you as a colleague who knows better than me but still willing to teach me.
  • Manish Verma for being my first career mentor. You always nurtured me and brought the best out of me. Even in the times when I deleted the entire demo code during the demo 🙂 you still never lost confidence in me.
  • Dinesh Pandey for taking me to new levels of technology and always treating me first class.
  • Parveen Deswal for being an awesome friend in the new country. I remember the days when we all used to go out to see the fall colors in the tri-state area.
  • Gerry Glynn for teaching me Sales especially how to have a Customer-First mindset.
  • Michelle Bowen for believing in me.
  • Prakash Khatri for being a manager and a great friend especially during the toughest times of my life.
  • Sheryl Pattek for helping me understand why being obsessed about customer is most important.
  • Scott Brinker for being that indirect coach who helped me understand and navigate the world of Marketing Technology through your super active blog.
  • Saad Hameed for all the lunch, learn and walk meetings at LinkedIn on the topics of Marketing Technology
  • Tracy Thomsic for always pushing me hard and helping me get the best out of me
  • Nicole Vadas for helping me understand McKesson, always listening to me and guiding me properly.
  • Andy Burtis for always sharing your vision, believing in my vision and allowing me to work on it. Most importantly for mentoring me all these years!
  • Jeff Stalcup for helping me become better with communications and especially the presentations. I am a fan of your 5X5 rule.
  • Kris Fortner for always motivating and tips to handle organizational change.
  • Jennifer Otto for helping me understand the “Grand Mother Rule” in communication.
  • Michael Davis for being a firm supporter and a co-pilot for crazy digital ideas.
  • Charles Shimooka for always being honest with your feedback and help me understand different perspectives.
  • Omar Al-Sinjari  for being my sounding board where I can test my ideas and get great feedback.
  • Ulli Muenker for all your help improving my presentations.
  • Andrew Hecht for helping me become better in pronouncing many words as per American English.
  • Drew Vecchione for supporting me on many tough decisions.
  • Mark Ryan for always helping me prove the case for Digital and continued support to keep the stakeholders engaged with awesome data.
  • To everyone else who I missed to mention. I apologize that I forgot to mention you here but you know I truly value your contribution.

 Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all with continue helping me become a better person next year too.