Making the best of randomness : Mr Anand Shah

This was one of the leadership forums at TFI Institute. When I went in I didn’t really know what to expect, in fact I was googling his name just a couple of minutes before the session started in our training room. So there he was, Mr. Anand Shah

After graduating from Harvard University, Mr Shah chose to use his skills and education to help people. An American-born Indian from Houston, he ventured into many areas, first at an Internet start-up, then to helping start Media and Technology Charter High School in Boston. In search of the right opportunity to affect change, he helped form Indicorps, where he is currently the Executive Director.

Indicorps (Information from the site) is a non-partisan, non-religious, non-profit organization that encourages Indians around the world to actively participate in the progress of the country that defines their identity. The core fellowship program aims to inspire a new generation of global Indian leaders through structured grassroots public service opportunities. Indicorps projects embody a firm and demonstrated commitment to promoting peace, inclusiveness, secularism, and the empowerment of India’s people.

He struck up a casual conversation as the room was settling in, and these questions came up….

“If today was my last day on the planet, would I be happy with who I was and what I’ve done?.. ”

“Am I really doing what I want to do?”

And he spoke about how often people here in our country have raised questions on why NRI’s should be coming here and working for the betterment of this country?

He said his answer is always the same:

“I’m getting them here, so that you can ask me this question and open the possibility of what you can do for this country.”

It was a very simple presentation, basic in every possible way, from the way he presented it to the content (every slide had just 4-5 words on a plain blank template). The session was not preachy at all, it just spoke of stuff  that is already around and just needs us to observe and reflect upon more carefully. So here it is, the slides as they were presented, I’ve put in a few words to try and roughly encapsulate his perspective on the content of each slide.

1.     To live beyond the transaction

We all have some very impressionable experiences in life…it might be a impactful play or an internship with some NGO or a visit to some place. It affects us deeply and more often than not, that effect slowly fades away. We should try to live beyond that transaction…If something did stir up inside you, then first of all acknowledge it ……and then take it forward. Do something about it.

2.     Believing in potential

It is very essential to trust your discretion….. Believe in the potential of that one idea, or that one person when half the world thinks you’ve lost it. You don’t always have to rely on proven performance.

3.     Act because of something inside!

It’s all within you….All true innovators; all true givers are known to be so coz they believed that they can do something with that one moment in time. They acted coz they believed very passionately and deeply in something,  and not because they were expected to.

4.     Immerse because it teaches you!

Inherently because of who you are and how you got here, you are going to find something to learn here. At every point in life, at every stage you are being given an opportunity to make something out of yourself. Make the most of it….

5.     Stretch because it tests you 

You are going to be known for how and when you stretch yourself……Your performance in this stretch is probably the most significant parameter in making you stand out. You’re distinctness as a human being is what you can do in that stretch.

6.     Add value without conditions

7.     Look on the edge for change

Sometimes you put in a lot of yourself into something, you give it everything… do everything right and….. well, nothing happens……that change you’re looking forward to doesn’t seem to be coming through anytime soon.

But it’s not something you can see, it may not and in most cases will not, be visible to you. But you’ve gotta have faith that it will happen.

It’s like a saw, the change happens at the edge…where the saw blade is nicking the wood.

8.     Embrace uncertainty

We all love to plan and be in control…..we like to map out exactly how our life would be in the next x years. But sometimes it’s great to just let go of the wheel and see how that works out, you might  just get where you belong……

9.     Fake it till you make it…

I loved this one……If not for others, at least to keep yourself going, fake it…..tell yourself that it will and it has to workout….. and someday it will.:)

What really struck me about this gentelman is that he’s dabbled in variety of careers and fields and even today after having done a lotta different stuff including Indicorps, he’s at present very busy setting up a global university…..Someone asked him if it would have been more fulfilling to invest a focussed amount of time and direct all his energy towards one cause. I mean it’s very satisfying feeling to start something and see it reach it’s peak. I found his answer to this question very intriguing. He said,  “I have too much randomness within me, to handle that randomness, to do justice to it…… I need to keep doing different kind of stuff. If I applied myself to only one cause for a very long time, I would be heading towards a burn out.”

So yeah that was the forum in brief…..Towards the end of the session, this was Mr Shah’s answer to one of the questions about whether or not he’s happy with what he’s done so far

“Happiness is overrated. Happiness doesn’t test my being, its consumptive. Put a candy in my mouth and I’m happy…..Instant gratification doesn’t mean much.”

(PS : It’s almost been four months since the session, I’ve tried my best to recapitulate the session and words as they were said. But in case, if something here is not agreeable with anyone, please do me know.)


4 thoughts on “Making the best of randomness : Mr Anand Shah

    • Well, let’s just say even i happened to make a royal recovery from the heap of unsorted institute stuff……. :) Thought i should put this down here…..

  1. Hey Mur,,,,
    looks like a really nice session….. Especially I loved the answer, “I hav too much of randomness within me….. ”
    very wel written….. keep posting….. :)

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