Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fiscal conservatism – Why it is essential in today’s society

Fiscal conservatism is a term used in political parley on avoiding deficit spending. In a national sense this is attributed to balance budget, reduction in overall spending, and debt reduction. There are several hot debates on the topic and varying views by political parties and think tanks, particularly in an election year in US. I am not going there.

What prompted me to write this note was the recent personal experience I had with my spiritual leader, who has been showing this conservative approach all along his life. I am not a spend thrift, but nowhere near the ideals set by this leader and  I learned few good lessons on how one can conserve while still balance the life and budget in a positive way. 

What’s a better approach? Borrowing and spending vs. living within the means. This is similar to a debate on nature vs. nurture. Borrowing is necessary and is a good approach for nations and individuals as long as the money is well spend for future growth. However, if we are trapped with consumerist tendencies and spend beyond the means, we’ll end up something closer to debt bondage, a form of modern day slavery.

Suze Orman, an American financial advisor, author, motivational speaker, and television host offers several financial tips on how to be debt free and lead a successful life. Suze started her career as a waitress in  Berkeley, California before becoming an internationally acclaimed financial advisor, shown through her own experience how conservation pays. Today she is helping millions of individuals and families on how to be fiscal conservative and debt free. 

We need to learn to plug holes and live frugal.  Before we swipe our card, think twice. Are we moving away from financial freedom or walking into a debt trap?

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Asian Indian American Elites: Constructing a Culture of Success

I have been reading and researching on Asian Indian American elites and thought I should share its highlights with you. This is based on “lived” experiences of elite first and second generation Indians who made it big in America.

Indians Americans have a great positive advantage as a "model minority" in U.S. where they are perceived as; smart, hardworking, and family oriented. The negative part of it is that  Indian Americans are not so good in communication and hence most of them end up with non leadership roles. Very few Indian Americans ventured into the more prestigious side, the sales, where they need to rub shoulders with the clients, business partners, and many new faces on a daily basis.
Elites are ‘atypical’ Indian Americans and they have three-fold persona.
Ø  Individual
Ø  Position
Ø  Organizational

Key to the growth and success of the elite people are:
·         Active assimilation to American culture.
·         Excellent Communication and Leadership skills

The elites are well rounded, street smart, and highly sociable. But true success really depends on individual characteristics. And the final ingredient of success is higher moral and spiritual standards.
I will close this note with a statement by a very successful Indian American elite person. “The first question God is going to ask us when we die and meet him is what you did with all the time and gift I gave you. I am just collecting answers to give to God”.

The key takeaway is: Develop a culture of success, based on higher moral and spiritual standards.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The first person you must lead is YOU

The smallest crowd you will ever lead is you—but it’s the most important one. If you do that well, then you will earn the right to lead even bigger crowds. Leading yourself well means that you hold yourself to a higher standard of accountability than others do. Leadership is a trust, not a right. For that reason, you must “fix” yourself earlier than others may be required to.

Dr. John C Maxwell, world famous speaker and bestselling author stated, “to lead others, first lead yourself”. Learning to lead yourself well is one of the most important things you’ll ever do as a leader. Most people use two totally different sets of criteria for judging themselves and judging others. We tend to judge others according to their actions. It’s very cut-and-dried. However, we judge ourselves by our intentions. Even if we do the wrong thing, we let ourselves off the hook if we believe our intentions are good. That’s part of the reason we allow ourselves to make the same mistakes over and over again before we are willing to make real changes.

Retired Brig. Gen. Rebecca Halstead, the first female West Point graduate to be promoted to general of US Army says, "The first person you lead is yourself. If you have to remind people that you are the leader, you're not." According to Gen Halstead, leaders need to train their brains to do difficult things, such as getting up to go running when they would rather sleep. They need to be physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally fit to think forward.

Thomas J. Watson, the former chairman of IBM, said, “Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.” Leaders receive very little fanfare for quietly leading themselves well day in and day out. Most people are unaware of the disciplines their leaders practice or the sacrifices they make outside of the spotlight.  However, they don’t do it for recognition; they do it for results.  What leaders do day-to-day always pays off in the long run.  Success or failure isn’t an event, but a process.