Notes From A Second Life | December 2015

Notes From A Second Life | December 2015

Dear Friend ,

[These Second Life updates are what I send friends – some from my first life that lasted 18 years in the corporate world, some from my second life when I decided to quit my job, come back to India and work with children and young adults on the values and skills that will prepare them to be leaders with a difference. To read my first Newslet for context and later ones click

[The pictures in the header banner are from one of the Light Lives trips,Teresa and I did to Warangal.As our Light Lives Interns, often share – it’s amazing how the children who have so little are able to smile so much. A Christmas lesson for all of us!]


Warm wishes to you and your family for a very Blessed Christmas and a Joy-filled New Year.

One of the tools I designed for myself, when making New Year Resolutions and setting goals for the year ahead is what I call the MAGIC tool. Here’s the way it works for me and I’d invite you to give the tool a try as well for 2016. I put my professional and personal goals together in 5 areas.

  • M – Make a Difference to somebody other than yourself
  • A – Act on a Dream
  • G – Give Something Away, Give Something Up, Gain a Habit
  • I – Invest in yourself
  • C – Clean a cobweb

So I thought I’d use that framework, to both share with you some of the highlights from the journey of the year past and some of the goals for the year ahead

M – Make a Difference to Somebody other than yourself

I think one of our proudest moments was launching TalentEase’s Project Light Lives. This was a project to make an impact at rural or small town schools and colleges. Our challenge was also that we wanted to run this not as a charitable/volunteering effort but as a sustainable social business. The added bonus was being able to do this along with an old friend and former colleague, David Evans with whom we partnered to get the project rolling. So the model we came up with, was where we’d bring company executives, college interns and school groups to come and spend time in rural schools and colleges – to teach, interact with children and teachers and through this ‘light lives’ – the school children’s and their own.

This is not positioned as CSR but as next-gen leadership and learning. To go from the conference room running through hundreds of PowerPoint slides and playing team games to actually putting yourself in a ‘discomfort zone’ where you can become aware of and grow hidden strengths, learn to innovate in an environment of scarcity and learn to make a measurable impact. So folk coming in as Light Lives Facilitators to teach, pay a fee for the experience to cover costs to keep the model sustainable and scalable.

We believe this is win-win. The children in the schools gain immensely from the interactions and knowledge of their Light Lives facilitators and it becomes transformational for the folk coming in, as well.

As one of our interns who came over for Light Lives ,Josh Baxter put it
I have learnt a great deal about myself, I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to come to somewhere like India and try and make a difference even if it’s only slightly. I know that I will be going back to university in Leeds a different person and with skills and memories that will remain with me forever.” Dominic Baber-Norris another intern spoke about how he gained resilience, a new openness and the opportunity to give back.


(Photo: Our interns Dominic Baber-Norris ( left/top) Josh Baxter( right/down)  with a group of children during their Light Lives stints.)
Our goal during 2016 is to keep growing this and make a bigger impact. So any of you keen on being part of this- would love to hear from you.

A-Act on a Dream

Here I failed. I’d set a goal to complete a book in 2015. It stayed an unfinished goal. As I often tell the children in our courses, “ every ‘Yes’ has to be backed by some ‘No s’ for the ‘Yes’ to have any power”. So I don’t think I’d said ‘No’ to enough other things to make this ‘Yes’ a reality. Looking at 2016 with the determination to make this right. With a father and two brothers as published authors I have enough inspiration at home.

G-Give Something Away, Give Something Up, Gain a Habit

Must do more on giving. One habit that’s not a new one, but that I was grateful for reinforcing through this year was the habit of Silence-Stillness and Solitude time every morning and evening. I think of it as ‘catapult time’. The pullback and stillness before moving ahead into action. The temptation to be busy is always high and to think of stillness time as idle time – but the more I’ve practiced the habit the more I’ve felt it’s immense benefits.

Being stranded for a few days in Chennai during the floods with no power, no phone signals, no internet helped remind me  of what’s really important and how sometimes in the middle of feverish action we lose the insights that life often whispers to us. So go ahead and give SSS a try, those of you who aren’t already doing it. You won’t regret it.

I-Invest in yourself

This was a year of continuing to invest in myself through the TalentEase journey. Continued to travel, continued to evangelize about real life skills and values with children, young adults, school and college leaders, teachers and parents. We finally saw some traction with quite a few schools and colleges taking up our continuous-format courses rather than the more convenient but lower-impact shorter formats. This meant we were in schools and colleges all year round, providing non-academic skills and values to children and young adults. We officially crossed the 10,000 number of children, young adults, teachers and parents impacted through the different programmes and interventions we run.

Reminded me of what Jack Ma once said,

“When 1 person believes, he’s a fool; when 100 people believe they are idiots. When 10,000 people believe that’s faith”

That’s both a big and small number. Big for us, because we started small in a difficult market and it gives us some validation. Small- because it’s nowhere close to the opportunity that exists. So here’s to us adding the zeroes to that number.

This wouldn’t have been possible without our family of committed and passionate Facilitators who carry the competence, character and convictions to make a real difference. So a big shout out of thanks to all of them.

C-Clean a cobweb

This is about taking action on something hanging around in your life – it could be getting that pile of unsorted papers into files, organizing your music, sorting out a misunderstanding.
I didn’t make much progress on the cleaning up of messy papers yet. But was very happy on another front. A professional colleague and friend with whom I’d parted on unpleasant terms many years ago – we made time to re-connect, I said sorry for my role in allowing some of the unpleasantness and we shook hands, hugged and made up for lost time.  Was a regret that had haunted me for years and I was grateful for the magnanimity of my friend in closing that chapter and renewing a memorable friendship. One of my highlights for 2015 and if you have one of those ‘cobwebs’ hanging around I’d invite you to try getting rid of one in 2016.

As we head into making goals and resolutions for the year ahead I think it’s wise to remember to balance excessive planning with learning to let some of life’s spontaneity hit you and to grow from it. As E L Doctorow would say about writing a novel, which is I guess also true of  life “(it) is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way”. So here’s to a great 2016 for you – one meaningful day at a time.

Warm wishes to you and your family for a very Blessed Christmas and a very Happy New Year. May you dream, do and dare in 2016.

God bless.


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