Three Conversations & Some Gratitude Totems

Last week I was at the boarding gate and there I saw a Hi Bye friend from our apartment. I smiled and introduced myself politely. He was very happy that I was able to recognize him. He was also happy that I was in the same flight and going to the same destination. In fact, that was his first trip to the place and I could make out that he was out of sorts.

I like Bangalore, I enjoy travelling thanks to my sales career and I’ve always felt that I am who I am because I have travelled all over the world and recently US. So I had an air around me. In the 45 minutes that I travelled with him, he cribbed about the traffic in Bangalore, the sales guys in his office who made him travel and all the places he was unfortunate enough to have travelled. It made me feel guilty of the wonderful places that I had travelled to!

Just before my flight I had bought a book titled “Collaborating with the Enemy” and I thought I was just being offered an opportunity to put the ideas to use. But then you have to go along to get along! Despite his cribbing I understood that at the core he was a “nice guy.” I offered to drop him at the hotel and that is what I did, and he felt good and happy.


Later that week I met another person at a conference. He smiled, and we got into a good conversation I was happy to find somebody like me on the opposite side. I go for these networking events to make connections. He told me that he got laid off and he was looking for a job. He was investing money on improving himself by attending conferences and meeting people. Not for a single moment did he speak bad about his erstwhile employer. He was living in the present and looking towards the future. I agreed to put him in touch with a possible employer which I did.

Later in the conference I met a young man in his mid 20’s, a very smart guy. I liked the aura with which he spoke about analytics and creating “bread crumps” (creating trails for people to like your content). He was disappointed at all the guys working in corporate jobs, he thought that they were playing it safe. He had left a good cushy corporate job and was on a mission to educate young people on the impact of modern education and the power of social media. He told me a story about a girl in Turkey who had got a job with Airbnb by showcasing the flaws in their business and communicating through twitter. He advised me to leverage LinkedIn Pulse instead of Facebook for my blog posts. That was a clear insight and a watershed moment. I owe a debt of gratitude to him.

The first person I met was clearly living in the past. He wanted a secure 9-5 job with no travel. The second guy had realised that “job security” was a chimera and was actively updating his skills to get a new job. The last guy was not looking for a job but was building his own future, being in service of others.


My lessons from these three conversations took me back to my life where I’ve seen my mother work 9 to 5, when I had to return from an overseas project at short notice during the recession in 2008 and today when I am cultivating a “future is better” mindset.

For me, 9 to 5 today symbolises having good energy, work ethic and working towards deadlines and not being in the comfort zone. From the second person, I learned the importance of gratitude for the job and to keep doing your best on the job. I remembered hearing Tom Bileyu’s conversation with a guest where he says, “Don’t try to keep your job, just keep delivering value on the job and the job will keep you.” The young guy taught me how important it is to have disruptive ideas and challenge old assumptions and create a learners’ mindset.

The three conversations made me understand how much we have to be indebted with people. I was meeting these people for the first time and they left an indelible mark on me with their ideas and counter ideas. I am indebted to them. They are my gratitude totems. A totem is a symbol or a sign to remind you that you can take those small moments and turn those into gratitude moments.



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