Friday, May 13, 2016

Jottings: Slice of life -10

Jottings: Slice of life.
The city of San Francisco always holds me in thrall. Especially, the eclectic downtown surrounding the Union square. I am not sure what pulls me into its vortex of attraction ; it could possibly be the strange mixture of beauty, vulgarity, class and style that abounds in every brick of this beautiful city. My work has taken me to many places in this country, but in none of them do I drop into such a contemplative spell as I do here. Here is modern Human life in a nutshell. Alongside the posh, affluent and high browed millionaires walking its elegant undulating roads; homeless men and women clad in cast away tatters, reeking with sweat and smell of their defecation, intoxicated with pot - smiling, laughing and dancing with gay abandon also walk oblivious of their pathetic state. The city embraces all of them and mixes their lives in its phantasmagorical melting pot. It accepts none, it rejects nobody - the atmosphere of the Bay Area transcends petty human inequities. There is a strange dignity in this inequality which goes against the grain of moral imperatives. One doesn't feel sorry for the vagabonds, nor does one feel awe at the socially well off. All of them are living the human drama as best as they can. Behind those designer wear sun glasses, Armani clothes , BMW cars and million dollar homes; there is the same human pain, craving, suffering and and hurt - only covered in layers of paint and attitude. Gosh! Enough of my meditation about this divine ground (or is it purgatory).
There was strange encounter in the cafeteria today at the client location. I was sitting on a bar stool watching Trump's campaign speech, when an elderly gentlemen with white silky hair, slightly bulky, dressed casually in jeans and Polos took the seat beside me. We were making casual remarks about GOP 2016, when my neighbor asked me "
"So what do you do for this company...."
"Well sir, I am a vendor teaching a class here"
He then went to enquire what I was teaching and how the participants were responding. He showed an extraordinary curiosity and enthusiasm to understand the nature of my work. And what stuck me was his undivided attention to my words. He received a couple of calls, but his politely cut them and continued to engage me in conversation. He also seemed very knowledgeable about the products I was training on, and made some remarks on proposed enhancements on it.For some reason, I did not ask him his name, nor did he venture to tell me. After fifteen minutes of dialogue, I excused myself to get back into class. We shook hands and went different ways. Before he left he said
" You teachers are our best salesman and evangelists. Keep the good work going...
I have to pass by front office to reach my classroom; and as I walked past, the lady at the reception stopped me and asked"
"did you realize whom you are talking to?"
"Gosh, no, I forgot to ask him his name, who was he, anyway?
" He is Jeff ( name changed), the CEO of this organization..."
I stood transfixed. Not because I had just spoken to a man who heads a two billion dollar company, but out of respect for his unpretentious simplicity, presence and interest he showed in what I was doing. I have seen him in many videos clad in formal suits, but seeing him in person decked in causal attire had thrown me completely out of guard. I simply couldn't recognize him as he sat there with me.
As I walked back to my hotel after class, What stuck me was his interest in details. He wanted to know what version were we teaching, what topics, which ones were given importance and which weren't, what kind of courses. - in fifteen minutes, I realized , he had culled enough information to reach a judicious assessment of what his company was offering as education to his customers. And all of this without asserting any authority whatsoever. We always believe that as one climbs the company ladder, a leader tends to lose touch or interest in ground realities. But frankly, Great leaders are those who can soar high, and can when needed a keep their eyes focused on minute details. Like an eagle, who glides through rarified skies, yet can swoop down to pluck its prey with meticulous precision, Leaders must know when to soar and when to get down to details. It is only under such a leader can a team achieve quality, effectiveness and growth
God bless....
Yours in mortality,
Bala

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