Friday, March 28, 2014

Teeming with Success...

"None of us... including me... ever do great things.  But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful"

                                     ~ Mother Theresa

Each week, I generally receive several e-mails about that particular week’s blog. 

Most of the time, it’s a very positive note explaining how the topic of the week somehow touched them individually.  

I love getting e-mail from readers...  

... complimentary one as well as critical ones (truth be told... I actually like the critical ones better as they tend to push me to try and be a better writer).

Last week was basically the same with several readers taking some of their valuable time to send me their acknowledgement of a job well done... however... one e-mailer brought up a very good point as a counter-argument to last week’s blog about individual accomplishment...

Their point was simply this...

While it is exciting to be a lone adventurer out exploring the world... creating shared experiences is far more rewarding in the end...

Once again... I took some time to reflect on a very salient point...

Although some of my greatest life successes and adventures have seemingly been as an individual, upon further thought... it appears that these successes always involved other people...

Certainly there were team meetingtimes when individual achievement triumphed... but many of my greatest successes were often shared with a team of people... and that’s what made the win so much more memorable.

Being a part of a team can be a rich and rewarding experience for a multitude of reasons... but here are just a few to consider:


There are times when 1+1+1=5 instead of 3. 

I remember once when I was trying to drywall my garage by myself.  After an entire day... I had only complete about one-third of the job.

The following day my brother came over to help.  One person held the drywall in place... the other person secured it to the studs.

The two of us, working together, were able to knock out the remaining two-thirds of the project before lunch...


On a football team, there are players who run with the ball, who pass the ball, who catch the ball, and those who block.  

Different players have different individual skills and talents... and that’s what makes a team successful.  Each person is good at their respective job and a team is successful because they have the right person doing the right job at the right time.

The same can be said for a business.

A successful business needs sales people, accountants, operational personnel, marketing, HR and trainers, IT, and a host of other specialized functions (some positions more than others).

It takes an entire team, each performing to their best abilities, for the business to become successful.

Teams are necessary to magnify the positives and minimize the weaknesses of any organization.

New Ideas

Many times, innovation comes from taking existing ideas and extending them to new applications or building them into better ideas.

When Apple decided to create the iPhone, they felt as though they couldn’t use a plastic screen because it seemed cheap.  Glass, on the other hand, was a better material but it could get easily scratched.  There were hundreds of engineers working on solving this problem.

One member of the team had read about Corning’s "gorilla glass", a scratch resistant glass used in storefront windows, which had been around for some 50 years, and brought the idea to Steve Jobs.

Gorilla glass wasn’t new... but it took a team of people to figure out how to apply it in a new way.

Brainstorming occurs when a group of people share, improve and refine ideas together.  Whereas one person might start with a seed, others in the group can help to make that seed grow.

The other big reason team ideas are typically better than individual ideas is because of the scrutiny and feedback that the other team members can provide to make sure that the idea is sound. 

There are many times where I get so close to an idea that I can no longer be objective.  It’s at those moments when I appreciate the comments and feedback of others to help my ideas grow. 


It is often said that if you really want to be successful starting a new exercise program, you should to find a partner who you will be accountable to. 

After a long day at work, it’s hard to motivate yourself to head to the gym instead of heading home.  Knowing that someone else is depending on you will often give you the extra incentive to actually do those things that you might not have discipline to do on your own.

Being accountable to the members of your team forces us to focus our energies in being a responsible and contributing team member... especially if the other members of the team are working just as hard.

The strange thing is that as we use the team to find our motivation, other members of the team are using us as their motivation... and everyone wins.


If accountability is the stick, then encouragement is the carrot.

There will be those times when you just don’t feel up to the tasks at hand.  You really are tired, you might be stressed, or you might be down due to a few setbacks.  It is at those times when some encouraging words will help us to keep going rather than quitting.

Encouragement helps us to think about the thrill of the achievement of the end... rather than the drudgery of the present.

It helps us to get out of our comfort zones and pushes us to go just one more step further in our quest.

Encouragement is there to pick us up when we fail but never allows us to get overly confident when we succeed knowing that there are other challenges waiting for us beyond the next horizon.

Sharing Accomplishment

I have mostly competed in activities that would be considered by most to be individual sporting events... wrestling, cycling, golf, and tennis... yet most of my treasured memories have come when I competed in those activities as a member of a team.

As a team, we celebrated victories joyously together as one body.  We danced and reveled in achievements together.

If we failed at reaching the pinnacles of our goals, we cried together, consoling each other knowing that we’ll work ever harder to find a way to win the next time we have the opportunity.

These are the lasting moments I have treasured throughout my life... not the individual achievements but those that I was able to share with my teammates... be it in sport, business, school, or simply a weekend project.

My friends, colleagues and family often get together and recount the moments of time that we shared together. 

Moments often highlighted by significant events or accomplishments...

At that point, we have a kinship knowing that we shared a bit of history together... something that belongs exclusively to the other members of the team...

Memories that we can hold dear to the end of time...
Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse where we hope to become a part of  your team...

Friday, March 21, 2014

Unconventional Courage...

"What would life be if we didn’t have the courage to attempt something new?"

~ Vincent Van Gogh  
Last weekend I found myself in Las Vegas with a group of my best friends in order to support our team at their conference basketball tournament. 

While we were there, we decided to reach out to another one of our long-lost friends, Bob, who happens to live and work in Las Vegas.

I had not seen or talked to Bob in about 15 years, but after spending 15 minutes with him, it was as though we had seen each other only yesterday... laughing about old times we spent together (while performing "stupid human tricks" back in college) and inquiring about other long lost friends.

After some time, the name of "Karl" came up in our conversation.

Karl was an individual cut seemingly from another pattern.  compassUpon graduation from college (actually I’m not certain that he even graduated), Karl embarked upon a personal voyage, spanning every continent on the planet seeking out new adventures and experiences.

Some might say that Karl was on a quest to try and find his meaning of life... but I tend to believe that Karl was the ultimate adventurer who was unable to find peace staying in the same place for too long.

Bob and I raised our glasses of beer to Karl and wished him the best wherever he happened to be at this moment of time.

Bob then confessed to me that he greatly admired the adventurous spirit of Karl, only because he himself lacked the courage and intestinal fortitude to live his own life in such an unconventional fashion.

"I wish that I too had the courage to live an unconventional life..."

Wow!!... poetry and beer...

In the week’s time that’s just past, I must have reflected on those words no less than a dozen times. 

How often in our own lives have we stood in front of the mirror and silently wondered how we ended up in this place. 
Most of us have no real regrets about the way we lived our lives but I imagine that we secretly ponder the "what ifs" but knowing deep inside that we have neither the option nor the desire to try and relive our lives again.

A great majority of us are happy and content with the paths that we’ve chosen and we take full responsibility for the choices that we have made along the way.

The question I am always asking myself is not what could I have done in the past but rather, "what else could I be moutain-walkdoing - today - that could help me live a richer and fuller life?"

Life can be predictable... a quiet walk in the park on a still morning... it can be measured and controlled.

We like our routines and schedules.  We gravitate to "normal".  We embrace the mundane.  We seek safety and the certainty of a sure bet.

When people ask me how my trip was (business travel that is)... I generally respond by saying that my trip was "unremarkable... just the way I like it"...

A business trip is not an adventure...

An adventure, on the other hand, should create a lasting impression upon one’s mind, helping to create memories that will live a lifetime within our own heads.  It is a thrill ride that takes us out of our comfort zones and makes our hearts beat faster as we feel blood race throughout our bodies.  Our journeys into the unknown make us feel more alive and push us to experiment within uncharted waters.

Adventure takes us to new places and exciting worlds of intrigue and possibilities.  It produces outcomes that can be calculated but yet are varying and unpredictable.

Mostly, adventure is about overcoming our fears and biases, helping us to grow as individuals.  By overcoming our fears, we will grow more and more comfortable with the unknown and providing us with the lessons of experience when adventure enters our lives uninvited.

Many years ago, when I started my first business and entered the realm of entrepreneurship, my friend Jim provided me with a great deal of mentoring and counseling.  

He described my situation as a novice mountain climber scaling the face of a steep slope.  Every bit of energy was devoted to clinging onto the cracks and crevices with fear-based paralysis, not desiring to fall to the rocks below. 

But after some time being on the ledge, one grows more and more accustomed to their current situation... after a while, the fear subsides allowing you to operate freely. 

In short order, you’ve become so familiar with your situation that you end up opening a snack shack on the cliffs, providing refreshments to the others novice climbers who are hanging on for dear life.  
As with most things in life... adventure is a gradient with a vast array of varying degrees. 

Literally risking life and/or limb just to get your blood moving is a poor way to live your life.  We are, however, all born with a sense of curiosity.  As children we are quick to try and experiment with new things not knowing what will happen.

As we get older, our lives are soon populated with fears and phobias, and our quests of exploration are curtailed as we seek safety near the center of the bell-shaped curve.

In school, we see National Geographic documentaries showing the pitfalls of straying too far from the herd as the stray wildebeest ends up as dinner for the lions. 

And throughout our lives, be it in our homes, school, church, or places of work, we are overly indoctrinated with rules and regulations in which to live our lives.  Should we choose to break the rules, we are constantly reminded that disciplinary actions will be meted out, be it in this world or the world beyond.

It’s no wonder that we sometimes live our lives in a constant state of fear.

It takes a special individual who decides that they are afraid no more. 

These are the risk-takers, the entrepreneurs, and the unconventional...

...people we admire or secretly hope to become...

The people like Karl, who have their name toasted among friends, wishing that they too had the courage to overcome their fears to live an unconventional life...  
Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse where we foster the pursuit of acting courageously in order to overcome the conventional...

Friday, March 14, 2014

Words to Live By...

"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind"

~ Rudyard Kipling
I confess, for years I was an actual subscriber to the Reader’s Digest.

One of my favorite features was a section entitled "Enrich Your Word Power" where the reader was given 20 words and a multiple-choice test to see if you knew the meaning of the word.

Although I had always been good at math and science, a strong vocabulary had eluded me until I finally decided creativethat it was time to try and improve my language skills in my late 20’s.

I found that some words actually changed my life.

Today I offer readers a short list of just 10 of my most favorite words.  These 10 words transformed my life so I’m pleased to share them with you today...

1)   Ac * tion - (ăkʹ-shən) - n. - The state or process of acting or doing; activity

We can have the greatest plan or idea ever formulated in the history of mankind but until that plan or idea is committed to action it will never happen... well... at least outside of our heads.

Action is moment when something actually happens.

2)   Bal * ance - (bălʹ-əns) - n. - A harmonious arrangement or proportion of parts

All work and no play makes Jane a dull girl... all play and no work makes Johnny homeless.
Creating balance in one’s life should be the ultimate goal of all people. 

Work... play... exercise... family... church... community service... continuing education... are all a part of a healthy life.

3)   Con * vic * tion - (kən-vik’-shən) - n. - A firmly held belief or opinion

This is one of my favorite words.

Living our lives should be done with conviction and a set of underlying principles, ethics, and disciplines.  This gives our lives meaning and purpose.

Our personal philosophies should be embedded into our core values.  This helps us to make good decisions and helps us to maintain a steadfast path to a great life and well-being.

We shouldn’t be afraid to look at ourselves in the mirror each day and wonder who that person is staring back at us.  We should be proud of our thoughts and actions and if not, we need to adopt better philosophies.

4)   Cre * a * tiv * i * ty - (krē-āʹ- tĭ-və-tē) - n. - A phenomenon whereby something new and valuable is created

There was once a time where people were paid to simply sell their time to an employer.  In return for a pay check, the employee would complete certain duties and go to meetings.

Today the world has changed (especially in the last 25 years).  No longer is it acceptable just to show up and process tasks.  The world now demands that we create solutions to complex (and not so complex) problems.

To do so takes imagination and creativity to add value.  Adding perceived value to a product or service is the only way to differentiate it from the thousands of others just like it in the marketplace.

The mantra of the day is to create or perish...

5)   In * teg * ri * ty - (ĭn-tĕgʹ-grĭ-tē) - n. - Adherence to a strict moral and/or ethical code

A simple every day definition of integrity is to say what you’ll do and do what you say.  Making promises (to yourself and others) and keeping promises.

Sometimes this is very difficult.  Doing the right thing all the time means that we might lose from time to time... but we always play by the rules and never look for the gray area in which to operate.

We don’t cheat when no one is looking nor do we do things hoping that we won’t get caught.

We take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions.

6)   Love - (lǔv) - n. - An intense feeling of deep affection or admiration of another; a strong passion

Love is a powerful emotion and something we all need to be enriched human beings.

Love is always given unconditionally (unlike Trust - see below) and that’s what makes love hard.  We all want to have our love returned but that’s not what love is all about.

We can’t force love.

There are many different levels and forms of love.  Respect and admiration are forms of love as are devotion and passion.

7)   Per * cep * tion - (pər-sĕpʹ-shən) - n. - Insight or knowledge gained from processing awareness through the senses

Perception comes from being totally aware of our surroundings by gathering information and facts from our five senses - sight, smell, taste, listening, and touch, and then processing the information to create conclusions and opinions.

The problem that exists is that people process data with individual biases and experiences.  The same set of facts can be given to different people yet their interpretation of the data can widely differ.

Therefore it is often best to try and understand the perspective of other people and recognize that it might differ significantly from our own perspective.

8)   Qual * i * ty - (kwŏlʹ-ĭ-tē) - n. - Degree or grade of excellence

It seems that there are two schools of thought these days when it comes to quality.

The first idea is that quality is enduring.  We want to purchase a small quantity of something of value rather than a multitude of junk.  In doing so, we recognize that there is perceived value in not needing to repurchase the same product over and over again.

We understand that more is not more... it’s just redundancy.

The counter-argument is that by buying less expensive items, we can simply dispose of the item when we’re finished with it as there is very little value in keeping it.

It’s the same movie we’re purchasing regardless if we’re watching the movie at home on Netflix, at a bargain matinee, or at a luxury theater with service people bringing refreshments directly to your seat.

9)   Thought - (thôt) - v. - The process or power of thinking; a body of ideas

Thinking is a way of processing ideas.  However before ideas are formulated, it all begins with dreaming and imagining things... not as they are... but rather as they could be.

We solve problems (or sometimes even create problems) by taking what is present and providing ways to get from one place to another.

10)  Trust - (trǔst) - v. - To rely or depend (on); have confidence (in)

Although love is extremely important... trust is even more so.

Love is unconditional... someone or something doesn’t need to do anything reciprocally in order to be loved (think of a new born baby who is incapable of doing anything... yet its parents love the baby nonetheless).

Trust on the other hand is highly conditional and earned over a period of time.

Trust can be revoked at any time whereas love tends to be enduring.

We can love someone without really trusting them explicitly (most teenage children are good examples of this).
- - -

Using words and language to communicate and express ourselves has been with us since the beginning of time and helps to separate us from other creatures on this earth.

There are approximately 6,500 different languages spoken around the world, each made up of its own particular alphabet, sounds, syntax and structure.

Words have different meanings to even those who speak the same language.

Today I offer you just ten words to ponder this next week...

Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse where we try to effectively communicate with our customers...

Friday, March 7, 2014

A World Apart...A Part of the World...

[It’s the first Friday of the month... so it’s time again for a different perspective from our guest blogger...

This month’s guest blogger is Avdhesh Vaid, a young and enthusiastic Indian who has a very interesting perspective and tells a great story of hope and encouragement... ]

I found myself riding along side a young twenty-something year old lad on a local bus from the railway station in Delhi to Ballabhgarh.  

He was wearing a worn-out tee-shirt, dirty pants, plastic sandals and a new Gamcha (cotton towel) around his neck.

He rested his hands, a bit firmly,
bus-rideon the new bag in his lap and seemed a bit restless.

After remaining quiet for some time, he turned to me and inquired as to the time it may take to reach Ballabhgarh.

I replied. "Twenty minutes".

He seemed to readily accept my reply and turned again to watching local scenery from the window seat.

Five minutes later, he once again broke the silence between us and asked the same question again.

This time I replied, "15 more minutes... where is your stop?"

He told me that he needed to get off at the Ballabhgarh stop.

I then leaned over to the bus driver to ask him to please kindly announce his stop as we approached it so as the young lad does not miss his stop.  This seemed to reassure my new traveling companion.

The young man beside me represented the "real India" which is far removed from the bustling metropolises of the "new India". 

He introduced himself as Sumesh Singh.

This is his very first visit to anywhere outside his village all alone.

As per instructions that were given to him, he needed to transfer at the Ballabhgarh stop to another bus that will take him to the Sohna area in Gurgaon, Haryana.    

I asked him if he lived in the Sohna Region, but he said no.

He was from a small village called Ghinjhar.

I told him that I was not familiar with this village.  He described the Ghinjhar Village location as being near Divapur... "which is close to Itwaha District... somewhere near Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh".   

When I asked him as to his age, he responded unsurely with, "twenty-three" as though he was awaiting my approval before finally settling upon that number.

He told me that he was educated until the 8th year.

Not surprisingly, he told me that he was already married for three years and also was the proud father of a 4-month old baby boy.

He was on his way to the Sohna Area because he has been told by some distant relatives that there were as many as 200 new factories in this location.  They ensured him that he could find a job there in a Maruti factory as an un-skilled laborer earning as much as Rs 4500 per month (about $75 USD).

I asked him about his expected expenses such as room, food and other items in this area.  He explained that he calculated those to be no more than Rs 2500 per month so he should have surplus to send back to his family in the village.

He now seemed very comfortable talking with me and seemingly grew more confident when talking about his grand plan.

He began to smile broadly as he talked about his future, but then immediately grew self-conscious all of a sudden as a sense of embarrassment overcame him.  He, all at once, brought his dirty hands to his face to cover his smile as though he believed a smile brought some sort of shame to himself.

I was still a stranger and who was he to describe his plans of a better future for him and his family... especially since he has not yet accomplished anything... except as to have struck up a conversation with a stranger on a bus while on his maiden voyage to a new and strange city in a very far-off place...

He belongs to a family of six - he is the youngest of four boys.  All of the boys are now married.

The eldest brother has three children, his second brother has four children, and the third brother has two children plus one of his own.

A quick bit of arithmetic told me that there were 18 hungry mouths to feed each day (he didn’t speak of his mother or father so I suspected that they were no longer living).  

The entire family of 18 was stuffed into a small three-room house.

The family survived on farming on a small plot of land inherited from their ancestors.  His brothers and their wives were sufficiently large to tend to this small plot so he essentially had nothing to do.

The food from the farm provided the family a basic subsistence... letting them survive on a hand-to-mouth existence.  They had no money for anything else and God forbid if there were any financial or medical emergencies.

This young man sitting beside me decided that he needed to take charge of his life so he left his weeping wife and crying baby and with only clothes on his back and hopes and aspirations in his eyes and set off on a journey to make a better life for him and his family. If nothing else, just to earn enough money so that they could afford to add another room onto the family home so each brother will have one entire room for themselves and their family.

I looked at him deeply and silently and admired his mission.

After a short while, the bus driver called out his stop.

I wished him the very best of luck and also felt a certain remorse that I was not in any position to help the young man with anything other than words of encouragement as we said our good-byes.

Many of us here in India often discuss how India is moving at light-speed into an industrialized society.  However, with the rapid growth comes the common problems of most developing nations. 

High inflation and shortages are commonplace and have affected three basic necessities of a human being... Roti (bread), Kapda (clothing) and Makaan (housing).

Crime, traffic, and pollution that once only plagued the big cities has now spilled over into all corners of India.

Today we survive, yet one day I know in my heart that we will learn to thrive.

I am so encouraged by the gigantic will of people like Sumesh Singh, who despite of all odds, have decided to take charge of the situation and with only a hope in their heart have set-forth to get their families out of the vicious circle of poverty...    

I have come to the conclusion that we are all different people coming from all parts of the world, whether it be Mumbai or Ghinjhar Village but we all still want the same things for ourselves and our families...

We want safety and security
We want food, clothing, and shelter
We want fresh air and clean water
We want opportunities for growth and achievement
We want respect and dignity

I am always amazed by the human will to not only survive but lead a remarkable life.

Thank you very much for patiently reading until the end of my story!   

Have a nice weekend and I wish you a happy beginning of next week...    

- Avdhesh Vaid

[Avdhessh Vaid is a 32-year old,  electronic engineer working with ST Micro in Noida, India for the past 10 years.

He is has been married for 5 years to Mini Khurana and they have a 2-year old son, Vedant.]