Healing through Service

I had a made a personal commitment not to share comments about some of the major life events that I have had to endure. When I first started to write about my weekend with The Mankind Project and our few hours of service at The Midnight Mission, I realized it was an important part of the story. More importantly I thought it would help others dealing with their own hardship. I have turned some really tough corners lately, and I believe I am in a place in which I can share in a way that is positive and healthy. So here goes….

Turning some tough corners

For the past few years my personal life has been going through some great challenges. I was working full time while earning an MBA (completed in 2009), losing my home in Orange County and my marriage was ending. For most of the year I have been feeling like a failure. Failed my family, failed God, failed my wife, failed my grandfather (why him is another story)….failed myself. I was always an incredibly optimistic person, but I had become overwhelmed with trying to fight off the sense of despair.  I think it made me very awkward in many ways.  My confidence had been broke, and I couldn’t shake off the sense of shame, embarrassment and uncertainty.  If it wasn’t for some of my closest friends I would have made it through this very dark time in my life. I’m blessed to have amazing friends and family.

One of these close friends suggested that I attend a weekend retreat put on by The Mankind Project. The weekend was called New Warrior Training, and it was the weirdest weekend of my life. Like any organization, this one had its critics. All I can say is that it was a very positive weekend for me. More on the weekend some other time, but here is a quick explanation.

Even with all of the progress women have made in the world, socially Men occupy most of the positions of power: socially, economically, politically. This has been true for years now. The problem is that men are damaged, wounded. Our wounds have gone untreated and are hemorrhaging. These wounded men are then making decisions about war, society, the economy, and home mortgages. The goal of The Mankind Project is to target men and begin to help them heal and behave as men of integrity.

I have been through many programs that forced me to look at many parts of who I am and the man I am capable of being. All of them have been great life changing experiences. This weekend was important, not because it was some how different from the rest, rather it was timely given the greater context of my life.

The New Warrior Training was a pretty intense weekend. During one of the designed exercises, I was forced to confront some feelings I have had as an 8 year old child. Nobody prompted me to do so, this was an area of my life that surfaced for me as a result. Most of these feelings are around my parents turbulent marriage. There was one moment in particular as a child in which I felt particularly responsible. In reality I wasn’t responsible, but I still felt like my parents problems were my fault. That some how, it was my responsibility to fix my family. I think I still feel this way…albeit I am coming to terms with the fact that this is an unrealistic expectation for me to have. I carried this into to my own marriage and when it did not work…I blamed myself. Like I said, I have already gone through many programs to help me address my childhood. The conclusion I am coming to is that I will not be able to make closure. This will be a life long process and a life long journey for me. It may even be something i continue to deal with at various stages of my life. Since the end of the weekend I have been trying to process much of what I have learning. Its obvious to me that I am changing, but I want to make sure I change for the better. Regardless of my childhood, and regardless at my first marriage, I still believe in the institution of marriage. I still hope to be a great husband and an even better father.

Another great part of the NWT weekend was watching other men grow and change as well. One in particular carpooled with me to our weekend retreat in Arrowhead. He was facing many of his own life challenges and was hoping and optimistic that he was going to change. One particular challenge was his ability to relate to other men and have meaningful and deep friendships with them. So when he reached out to me during the holidays to see if I wanted to do some volunteer work, I was very proud of him.

I love the holidays. This year I decided that it would be best for me to “party” less and commit more of my time to public service. I was struggling to find a good opportunity for a one off volunteer day. So when my MKP brother called, I jumped at the chance to volunteer. This was the same brother I mentioned earlier, so I was not only happy for the volunteer opportunity but really proud of the leadership role he was taking.

The Service

I am not sharing my experience for recognition. Also please, note that I am not a very pious individual. In a way, I did this for my own self gain. Because I needed to deal with something in my own life. I do, however, hope to make volunteer work a regular part of my life. Not because I want to or have to. Just because I should.

Since 1914, The Midnight Mission has been located on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. The organization is dedicated to helping those on Skid Row by offering them food, shelter, recovery services and employment services. Here is where we did our service. I was also able to recruit my close friend Ash, who had introduced me to MKP in the first place. He too was looking for service activity for New Years. Along with 8 other men, we fed men, women and children for New Year’s Eve. It was honor for me to do so. What was ironic is that I felt like I needed to feed the homeless more than they needed me.

I was fighting the flu at that time, and fortunately I was already taking antibiotics, so I knew I was not contagious. The last thing I wanted to do was to get someone with no home and no medical coverage the flu. When we arrived at the mission, I elected to take the activity that did not put me in direct contact with food.

The facility itself is impressive, clean, organized, and well cared for. I have to be honest, I did feel a sense of anxiety while driving down skid row. I left my car in the secured parking garage provided by The Mission and took the elevator up to meet the other men. It was great to see them. There were some men I knew from my weekend while the others attended MKP during other years. One of the men brought his teenage son to also volunteer.  On the menu was pasta, snow peas, beans, toast, greek yogurt, and grape juice. All the food was placed on a single serving tray that our customers would line up and come and pick up. They sat down ate their food and left. In a period of two hours we were able to feed 691 people. I have no benchmark to know if that is a good number or bad. To be honest, I was hoping for a bigger number. However, many keep telling me that its pretty good.

I know the big question in your mind: What were the homeless people like? Well, you need to experience this yourself, so I’m not going to tell you. I will tell you this; I was shocked, scared, and happy to see many of the people we serviced. They came from all sorts of backgrounds. Its not my job to judge them, only to help. I stand by the fact that I needed them more than they needed me. I didn’t do much but feed and then clean up after them. More importantly, I only helped them for one meal. Their struggles continue.

My conclusion from the whole experience? Not really sure yet. I just know that I am product of what I did and that my goal is to continue to work with people throughout the year. Indeed, I have seen so much pain in my life. However, so have others, and while I am able and have the resources to do so; I should.

SXSW Wrap Up on developerWorks

Scott Laningham has a pretty popular and respected blog on the IBM’s developerWorks blogs. So I was really excited when he asked me to join fellow IBM’ers Kate Motzer and Rawn Shah. We summarize our thoughts on SXSW and give some comments on the direction of social media. I hope you enjoy the podcast and feel free to comment. You can find the podcast here: http://ibm.co/gt3192

IBM and Social Intelligence: Real Time Monitoring and Engagement

The following post is my initial thoughts and ideas as I develop our corporate strategy around real-time monitoring and engagement.  While the team and I are still developing our discourse, we know that we also need to define our approach to social and what our needs are in the form of tools.  For now, we have organized our social intelligence system into three parts:  1) Social Research 2) Real Time Monitoring and Engagement 3) Social Relationship Management.  While real time monitoring is a stand along function, I believe it must be married to engagement.

These categories are not perfectly clear and there are definitely some gray areas and overlap.  Regardless, I am confident that this is a good start to developing our framework.  This system is not just about tools, posts and analytics, rather is it a way to define how IBM (as a brand) and IBM’ers make social media a part of our everyday business.

My current focus is on evaluation of real-time monitoring & engagement tools.  The challenge for us has been understanding how people engage today, where our internal infrastructure gaps are, and what are the metrics and  KPI’s we can standardize on.  What complicates this is the diversity in features and functions of the tools on the market.  This space is continuously evolving in terms of the behavior of the social media practitioner and how companies are developing tools.

People, Places, Posts

At IBM, we have a great internal group called BlueIQ.  This is a core group of experts that don’t just look at social media (Twitter & Facebook) but take a holistic view of social, collaboration, and how companies can benefit from this emerging area.  I sat through a presentations one day in which the presenter segmented social media into three categories: People, Please and Things.  This presentation has always stuck with me.  I think it continues to be the lens I use to view social media.  However, I think I want to transform this into the three P’s of social media:  People, Places and Posts.  These three P’s is how I often approach our business and social.  I’ll try to come back and expand this idea in the future.

Engaging creates a Feedback Loop

What we are looking to do is develop a process and find a tool (or set of tools) to facilitate the day-to-day interactions between IBM’ers and our constituency.  The emphasis is less about tooling and more about interactions and scaling those interactions.  The significance of our mission is to expose more IBM’ers experts to new ideas and people and equally expose the public to our thought leaders.

The focus and quality of engagement will create a feedback loops between IBM and the rest of the world.  This isn’t new.  Companies have been engaging and interacting with their customers, partners and prospective buyers from the early development of commerce. What social changes is the scale and volume of the interactions.  More importantly it creates an environment where consumers can connect with other consumers and exchange comments and sentiment With the emphasis on experts engaging in their topics of expertise you also develop focal points of interaction between two people and or groups of people.  This concentration of conversation can create the richest understanding of a topic and presents the greatest opportunity for thought leadership (Social Media 101, I know you already know this stuff).  Many take this feedback loop for granted, and I believe it’s basic “blocking and tackling” that should never be overlooked.  When I  look at our experts and their influence, I find them in area’s of: research, product development, product marketing, support and consulting.  A organizational map would become even more complicated when you consider the experts that focus on geographies world wide.

Through a series of conversations with people inside and outside the company about monitoring and engagement, I am coming to the conclusion that there are diverse approaches and perceptions that conflict with one another and then those that are just flat our wrong (not that I mine right).

IBM has always been a firm in which is brand equity I directly related to its employee’s success.  Hence, the term the development of the term “IBM’er.”  Over the past 100 years, IBM has taken great pride in the people.  It’s the IBM’er that has helped the world solve big problems.  These interactions have built the company and have given our customers a sense of credibility and reliability behind the brand.  (Take a look at our “100 x 100 video” and our “They were There Video in my previous posts and our Twitter stream around #ibm100)

Today IBM adopts social as a natural extension of what we have been doing for the past 100 years.  So as I look at our social intelligence system, I prioritize our ability for an IBM’ers to engage with our diverse constituents.  Social Media Research and Listening are always the first way to place to start however, the heart of social media is in the everyday dialogue through posts on all platforms:  Our own ibm.com communities & developerWorks Communities, 3rd party Forums, Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn (Herein lies my idea of the first two P’s in my 3 P model:  People and Places).

To enable and support these individuals demands that an engagement tool should not just help them post comments rather, empower, inspire and motivate them to be a part of a greater community.  Our experts have tight schedules.  Our constituents have tight schedules.  Communication has to be easy and quick.  Also, Twitter is not the only venue communication.  While popular with the rest of the world, Twitter is not the primary venue for dialogue between IBM and our constituents.  In fact, Twitter is often used as a tool to promote their ideas, and find others to network with.  Most of the real content generated by our experts would have to be in a forum or a blog.

I hope that my next post will be about real-time monitoring.  Looking forward to your comments.

Passion Project: IndyaVids

Since I can’t seem to get enough of social in my day job, I have joined forces with founder/CEO of the popular Bollywood Entertainment website DesiYou. Ash Kumra and I are working together to launch a new user generated video website. IndyaVids will be a site dedicated to help ALL PEOPLE learn how to bring what they love about the Indian Culture into their own lives. This could be trying to cook their favorite Indian dish from their local Indian restaurant, or practice and fine tune their Yoga moves. The site will host videos that will help connect users with others that want to share their expertise in several areas that are rooted to the South Asian Diaspora.

We have come a long way and on February 28, 2011 IndyaVids will be presenting our business plan at the 2nd annual Irvine Entrepreneur Forum. I will personally present our plan….wish me luck! You can learn more about the competition here: http://bit.ly/fWo0lk

Below is what is motivating me to take on this project.  While I will always share updates on my personal handle’s, you can also follow our progress here from our office sites:

Web: www.indyavids.com
Twitter:  IndyaVids http://bit.ly/hs1OT7
Facebook:  IndyaVids Fans http://on.fb.me/dMa4rZ

I call this a passion project because I have always wanted to build a company that could bring to two cultural worlds together. My American identity (I was born in the US) with my Indian heritage.

During my senior year at UCLA, my parents thought it was a good idea to take to me India. I had not been since I was child, and I was threatening (that’s how they took it) to go on my own after I graduated. Fearful, that all the people in India would see that I have “America” written all over me and would thus somehow take advantage of me, my mom decided to plan a trip.

The three of us went to New Delhi, Agra, Amritsar, Beas, and Jaipur. I have plenty of stories about this memorable trip, but the one thing that really mattered was the choice I made to enter the corporate world and to no longer pursue of my PhD in Sociology. My desire to research the South Asian diaspora was strong, but I realized that now was not the time for me to pursue this goal. The choice was difficult and complicated. Whatever my reasons I promised myself that I would some how return to my goal of understanding and promoting the South Asian Diaspora. Through this I would help to build a bridge between people from different backgrounds.

I had first met Ash Kumra from a mutual friend. We met in 2010 during the NBA playoffs and bonded over beer and chicken wings. He told me about his company DesiYou and I was really excited to meet an entrepreneur that was trying to marry the South Asian culture with a profitable business (without exploited the culture). We both loved our work and loved our heritage.

After several conversations over the next few months Ash asked me to join his team and help launch this company. I am confident that we will build some that people will enjoy and benefit from. So get your camera’s ready, and get your Yoga pants on…..it’s time for you to make your videos and get them on IndyaVids!

You think you know technology?

Do you really think you understand how and why technology has evolved during the past century? I am confident the video below will help you understand.

The following video is another video that celebrates the achievements of IBM. I especially like these clips because they demonstrate IBM’s contribution to meaningful events in society. The clips focus on the real IBM’ers that were a part of each one of the projects. Over the past 100 year IBM’ers have changed the world we live in today. Here are some of the events that are highlighted tin the 30 minute video “They Were There…..”

1953: Policy Letter #4
1958: Project SABRE
1964: IBM System 360
1969: The Apollo Program
1974: UPC (Universal Product Code)
1981: The Personal Computer
2005: The Genographic Project

IBM Centennial Film: 100 x 100

As IBM celebrates 100 years of business we will release a series of videos document the companies history. You will also see videos on the what we will be able to do in the next 100 years. The video below gives a great highlight of top 100 innovations by IBM that changes the world. This shows how much IBM’ers like myself are proud of the history and culture that we are a part. This is longer than most corporate videos, but I am sure you will enjoy it.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has 296 steps to reach the top. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2010. If those were steps, it would have climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa 4 times


In 2010, there were 8 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 12 posts. There were 2 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 41kb.

The busiest day of the year was June 10th with 91 views. The most popular post that day was Getting to know Informix.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were iiug.org, facebook.com, twitter.com, linkedin.com, and ow.ly.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for gandhi, ranjun chauhan, gandhi photos, glenn seade, and ranjun.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Getting to know Informix June 2010


Social Action August 2009
1 comment


Reflections During Transition December 2010
1 comment


My life is about my experiences…not about me…. January 2009
1 comment


Little India August 2009