Posted by: Suresh Sundarababu | January 15, 2015

#Je Suis Hopeful!


It is hard to be these days. Not when you see all these headlines. And definitely not the way you want to ring in a New Year which is supposed to be filled with hope for the future!

  • Two brothers gun down 12 at Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
  • Boko Haram massacres 2000 in Nigeria.
  • Unarmed African American male shot dead by the police.
  • Two NYPD officers slain in line of duty.

And on and on and on…….. And you can expand this to intolerance and hate of all kinds.

And even the most optimist person can be forgiven for being despondent. Left to wonder with all the advancement in civilization how is it possible that we are here today in this day and age. In one hand we are probably one of the most tolerant society that ever lived, yet it seems that the intolerable acts dominate more than ever.

So how do we break this cycle?

  • #Leadership Matters: Not just the kind where world leaders joined million others to march the other day in Paris. Every single one of us can be leaders in this change in our day to day lives. We can commit to respect another person’s opinion and preference even if that is not ours.
  • #Education Matters: Not just the kind that one gets at a school. But where each of us can commit to learning about different points of view and being tolerant to those that does not jive with our value system. Get over the misconception that learning about an opposing view somehow tarnishes our values.
  • #Sustainable Social Change Matters: Not just the outrage that happens after a massive event and then we quietly slip back to our day to day grind. Commit to making a difference in other people’s lives, especially those who just need a helping hand to shine. So much of this can be avoided if everyone just had hope that their lives can get better.
  • #Purpose Matters: Not just to make a difference in our lives. But to pay it forward and change the world that we touch. We are each blessed with certain characteristics with the hope that we use it for the betterment of others. Even touching one person and changing their perception or situation will have explosive exponential positive effect.

So, let us make this commitment as this New Year starts. Let us dare to be different and be the leading beacons of hope by educating ourselves and being tolerant to others point of view. Let us be purposeful to use our given resources to change the lives we touch.

And not to break the cycle is NOT an option. Because it fundamentally challenges every one of us and our ways of lives. Because looking at the mirror is the only way to make a difference.

#Je Suis Hopeful!

Posted by: Suresh Sundarababu | November 7, 2014

Relentless Pursuit of Purpose – Why I want everything!


My wife recently sent me this info-graphic that has been circulating around with a note that said this reminded her of me and how I am trying to live my life at the center! I am usually not one that feels proud of too many things but at that moment I felt a teeny tiny bit of pride that my better half in everything, my friend and partner actually got me!

This info-graphic is one of the most inspirational things I have seen in a while. And I started wondering why the pursuit of that center was such an important part of my life. And if I didn’t at least share my rationale of why everyone should go for that center and may be in that process even help others get there then it would be meaningless.

Take this, as always, with a big pinch of salt because it is not necessarily easy for most to comprehend the craziness that is my philosophy of life!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being in any of those intersection of two circles. In fact to get things done in this world we need people who are good at those intersections. But in my humble opinion, all of us are meant to find that center and we are given that opportunity to do so until we get in our own way!

Here are a few reasons why we are all meant to selfishly want every bit of those circles and should relentlessly aim for that center.

  • Skills: Each of us are blessed with a certain set of skills. These are the ones that without much of an effort comes naturally to us and sometimes it is hard to explain why certain things are so effortless. It could be anything – being good with creating things with your hand or being able to scale a business or have a crazy idea that changes the world – but we all have it and love it. And there is a reason we are given those skills and definitely not to just put it aside to be ignored.
  • Duty: World needs it is the easiest thing to say. But most of us say it and subconsciously think that it is someone else’s responsibility to meet that need. The world needs every one of the 7 billion of us to make it a better place. And if you agree that your innate skills is a blessing that has been given to you then you have a duty to use those skills to fulfill the needs of this world. Otherwise it is a waste of a blessing!
  • Accomplishment: I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t want to feel like they are useful for something and feel a sense of accomplishment. And if you fulfill your duty of using those skills that you are blessed with and love, to meet certain needs of this world, wouldn’t that be a very satisfying life to lead and wouldn’t you have a sense of being useful instead of just being 1 in a 7 billion?
  • Accountability: Life is full of accountability to people around us. And sometimes we let these be a hindrance instead of using it as a catalyst to unleash ourselves. We absolutely have a responsibility to provide for our family, but I submit humbly that by itself should not relegate us to not aim for that center. I also believe that we have accountability beyond this life. The science and the miracle that is each of us did not just randomly happen to get those useful skills to just waste away and hope that it won’t be noticed. It was given to us with a hope that we use it and I for one want to be on the right side of that equation.
  • Legacy: At the end of the day it is all about leaving the world I touch a better place than when I came in. And I admit each of those intersections by themselves will allow us to leave at least some portions of the world we touch a better place. Hence my statement earlier about there is nothing wrong with that. But there is an exponential explosion of being that comes from relentlessly pursuing that center and living in it. The reward of an inner peace that comes with it is priceless.

And all of the things I mentioned above is not a fantasy or a mindless narration of someone who doesn’t get what the real world is. It is absolutely possible. And if I, an immigrant from India who came to this country with nothing, graduated with a huge debt and face(d) normal challenges in life that most face can do it, then so can you.

Because the world needs what you are great at and love. And yes with a little bit of perseverance you can get paid for it as well!

Unleash yourself and let the power of relentless purpose drive you to an inner peace starting today.

Posted by: Suresh Sundarababu | September 23, 2014

N(eed). F(or). L(eadership)!

leadershipIt takes just a few to screw up the reputation of any organization. No I am not talking about the few that do incredibly stupid things because we will always have these regardless of the situation. But about those few at the top, those so called leaders, who lose sight of what it means to lead.

The last few weeks I have been watching with despair as the game I love, American Football, being hit by the few stupid committing incredibly mean and vile acts. As appalling as these incidents were, what made me even more mad was the response and the actions of the leaders (and I cringe even to use that word on them!) and their sad self-preserving justifications for not making the right decisions.

My thoughts, naturally, turned to what can I learn from these pseudo-leaders. And sometimes some of the best leadership lessons, unfortunately, comes from these high profile failures of leaders. None of these will come as a surprise, they are all cliché’s! But it amazes me time and again how much these have become just talking points instead of living, breathing, practicing core of leadership.

  • Value system: When money becomes the core of your values, you lose the ability to do the right thing. When you care more about how much one makes for you, you tend to overlook the egregious violent acts committed by those who fulfill what has become your core value.
  • Abdication of responsibility: Just because the right decision is hard, don’t punt your responsibility to someone else. The clubs punting to the league to make a decision and pointing that they are the deciding authority, is a sorry despicable excuse. Yes the league had a responsibility as well, but these idiots worked for the club and the club leadership didn’t need the league to tell them these were terrible acts.
  • Timeliness of action: The consequences for actions and meting out the justifiable punishment should be timely. No one needed to watch the video of a man knocking a woman unconscious to know how violent an act that is and just the fact that it happened should have been enough to take the right action the first time.
  • Repeating the mistakes: Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes even mistakes that most can’t understand how a smart responsible person can commit. And most times those are the learning blocks through which all of us have built ourselves up on. On the other hand, repeatedly making the same mistakes shows that these particular leaders thought they were above the commonly accepted principles of decency and responsibility.
  • Importance of support system: Even the best leaders need the gentle nudge of their support system of mentors and others to hold them accountable. Clearly the pressure of the public and especially the sponsors is what made the league and the club eventually take the right actions.
  • Stop the Spin: When a mistake is made, don’t make it worse by continuing to dig that hole! Trying to explain away the bad decisions makes it only worse. It always makes me wonder why one thinks that a long drawn out defensive explanation is going to set the record straight, instead of just admitting the mistake made. Own it! Learn it! And don’t repeat it!

Being a leader, of a family, community or an organization, is an omnipresent responsibility. It is not for everyone and it is definitely not for those who don’t understand the importance of making the tough decision or for those who don’t learn quickly from their mistakes.

I am re-committing today (and hope all you leaders do as well), to be never swayed away from my core values or abdicate my responsibility to take timely action when presented with a difficult situation. I re-commit to not explain away my mistakes, but to learn from them and continue to depend on the awesome support system I have.

Own it! Learn it! And don’t repeat it!!

Posted by: Suresh Sundarababu | August 19, 2014

Living a Legacy! – Part Two


This post is all about self-reflection. So if you choose to skip it, me, myself and I will understand!

Part one of this series – Don’t just leave a legacy, live one! ( – was from a perspective of what I learnt from my parents and trying hard to follow their footsteps in living a legacy.

Fast forward to now, almost exactly a year later, I am a father to an absolutely curious, absorbing everything like a sponge and wonderfully intelligent 9 month old. And suddenly “Living a Legacy” has taken on an even more urgent turn for the real. The biggest legacy that I can ever leave, looks at me every day with that big beautiful soulful eyes and rapidly building a huge portion of his internal database with ways to live his legacy based on how I am living mine!

After pausing a moment to take a deep deep breath, here are five things that I hope to strive for that makes my son proud when he reflects back on the legacy he saw me live.

The best son I can be: After all I do want him to treat me with the same respect I show to my parents. That extreme gratitude that I have for their sacrifices that has enabled me with the blessings of today. Unwavering love and support as they have and continue to show every day. Be that rock for them during this part of their life as they were when I needed it the most.

The best husband that I can be: For better or worse, he is going to treat the women in his life the way he sees me treat his mother. That love not just means words, flowers and external visible actions, but also means treating her with respect, admiration for her strengths and gratitude for making me a better man. Be the rock that she can always depend and no matter what treat her like a queen that she will always be of this household.

The best friend that I can be:  Since one tends to usually have more friends than family, choosing carefully those who I associate with and their value systems are very critical to building a village he can fall back on during his time of need. Nurture this village carefully by giving and asking for help, being part of the group and to be the leader at called upon times and showing him the value of not only being popular but also being humble and grateful enough to surround yourself with a group of good men and women.

The best leader that I can be:  Leading by example never had a bigger meaning than in this context. I can use the most eloquent words there are and write about leadership, but this legacy is going to be built by what I do and not what I say. So I am not going to say much about this subject except to say I will strive to show it every minute of every day

The best citizen that I can be:  Being thankful for blessings bestowed upon me by tangibly and consistently touching and changing the world around me. Passing along what I learnt from my parents about generosity and it not having anything to do with how much money one has and continuing to pay it forward purposefully with boundless enthusiasm

I can guarantee everyone that it won’t be perfect and I will probably fail a lot. But I can also guarantee that with every failure no one will be even more determined to live this legacy than me.  If you indeed did do me the honor of reading through this self-indulging/reflecting thoughts, I hope that you will hold me accountable and support me through the end of my times.

Because it is real now! And he is watching not just me but everyone around me as well!

Posted by: Suresh Sundarababu | July 15, 2014

Gooooooooaaaaalllll……!! 4 steps to world domination!


One of the world’s biggest sporting events, if not the biggest, that drives billions of fans into a frenzy just ended. There is not another event that connects fans like fútbol and if you are not a fan you won’t get it. You can say one phrase like “The Hand of God” and every fan will know that refers to the infamous 1986 semifinal game between Argentina and England and can talk for hours about it (

And on Sunday Germany stood at the top and was crowned the world champions (the real world champs, not the pseudo “world” championships we have here in the US!). And a well-deserved one at that. Over three decades they have been a pillar of consistency and sustained dominance. During that period they have been champions twice, placed second thrice and third place twice. Only in two out of nine world cups during that period did they not make it to the top 4! And by any measure that is an incredible achievement!

Here are 4 things that we can learn from Germany to be as dominant in our fields as they have been in fútbol

  1. Team: Only the excellent made the cut and to be on the field you had to be better than just excellent! Consider this, the guy who scored the winning goal in the finals was a substitute!! Your past performance did not matter and everyone had a specific role to play. You earned it and you sweated it to be on the team. While the other countries had cool nicknames like “Super Eagles” or “The Dragons” or “The three lions”, Germany’s nickname simply is “NationalMannschaft” meaning “The National Team” Learning: Surround yourself with uncompromising excellence that can play together as a team.
  2. Culture: The team was a machine. Everyone, from the coach to the trainers to the players, all had a role to play and a value system to follow. And it has resulted in style of execution has been perfected over decades and has consistently demonstrated winning results. It is not for everyone, but if you don’t subscribe to it you were not part of it! Learning: Setup a winning culture and stay true to it.
  3. Leadership: Well this is the most obvious of course. Coach Joachim Loew and Captain Phillip Lahm led this team. If you saw Yogi Loew in the sideline during the game, you saw a pillar of calmness that his players drew from. And you saw Captain Lahm lead from the front as he was outstanding in defense and made repeated well-judged offensive runs from his fullback position. When you have selected a team of excellence, you better have good leaders like Loew and Lahm to lead. Otherwise they will fall apart. Learning: Visible and calm leadership is even more critical when you have surrounded yourself with excellence.
  4. Preparation: Germans of course are known for their meticulousness. They had a game plan. They practiced it, perfected it and executed it. You rarely saw a German player out of position or playing a role they are not supposed to. They did not leave anything to chance. They even custom built their own training facility, Campo Bahia, in a remote village in Brasil and that proved to be an advantage! ( Learning: Vision and talent alone are not enough. Strategy and being well prepared to execute the vision is equally important.

Nothing stated above is rocket science or anything that one has not heard repeated again and again. It is just another example of how certain cliché’s are important and produce sustained excellence over multiple decades. And it is time that as leaders we stop rolling our eyes over these cliché’s and start putting some serious soul into them for our organizations to become dominant!

I bet the Germans today don’t mind that they are associated with these cliché’s!!

Posted by: Suresh Sundarababu | June 5, 2014



Yep, totally made that word up! Might as well make up the definition as well!

It is the mental capacity to identify adversity as an opportunity and the emotional capacity to be excited about such an obstacle. And if you have been reading my blogs, you would’ve noticed how I clearly combined multiple cliché’s that I am passionate about to create a catchy word!

In all seriousness I am blown away by how many of us, when faced with mountains in real life, defeat ourselves to take the comfortable and easy way out. And while trying to understand this phenomenon from a scientific angle I came across this article based on Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck’s research (link above).

It is a great read and worth a few minutes of your time. There is even a cool infographic that simplifies it for you. But here are a few of my key takeaways

  • It starts with one’s mental desire to learn versus a desire to look smart – or to put it more bluntly, a set of us who don’t care if someone else things we look stupid tend to create opportunities out of life’s curve balls.
  • While surely there is a will power element to it, you are not just born with it. That will power can be influenced and continuously developed and enhanced from very early on in life by the right nurturing support system.
  • Passionate, systematic and sustained effort will lead to greatness. And effort whoops talents butt over a period of time. Every time! And this brings back memories of my blog about the rabbit and the tortoise (

I will be the first one to admit that the line between a visionary who believes in overcoming obstacles to create opportunity and a lunatic who believes that every mountain can be climbed in the dark with hands tied behind his back is very thin! But that thin line, as proven by this scientific study, is a significant differentiator.

And the best take away of all this is the fact that it is in ones control to learn and nurture this behavior. Which means each one of us can be a differentiator and overcome incredible obstacles to create awesome opportunities for ourselves and others.

And here is hoping that you find your inner “adversitunity” and unleash your potential to achieve your passions and change the world you touch!

Yep, if that happens to even one of you, it would be totally worth looking stupid to multitudes for making that word up!


Posted by: Suresh Sundarababu | January 23, 2014

Change or perish!

Change or perish!

Change is the only constant or so goes the old cliche! If you have been following my blog you know I love cliches!

In this world there are two types of people. Ones (the majority) who strive for stability and constancy which by default provides a comfortable life. And then there are those crazy few who seek out and thrive on change. Those are the few that change the world!

This article (link above) is one of the best that I have read on what change leaders are all about. “Today’s landscape is a Darwinian world. The winners and losers of this global competition are determined by one factor: change. Today’s competitors are moving so fast, that products and jobs get quickly commoditized or even eliminated. Those individuals and companies that identify new opportunities and take the necessary actions to capture them will survive. Those who learn to do it over and over will thrive”

Today’s landscape is a Darwinian world. The winners and losers of this global competition are determined by one factor: change. Today’s competitors are moving so fast, that products and jobs get quickly commoditized or even eliminated. Those individuals and companies that identify new opportunities and take the necessary actions to capture them will survive. Those who learn to do it over and over will thrive – See more at:

If you happen to read it and roll your eyes you are probably one of the majority. There is nothing wrong with that. Pushing boundaries is not for everyone.

But if you are one of those few that perked up while reading this, then you have the power to make a difference to the world that you touch. Don’t take this gift for granted because it is not for everyone.

Pretty sure Gates, Bezos, Brin and other innovators won’t roll their eyes if they read this!

Here is hoping that the minority embrace the gift given to them and some of the majority get out of their comfort zone and seek this gift!

Posted by: Suresh Sundarababu | November 9, 2013

Africa – Sustainable Social Change!

Africa – Future is Bright for sustainable social change!

This is not your Grandfather’s Africa!

When the western world usually visualizes Africa, they think of strife, poverty and the safari’s that cater to the tourists. While all of that is still true to an extent, the overwhelming truth is that Africa is also producing an enormous supply of highly talented and educated next generation who are hungry to change the continent.

The article above is about three prize winning young African entrepreneurs. All of them are 18 to 20 years old and already thinking about how to make sustainable social change while at the same time advancing economically. Lifenomics at its best! (Stay tuned for more on Lifenomics in my future blogs!). I am pretty sure when I was that age neither social change or entrepreneurship was in my vocabulary let alone forefront in my mind!

Being part of the African Leadership Bridge, we have been exposed first hand to these bright young future leaders (3 so far, lot more to come!). They have big dreams with visions of changing the continent. They don’t expect handouts. And they are willing to do whatever it takes to make these dreams come true. All they need is a little support and that too only because the supply falls so much short considering the enormous demand. You can learn more about us at

If you have not paid attention to this growing movement in Africa, you should take notice. It is happening in our life time and they are taking charge. If you are a leader of a business you should definitely be paying attention because it is not only about making a change, but it also makes business sense!

Yep, this is not your Grandfather’s Africa!

Posted by: Suresh Sundarababu | October 9, 2013

Leadership Shutdown!


What a wonderful country we live in!

I can personally attest to the fact, having immigrated from India and being blessed in all aspects of life, this is still the only country in the world that anyone from anywhere can come and work as hard as they want to and get as far as they can purely based on their merits. (Well maybe Singapore, but they definitely can’t handle the volume and I like chewing gums!). In fact it is one of the reason I am very proud to be an American!

So it is only natural that I feel a great sadness as I watch our government bungle through the second week of shutdown, because our so called leaders can’t seem to lead. Regardless of one’s political orientation one has to admit that for a country that is supposed to be the leader of the world, this is an embarrassing scenario. How can we ask others to follow when we can’t lead to keep our own house in order?

And as in any failure there are leadership lessons to learn – mostly what not to do in this case – nevertheless important lessons.

  • Title doesn’t make one a leader: Obvious but probably the most overlooked in many organizations including our government. In fact it is a dangerous proposition to give the title to someone incompetent because, as we are witnessing, it can shut down a whole country.
  • Be open to a different point of view: Somehow we have become a culture where even acknowledging an opposing view point is considered a weakness. A leader, while having a firm grip on their values, should not only be willing to understand a counter view but also have the ability to successfully negotiate and incorporate the best of both values.
  • Set clear consequences for chronic failures:  As millions of Americans suffer and as our leadership position in the world continues to erode, those responsible for this leadership crisis have lost seemingly little and continue on with no fear of losing their title. Mistakes happen and everyone should be allowed some, but leaders should learn and become better from those mistakes.
  • Stop talking, start doing: Another cliché! If we had a penny for every word from all our leaders in Washington, we won’t have a debt problem. In fact we could probably sponsor the world’s budget and still have a surplus!! It is important for a leader to articulate well but at a certain point, especially in a crisis, it is time to just shut up and lead with actions

As leaders let us take the pledge to understand those who are different than us, successfully incorporating the genius of the AND while not bowing to the tyranny of the OR and hold ourselves and others accountable for our actions and not be negligent in our responsibilities.

Here is hoping all leaders, especially those responsible for shutting down this wonderful country, are listening!

Posted by: Suresh Sundarababu | September 13, 2013

Never Forget!


This is risky! But nothing good ever came out of being comfortable, so here it goes!

Yesterday we honored those 3000 fallen in that dastardly terrorist attack on our soil 12 years ago and thousands more who lost their lives fighting for the freedom we enjoy and sometimes take for granted. And the prevailing feeling is one of sadness, but also that of pride to know that we as a nation have overcome so much while fighting an enemy that is hell bent on taking away everything we hold sacred.

My thoughts turned to, naturally, the leadership lessons from that incident on that fateful day. What can we learn from that incident which allowed the bad guys to prevail, even if it was just for that one day, and the good guys to fail? How can we translate that to leadership qualities that can help us in everyday situations so that the greater good can overcome the obstacles placed in the way by the persistent bad?

The following are my leadership lesson takeaways from that day

  • Bad guys have leadership too. Subconsciously leadership is always associated with doing good. Being brave. And get lulled into thinking that the bad guys are just a bunch of idiots with no skills. Obviously that was not the case. This organization not only had leadership with a specific vision and a mission (i.e., destroying our way of life), they were also well organized.
  • Disruptive ideas disrupt without discriminating between good and bad. For the rest of my life I will remember the moments of that day when the planes hit those building. It was heartbreaking. The leadership of the good guys got complacent and did not stay ahead of this terrorist organization and their ability to come up with crazy ideas to accomplish their cause. By definition that is how disruption happens. And we are left with heavy hearts because of that failure.
  • Lack of organizational robustness leads to tragedy. By all accounts the good guys were underfunded, undermanned and not working together to prevent this tragedy. There was chaotic leadership, lack of information and cooperation between leaders, inability to make decisions due to bureaucracy and downright incompetence in making decisions (probably sounds familiar to lot of those corporations today that are in a free fall!).  And by contrast the bad guys were well funded, resourced and organized, with single minded mission to succeed.
  • Relentless Persistence, Patience and Vigilance are needed for the good to beat the bad. The leadership record of the good guys over a period of time is pretty good. In fact throughout history the good have always prevailed. But all that the bad needs to succeed is a moment of complacency or pockets of leadership ineptitude.

So in the spirit of never forgetting, as leaders (the good ones!) regardless of the level or the type of organizational unit (for-profit, government, family, non-profit), it is imperative that we learn from that day. We have to be relentlessly vigilant, constantly be crazier in coming up with creative ideas to make things better and provide/utilize all the resources available to achieve the goals and change the world that we touch.

Because failing to do so, even for a moment, means heartbreak and everlasting tragedy! NEVER FORGET!

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