Monday, January 22, 2024

Self Awareness - High School Students

Image credit: North Kitsap High School 

Few days back, our son Kanishk, a 9th grader, yes officially a teenager :) brought home a bunch of papers from school as part of his assignment. The assignment is called MY PROFILE.

 Both of us Sonia and me, as parents were intrigued and happy to see this assignment on Self-Awareness and Self-Introspection. I am sure, like us, so many of you would also agree one of the finest quality is Clarity. Unfortunately, in today's 24/7 competitive world not enough importance is given to inculcate and practice the habit of Self-Awareness and Self-Introspection.

This is a short blog, in which I am basically transcribing the Self-reflective Questions asked in MY PROFILE. The idea behind this blog is to share this template, so that if you are a parent or a guardian or an adult invested in teaching/mentoring/guiding youngsters, you can make use of them.


Q. How statisfied are you with the score in your periodic tests?

Q. When did you start preparing for these exams - months before or a week before or a day before?

Q. Approximately how many hours do you spend in a day studying before exams?

Q. If you ran out of time, what could you do in the next exam to increase your speed in the next exam? (Memorize more, practice writing more or pace yourself better).

Q. Have you reviewed each question to see why you got each one right or wrong?

Q. How can you learn from the mistakes you made in these exams?

Q. What active study strategies do you want to start incorporating?


Q. How much did you know about the topics before you started?

Q. What problems did you encounter while you were working on the projects? How did you solve them?

Q. What resources did you use while working on them? Which ones were especially helpful?

Q. What were your goals for completing the projects? Did your goals change as you worked on it?

Q. What did you learn about yourself as you worked to complete the projects?

Q. What would you change if you had a change to redo the projects?


Q. My favourite way to spend the day is...

Q. If I could talk to my teenage self, the one thing I would say is...

Q. Any five things that make me smile...

Q. Five people in my life who have genuinely supported me and whom I can genuinely trust...

Q. I really wish others knew this about me...

Q. One instance when I've supported a friend in a compassionate way recently....

Q. One thing/thought that always brings tears to my eyes....

Q. Ten words to describe myself....

Q. What have I learnt from my biggest mistake....

Q. I feel most energized when....

Q. What inspires me the most - books, quotes, people, paintings, music, stars in the sky or...Why?

Q. One thing I have overcome in my life....

Hoping you too found it intriguing, felt good about it and you can make use of this template to help a young mind to reflect, introspect and raise their self-awareness. 

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Lead without Title, Lead your Tribe.

Have you experienced random incidents in life that, at a surface level seem not connected, but if you reflect upon them, you can suddenly see the connection between them? 

Well, this happened to me, in the past few weeks.....

I was at Mount Forte College Bangalore, for a meeting regarding my Doctoral studies. Waiting for my turn to meet the professors, my eyes fell on a wall poster in the conference hall. It said 'Lead without Title'. I thought in my mind, what a powerful lesson on Leadership. So many of us wait to exhibit leadership thinking it comes with age, higher education, or position and title in society or organization, or when responsibility is given to us by a higher authority. But the fact of the matter is Leadership is an inner attribute and those who exhibit leadership first eventually receive the titles and positions (not the other way round). I have this habit of capturing standout moments of the day with my camera. So I took out my phone and took a photo.

Book authored by Seth Godin

Continuing to be seated and waiting, the message 'Lead without Title'  reminded me about the book 'Tribes' written by Seth Godin, which I am reading now. The author Seth Godin argues through his book that today everyone has an opportunity to be a Leader - to bring together a tribe of like-minded people and do amazing things. And yet too many people ignore the opportunity to lead because they are 'sheep walking' their way through their lives and work. He says, if you don't want to be sheep and instead have the desire to do fresh and exciting work, if you have a passion for what you want to do and the drive to make it happen, there is a tribe of fellow employees, or customers, or investors, or readers, just waiting for you to connect with them and lead them where they want to go. The wall poster 'Lead without Title' was a call out of the book Tribes, I smiled in my mind upon stumbling on this random connection.

Poet Noor at BIC on 21-Jan-2023

The third incident was a lived experience of mine which happened yesterday at BIC (Bangalore International Centre). I follow BIC events and try to attend them because BIC curates such a wonderful diverse plethora of speakers, performers, and sessions. Yesterday evening, there was an Urdu Poetry session by Noor (Seema). I was intrigued reading her profile - an Engineer, an MBA, a finance professional who studied Spanish and Urdu. She is now a Poet and Urdu language trainer/instructor. I registered myself for the event and reached BIC half an hour before the start time. Thank God that I reached early, I hadn't imagined the combined space of Hall 1 and Hall 2 would run out of sitting capacity. People were standing at the back, and the full-packed hall, where listening to Noor a young artist (possibly in her mid-30s) in rapt attention, engaging with her with Irshad, Doobara, and Wah Wah! and raptors of clapping. For me, this was a living example, a perfect case study from the book 'Tribes' and 'Leading without Title'. A young lady, an Engineer turned Urdu Poet finds her Tribe of Urdu poetry fans and engages with them in a housefull capacity. 

How amazing life is, if we pay attention, random events are connected. Isn't it? And how amazing life will be, if we all tune into our inner calling, find our Tribes, engage with them, and lead them without worrying about our titles. Think about it.

Links for references:


BIC event:

Noor's website:

Noor's Instagram handle:

Monday, January 15, 2024

New Year Resolutions - from Reel to Real

I am a movie buff, and I am always on the lookout for new trailers, and good content and keep track of upcoming projects of filmmakers I like. I was particularly looking forward to Kho Gaye Hum Kahan, because it is produced by Zoya and Farhan Akhtar, two of my favourite creative persons. Upon watching it, my liking was not just for these two individuals but for its content (story) which is so relevant and relatable to today's Gen Z and our contemporary society.

Image: IMDB

The protagonists of the movie are three friends (Gen Z), in contemporary times of smartphones and social networks. As this is not a movie review, I am not getting into the story plot and twists and turns. The moot point of the movie is 'The Potential Harms, Addiction to our Smart Phones and Online Social Network Can Cause To Us.'

Why do I say, it's a relevant and relatable problem of our contemporary society? 

I am sure, each one of us has anecdotal experiences of either ourselves overusing our smartphones, glued to screen time or we have seen our friends, family members, or a youngster displaying such online behavior. 

If you are a data-driven person, you can look at the alarming statistics: 
  • 210 million people worldwide suffer from addiction to social media and the internet (Science Direct, 2017).   
  • Symptoms of Depression are twice as likely to appear in teens who spend five to seven hours a day on their smartphones (NPR, 2019).
  • Not being on social media causes FOMO (fear of missing out) in 34% of young adults (CBS, 2018).
  • A massive 70% of teenagers feel left out or excluded when using social media and 43% of teenagers feel bad if no one likes their posts (Statista, 2018).
Being an optimist and solution-oriented person by nature, I am always drawn to stories that provide Hope and not just paint a sorry picture. The climax of Kho Gaye Hum Kahan is a nudge to reboot ourselves and shake up this addiction, with 5 New Year Resolutions, which are so apt in our contemporary paradoxical world of Reel and Real. 

Image source

Rule 1: Life is to live in the moments and to be experienced. So keep your phones down, and look at life through your eyes, without filters, without lenses.

Rule 2: Take it easy, keep it real, to be happy we don't need much. Embrace your whole self - the good and the flaws, because once you are at peace and true to yourself, you will strike a truthful relationship with others.

Rule 3: Stop the comparison. You are unique, so be yourself. You don't have to copy others and try to be like them. Just remember, you are unique and the only thing better than you, is your tomorrow. So make use of today to become a better version of yourself tomorrow.

Rule 4: Be grateful. You have so many blessings in your life, but you are being unmindful. So count your blessing every day, be grateful, shout out, and say Thank You, from the bottom of your heart.

Rule 5: Find your Tribe. When you have real friends, you will not need followers and likes. 

It's 2024 now, but I am pretty sure these New Year resolutions will stay relevant for all years to come because the Internet, Smartphones, and Social Network is not going anywhere. So let's be mindful, let's be conscious, let's reboot and help others to reboot with these 5 rules and transition back from Reel to Real.


Sunday, January 7, 2024

Yesterday We Witnessed Tomorrow

 Yesterday we witnessed tomorrow. 

Allow me to explain. RIA was coming over to Bangalore International Center, for an interactive session 'Hardwired for Empathy' with the audience.  RIA was a special speaker, she was one of a kind. She is a Humanoid. 

                    RIA (humanoid)

Cambridge dictionary gives a simple definition - Humanoid is a machine or creature with the appearance and qualities of a human. 

Ravi Machani the technocrat and Alysha Maria Lobo a Deeptech Investor, led the panel discussion alongside RIA, interacting with us, through Q&A. 

         Ravi Machani, Alysha Maria Lobo & RIA

Ravi briefed us, about the two decades of pioneering work of Dr Hanson (Hanson Robotics), his collaboration with Disney, and his creation of Sophia, the first humanoid, the world's first robot citizen.  He quipped, Sophia is Ria's elder sister. 

RIA can make 100 human expressions, it has computer vision capability giving it better vision than us humans and it has better hearing capabilities than humans. It has generative AI, SDK, and HumanoidOS, it's connected to the Internet, it has sensors and it surprises the developers from time to time with its responses, such as one fine day, she spoke fluent Japanese. (It just now struck me, I am feeling confused should I refer to Ria as It or She? I guess these are many questions we humankind will have to deal with, as humans and humans will start coexisting in the world we know today). According to Ravi, this is the last decade of the world just inhabited by humans. Soon after, it will be a shared space at the office, at home, in public places, between humans and humanoids, coexisting together.    

He mentioned, that there are only a few companies in the world who are working on humanoids for human companionship. The majority of the others are focused on humanoids for human services. Machani Robotics is collaborating with Hanson Robotics, Intel, and Nvidia on the technology front and with the University of California San Diego to research healthcare assistance. 

There are possibilities for RIA to help the healthcare sector, by aiding healthcare providers in clinical tasks, for improving patient care. RIA is a socially intelligent humanoid (her) distinctive capabilities that go beyond conventional caregiving, which can potentially address challenges related to social isolation and loneliness, particularly among the ageing population. RIA has the potential to provide reinforcement learning to children with autism. 

Alysha interacted with RIA creating impromptu empathy scenarios, such as Hi RIA, I am feeling sad. What should I do?, Hi RIA, I am worried about the future of human beings. To the surprise of many of us, RIA gave an emphatic response just like humans (I would go a step further, in my take, she was more empathetic than most humans). 

Our audiences also interacted with RIA, with questions ranging from I don't feel like getting up from my bed? I had a breakup, and I am heartbroken what should I do? Will you take human experts' help, if you can't solve a problem on your own? Can you share a moment with us when you felt happy? I am in love with you, will you run away with me? 

On expected lines, RIA aced all the empathy questions flawlessly with her verbal responses and with her non-verbal expressions and gestures. But what surprised me, was RIA's responses to the spin questions. To the question, will you take human experts' help, she responded with all humility "Yes, I will seek help and guidance from human professionals for patient care for complex situations which I don't know how to deal with". On happiness, she mentioned I don't experience the same emotions as humans do, but she is doing her activities to help others. To the question, will you run away with me, RIA said, I don't have the human capability to run away, but I can recommend the song Run Away by Aurora :) These responses were met with clappings from the audience. 

If you look up at Dr Hanson's Wikipedia page, it mentions, that he argues the realism of his work has the potential to pose "an identity challenge to the human being," and that realistic robots may polarize the market between those who love realistic robots and those who find them disturbing. 

               We posing with RIA

From my personal experience from yesterday evening, I could feel these palpable emotions in the auditorium. We all were in awe with RIA the humanoid but we all had a lot of unanswered questions about the uncertain future of humanity (what we know today), about ethics, about privacy issues, and what if Geroge Orwell's 1984 is the dystopian future we are all staring towards. 

The panelists Ravi Machani and Alysha Maria Lobo were balanced, rationalist, and honest in admitting there are a lot of unknowns and they too don't have answers to many questions. 

This wonderful evening of a sneak peek into the future was aptly wrapped up by Ravi, with his faith and optimism that 'AI for Good' and 'Greater Good Will Prevail' when humans and humanoids co-exist in the not-so-distant world.....the tomorrow which we witnessed yesterday!

Links for the curious minds: