Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tentative Parenting : What my 7 yr old teaches me about Management?

By the time my son came along, I had spent over 10 years in product management living life big : shipping products that people used everyday, solving problems for gigantic customers, flying across the globe to meet said customers and working with really smart development and sales people. I thought a baby shouldn't be a big deal...boy! was I wrong. My son (K2) was a blessing and a "handful" from the word go. Over the years I have watched him do things naturally that took me a long time to learn and internalize -
#1 Prioritize : K2 is ruthless about what matters in his life - it is his playtime, his iPad time and then time with parents... what I have learnt from K2 is that time will expand to fit what is a priority for you...I can sit down and say it's too hard and I can't get to things or get to first things first...sometimes I am amazed at how much I can fit into a day (and conversely how little).
#2 Communicate : whether it is a "small" question to letting us know he needs to use the bathroom, to he is hungry, sleepy or grumpy...K2 is annoying at times but useful most times...I would rather he tell me he has a tummy ache to me second guessing it. At work I have learnt - it is critical to communicate with the team about most things - how large-scale decisions are made, what goals they’re working towards, and empower them to track their progress - this helps avoid confusion, alienation and helps keep everyone engaged and involved.
#3 Simplify : Man tends to over complicate, over-think life...K2 breaks things down to the basics (classic Maslow) - "When you learn how to say yes to the things you want in your life and no to the things you don't want in your life – your life becomes simpler."
#4 Visualize : K2 has to memorize poems every week for his public speaking class. The poems initially were itty bitty ones...the last one was a whopping 20 lines. I saw him getting frustrated and angry and nearly in tears. I sat him down and gave him a clue : visualize words ( the tree house, the robin, the stars and make them your anchor words). He had the poem memorized in 25 minutes. I had a mini-aha moment then - if he can apply it to memorizing a poem why can't I apply it to my a moment that I am stressed why can't I close my eyes and visualize how peace looks like at that moment...sounds kooky but seems to work for me just fine.

#5 Authenticity : K2 is loud and laughs a lot...shy sometimes and sometimes not...he doesn't think about his actions much...his laughs, love and tears are from the heart - he is unconditional with his affections and emotions. I have learnt from him that it is important to be "true to yourself" and the approach of WYSIWG (what you see is what you get) works best here.

#6 Do it your way : I was trying to teach K2 how to do fractions...I was impressed that he came up with an alternate way to do the fractions which worked for him better. An important lesson I learnt then was - there is no right way or wrong way...the best way is "the doing it your way"...think out of the box...think about solving the problem or coming up with a kick-ass solution. This however doesn't equate to "my way or the highway" !!!

#7 Think Win-Win : I grew up in India and resources were scarce (college admissions etc) and our lives were intensely competitive -- we learnt to base our self-worth on comparisons and competition. I thought about succeeding in terms of someone else failing–i.e., if I win, you lose; or if you win, I lose. Life became a zero-sum game.-- however, with K2 I see that he is in a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions -- he wants to share, his attitude is "there is plenty for all"...he has made me change my thinking's collaborative and focused on the team vs. just myself.

As one of my mentors said to me in the past - “Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them” ...I am glad I am not sticking to stereotype here!


  1. Thanks for your post. I found it very motivating and apt. K2 seems to be a very smart young man. Best wishes to him.

    1. Thanks for reading the blog and posting a comment! K2 is indeed smart...and teaching me along the way!