Words don’t lie

I have made no bones about the fact that I am a logophile. The written word is what I fell in love with as a child.

It’s words that taught me to believe I was special, allowed me to realize I was born to make a dent in the universe.

Ordinary words that came from normal people had a HUGE impact on the way I thought, my actions and sometimes my intent. It influenced me to the extent of being scary. I was obsessed, At that time I never realized that my obsession would find reality.Today, I did.

We had our Morocco Team call today and had a guest speaker Joel Mangan, Program Manager, CSC speak passionately about why IBM invests in a program like CSC. I must confess, for the first time in 3.5yrs at IBM – I have felt PROUD to be a part of an organization that truly believes in making a difference.

He said a few things that really made me circle back to things I’ve always believed in.

1. Being Essential : The buzz word at IBM is BE ESSENTIAL after our CEO, Ginni Rometty’s acceptance address. I understood and lived this during my stint as the President of the IBM Toastmasters Club, Bangalore. I was being a good President – checking off the boxes, ensuring I was doing a good job at managing the public speaking and leadership club but soon I realized being good was not enough, it’s never enough. What has the existence of our club got to do with the lives of our members, what has it got to do with their career ambitions? How do we work at becoming essential? With my amazing team we put our heads together and structured the club to match our real intent. We then became a place where people came without fear to learn public speaking and grow as leaders. We became essential to IBM’s leadership pool development and personal growth for our members.

Joel mentioned that IBM does not invest in the CSC program for any personal gain. Because of this stellar program – IBM has succeeded in delivering the below:

1. 14000 people benefited from human capacity building
2. Globally CSC has improved access & quality of Key life services (education, access to nutrition, employment etc) to 33m citizens.
3. Organizations have gained access to  $14.4 million of funding to implement CSC recommendations in Turkey alone!
4. IBM CSC has conducted $60m of pro-bono consulting in 1000 projects in 37 countries.

Talk about being essential right?

be essential

2. So what? : 2 words that I learnt from my mentor and the best speaker I know Dr. Vikram Venkateswaran that has helped me take up a lot of challenges and work real hard to make them a success.

Me: I am too young to be President of the IBM Club
Dr. V: So what?
Me: I have these, these and these skills. I am good at this.
Dr. V: So what?
In every so what I learnt to challenge myself, and when I had the skills, to learn to work with them to produce something bigger, better, more audacious – each time!

Joel asked us to keep asking ourselves these 2 words throughout the assignment. He said, “when you leave the organization with recommendations about what they need to do to get from A to B, you’ve given them a transformation plan – left them with an output. It’s very important to understand the distinction between Outcomes and Impact. The output itself doesn’t create that much value. What creates value is what outputs you take and create into outcomes”

Outputs: These are the activities, deliverables and recommendations of the CSC team during their assignment.
Outcomes/Impact: These are the observed effects of the outputs on the beneficiaries – the organization, the community and relevant stakeholders.  The outcomes are where value is created.


3. Why? : I heard a session on “The real intent of being a leader” at a leadership conference once. The session was delivered by the humble and leader extraordinaire  DTM Nagaraja Rao. He simply put to perspective something that was profoundly deep. Why do we do what we do? Why do we do charity? Why do we want to do a great job at work? Why do we help people? Why do we want leadership positions? When you can truly answer that question – be completely raw, honest and unfiltered when you answer that – you arrive at your real intent.

Working with my girls at Mentortogether (a Trust that aims to match urban poor children, enrolled in formal education programs, to professionals, who will serve as their mentors, based on shared academic, career and personal interests) has been an eye opener in many ways. It is a yard stick for measuring my intent. Thankfully, it has been unwavering. I do what I do with the intent of gifting someone the power of voice. That has never changed.

I’ve questioned every thing I do with the WHY, even my application to CSC. I firmly believe my intent is to make that difference that I’ve been itching to do from a long time. Put a dent in the universe – a long nursed dream. Every other intent from this project comes secondary to that.

Words. They’re innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other. I always believed if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos. They deserve respect.

blog_wordsP.S: #ibmcsc 10 days to go 🙂


One thought on “Words don’t lie

  1. You are a star with words. I truly love the way you summarized the very inspiring presentation given by Joel. I am sure we were all impressed.
    I know Joel from when he worked at the same office as I and he is simply the right guy in the right position now. I felt he was very honest and his advise were so useful.
    I so look forward to meeting you Kavya!


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