Mindfulness . Leadership . Digital [Part I: Spiritual Trip to India]


Recently I had a trip to India what I refer to as “Spiritual Tour”.  Followed by that, while I have been contemplating on the title of the post to summarize some of my experiences from the tour, one title came up for consideration “Being a mindful leader in digital age”. I broke that into 3 words, Mindfulness – Leadership – Digital. Calling it “Spiritual Tour” primarily for a reason that it happened at a time when I was trying to reboot myself in many dimensions and trip covered inspiring places ( to name three Pushpagiri https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pushpagiri_Temple_Complex, Ahobilam http://www.ahobilamutt.org/us/information/visitingahobilam.asp , Chilukur http://www.chilkurbalaji.com/about.html), gave a chance to meet with intellectual gurus, and got an opportunity to try encountering authentic self for a clarity of mind and true purpose. Spiritual tour constituted 10 days of my 3 week India trip. To be candid, this 10 day tour is not a tourist camp or a guided tour but rather a self-directed tour with an intellectual curiosity and little guidance.


Day one started with an attempt to be truly myself. Disconnected from routine, no cell phone, no laptop and walking from one place to the other which included not very crowded old temples. As I got into a discipline to be myself, various thoughts started triggering in mind. Once I am on the go being myself, as a next step started realizing importance of bringing myself to the that day, to that minute and to that vey second or minutest part of possible time is important, though found it more challenging. That was kind of a psychological process of bringing my attention to experiences occurring in the present movement. It was a starting point to be Mindful. I started practicing three things with some external guidance.

  • Accepting my thoughts, anxiety and feelings in an attempt to calming down
  • Self-inquiry mountain meditation to better deal with thoughts and feelings of “me”
  • Practicing “self-advocacy” promoting self-esteem inhibiting my true wills for compassion and lovingkindness

The people I encountered here and there were far off from gig economy mindset, but rather people of various walks of life and I have to self-reincarnate to have a true and engaging dialogue with them. And the days pass by and in tandem I started contemplating on “Leadership”. I will be adding more on “Mindfulness” in follow up posts.


The depth and breadth of subject on leadership is vast. My specific self-questioning focused on – what are the most important traits of new-age leadership? Realized that I got into a tricky topic and started navigating beyond leadership styles, decisiveness, awareness, focus, accountability, empathy, confidence, optimism, honesty, and inspiration. Boiled down to two, i) problem solving and ii) communication. In a one-on-one dialogue, a priest asked me two questions,

  • What is a better way to lead life?
  • How to communicate effectively?

After few hours I walked away with my interpretation of responses as follows. As an individual, as a student and particularly as a professional, I have been facing the world with one thing in constant. Progressing in life leading “everything that I come across movement by movement”. Which I call “problem solving”. As a child I developed solving known/unknown problems with decently known or a guided criteria. In an attempt to sustain as a leader in the world, I progressed building an ability solving unknown problems with unknown criteria. Another way to interpret contemporary problem solving is “being a driver in driverless car – – sit tight and avoid the mis-happenings ensuring the success of untested or progressively tested situations”. That struck me as an important trait to be a “leader of lifetime”. What does it mean? That is finding one’s path of solving problems to continue with fulfillment of progress.

Dialogue on communication was very intriguing. I am parking in-person communication to a later discussion, and focus now on remote communication, i.e. communication between two persons not co-located. In late 80’s when I started in college, mode of communication with someone beyond college town was via a letter (a post card or an inland letter) or book a “trunk call” to speak to a person. Telegram was used for an emergency. That mode typically had one to two weeks of lead time to complete one cycle of communication. Later STD/ISD came to availability. Followed by mobile phones – first voice and then voice and data (profoundly email) leading to present era of social media and hyper connected world. Two things changed with this progression. Availability and responsiveness to communicate. Availability has become “round-the-clock” and responsiveness reached to “a near real time” phenomenon. Hence to be a better communicator, one has to figure out,

  • How to be introspective and mindful being highly available (two weeks communication cycle in 80’s shrunk to real time today)?
  • How to be efficient and effective in spontaneous responsiveness?

With respect to availability, I felt to define hours of “productive availability” and figure out a subtle way of deferring on unproductive availability. On responsiveness, I have to be incrementally efficient and effective. As communication becoming constant and spontaneous, I should have an ability to carry a big/holistic picture constantly connecting dots on “strings of communication”. That lead to an important question on, how many strings of communication in parallel and/or in tandem I could handle being productive and effective. Watch out on this! I will add more anecdotes as this dialogue on communication progresses to forthcoming blog posts. Next topic is how Mindfulness and Leadership ties to new digital age? Kish1


Towards the last few days of the tour, got into contemporary discussions on life in digital era. We started with a discussion on Indian metropolitan commute. In most of the metros, if one has OLA or UBER app, taxi/cab fare nearly matches to auto fare. So as technology penetrates further increasing adoption levels, people get a better and safer rides realizing a superior value of money. On the other hand, what will happen to Auto drivers? May be with time autos get replaced with cars. Further to this, what if driverless cars becomes reality? Drivers either find alternative ways or get reskilled to endure. In view of leading life in digital age, we touched on the following three topics

  • Survival of the fittest – man (human) vs machine
  • How far we can raise the bar on being insightful from data and information?
  • What is the ultimate goal of digital world?

I need a separate post to touch enough on these topics and hold my thoughts to share in next post.

In a nutshell, my “spiritual tour” is very refreshing and I am planning to budget time and resources to repeat such tours periodically to “self-reboot” finding my path of solving problems attaining fulfilment of progress continuum.

Welcome your comments and thoughts.



NYRR TCS Runners – Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K 2017

Aparna and I had a fantastic experience participating as TCS Runners. Posting few pictures.












TED-Ed Weekend @New York


My daughter Phanisree Akshinthala and 8th Grade Team from Community Middle School, Plainsboro, NJ are participating in TED Talks @NY tomorrow (Saturday 17th June) at 10 AM Eastern.

Live stream at rmd.me/ow1zu4e7g0k

NuYu Team of CMS-Plainsboro Won FPSPI Championship


Congratulations to my kid Phanisree Akshinthala and Team, 8th Graders at Community Middle School, Plainsboro, NJ. CMS Nuyu (http://nuyuchallenge.weebly.com/nuyu-team.html) team won first place in Future Problem Solving Program International (FPSPI – http://www.fpspi.org/icdetails.html) competition held at Wisconsin University during 7-11 June’2017. Great job All!

Nüyü​ is a close-knit community of 8th grade researchers who study the well being of adolescents. Nüyü​ is inspired by Community Problem Solving, an organization from FPSPI (Future Problem Solving Program International). Improving the world through research and study to find out why middle school students suffer socially, emotionally, and academically in their everyday lives. The team bring you many strategies to help find your inner self and manage stress through mindfulness.  Nüyü​ has evolved  research this year to focus on mindfulness strategies to improve mental health.

Follow them on – Twitter @nuyu_team; YouTube Team NuYu


NuYu 2.0: Teens Empowering the Educational Community

CMPS“Kudos to my daughter, Phanisree an 8th Grader and team for winning NJ FPS (Future Problem Solving) State Bowl First Prize” conducted today i.e. 11th-March-2017 at Keane University, NJ. The team is going to the International Competition to be held at University of Wisconsin in June 2017.

I am posting a note from her below.

NüYü 2.0

Promoting emotional wellbeing overcoming high levels of stress – how might Community Middle School (Plainsboro, NJ) 8th grade students, the NüYü 2.0 team, spreading mindful coping strategies through 2016-17 (started his last year!) and beyond?

NüYü is a community problem solving team comprised of 18, 8th grades from Community Middle School, Plainsboro, New Jersey. We have been an organization for two years now and have won first place in the FPS (Future Problem Solving) State bowl for two years now. Our goal is to promote mindfulness, the state of being aware and present, to the educational community. Although we do compete in FPS the reason we started our project was to help our community. We have presented at multiple teacher professional development days in our school, EdCampNJ/EdCamp Encore (a conference where teachers all over NJ come together to exchange ideas), hosted our 2nd annual wellness where, in which over 280 participants attended. Along with that, we ran our Pather “Pause” Challenge, a 4-week mindfulness session to the students in our school. This year, since we are old enough to have our own twitter we created an account. Through this account we have been able to create long lasting relationships with some very prominent figures in the educational community, for example, the Commissioner of Education for NJ whom we meeting with towards the end of March. We are also attending NJAGC (New Jersey Association for Gifted Children) We know we have been making a huge impact in the educational community because a school in Spain reached out to us to learn about Mindfulness, and we Skype then every week to teach them what we know. We have also been reached out to by multiple schools across NJ and many teachers across the state who have taken time out of their schedules to meet with us. We were featured in a recent Edutopia article and Dr.Dzung Vo, the author of “The Mindful Teen” (a resource for teenagers to learn and use Mindfulness) is also one of the people we are meeting via Skype call. Today, we won 1st place in the FPS NJ State bowl qualifying us for the International Competition, FPSPI in Wisconsin. At this competition there will be teams from all across the world; Singapore, Australia, China, etc just to name a few. This will our second time attending the International Competition. Being part of this team has allowed all of us to make a difference in our community and change the lives of so many people. NüYü is a team that has formed special bonds, strong lasting relationships, and has changed my team completely causing us to become the extraordinary young adults today. We have an amazing coach, Dr.Rebecca McLelland Crawley, whom we call Dr.MC affectionately, has supported us the whole way and has been there with us when we needed her the most. She has dedicated her personal time just as we have to make sure that our team is always at its best.

www.nuyuchallenge.weebly.com  (Website)

@nuyu_team (Twitter handle)

@bec_chirps (Dr.MC)

Next Generation of Leaders


My daughter an 8th Grader, got recommended for 2017 Ambassador Leaders program. It will be conducted during summer @ Harvard University, UCLA, and JHU. She has picked Harvard campus.

Attitudes In Reverse

Tomorrow my daughter will be volunteering and presenting at “Taste of Hope” organized by Attitudes In Reverse (AIR). AIR and the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies will co-host Back to School: Take a Breath, on National Suicide Prevention Day, September 12th. You can find details at https://lnkd.in/d3sR-W6

Social-Emotional Wellbeing of Students

I thought of sharing a link to a research project my daughter participating http://www.nuyuresearch.weebly.com

Research project is named “NuYu”.

Mission Statement:

“The mission of Team NuYu is to improve the social-emotional wellbeing of students at Community Middle School in the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District by spreading healthy coping strategies to teachers, parents and students.”

Team got first prize in NJ and going to International Competition in June 2016.

Hope this will be an interesting read for you.