Everything Happens for a Reason: Karmic Interconnectedness

Have you ever wondered about those moments when you wish for something—a sea breeze, perhaps—and suddenly, your friend calls for a beach walk? It feels like there’s an unseen force listening to your thoughts, understanding your wishes, and weaving them into reality. I call it as hidden blessings, some says it’s the Atma of your dearest ones, maybe your grandma, maybe your childhood friend who died in an accident. Whatever it might be, I strongly believe there is a mysterious or hidden aura around us, that quietly orchestrates the events for us. It’s listening you, and seeking you.

interconnectedness in our daily life
Ghostly reflection experiment

Madampu Kunjukuttan

Recently, I came across a memoir by Madampu Kunjukuttan that reminded me of this thought. Those who don’t know Madampu should try the biographical novel Bhrashtu. It’s the real life story of an 18th century Namboodiri woman excommunicated for adultery — during the court hearing, she shocked the presiding court by naming a score of society notables whom she encountered, it’s a revenge-bound story which exfoliate the hypocratic patriarchal community of 18th century Kerala.

Madampu Kunjukuttan (1941- 2021)

Madampu Kunjukuttan used to frequently visit Mookambika temple between Kollur and Kodachadri during his early writing days. Those trips helped him to introspect and infuse a spiritual enlightenment in Madampu, both as a writer and a spiritual seeker.

Those who have read Aaryavartham or Bhrashtu can connect with my words. From Adikula nathan’s disintegration, Aryavartam is the story of the Adigotras, who emerge as four clans. The sub-plots in an extended narrative style are enough to understand the depth of Madampu’s thought processes.

A Yogi, Madampu & Their Karmic Interconnectedness

During one such Mookambika visit, he encountered a young yogi deeply immersed in meditation at Sarvagnya Peetha. Intrigued by the yogi’s serene demeanour, Madampu approached him and kept three coins there as a Bhiksha (noble donation). Madampu turned back and took a few steps, but suddenly the yogi opened his eyes and called him back.

Kodachadri Hills: Interconnectedness moment between Yogi and Madampu
Kodachadri Hills

With polished British English, the yogi calmly asked, What brings you here with these coins?’

‘I do not know; it just felt right,’ Madampu replied with a smile.

‘Will it always feel right?’ The yogi chuckled, prompting Madampu to respond in his own way, ‘Probably not.’

The yogi grasped Madampu’s hand. ‘Brother, today I thought of this: someone donating 3 coins. In a week’s time, I will go to the valley and buy three handfuls of rice with three coins. That’s enough for me for a week. This money you brought here will fulfil my needs for the week. The grace of my guru.’

The yogi then shared his story. He spoke of spiritual journeys and learnings—of Himalayan expeditions, encounters with Shankaracharya’s teachings, and seeking the essence of Devi worship. He recounted his time studying Sanskrit under Jnanananda Saraswati in Rishikesh.

Then, with those sparkling eyes, Yogi asked, Have you ever heard about my guru, Jnanananda Saraswati?

This question from Yogi, who was a foreigner in Kodachadri, took Madamb back to his childhood. A period even before Madambu’s Upanayana.

Once, during a monsoon afternoon, Madampu and his brothers saw someone at the doorstep. The man was conversing with elders, and Madampu discovered that he was a man from the south, well-versed in Puranas and Sanskrit. Madampu asked his uncle, ‘Who is this?’ ‘Parameshwaran,’ came the reply.

That was the first time he met that genius. 

‘I need to eat,’ Parameswaran said. ‘Clean yourself at the pool, and the food will be ready,’ Madampu’s uncle replied. The family gave him food and shelter. That’s how Parameshwaran lived in Madampu’s Mana for five years! He also taught Sanskrit to Madampu and his siblings.

Parameswaran Unnithan started teaching sanskrit to many children in his area, and finally he married the sibling of one of his disciples. His children went abroad, received a good education, and began a successful career there.

Parameshwaran Unnithan, who had travelled from Kerala to the Himalayas, influenced by Adi Shankara and Brahmasutrabhasya, in search of knowledge, reached Rishikesh, then obtained Deeksha and became Jnanananda Saraswati. The same Parameswaran Unnithan who taught Madampu Sanskrit is the one who taught that young yogi Sanskrit. 

“Do you know Malayali Gnananda Saraswathi?”

Young Yogi asked again.

Yogi’s question awakened Madambu from his past. A misty breeze that came from beyond the mountains in Kodachadri caressed both of them.

I know. He has also taught me Sanskrit. He stayed with us for four to five years. We got his blessings.

Young Yogi’s eyes were filled with tears after listening to this.

“Everything happens for a reason, “Yogi said.

Madampu remembered Yogi’s words. When he got three rupees, the young British yogi said that it was the blessing of the Guru. The sky stood red above Sarvagnya Peetha; it made them feel like Mookambika Devi was showering Vermillion with her blessings.

Philosophies Around Interconnectedness

This interconnectedness and hidden auras which are working for us, can be seen in many philosphies. In Eastern philosphies, it’s called Karma and Dharma. It suggest that our actions and thoughts have ripple effects beyond what we perceive. In Buddhism, for example, posits that all beings are interconnected, and actions (karma) influence future outcomes in a complex web of cause and effect.

Modern philosphies describe it as Butterfly effect. This chaos theory illustrates how small changes can lead to significant consequences over time. It suggests that even tiny, seemingly insignificant actions or events can have far-reaching effects in complex systems.

The most modern word is manifestation; it refers to the belief that through focused thoughts, intentions, and actions, individuals can attract or create desired outcomes in their lives. Recently, in an interview, actor Vijay Sethupathy said he manifested his acting career. I believe the aura around him might have listened and worked for him.

Imagine this: hidden energies or unseen and mysterious Atmas, surrounding us ceaselessly, attentive to our every whisper and thought. They are like silent guardians, fulfilling the commands of our subconscious minds.

When our intentions are noble, these energies conspire to nurture and elevate us, crafting pathways to our desires. When our thoughts are evil headed, their influence can be ominous, steering us towards destruction.

What do you think? Are we mere vessels, or do we wield unseen powers that shape our destinies? Do you believe in this interconnectedness? Have you ever experienced these mysterious aura around you working for your wishes. Share in comments.

Why Only One Pandava Reached Heaven? Read more here.

How to Spot a True Leader: Avoid the Action Fallacy

Who is a true leader? How to identify a true-leader? It’s difficult to answer. But let me introduce you to the concept of a pseudo-leader, which will help you with “How Not to Select a Leader”.

A True Leader Need not be Aberrant all the Time
A True Leader Need not be Aberrant all the Time

Many people think that good leadership is about handling crises and dramatic actions. But this is a misconception. True leadership is actually about who follows; prevention is better than cure. That means preventing problems before they arise. It’s not just about reacting to issues; it’s about planning and making sure that problems don’t happen in the first place.

Lee Kuan Yew or Hugo Chavez? 

Imagine you are choosing a leader for a country. Will you pick Lee Kuan Yew or Hugo Chavez? 

Hugo Chavez: A LEADER FROM Venezuela
Hugo Chavez

I believe many of you might not have heard about Lee Kuan Yew and there are high chances you might pick Chavez because many believe Chavez is one of the best communist leaders, and he transformed Venezuela into a prosperous country, and when he died, the country collapsed.

Why Lee Kuan Yew Will be a Better Choice

But in reality, Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, who transformed Singapore from a developing country into a global financial hub through meticulous planning, strict governance, and steady development policies.

Lee Kuan Yew: An example of true leader
Lee Kuan Yew

His leadership was marked by effective management and long-term strategic planning. On the other hand, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, whose tenure was filled with dramatic actions and bold declarations, Chavez’s leadership included controversial economic policies and nationalisations that, despite their initial popularity, eventually led to significant economic instability and hardship for the country. 

This tendency to prefer dramatic stories or excitements is what I call the “action fallacy.”

The Action Fallacy: Excitement vs. Effectiveness

Let’s look at the leadership styles of Steve Jobs and Tim Cook at Apple. Steve Jobs is known for his dramatic leadership and visionary ideas that brought Apple back from the brink of failure.

Tim cook and Steeve Jobs: leaders of Apple
Tim cook and Steve Jobs

His bold moves, like launching the iPhone and iPad, were revolutionary and are often celebrated. Jobs’ style was full of excitement and innovation, but it also came with a lot of risks and high-profile product failures like the Apple Newton.

A Leadership without Fans

On the other hand, Tim Cook, who took over as CEO after Jobs, is known for his calm and steady leadership. Cook focuses on operational efficiency and careful planning. Under his leadership, Apple has not only continued to release successful products but also improved its supply chain, increased sustainability efforts, and maintained a consistent growth trajectory.

Cook’s approach might not be as dramatic as Jobs’, but his meticulous planning and risk management have made Apple one of the most valuable companies in the world.

Image Credit: Statista
Image Credit: Statista

Unfortunately, world is not celebrating Tim cook as the way it celebrating Steve Jobs’ leadership.

In business, this focus on the “action fallacy” has negative effects. Because of this, we often promote leaders who seem to be taking action, rather than those who work quietly to prevent problems. This means we might be rewarding the wrong kind of leadership, which can lead to more issues in the future.

Finding a clear-cut real-world example of the Action Fallacy from business world can be tricky. Let me explain why.

Be Careful Before Labelling Action-Fallacy

Hindsight Bias: Looking back at events, it’s easy to see where preventive measures could have been taken. However, judging past leaders based solely on this knowledge can be misleading. They might have been operating with limited information at the time.

Complexity of Leadership: Leadership involves a multitude of factors beyond crisis management. A leader who seems to fall victim to the Action Fallacy might actually be strong in other areas like team building or strategic vision.

However, let me choose a closer example for you.

How General Electric Collapsed Because of Action Fallacy

Jack Welch, one of the most celebrated corporate chieftains of his time, spent the last few years of his life regretting what he believed was the most important decision of his career:

He promoted Jeffrey Immelt as CEO of General Electric (GE) in 2001, Why did Mr. Welch choose Mr. Immelt as his successor when he had options like Mr. McNerney, who was known for his steady and effective leadership style?

Jeffrey Immelt : Ex-Ceo of Generral Electric, an example of Action fallacy
Jeffrey Immelt

It was Action Fallacy played a role here.

Welch was swayed by Immelt’s charm, political skills, and polished demeanour. Immelt, a former Dartmouth offensive tackle and Harvard Business School graduate, seemed to embody the dynamic and bold leader GE needed.

During the selection process, Immelt’s confident and aggressive approach stood out. Whenever Immelt met with Welch, he was in overdrive, showcasing his ability to take bold actions and make quick decisions. His high-profile initiatives and assertive style made him appear as a proactive leader who could steer GE through challenging times.

Despite warnings from some board members who believed Jim McNerney would be a better choice, Welch was captivated by Immelt’s dynamic persona.

Immelt took over as CEO just days before the September 11 attacks in 2001. His tenure was marked by several critical mistakes that significantly impacted GE’s fortunes. Despite his high-profile initiatives and aggressive strategies, many of his decisions backfired:

How Immelt’s Action Fallacy Spoiled GE

Selling NBC Universal: Immelt sold GE’s majority stake in NBC Universal, including its television network and Hollywood studio, too cheaply. This decision was made in panic during the financial crisis, leading to significant financial losses for GE.

Overpaying for Acquisitions: Immelt made several high-cost acquisitions that did not yield the expected returns. These acquisitions strained GE’s finances and did not contribute to the company’s growth as intended.

Image credit: Fortune & Bloomberg
Image credit: Fortune & Bloomberg

Dismantling GE Capital: GE Capital was a highly profitable yet risky part of GE’s business. Immelt dismantled it but failed to replace its lost earnings, which hurt GE’s overall profitability.

Ignoring Talent: Immelt was known for his “know-it-all” attitude, as described by Welch. This attitude drove away talented executives who felt unheard and undervalued. His inability to listen and collaborate effectively led to a loss of valuable leadership within the company.

Under Immelt’s leadership, GE’s market value plummeted. By the time he stepped down, GE had lost over $150 billion in market value. Today, GE has been reduced to a shadow of its former self, it split into three separate companies. The finalisation of the split occurred on April 2, 2024.

Redefine Leadership

We need to rethink our idea of what makes a good leader. We should celebrate leaders who are good at preventing crises, not just those who react to them.

This means recognising the importance of “boring management” – the unglamorous work of planning, process building, and team building. This is where true leadership lies.

Instead of focusing on dramatic actions and crisis management, we should value leaders who work quietly and effectively to prevent problems before they arise.

For founders looking to identify true leaders, it’s important to look beyond charisma and bold actions. Pay attention to candidates who demonstrate strong planning and risk management skills.

Look for individuals who have a track record of building efficient processes and fostering team collaboration. Ask about their experiences in preventing issues rather than just handling crises.

True leaders are those who ensure stability and long-term success through careful, steady work. Recognising and promoting these qualities can help create a more resilient and effective organisation.

This Is my answer for how to Identify a True Leader.

How to make Better Decisions with Marcus Aurelius Approach, read here.

4 Qualities Startups Seek in Job Seekers

Building a successful startup is no small thing. It’s not just about having a super cool idea or disruptive technology. It’s about the people who drive these first thoughts forward. I believe most freshers from Tier 2 colleges dream of joining a super startup team, considering the amount of learning and exponential growth. But if you don’t have the following three qualities, your expectations and reality may not match well. And many have this question in mind; How do I start working in startup? Let’s see what those three key qualities are that go beyond the obvious skills and qualifications.

1️⃣ Optimism: The Power of Positive Thinking

Most startups operate with uncertainties and challenges. From securing funding to developing a minimum viable product, the journey is fraught with obstacles. In such an environment, having team members who are optimists can be incredibly valuable. Optimists believe in the mission and are confident that the team can overcome any hurdles.

Does it work? Look at Airbnb

Consider the early days of Airbnb. The founders faced numerous rejections and financial difficulties. However, their optimism kept them going. They believed in their vision of transforming the way people travel.

How to work in startup: Airbnb case study

This positive mindset not only kept the team motivated but also attracted investors and customers; as they say, now they belong anywhere. From nowhere to anywhere, Aibnb’s journey happened because of the people who believed it’s possible, and they drive that mission with positivity.

How to Demonstrate Your Optimism During Interviews

During interviews, highlight instances where your optimism led to positive outcomes. You could talk about a project that seemed doomed but succeeded because you and your team maintained a positive outlook and kept pushing forward.

For example, “in one of my previous organisations, when I suggested adding Amazon business as a channel for sales, everyone rejected it since the business is highly dependent on offline markets and distributors, and it would spoil the chain and demand. But what I observed was that there were a lot of government exam aspirants outside Kerala, and we couldn’t deliver books at ease since our distribution channels were only in Kerala and a few metro cities.

Finally, I was able to convince the team with my analysis and data on the serviceable market. In just 5 months, our Amazon sales reached 60% of the offline domestic sales.”

2️⃣ Idea Generation: The Innovators

Startups need new ideas to stay ahead. As a job seeker, being someone who can think outside the box and come up with new ideas is very valuable. If you are not someone who can think outside the box, the exposure that you are going to get will be limited, and eventually the growth will be limited as well.

Start-ups move on two things: investments and disruptive ideas. If it’s depending only on money, fuel will be over soon, and it will impact your career. But if every individual can come up with cost-effective or disruptive ideas and action items, start-ups attract more money, and it will help you in your career. So observe whether the start-up has enough idea generators and rational thinkers, or are you the one? Idea generators see opportunities where others see problems and can come up with creative solutions that keep the company moving forward.

Does it work? Learn from Instagram

Do you know how Instagram became a billion-dollar business? Just because of one idea generator. When Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger were working on their startup, Burbn, it was initially a location-based check-in app.

Startup story: Burbn to Instagram
Burbn to Instagram

However, they noticed that users were more interested in sharing photos. One of their team members suggested focusing on the photo-sharing feature. This idea led to the creation of Instagram, which became a massive success and was later acquired by Facebook for $1 billion.

Are you an outside-the-box thinker? A start-up ecosystem is best for you. Because you can’t suggest an idea and get it done at a massive firm like Apple or Amazon.

How to Demonstrate Your Innovative Thinking During Interviews

Show your creativity and willingness to suggest new ideas. Talk about a time when you introduced a new concept that significantly helped your previous company or project.

For example, you might say, “In my previous job, I suggested a reverse psychology approach for email marketing: instead of saying we are good, we send mail with subject lines, we don’t have anything special for you, you don’t have to open this if you are busy, etc. And suddenly, our open rate became 40%. This not only increased our engagement rates but also made our users feel more connected to our brand, where we are genuine and transparent.”

3️⃣ “Will You Figure It Out?” Spirit: The Problem Solvers

Startups face many unexpected problems. Your KPIs may change frequently; out of the blue, the team may scrap a project and start a new project from scratch, which may require a new set of skills.

In simple words, a start-up is exactly like a mischievous child; it’s not easy to predict what he will do next. As a job seeker, having a “will figure it out” spirit means you don’t get discouraged by setbacks. Instead, you see these challenges as chances to find solutions and keep moving forward.

So, if you have that “Will Figure It Out” or “This Time Shall Pass” attitude, you are going to be noticed by the team, and people will find a leader in you. Your growth will be faster than you expect.

Does it work? Inspire from Slack

Take the story of Slack. The company was originally working on a game called Glitch, developed by Tiny Speck, a startup co-founded by Stewart Butterfield, Cal Henderson, Eric Costello, and Serguei Mourachov.

Despite their efforts, the game struggled to gain traction in the competitive gaming market. Instead of giving up, the team noticed that their internal communication tool, which they had built to collaborate on Glitch, was incredibly effective.

Glitch game sign up page
Glitch game sign up page

Recognising the potential of this tool, Butterfield and his team decided to change their business focus entirely. They repurposed their internal communication platform into a standalone product, which became Slack. Think about the team; all of a sudden, you are moving from gaming to SaaS. But the team had a different mindset that they would figure it out, and that helped them achieve the objective faster.

The new idea penetrated the market very quickly and disrupted workplace communication by offering a user-friendly interface, seamless integration with other software, and a way to organise conversations into channels.

Today, Slack is used by millions of users worldwide and was acquired by Salesforce for $27.7 billion, highlighting the power of determination and adaptability.

How to Demonstrate Your Problem-Solving Skills During Interviews

In interviews, talk about times when you faced big challenges but found ways to overcome them. Show how you solve problems and stay calm under pressure.

For example, you could say, “During a critical project, our main supplier suddenly shut down. I quickly found other local suppliers, negotiated terms, and I figured out an opprtunity with an upper-hand of negotitation, revamped our existing model of 2-3 suppliers to 24 small suppliers, and used a CRM dashboard to coordinate, and kept our production on schedule, saving the project and meeting our deadline.”

4️⃣ “I’ve Got It” Attitude: The Ownership Mindset

In large companies, it’s common to hear, “That’s not my department.” However, startups need a different approach. They grow when employees take ownership of problems, no matter their job title.

You might be a sales manager, but you should be willing to do a user survey, call customers, and close sales if a team member is on leave. As a manager, you may be required to do 50% of the work as a tele-caller and the rest 50% of supporting the team for their dependencies.

This adaptable “I’ve got it” attitude ensures that issues are handled quickly and efficiently, pushing the startup towards success.

Does it work? Read About Dropbox

Take Dropbox as an example. In the early days, Dropbox was a small team working on a new way to store files online. Arash Ferdowsi, the co-founder and CTO, noticed that the user interface (UI) was hard to use. Even though UI design wasn’t his main job, Arash decided to fix it himself.

Dropbox founders
Arash Ferdowsi on the right

He worked with the design team, learning about user experience and interface design. He spent many late nights testing different designs and getting feedback from early users. His hands-on approach and willingness to step out of his role made the UI much better.

This change made Dropbox more appealing to users, and the user base grew quickly. Arash’s “I’ve got it” attitude solved a big problem and set a good example for the team, encouraging everyone to take ownership of issues.

How to Demonstrate Your Ownership Attitude

In interviews, talk about times when you took initiative outside of your usual responsibilities.

For example, you might say, “In my last job, I saw that our project management tool was confusing the team. Even though it wasn’t my job, I researched better tools, organised meetings, and got feedback. I then helped implement a new tool that improved our workflow and made us more productive.”

This shows your commitment to the team’s success. You prove that you’re ready to tackle challenges and help the startup grow, no matter what your job title says.

In Nutshell

Joining a startup means becoming part of a dynamic and often unpredictable environment. By demonstrating optimism, generating innovative ideas, showing a “will figure it out” spirit, and having an “I’ve got it” attitude, you can stand out as a valuable asset to any super startup team. Remember, it’s not just about your skills and experience; it’s about how you approach challenges and contribute to the team’s success.

Additional Tips for Job Seekers

Showcase Communication Skills: While these qualities are crucial, don’t forget the basics. Good communication is key for any team.

Research the company: Understand the startup’s mission and values. Align your responses to show that you are a good cultural fit.

Be Ready to Adapt: Startups change rapidly. Show that you are flexible and open to evolving with the company.

By focusing on these qualities, you can increase your chances of landing a role in a super startup team and contributing to its success.

Are you still worried about uncertainties? Read more about the cognitive survival kits here.