This was one of the hardest vacations our family had undertaken. Why? Because we had lost our furry four-legged friend – Jackie – just a couple of days before the vacation was about to commence.

So, we left with a heavy heart as we made the loooong journey to Tanzania. But I am so glad that we did. Because the amazing animals and the inspiring human beings taught me something that I will cherish for a lifetime. 7 things that inspired my soul

Wildebeest migration – Yes, the Serengeti is no doubt famous for this and it is an awe-inspiring sight. But as our guide, Amir, explained, their non-stop progress – rain or shine – of 80 – 100 km a day left me awestruck. Takeaway – never rest on your laurels. Keep ploughing away. The hard work will pay off

Elephant road crossing – Never seen so many elephants in my life. Hundreds of them across the idyllic landscape. But what really amazed me with the equanimity with which they navigated the road crossing where tons of safari jeeps thronged to get a glimpse of the stately mammal and frequently blocking their pathway. Yet, they gently navigated between the awestruck humans in their vehicles. Takeaway – There will always be unexpected challenges thrown your way. Never lose your cool and adapt your way towards your ultimate destination

Lions cohabitating with their potential prey – In the Ngorongoro conservation area, we were witness to lions and gazelles and zebras all living together. Yes, the lions may eventually eat one of them for lunch when they are hungry once every 3 or 4 days. But that doesn’t prevent them from living in peace on all the other days. Takeaway – We may have differences of opinion, but respecting each other and our varied opinions is what makes life worthwhile

Lions on a tree oblivious to the onlookers – We were witness to two separate lion on a tree sightings. One in the Lake Manyara area where tons of jeeps surrounded the tree with excited tourists falling over each other to take hi-def videos. And then on our last day, we lucked out as one of two tourist jeeps that were witness to three lions on a tree. The first time – throngs of onlookers and the second – just a handful of spectators – the lions were equally oblivious to the onlookers. Takeaway – Success and Failure are fleeting impostors. One follower or thousands doesn’t matter. As long as you focus on your purpose with passion

Rakesh Prasad – exec chef – At the Neptune lodge, after tasing the best dal in our life, I had to make a beeline to the kitchen to meet the chef and congratulate him. I followed up with a comment on our meeting on LinkedIn. Rakesh met up with me the next day requesting a tripadvisor comment for the entire team if I was happy with the service. Say what? Takeaway – A genuine leader doesn’t aspire for personal glory or limelight. Instead, team recognition is what they believe in

Captain Ali of Regional Air – In our small 12 seater aircraft, in the flight from Serengeti to Manyara – we had the bumpiest flight of our life and while I tried to exude calmness on the outside, inside I was shitting bricks. But through it all, Capt Ali at the wheel was the epitome of calmness and control and the landing on the muddy and wet airstrip was near perfect. Whew! Takeaway – There will be tough times where we will be tested, how we react especially when a team depends on you is what separates true leaders from the also-rans

Hakuna Matata – And finally, the staff at our lodge in Serengeti – from James (our personal attendant) to Ombin (the chef) were all there because they wanted to be there. How do I know? The service and the attention without a doubt. But what sealed it was the final song and dance to the tune of Hakuna Matata when we left the camp – the unbridled enthusiasm and love they displayed – so much so that yours truly had to join them (much as my movements were out of sync, the infectious enthusiasm enveloped me and I dived right in) Takeaway – If you love what you do, it always shows and your customers will appreciate it with their loyalty and love.

Now, that our vacation is over, and we are back on home soil, the memories linger on. Jackie, our dog, in her own quiet way inspired us all these years. And now, her fellow beings and our human brethren in another continent continue that legacy.

Grateful for the journey of a lifetime, learnings that will last beyond a lifetime. Hope they inspire you too!




    Empathy, Education, Empowerment

    Mine is a typical Indian immigrant story: an Engineer who became an Engineering Manager, who grew antsy and segued into Product Management then rose to VP and SVP. During those years I fancied I was innovating and experimenting, but in reality I was wearing a corporate straitjacket. Constrained by my industry’s insular mindset, I became a slave to the definition of my job. Inevitably, I ended up dissatisfied. So, I did something unusual for a man in my position: I stopped to reflect. I searched my life and talents for what was fulfilling and had purpose. I discovered I enjoyed storytelling to promote understanding. I loved mentoring and helping people become the best version of themselves. Importantly, I realized I was still passionate about the tech industry, particularly the issues surrounding privacy and ethics. Today, I’m pursuing my passions. I like to think of myself as an accelerator of technology and positivity. I’m the COO of UberKnowledge, bringing cybersecurity awareness and training to demographics that are underrepresented in the industry. I speak at conferences highlighting the need for a sharper focus on the ethics surrounding the technology industry.  I write articles and blog posts using analogy to simplify technology trends and complex topics like AI and IoT. I host podcasts with CISOs and other industry experts. The purpose of these is not to sell snake oil or products but to bridge the chasm between security vendors and customers so that the real problems can be solved to make the world a safer place. Underpinning all of these efforts is my belief that life’s purpose for us all is simply to connect. And the best way to do that is through generous and positive gestures.