Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Father's Day Tribute - Remembering People Who Influenced Our Fathers.

My brother Dr. Giridhar with my uncle the Late B. Keshava Reddy ( photo taken in 2013)
On Father's Day we should also remember those who influenced our fathers. This month my dad's brother Bellamkonda Keshava Reddy passed away in our ancestral village which is in the newly formed Telangana State ( Formerly part of Andhra Pradesh) in India. He was 93 years old. A deep believer in the Gandhian philosophy of simple living, he was a farmer always looking for innovation in farming - trying sericulture, growing crops that were new and treating everyone with respect and equality. Continuing his good work even in death, he had asked for his body to be donated to a Medical college doing a great service even after death.

I had mentioned my uncle in a commencement speech I gave to the Georgetown School of Continuing Studies last year. 

Here is an extract of the talk that refers to my uncle:
I went to India recently to visit family and my Dad’s brother who is over 90 years still works on his farm in a remote village in South India where our ancestral home is – told me the story of how my father used to run away from school and he had to find him and carry him back to school. He recognized the value of education and to this day I wonder what what if he had not done that? Where would I be today?  Of course my father went on to graduate from engineering school and sometimes having to walk 10 to 15 kms daily to get an education, very different that walking to the school bus stop today. 
Dads and in fact parents give us the gift of life and a life-long involvement in not only our well being but also the entire family. Wishing my dad and all dads a very happy Father's Day. To those who are no longer here with us, Thank you, your memories will keep us strong.

My parents on a visit to the Washington DC area, taken at Rocky Gap, MD

With my dad in Hyderabad, India
My parents who visited for my daughter's graduation
Here is my entire commencement speech:

Thank you very much Dean Rankin, Faculty members and students of the Georgetown School of Continuing Studies for giving me the opportunity to speak to you. I am very proud and consider it a great privilege to have the opportunity to teach at the Georgetown SCS .  Along with being a adjunct faculty member of Georgetown University, I am the Vice President of Digital Marketing at The Bozzuto Group a company that aims to be the best real estate company in America. Many of you may be familiar with Bozzuto and maybe even stay in our homes.  I consider myself an intrapreneur – driving innovation from within companies and try to spend any spare time that I have mentoring small businesses and startups.
Talking about the “Story of opportunity” that, throughout life we are faced with opportunities that are presented to us, we can increase the chance of making the right decision if we have the strength , knowledge and counsel of those who have done it before. Many times it is family, parents, work place mentors or in many cases centers of learning like this University.
I went to India recently to visit family and my Dad’s brother who is over 90 years still works on his farm in a remote village in South India where our ancestral home is – told me the story of how my father used to run away from school and he had to find him and carry him back to school. He recognized the value of education and to this day I wonder what what if he had not done that? Where would I be today?  Of course my father went on to graduate from engineering school and sometimes having to walk 10 to 15 kms daily to get an education, very different that walking to the school bus stop today.
My own story,  I started off in the hospitality industry , which is a great industry  and you get to meet to people all day long and learn a lot about humanity. When computers came along, followed by the internet, I was curious. I signed up for classes to learn Lotus 123, WordStar ( yes. Many of you may not have heard of these).  When the fax machine at the restaurant where I worked broke, we decided to get a website. Being a small business and not a ton of marketing money, our way out, in the late 90’s was to go and spend our spare time (Of course there is no spare time in the hospitality business) learning html to build a basic website for a restaurant from a local community college.
As I got more into the web technology I was fascinated by it and in the late 90’s the internet was still,not as much a part of everyone’s life as it is today. I went on to learn programming languages like Cold Fusion, Php, MySQL and web server programming. It is very hard to do this when have a fulltime job specially a restaurant, but this hard work was worth it. In the early 2000’s when the dotcom bubble burst, I was making inroads into the technology business by joining Network Solutions. I must say the combination of the hospitality industry and the skills and the knowledge I got from  my continuing studies made me the excel in customer support  for this technology company.
Learning as you work is a great gift and I owe my success to the learning that I got from my work and continuing studies. I congratulate you on your efforts in learning  and wish you success.
The  three most important things that I have learned in life that I want to share  with you are:

  1. Learning never stops: Paraphrasing author George Bernard Shaw who said “ You learn throughout your life, except for a short break in school” Georgetown University excepted . If you think about how the world has changed even in the past decade, we all have now learnt how to master a smartphone. Even in your career things that you know will constantly need refreshing. I would never have had the success I have had if I did not take interest in web technology even when I was in the hospitality industry.
  2. Share your Knowledge:  “Knowledge that is not shared is lost forever”. Seek opportunities to implement what you learnt in your work, find volunteering opportunities to deploy your learning and knowledge, mentor others, inspire them  and give them a valuable gift of knowledge. Speak at local events, community events , Career days at your kid’s schools and the karma that you build will come back to you.
  3. Find time for yourself: In this fast paced world we are constantly facing pressures of activity that sometimes we forget  that our thoughts need refreshing. We need time to process, think and get new ideas,  be it 15 minutes a day  or an hour take the time to stop multi-tasking and give yourself the luxury of thinking.
Thank you.