Shiv Khera, famed motivational speaker, author, business consultant and social and political activist has built a successful business around motivating people to win. It all started, he says, from an inspiring motivational lecture by Dr Norman Vincent Peale and his experiences selling life insurance. Apart from his greatly in demand motivational workshops, he has also written several books including the international bestseller You Can Win and is actively involved in social and political issues. He was recently in Goa where he hosted a one-day workshop on how to sell successfully.
Excerpts of the interview:
Three most important or ‘golden rules’ for achieving success
Persistance: Persistence which is basically the bounce back ability. Success is not measured by how high we go in life but by how many times we bounce back when we fail. Be it Thomas Edison or Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, they are all prefect examples of persistence.
Hard work: there is no substitute to hard work in life. These days people talk about working smarter versus harder. But, if you could become a neurosurgeon by taking a weekend course, you would have neurosurgeons cutting off peoples’ heads on the street. Take for example Olympic gold medalists and record holder Michael Phelps, he has trained for over 10,000 hours for 15 seconds of performance. Most people want to succeed but very few are willing to pay the price to prepare to succeed.
Clear Focus: Most of us don’t have clear focus. However, unless you have a clear destination, how can you find directions? Destination determines direction. Most of us lose focus of our target and hence, end up not succeeding in life. Look at any successful person, they have very clear focus and once they set their targets, they do not deviate.
To succeed, you need to do whatever it takes to achieve the target, put in that extra effort, even when it hurts. The difference between a good and a bad professional is that a good professional is that even on a bad day, a good professional’s output remains the same as that on a good day. They won’t compromise on the quality of performance.
How do you deal with personal lows and motivate yourself?
There is a difference between failing and failure. However, people confuse failing with failure and get disheartened, pack up and quit. But this is where focus, maturity of thinking and concentration come in. One has to be willing to pay the price to succeed. The need to motivate oneself arises in all of us, including me. Our minds don’t need just thoughts, they need positive thoughts, and on a daily basis. Also, there is a difference between inspiration and motivation. Motivation is action. It is the consequence of inspiration. When thinking changes, that becomes our motive for action.
You have worked as a car washer and a life insurance agent among others before you became a world class motivational speaker. What was the turning point?
There were many turning points. I was born in a business family who used to have coal mines in Dhanbad. However, the nationalisation of coal mines by Indian government meant we literally came on the street. I decided to move abroad. I started out washing cars and then moved on to selling insurance. One of my clients was Dr Norman Vincent Peale. I heard him say ‘problem is a sign of life. It will be there no matter what. What is important is our attitude to face it. By having a negative attitude we become our own biggest problems’. That was one of my turning point.
Selling life insurance, I would say, was another major turning point. Selling is a rejection business, you need to go through 20 nos before you get one yes. Most people get so demotivated that they quit. If you survive and thrive selling life insurance, many things in life become a lot easier. That was one of the best things that could have happened to me.
Your trademark quote ‘Winners don’t do different things, they do things differently’ is a roaring success. Tell us a little about it
People often ask me what sets winners apart. Firstly, winners do things that losers don’t like to do. Interestingly, these things that losers don’t like to do, winner don’t like doing them either. However, they do them anyways because they have got into the habit of doing the things they ‘don’t like to do’. For example, waking up early in the morning or working hard. This habit is what makes the difference.
Secondly, winners always put in that extra effort, even when it hurts. Athletes train for 15 years for 15 seconds of performance. Take the case of Michael Phelps. Two years before his spectacular Beijing Olympics performance he fractured his arm and doctors told him he wouldn’t be able to swim. But he did it and excelled at it.
In football, if you ask a high scorer his secret, he will always tell you that he isn’t where the ball is, but where the ball is coming. That’s the key. Good leaders preempt and prevent. Bad leaders only do post-mortems of problems.
Your book ‘You Can Win’ is an international bestseller. What made you write this book?
The book was probably in my head since about 40 years before it actually came out. I finished penning it in 1997. The USP of the book is that it addresses day to day issues like how to bounce back? What do you do? What are the challenges you face? People think winners are lucky to be at the right place at the right time. What they don’t see, however, is the struggle behind the success. Walt Disney went bankrupt seven times in life but that didn’t stop him.
The book has also been credited with initiating the trend of personality development books...
I don’t think that is the case. Even back then, when I wrote it, there were hundreds of self help books. What made the difference, I think, is the awareness that was brought in by my programmes after which people saw the book, read it, bought it and started referring to it. The book is not like a trend. The principles it carries are time tested.
Your brush with politics was, however, not as successful. Did it leave a bitter aftertaste or will you throw your hat into the political ring again?
I stepped back from politics because it became a little too stressful for me, both physically and financially. But is it over and out of my system? I don’t think so. If something bothers you, it will bother you and keep on bothering you. The things we see happening in politics today are rather disturbing. The worrisome question is the disconnect people feel. The reservation, the caste system, the regionalism and the corruption are all lying concerns. Politics is not just contesting elections. If I can’t be a good leader, I can certainly be a good follower.
Your views on Goa.
It’s a great place to be. But I think it can be developed into a stunning tourist destination provided we build the infrastructure, bring in the required law and order, the social responsibility, cleanliness and also the affordability. If all this is taken care of, Goa definitely has great potential. Unfortunately, here in India, things have had potential for thousands of years. The question is when do you see it.
Numerous Goan/Indian youngsters leave the state/country, each year for better prospects. What would you say to them to motivate them to stay and give their best to benefit the state?
If they are leaving for better prospects, why should they not? They have their whole life ahead of them. Moves like these make them stronger financially, physically, mentally and emotionally thus making them better. If they are going out to better their prospects in life, I think they deserve it. The Governments are anyways not doing anything much for them.
You have a very dedicated (and growing) following. What is it that draws people to you?
I think it’s the practicality of what we do and talk about. Our messages appeal to their logic and emotions thinking and feeling together.
If not an emotional motivator, what would be Shiv Khera’s claim to fame
People say that I am a teacher. All I can say, however, is I am a student. Every year I go through programmes, read books myself. I think if anyone has to be a good teacher, they have to first be a good student.
Tell us a little about your NGO, Country First Foundation
Through my NGO, I have filed three Public Interest Litigations (PILs) in theSupreme Court. One is that the right to elect must be accompanied by the right to reject. The second is that there must be witness protection programmes in India and the third is that reservation should not be based on caste or religion but on economic situation. I am in the process of filing a fourth one – on alleged corruption in the justice delivery organ of our democracy. That apart, every month we organize a blood donation camp in Delhi.
Please elaborate on your PIL about reservation.
The PIL is that reservation should not be based on caste or religion, but that economics should be the criteria as caste or religion based reservation is leading to a further division in the country. The mess that has engulfed most of India is the result of the dirty caste politics being played by our politicians. All parties have given an approval for a caste based census. I think that is disgraceful. Sadly enough our Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh and the others next to him who are all Oxford, Harvard and Princeton graduates are neither ignorant nor innocent and what they are doing is absolutely disgraceful.
Our political system has done nothing for the tribals and the lower caste in the last 60 years. Look what has happened with tribals. The police have gone into the villages and raped their women, they come to the police station and get raped a second time, and then, when they went to the court for a legal redressal, the legal system raped them yet again. At a time like this, what choice do they have except to either commit suicide or take up the gun? If they commit suicide they are called cowards and if they pick up the gun, criminals. Of course violence is wrong but who is the biggest violator of peace today? It is the government. If we have any mafia in the country today, it is the Government.
There has been news of a PG Diploma course that you plan to initiate.
I was looking at setting it up, but have postponed the plan because of my own poor health. The course will be a one year post graduate diploma in leadership and management and the aim is to create leaders who can mange versus managers who cannot lead