It all started at IIM Bangalore. I regularly conduct programs for MDP sessions and one program I’ve been associated since inception is the Women Entrepreneurship Program offered by N S Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL), IIMB. This program has morphed into a highly successful Goldman Sachs 10000 Women Entrepreneur Program.
Mukta Darera was one of the vocal and eager participants of the 2010 batch. She liked what she heard in my session and kept in touch through Facebook. In 2012, I was at Seattle, WA to conduct some programs for my client and was pleasantly surprised to get a message on FB from Mukta indicating that she too was in Seattle and we decided to catch up in the evening for dinner.
I then learned she was pursuing her MBA at the Wharton Business School, Philadelphia, and was in Seattle for an internship with Microsoft Corporation. She wanted me to give a talk to her MBA Class of 2013 at Wharton on ‘Persuade without Power’. She sent my profile to their committee and got the go ahead and in November 2013, I landed in New York.
MITian and dear friend Vivian Kamath who lives with his gracious wife Barbara and kids in Long Island, NY decided to drive me down to Philadelphia and we reached a day ahead and stayed with another MITian and a good friend of Vivian, Sanjay Currie who was with e bay then. When three MITians get together, you can imagine the unending parade of memories, barbs and inside jokes.
When I woke up the next morning, I was treated to a white blanket. Winter had set in and I saw snowfall for the first time. Here is a pic right in front of Sanjay’s home.
I was excited about getting into the rarefied atmosphere of Wharton campus. Especially because I liberally use methods advocated by Dr Richard Shell and Mario Moussa, both Wharton Faculty in their seminal book on persuasion, ‘The Art of Woo.’
My talk was at the packed Steinberg Dietrich hall.
The average age of the MBA Class of 2013 is 28 with each one having rich experience. I feel they were able to relate to many concepts because of their work exposure.
Seckin Ozdemar, Director of Speaker Series from Turkey had given me a brief which formed the basis for my talk. He said, ‘we are submerged with quantitative analysis and we need to be able to look at the ‘art’ side of persuasion.
Relying on Dr Robert Cialdini’s works and the research of Wharton Faculty Robert Shell and Mariou Moussa, I presented a script which was very well received. Many among the audience took copious notes which bolstered my confidence. And after the session many students came up with pointed questions.
I normally make presentations on iPad by connecting it to the LCD projector with a VGA adaptor. I also use ‘Penultimate’ app which enables you to write with a stylus which can be transferred to the screen. For Wharton MBA class this is routine and not a novelty. So, I preferred to use the humble blackboard and chalk to get the feel.
I started safe with the routine ‘David Collins’ opener, which I have used in many forums. Once the audience warmed up it was easy for me to lead them to the conceptual part.
Young Nigel Coelho, a dynamic speaker himself, a Gavalier from Dubai then in Drexel was kind enough to attend my talk and shoot the entire episode on my Nokia 808 cellphone. I’ve uploaded the video on my YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/tchendilk. And this young man today is a student of MBA Class of 2022 at the Wharton Business School!
A special thanks to dear friend Vivian Kamath, Sanjay Currie for hosting us and an amazing friend Lena who was of great help!
Mukta walked us around the campus. Here are some glimpses.
One of the students asked about the best way to develop ‘tunes’ or communication skills and my immediate and resounding answer was ‘JOIN TOASTMASTERS!’ With heartfelt gratitude to the TM movement for refining my skills as a speaker and facilitator!
Once again, thank you, Mukta for giving me a moment to cherish for a lifetime! Deeply grateful to my mentor, Dr DVR Seshadri, Faculty at ISB Hyderabad, Dr Kalyani Gandhi, former Dean at IIMB and Prof Suresh Bhagavathula of NSRCEL at IIMB.