//A musician that made a difference

A musician that made a difference

2017-07-31T23:23:26+00:00

Quality & Me

Subir shares his own personal efforts to work toward continuous improvement within his own community, among his friends and family.

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Books by Subir

The Power of LEO
The Ice Cream Maker
The Power of Design for Six
The Power of Six Sigma
Organization 21c

One of the most memorable days of my life was meeting my favorite musician, Pandit Ravi Shankar, the legendary Sitar Maestro.

Subir Chowdhury and Ravi Shankar

Nearly half a century earlier, George Harrison of The Beatles traveled to India to learn sitar from him. A friendship formed, and it reshaped aspects of The Beatles music. Likewise, Ravi’s music had a huge impact on my own life.

Ravi invited me to his home after reading one of my books; he wanted to discuss the concept of quality. We talked about his music, and our own passions. We were supposed to meet for half an hour, but ended up talking for 3 hours. He was kind to give me lots of music CDs, DVDs, and books as a parting gift.

In our conversation, he wanted to know what ‘quality’ means to me. I was surprised by his question and his eagerness to learn. I responded, “Quality to me is Ravi Shankar.”

He was pleasantly surprised by my response and asked me why. I told him, his music gives me joy when I am down; similarly when I am alone on my own, his music gives me spiritual feelings. His music made a difference for me. He is an inspiration to me.

He was so humbled by my answer, but then told me that he still did not compose ‘quality’ music. He said he was still working on it.

Within six months of our meeting, I watched with my family his last live performance in Long Beach, CA, where  he played the sitar with an oxygen tube attached to his nose. I vividly remember his promise to me about composing music of ‘quality.’

The difference he made to millions of people of my birthplace during the 1971 liberation war of Bangladesh, I will never forget.

Ravi Shankar is one of the reasons I encourage you to make a difference, and to be a difference in someone’s life.

Subir

P.S. My new book, The Difference: When Good Enough Isn’t Enough, comes out in February 2017. You can preorder it here.

What does it take to be accountable?

Accountability is taking responsibility for your actions. It’s the “A” in STAR, and acronym I developed for what it takes to have a caring mindset. But first, we need to take a step back. You can’t be accountable if you don’t know what’s going on.

Making Choices

Subir reflects on his arrival into the United States with the promise of a job, only to find that the promise is broken. Practically penniless, Subir searches deep into his soul. Undefeated and undeterred, Subir pursues professors and department heads until he meets one who asks: You went to 20 departments, and now it is the 21st one; if I say no to you what you would do? Subir tells him, "I will go to the 22nd." This is Subir's story, not of conquest, but of perseverance in the face of making difficult choices.

Have you gotten the “Wake-up” call to be straightforward?

A director I was consulting with always expected people to come to him. This guy really believed that no news was good news. Like a lot of senior level executives, he expected people to come to him, not vice versa. The problem was, no news wasn’t good news—it was the opposite. Problems weren’t getting resolved.

How will you embrace the truth?

A friend communicated a story to me about Alan Mulally, the former CEO of Ford. When Mulally first joined the organization, he gathered his senior management team together to identify what needed to change at Ford. In a nutshell, Mulally asked his team to color code their initiatives red, yellow, or green. Red meant things were in bad shape—for example, a launch date might be missed. Yellow meant an initiative wasn’t going well, and green meant the initiative was on track.