You Can Win!

Shiv Khera — He is a deliberate speaker. Armed with a battery of mostly borrowed quotes bundled in a dimunitive bombshell, he repetitively drums the success phrases of life into the audience.


Moving from theme to theme, circling the whirlpool of business success, Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques surface; the questioner’s raised hand, the timed pause, the obligatory positive reinforcement “thank you” that accompanies each answer from the audience and the occasional “yes or yes” question.

A few gifts at the side, a book of phrases and several posters of overachievers subtitled with pithy power phrases, ready to be dispensed to the daring student who answers correctly. “Who was the most successful American swimmer before Michael Phelps?”; “What is self esteem?” he engages the audience one by one. Each repeated statement comes with a piercing gaze bestowed upon his student of the second, his ink slinger of the instant.

At the end of the speech everyone shakes off the shroud of the spell and the obligatory gifts are presented. The organising publishing representative, the head of the department at Singapore Polytechnic and Shiv Khera deliver their Oscar®speeches and gratitude for making the event happen. Then the book signings begin. The students queue up and flip open their covers and his pen starts scratching out motivational messages bookended with a signature. Does anyone ever try credit card fraud with a celebrity signature I wonder? I circle desultorily, chit chatting with the other guests, waiting for the moment when I can ask him to write for Good Paper, to share his philosophy with Dear Reader, to make the world a better workplace.

Of course, he says “no”. He is flying back to America in a few hours. He could give me an interview though. “What now?” I questioned. “Yes, give me a lift back to my place now and we can do the interview… now!” “Sure! Why not” I reply.

Winners Don’t Do Different Things, They Do Things Differently®

For Shiv, being a great salesman is being moral and trustworthy. The sales process itself is usually the art of building sufficient trust so that every bridge gets a signature on the contract. Vifredo Pareto would be proud to hear Shiv talk about how it is easier to sell to long time customers who already have a high level of trust, the 80-20 rule writ large. Shiv himself swears by his car salesman in the States who has sold him every car he has ever owned.

I was flabbergasted by the Shiv’s revelation that, that the time it takes to make a sale is inversely proportional to the amount of trust the client has. An apt comparison is passenger processing at airports. Before 9/11, passengers could mosey up to the airport 45 minutes before the flight. Since then, people would queue for 2 hours beforehand to allow security personnel master the finer points of sock fashion. Likewise with more time spent finessing each sale, top lines dive and bottom lines rampage through the china shop.

The Power of Positive thinking

As we drive back to his place, Shiv repeatedly pokes my leg and holds my shoulder as he shares Cliff’s notes of his life story in between 3 or 4 calls to his family and his associates. One of 2 sons-in-law has started his own business. The wife is packing the bags for the flight. Another caller learns that Shiv is with the media.

Coming from a moneyed family in India that had a profitable business, Shiv Khera was inspired by the teachings of Dr Vincent Norman Peale who was the author of the 1952 book “The Power of Positive Thinking” and is considered to be an early progenitor of Positive Thinking. Attending a lecture delivered by Dr Peale, Shiv cites Reinhold Niebuhr’s serenity prayer as being formative in his thinking.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. “

I ask him if the teachings he learned and now shares with people had an impact on the businesses he owned and he replies in the affirmative. He declines, several times, to share specific metrics and ask me to try it for myself, because it just is so.

As Dr Peale believes, Shiv also believes that most business issues are at heart, people issues.

Winners see the gain; Losers see the pain

Self esteem affect how one deals with other people. People with high self esteem relate to other people well and create powerful positive relationships that build trust. However there are many people with self esteem issues that threaten to sabotage businesses.

One common issue are people who believe that when you lose, I win. They take joy in other people’s misfortune because they feel that they are better off by comparison. They do not see value in themselves as a person who can stand on their own merits.

Another damaging type of ego is the fragile individual who takes everything personally. Criticisms, comments and being stretched will backfire, resulting in withdrawal or anger. What scope would there be to share and grow with such challenged person.

If you think you can – You can! If you think you cannot – you cannot! And either way… you are right!

He is not using the lift. I follow him up the stairs to his unit. He does have a heavy bag. I meet the his family who are rushing to prepare for the flight. I spend some time admiring the traditional Indian furnishing and paintings that adorn his living room. Shiv sits me firmly at the table and we finish the interview in about 15 minutes. By now there is not much more to say. He shares that the difference between a professional and the rest of us is that the professional always performs, whether he is having a bad day or not. He grips my arm firmly and I express a thoughtful oomph.

He offers me a gift, a box with the Shiv Khera logo inscribed on it. I open it up, a ball point pen printed with You Can Win is inside. There is also a complimentary You Can Win success booklet. The first page of the book is titled.

Success is a matter of choice – not chance.