A very successful author of Self-Help books, Mr. Shiv Khera. A motivational speaker, an educator and business consultant, in conversation with our host Lipika Sud, talks about his life transformation journey to become most influential motivational speaker in the third episode of our series “Icons of Creativity”.

Read excerpts from his conversation here:

From being born in Dhanbad, to doing all sorts of work in Canada to survive. Tell us a little more about your journey.

Right from childhood, I was not inclined towards academics. I failed in 10th standard and in 8th standard I failed all subjects except 1. When got in 11th I still used to bunk school. Then, eventually my mother talked to me and. I decided if nothing else, I will do it for my mother’s respect and love and really the last two months and I went back to my books and studied hard. When the results came I started from the compartment list just to make sure, I wasn’t there and then I looked to the third divisioners, I wasn’t even there. I thought what happened I failed again, then I looked at all the second divisioners, my name was not there. After that I left and suddenly a friend of mine called from behind and said have you checked 1st division, 3 people got it and you are one of the, that was my journey, coming from there.

Eventually, I went into B.Com, I cleared my B.com in third division. My father had coal mines and about 1000 people working for us. After nationalization of mines our family was left with no money. My father died when I was in college, our liabilities and assets were gone and I was married just 4 weeks then. A year later my daughter was born and I did not have 10Rs to buy her milk. I sold some of the last pieces of my mother’s jewelry to get her milk. Thereafter, I tried my hand in three businesses and failed in all three. Finally in 1975 I left India and went to Toronto. I started my life with a bucket in my hand and started washing cars door-to-door, for a year and a half I was doing that. And then, totally by accident I got into selling life insurance and that was the best thing that happened in my life. It was a turning point. But, within a matter of three months, my manager called me and threatened to fire me for non-performance. That’s the time I convinced him to give me one more shot. At that time I went to a programme by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, the man who wrote the book power of positive thinking and I realized till then I kept blaming the world for all my failures, not realizing that I was my own biggest problem. Nothing changed outside but something changed inside and the direction in my life changed. And thereafter my manager gave me a second shot, that year I went ahead sold close to a million dollars, year after 3 million, year after 5 million. Moved onto the US and got into 3 businesses, bought out a company out of California in 1984 and sold it after for a descent sum with over 500 clients. The reason I’m sharing this is, till then I kept failing all my life and kept blaming others for my failure not realizing that I was own biggest problem.

You went to that one motivational talk and that impacted you to the point that you actually started rethinking and reflecting. Do you these kinds of motivational talks works?

Well, it did for me. My point is, any one motivational talk doesn’t do anything. It’s just a trigger, it’s a catalyst and till then I never read a book in my life. I was only reading comics all my life, that is the time I started reading books and I became avid student from that day onwards. I started reading books one after the other. I started reading one book a week and I started meeting people much wiser than me who showed me direction one after the other. It is like a going on a highway, do you see 10 milestones, No, you only see one but when you hit one, the next one is visible after that. Gradually, I started meeting people and one after the other the doors started opening and things started happening. The new book I launched in London last year, “You Can Achieve More”, there’s a subtitle to it, it says, “if you want to stand out, you need to do something outstanding”. In that book I also mentioned there are many people who say, “I want to have an extraordinary life”, or “I want to have extraordinary income”, or “I want have extraordinary success”, you know, they are looking for answers but they don’t even have the right question. They need to ask themselves, are you an extraordinary person? Do you have extraordinary commitments in life? do you have extraordinary integrity in life? Are you willing to work extraordinary hard in life? If you haven’t got any of these extraordinary things, you can never get anything extraordinary in life. It’s never about the right place at right time but, it takes the right person, to be at the right place at right time and you also need to do the right thing at the right time. People walk with half knowledge, and they are looking for something in life and make money. I used to sell life insurance, it was on commission. if I didn’t sell, I got nothing. And there were some people who were getting salaries and not doing the job right and that is the difference between making money vs. earning money.

Why don’t you tell us more about this, what is making money and earning money?

Earning money is spiritual, you know why, because when you earn money you put your energy and ethics behind it. it is so crucial, making money is crucial and earning money is spiritual. That is the difference. But sadly, today most people want to make money and mot earn money. A good example for this is, Gallop Survey from US did a study globally and they found that 63% of people who go to work are disengaged, that means they don’t do the job, the 24% are actively disengaged, means they make sure that other people also do not do their job, that leaves 13%of people who go to work actually do the work. Only 13 % of the people work and the balance 87%, do want to get paid. If you don’t pay them they feel cheated but they haven’t done their job. Tell me, is this not an integrity issue. I have talked to many employers, including banks, the work from home culture, is it workable? I was talking to the banker, the guy says the 80-20 rule applies. It means only 20% of people are responsible enough, who can work without supervision. People are putting just 2-3 hours of work a day if at all and what is the output you are getting? How do you justify paying money for that?

There is a lot of stress that has been created after the pandemic, is it that people are taking it as an excuse. Is it anyway that 80% was not working without supervision? A lot of people are stressed and lost jobs, what do you advise to these people?

All over the world you will find, the gallop survey I just shared with you is the norm. You must have been working with many companies internationally, there are 4 kinds of people working in a company. One, is the superstar, Superstars are those who put in contribution into the company, help grow, take pride in the performance and when they a job is done it is done and you go check it out, it is done. They don’t tell lies. But they are in very less percentage, less than 5% probably. Second, the doers, you tell them they do it, and you go check it out if they have or have not done it, and then once in a while they have not done it then they don’t mind telling lies, they are occasional liars. Third, the talkers, they talk more and do less. They only do enough that you have no reason to fire them but they are really not motivated. They are habitual liars. Fourth, the trouble makers, every organization have that. The banker friend of mine, told me right now they are working with 30% staff and achieving 60% efficiency and are aiming for 70, 80 and 90 percent. Whenever unemployment goes up, self-employment also goes up. All I am saying is we need to become solution focused. There is always opportunity at the time of obstacle, some people break records and others break themselves.

How do you overcome stress?

I attended a programme by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, he started by asking his audience if anyone had any problems, everyone raised hands. Then he asked if anyone would like to get rid of their problems, everyone raised hands. He then mentioned a place he passed by while coming to deliver the lecture that day, the place where nobody had any stress or problems, everyone was intrigued. He said two blocks away from here, is a cemetery. People lying there are all relaxed and stress-free. If you want to get rid of your entire problem, you have to be dead. Problem is a sign of life.

You also said practice does not make perfect, it only makes things permanent. Could you tell us more?

You see, the quote “winners don’t do different things, they do things differently”, means winners form the habit of doing things losers don’t like to do. They are the same things winners don’t like to do either, but they do it anyway. Losers don’t like to get up in the morning, winners don’t like to get up in the morning either, but they do it anyway. Losers don’t like to work hard, winners don’t like to work hard, but they do it anyway. People often label hard work as luck, but instead for the lucky people, the positive attitude has become habitual. Every time they do it, they do it right.  And for unlucky people, the negative attitude has become habitual. That’s the difference. In martial arts, students are taught to learn form first and then they practice that form to become masters. But if the form is not right, they’ll end up getting hurt. Practice does not make perfect, right form makes perfect.

You can watch the entire episode of Icons of Creativity with none other than Mr. Shiv Khera with Interior Designer Lipika Sud here: