Thanks for showing so much love to my book – The Anexas Story. Based on many requests to publish chapters of the book on LinkedIn, I continue to write a series of articles based on these chapters. Please read on and keep believing that there is an entrepreneur in you…and everyone!
Sometimes there are important things that we think are not so important that are more necessary on the path to excellence.
During my Thailand days, I had casually picked up the language Thai. I used to say whatever came to me and Thai people bore the brunt.
What was my problem? Nothing.
I was learning a language in familiar settings. My colleagues bore the brunt and enjoyed my nonsense. So, coming back to the Paris trainings, I finally delivered them. Technically all went well. That means, when it came to technical training on tools and techniques, I was superb. Participants commented that they fell in love with statistics. Especially a young woman named Kirsty, who went on to say those words on the last day of training. She even expressed her desire to devote entire career to her new-found love. Of course, I am referring to statistics! The trainer’s rating scores averaged at about 85%, which was well above the minimum desired level of 75%.
Following that, I was invited to London to conduct awareness trainings which gave me a chance to see so many places I had heard about since childhood. Including a chance to click a photo with Amitabh Bachchan. Not the real one, but with his wax statue in Madame Tussauds. The meeting with the real AB still eluded me!
Further, I also delivered pieces of training in other cities in UK like Bristol and Ipswich, where the feedback was again excellent.
However, I did receive some constructive criticism from my European co-trainers.
They were very critical of my delivery right from the pronunciation to sometimes the usage of wrong grammar.
Sometimes, I would use the words which meant something strange in spoken English.
Take, for example, an instruction I gave to the trainees in the room once that they need to pick up the files from the boxes kept at the back side. My co-trainer David corrected me by saying that ‘backside’ in UK English had many meanings, none that meant what I wished to convey!
Ha, I was still a guy thinking in Hindi and delivering in English.
This had to happen.
We pick up so many expressions from the Hindi idiom in life, that in an international context could be quite hilarious.
He also told me to polish my pronunciation to make it closer to the European and British accent, so that participants don’t have to struggle to understand my content. That challenge was something new to me.
I decided to act on it. To understand more of what he meant, I attended David’s next training. After some very careful observation, I realized some of the errors I committed in pronouncing certain letters. Well, that was not an error as long as I was with Indian audience. But here, it could be considered a mistake, and the first step was to have this realization. Like any Indian, I would pronounce p,t,k,v,w little differently.
It is difficult to explain it in written form here in the book. But let me attempt. It is advisable to listen to the correct pronunciation on internet after reading the following.
I observed that when p, t, k occurred initially, in the beginning of the word, they were pronounced with aspiration, i.e. ph, th, kh. For example, p was pronounced as Phee, K as Khay, t as thhee. Then you had the differences in v and w. Bite the v and kiss the w, as they say. Means while speaking v, the lower lip touches the upper teeth. For w, your lips make a round shape like what you do when you kiss. I realized this on the first day of the training while observing David.
I came home and kept aside three hours to master these letters. Now, I knew the tricks! I just repeated the correct pronunciation of each letter for ten minutes each.
Like, for k, I would look at k and say kha, kha, kha, kha, kha and then again kha kha kha kha and then again kha kha kha kha. Till the time k automatically resonated with kha in my mind. And I was never the same again. I had changed twenty-five years of my learning in just three hours.
From then, p,t,k,v,w would never be the same again for me.
Then there was phonetics of the English language. I didn’t know the European pronunciation of the vowels in speech. Completely failing in making them sound like they do in England or US. For example, our way of pronouncing ‘economics’ is very different from how they pronounce it. The vowels have a different sound. They are dragged differently. In short, I was doing all that very wrong. I observed myself and then others. After some careful observations, I started getting it.
See, in our country, who do we learn from? Newscasters or commentators. Fellow employees or executives are sometimes in the same pit as we are. I started learning from David’s sessions and then things drastically improved. He actually asked me, “How did you do it?”
“I could not withstand your criticism, you know, so worked too hard on it.” I chuckled.
“Give me a high five, man!” David was delighted to see someone getting transformed through his oratory. My training scores improved to 95% plus. One of the highest achieved by any Six Sigma trainer in that company worldwide.
Me, the man from inner Madhya Pradesh speaking that spanking new English. Believe that, will you?
And don’t laugh. No, don’t snigger too!
For subsequent articles, please watch this space.
You can buy the book directly from its website on https://www.anexasstory.com
or on Amazon on https://www.amazon.in/ANEXAS-STORY-There-Entrepreneur-Everyone-ebook/dp/B07ZGLN8C7
Amitabh Saxena is founder of Anexas, a well-known lean six sigma and project management consulting organisation. He has trained over 50,000 participants and has 30 years of experience in consulting more than 300 organisations around the world including Fortune 100 companies across industry domains. With a strong team of 25 Master Black Belts, his organisation Anexas has been helping individuals and organisations achieve eminence through excellence since 2006. They can be reached on email@example.com.