Bringing old wisdom to new leadership with Anil Sachdev

screen-shot-2016-01-18-at-6-05-23-pm-250x250Rarely have I met anyone who so integrates a path of self-knowing and meditation with a very successful executive career.  Anil Sachdev has been a senior leader in the Eicher Group in India and the founder and CEO of Eicher Consultancy Services. He founded Grow Talent – the leading player in Education and HR Consulting and through Grow Talent became the Founder and CEO of the School for Inspired Leadership (SOIL) outside of Delhi, India – an innovative values-based business school.

Anil’s values, informed by the teachings of Swami Chinmayanda and the Bhagavad Gita, have been core to his professional work.  In December 2015, he hosted the World Leadership Dialogue in Pune, India, bringing together leaders in education, business, government, journalism and not-for-profits to speak, in a secular way, about the applications of the Bhagavad Gita’s wisdom to today’s leadership.

 Among the insights:

  • How the Bhagavad Gita encourages us to find our leadership within.
  • Why the Bhagavad Gita can bring mindfulness to leaders navigating a chaotic environment.
  • How Anil used his values to guide him through a tough business dilemma.
  • Why SOIL uses theatre to teach ethics.
  • Why we need a third path between capitalism and the ancient spiritual traditions.

And here’s the entire interview:

You can also find it on the podcast on Itunes, episode 40


And please leave a rating and review!

About My Guest

Anil is the Founder and CEO of the School of Inspired Leadership. Presently, he also serves as the dean of SOIL. Anil has been adjunct Faculty to leading business schools such as Indian School of Business, Kelly School of Business, Indiana University, GMI, Flint Michigan, Antioch University, Seattle and Ohio University, Athens, Ohio. Given his belief in the power of education, Anil decided to create SOIL- the School of Inspired Leadership to provide management education with focus on ethics, community partnerships, sustainability and other leadership aspects that the world of today badly needs.

Recognised as a thought leader in talent management, leadership development and organizational transformation, Anil has spoken at national and global conferences all over the world and has written contributory pieces for leading publications. He is active in management circles and has held several public offices such a Chairman of National Committee on Industrial relations and Regional Committee on Human Resource Development of Confederation Indian Industry. Anil serves as the Trustee of the Chinmaya Mission, an inspiring ‘Not for Profit’ Institution and the Charities Aid Foundation, a global NGO. He has received several National Awards including ‘The HR Professional of the Year’.

In 2012, Anil was re-appointed as the Chair of the CII National Committee on Leadership Development for the year 2012-13. He has also been appointed as a member of CEDEP Academic Committee. CEDEP is an Executive Education Consortium, founded in 1970 in association with INSEAD to design and develop innovative open enrollment, company specific programmes for its members. CEDEP today brings together 22 member companies from a wide range of countries including the USA, India, France,Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Australia. Mr. Sachdev was also awarded the Learning Luminary Award, in recognition of his sustained, path-defining contributions to the sphere of Learning & OD by the Learning and Organization Development Roundtable, a not-for-profit society driving the cause of Learning & Organizational Development (L & OD) across India and Asia.

After completing his MBA from the University of Pune in 1975 Anil joined Tata Motors and then the Eicher Group in 1978. In 1991 he became the founder CEO of Eicher Consultancy Services and later brought A.T. Kearney to India. He later founded Grow Talent – the leading player in Education and HR Consulting.

The Show Notes

For more information about Anil or the School of Inspired Leadership (SOIL) go to

Reflections of a master consultant: talking with Geoff Bellman

geoffGeoff Bellman has written six books that have been hugely helpful to the consulting and organizational communities. Now in his mid-seventies, he’s easing out of a thirty-year internationally-recognized consulting practice. In this interview, Geoff reflects candidly on the  field of organizational consulting and some of the changes he has seen.

In this interview, I ask him to reflect on his highly successful career and consider what might be different if he were writing his tome about the practice of organizational consulting, The Consultant’s Calling, today.

  • Why it’s harder for some of us raised in 20th century organizations to work in 21st century organizations.
  • How the 24-7 workplace, and the possibilities and challenges of digital connections, are changing work.
  • How the pace or work has accelerated how consulting gets done.
  • Why Geoff purposefully limited his paid consulting work in order to create a balanced practice and life.
  • Why it’s critical to work internally before becoming an external consultant.
  • Why we must see our own shadows – as we go to work in organizations. “Organizations are  us.”  “We’re not as close to our aspirations for our lives as some of us pretend to be.”
  • The importance of embracing the distress of your client organizations.
  • Why we have to move beyond parent-child relationships in organizations.
  • The importance of embracing reality, the changes that are taking place that we don’t fully understand.

“Organizations are the world’s 21 Century dilemma…they are magnificent and mad, wonderful and wretched, crazy and compelling. They make so little and so much sense.”  

“We know more about our aspirations in leadership than  our shortcomings…there’s much to learn about the reality of ourselves and the reality of organizations – and embracing and accepting that reality.  Let’s know where we’re starting from.”

“We have a lot of clarity about the kind of leadership we like and should lean towards.  We don’t have a lot of clarity about what organizations are in the 21st century.”

“We don’t what the hell we’re doing.  We’re managing as best we can.  We’re in the middle of a transformation.”

“This is not work for cynics and pessimists. This is work for people who hold on to dreams that are not going to be realized in their lifetimes.  If you’re working on something that can be accomplished in your lifetime, you’re not thinking big enough.  Well, I believe that.”

Geoff Bellman

And here’s the entire interview:

You can also find the episode in the Vital Presence Podcast on Itunes, episode 39.


Please check in out in Itunes and leave a rating and review!

About My Guest

Geoff Bellman started his consulting firm in 1977 following fourteen years of work inside Corporate America. His external consulting has focused on renewing large, mature organizations such as Booz Allen, Verizon, and Boeing.

A prolific author, his books are in a dozen languages with over 300,000 in print

His consulting and workshops have taken Geoff to five continents. He has served as guest faculty for Pepperdine University, Fielding Institute, Sonoma State, OSR at Pinchot, and LIOS at Saybrook. Linkage International’s OD Lab for Experienced Practitioners is designed around his ideas and offered world-wide.

With others, he founded The Community Consulting Partnership in 1995; they offer almost-free consulting skills and consulting to community-based organizations in Seattle. He regularly consults to executive directors and boards including Whidbey Institute, Center for Courage and Renewal, Charlotte Martin Foundation, and Seattle Counseling Service.

Geoff received a national award from the Organization Development Network for his contributions to advancing the profession. The Whidbey Institute in Washington State honored him for community service.

Geoff grew up in Washington State, graduated from Gonzaga University and the University of Oregon. For twenty years, he and his family followed work around the country–to Denver, New Orleans, Tulsa, and Chicago. In 1981, they to returned to the Pacific Northwest. With his wife, Sheila Kelly, he lives in Seattle on the edge of Puget Sound in sight of the Olympic Mountains.

The Show Notes

Geoff’s books:

  • Extraordinary Groups: How Ordinary Teams Achieve Amazing Results, with co-author, Kathleen Ryan (Jossey-Bass, 2009). Sixty great teams and what makes them so.
  • The Extraordinary Teams Inventory with Kathleen Ryan and Kevin Coray (HRDQ Press, 2014).   An assessment tool for teams that aspire to great performance.
  • The Consultant’s Calling: Bringing Who You Are to What You Do (Jossey-Bass, 2002-2nd edition). FORBES cited as a most popular small business book.
  • Getting Things Done When You Are Not In Charge (Berrett-Koehler, 2001-2nd edition). A Fortune Book Club selection, the title says it all.
  • The Beauty of the Beast: Breathing New Life into Organizations (Berrett-Koehler, 2000). Successfully living with, working in, and influencing these huge creatures.
  • Your Signature Path: Gaining New Perspectives on Life and Work (Berrett-Koehler, 1996). Assistance in turning sharp corners in your career and life.
  • The Quest for Staff Leadership (Scott-Foresman, 1986). For middle managers and winner of the National Book Award from the Society for Human Resource Management.

Spark Your Thinking by Going Visual

Patty Dobrowlski at work on a visual goal

My artistic career ended in third grade.  In fact, after I received a B in Mrs. Potter’s art class, I figured that I had no talent at all.  “Stick to writing words”, I told myself.  That self-talk lasted fifty years.

More recently, I’ve recanted and acknowledged some artistic things I can do – such as create Ikebana flower arrangements– so it’s not over for me yet. But the fact of the matter still remains: I can’t draw.

This didn’t matter at all to Patti Dobrowolski, whom I heard at a recent evening event on Visual Goal Setting.  Patti is a former actress, business consultant, creativity consultant, visual strategist, visual process facilitator, and captivating wild woman. With great enthusiasm, she reassured us drawing drop-outs that we would do fine just sketching stick figures.

One of the purposes of drawing our goals was to activate the power of the right (imaginative) side of the brain, which, fortunately for me, does not do critical evaluations of artistic talent.

I was sitting next to my friend and collaborator Claire Bronson, who had introduced me to Patti’s work a year ago. Claire is herself a visual facilitator who can turn a flip chart into a work of art, and make even a word look beautiful. (see her words at  I made a mental promise: don’t even think of comparing my drawing with Claire’s!

Developing visual goals

 Patti gave us copies of templates for her visual mapping process and we began. Step one in her process is to reflect on current reality – “what’s going well in your world and what’s challenging you?”  She asked us to capture the essence of our thoughts and feelings in one-word statements. “Don’t make a list,” she told us because lists belong to our left-brain organizing, linear self – not to the creative, knowing, more random right-side of the brain that we were to encourage in this exercise.

Putting down words wasn’t hard for me because I’m pretty aware of what is working in my life right now and what I’d like to change –  so I scattered words that described my current life: “Mariah the wonder pony” (captures my heart); “Great group” (love my current leadership program clients); “Fear of the future” (yikes, this economy???)  I then struggled to think of images to go with the words and mine seemed pretty tight and constrained.

Patti kept reassuring us that drawings don’t have to be good to communicate to the right side of the brain.

We then shared with a partner what we observed in looking at our map. I noticed that Patti’s process had already included three modalities: thinking in words, drawing images, and sharing out loud – all ways of reinforcing the power of the exercise.

Our next step was the most fun for me: highlighting our intentions for the future.  Patti invited us to go on a creative trip and let our imaginations rip.

I’ve been working hard re-visioning my business and I have a lot of energy about the future, so this part was fun. I dropped my “am I doing it right concerns?” and lept into creative mode. I quickly came up with ideas and images (still not so artistic, but I didn’t care!), about the future I wanted to create.

I allowed myself to be surprised. An airplane became an easy symbol for the international work I plan to do. A circle showed me how much I value collaboration.

This time, I loved the process of drawing. I was playing full-out and my desire was pulling me forward. I was connecting with intuitive wisdom  – and putting it on paper where I could see it, reflect on it, and act. Patti again asked us to share our reflections with a partner.

Bridging the gap between current and desired reality

The final piece of this action-packed session had us think about how we would move towards the futures we saw in our drawings.  We were asked to identify three bold steps that would help us bridge the left side (current reality) of our maps with the right (desired new reality.)  I noticed one of my tablemates stalled at this point, but I was on a roll.  “Link arms to a wide community,” “Write a bolder truth,” “Speak the passion through great presentations.” I couldn’t wait to go further and look at what each of these might entail but, alas, we were out of time.

Patti encouraged us to keep working with our maps, and invited us to download the free map template she has on her website: Up Your Creative Genius. Just to feed my imagination and keep going with the process, I bought a copy of her book Drawing Solutions: How Visual Goal Setting Will Change Your Life that describes this process in more detail (complete, of course, with great illustrations.)

Many thanks to the Pacific Northwest Organizational Development Network for organizing this evening. I just wish I could get back together with everyone in six months and celebrate our progress creating that new bold reality.


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