Prasad Kaipa: Spiritually Connecting with Others

About PRASAD KAIPA

About Prasad Kaipa

In his journey spanning decades, Prasad has been an author, leadership coach, adviser and researcher. Amidst changing roles, the only constant in his life has been a desire to delve deeper into his essence and sensibility. This essence has been shaped by other roles he has played, like those of a father, brother and husband.

Prasad strives to bring Indian Vedantic wisdom into management theory and practice. Just like the Japanese contribution to management and manufacturing, he believes Indian wisdom can contribute to change management, leadership development, employee engagement and motivation.

Cognitive and neurological sciences along with brain research also hold Prasad’s deep interest. While Vedantic wisdom is more about purpose and passion, behavioural sciences help validate the direction in which we apply our passion in a scientific manner. He uses these neurological capabilities to help others’ spirit, heart and mind work harmoniously.

Artificial Intelligence is something Prasad has seen ‘grow up’ – and has been hooked on, ever since his days at Apple University. AI today is much more than it was 20 years ago; it has the potential to give humans emotional support and shield them from vulnerability. His current passion project is to find ways to instill compassion and empathy into Alexa, Siri, Cortana and their friends. Prasad is always on the lookout for those who share his vision and want to collaborate with him to make these dreams a reality.

Bio Source: https://prasadkaipa.com/about.html

 

Transcript:

Alan

Can you share a little about your background?

 

Prasad

I got a PhD in physics from India, the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai. And that was in 1981. And I came to University of Utah, in Salt Lake City as a postdoctoral research associate. And following here, I had an opportunity to work with Dr. Haskell in the University of Utah medical school, in the radio biology division, I was an assistant professor, and a deputy director of a research lab that we built over the next six years. And in 1987, I moved to Apple Computer. What happened was that somewhere around 1984, Apple Macintosh came out. And I really got interested in using the computer for education purpose, it somehow happened that my passion for the computer overtook my passion for physics. And next thing I know, I was in Apple, from 1987, through 1980. I was a, I was in product marketing, I was a research fellow in Apple University. And at that time, I quit apple in 1990. And I chose to focus on doing research and consulting, in the area of how people learn how people lead, how people communicate. These are some areas in which I really was passionate while I was in Apple, because we wanted to design tools for augmenting human intelligence. And once I quit Apple, I started doing research in that area on my own. And that led me to do more of organizational learning area, I started working with companies and mostly with CEOs, and C suite executives, in coaching them, and helping them to what you might call a help them to find their next significant step. That’s when I realized my background in physics, my background in spirituality, and my background in management, all came together. And that’s what I have been doing for past 30 years, helping companies and executives to find their inner purpose, find deeper meaning and passion in such a way that they can lead themselves and they can lead their organizations effectively, innovatively and ethically.

 

Alan

You know, for the listeners, precisely, you’re being modest. But you’ve been ranked as one of the top consultants in the world with working with some of the Fortune 100. Companies just I’m just going to put a footnote in there since you didn’t say it. I will. Now, this is interesting. So a PhD in physics. Starting it over, he had excellent education, it is one of the best universities in the world. Teaching post doctorate at the University of Utah, and then stepping out into the consulting world. Now, it gets interesting when you say, Well, I’m going to do consulting but I’m going to do it in a different way, by introducing spirituality in the workplace, and there’s things in life about, you know, the taboo, you don’t talk about politics, you don’t talk about religion, and here facade is I’m going to talk about spirituality in the business space. Precisely. How was that received when you began to do that?

 

Prasad

Very interesting. I have two stories to tell you for that. First one, I was in 1992. as a consultant, I was still trying to find my way through management consulting. And there was an invitation to go to Cincinnati and present to Procter and Gamble executives to do some training in the area of leadership. Myself and another gentleman, we went there, we met with the director of organization development and training. I had a bunch of papers and files in my hand. And I also happen to have some notes from Bhagavad Gita. And just I was reading that, and I was actually trying to look at what are some lessons I learned from Bhagavad Gita and I had some notes, and then I left them on the table. And because from there, we went to have lunch together with the director. And then I came back and realized I left my notes and file on his desk. And, of course, the notes didn’t have anything like my name on it. It just said notes from Bhagavad Gita. And he called me up in the afternoon, saying, Hey, there is a note son, Bhagavad Gita, and leadership are there by any chance yours. My friend told me before that it’s a conservative organization. It’s a, you know, Midwest, you are in Ohio. And you need to be careful about talking about your differences and your diversity, you are an Indian, brown man, coming and talking about that people might mistake you that you are actually selling your religion. So you should be careful. So without that, coaching, I was like thing, you know, I was like, seriously thinking, I should say that Bhagavad Gita notes are mine. And Bhagavad Gita, as you know, is one of the holy books of Hinduism. But I have learned various things that are more about spirituality. And once I began to look at, anybody can learn from it. Just like I can learn from Bible. Anybody else can learn from Bhagavad Gita. That doesn’t mean it is about changing you up Hindu. It is about understanding ethical and values for our management and for ourselves. So I decided, let me be courageous. You know, what, if the consulting doesn’t come, it’s okay. But if I’m not honest and truthful, then what have I learned from my spiritual background? So I think, yeah, those are my notes. I’m sorry, I forgot. He said, You know, this is pretty interesting. I was just looking at it. By the way, my son had gone to India, and he had given me a copy of Bhagavad Gita. But this looks pretty interesting. You know, it is a course in miracles. You know, there are some principles that are common between Course in Miracles and Bhagavad Gita, can you come over this afternoon for tea, and then maybe we’ll have some conversation about it. That was amazing. So by telling the truth, by being honest, I found out there was actually a door to the heart of a person, it doesn’t matter that, you know, whether he was a Republican or a Democrat, whether he was a conservative or a liberal, but we began to deal with something that has meaning for him. And meaning for me, and that friendship, you know, remain with me for a long time. So that is one story.

 

Alan

I love it. And, you know, and you were able to successfully find that common thread, right? I think in the world today. Yeah. It’s one of the problems that you know, people, you know, they have their viewpoints. And they’re like, well, don’t try to change me. Don’t try to tell me, you because I just not interested I know what I do, is right. And, and then events happen in their life that causes them to rethink their situation, their change. As you move forward in life, you went through this in a in a in a process and through a series of experiences. You’re able to write not just one book, but several books. Can you share with me some of the things that you talked about in them? I’m going to just choose one book because I know there’s me There’s a book called from smart to wise, what is that smart to whites mean? Sure.

 

Prasad

What I found is the decade in of 2010 onwards, you might call it the decade of the smart because we talk about smart TV smart home, and with the, you know, Gen five, and with the all the new phones, you know, whether it’s an iPhone 12, or Android or Samsung 20, any of them it’s all about being smart is what matters in the world these days. So, what I was looking at was, I had an opportunity to deal with very, very smart people in Silicon Valley for past 30 years, and the people from IIT, or, like the cream of the cream in India, of engineering students, I had an opportunity to learn with them and study with them, and grew up with them. So I realized, I have had a good fortune of working with and learning from and coaching, large number of very, very smart people in the world. What did I learn about them. And I interviewed like about 30, CEOs, and about 200 extraordinary people, including 16, Nobel laureate. So I realized, I have some story about people who are in the top in terms of their IQ scale. And if I can consolidate my lessons, of course, as I look at them, I needed a framework to use for it. So I looked at the management framework. And there was one research framework in University of Michigan, a friend of mine, Dr. John Adams had pointed out talking about endothermic, and mesothermic body types, when you have different kinds of body types, how you perceive things in six different areas. As I was looking at it, a friend of mine, a mathematics professor, from India, who was like a teacher, to me, he is a mentor, and he was visiting his son in United States, and he told me, you know, these are some things which you might want to look at it from a spiritual lens, because in Bhagavad Gita, again, later part of it, he consolidate how we can get work done in the pain of workplace or in home, or in a church or in a school, by looking at work in six different areas, and how our own tendencies, our own natural tendencies, either help you or hurt you, in different contexts, have you looked at that. So, when I looked at it, I realized there are three tendencies that you know, in the Indian spiritual context they bring about, that has nothing to necessarily Connect itself to only one group of people that universally applicable they talk about functional smart, that is my management word, by the way, the spiritual word was tamasic. Meaning means in Sanskrit, a person who is very happy with the status quo, who is very concrete, and who is actually grounded in their area of expertise, and they resist change, and they are very interested in going deep, and they do not want to take risk. So those are some things which people say if spiritually, while it might help you to do your day to day work, it will get in the way of actually making progress. Because you need to take risks. You need to go beyond your expertise. Like for example, if I were to stay in physics, you know, yes, yeah, colleague of mine got a Nobel Prize. Actually, I had a couple of papers with him. And when I had a chance to interact with him, he joked saying that if you were to be in physics, who knows, maybe you could have shared the Nobel Prize with me, just to bug me, but I realized, I it is, you know, it is wonderful that he got it. I am full of admiration for him. But what I learned outside of physics in management in computers Underneath, in the brain research, integrating all of them for human nature, I’m really grateful that I had an opportunity. So when you are in your domain, you become a domain expert. When you learn to go outside of your domain, when you become a learner, when you become a beginner, and you develop a beginner’s mind, you actually increase your capacity to learn and to listen. And those can be very, very useful skills. So I found out the business smarter person does not stay in the domain of their expertise, that person becomes entrepreneurial. That person stretches, and goes into areas where they couldn’t know anything. They collaborate with other people who are experts. And they, you know, when they respect each other, when they work with each other, and they become co founders, or in a large company, when they begin to listen to each other like a really deeply listening, authentic listening, then they become very good teams. As teams, they can build either startups, or they can build big divisions and innovative product. So I found that kind of characteristic is a business smart. That’s very different from a functional smart. And then I realize in these days, where ethics and values have become more important, thanks to what’s happening in the world. Whether you talk about the conflict at this moment in the political domain in the United States, or whether you talk about Brexit, between United States, I mean, between United Kingdom and Europe, or whether you talk about farmers crisis in India, or anywhere, for that matter, I think the whole world will always struggle with the polarities, good and bad, right and wrong. My religion versus your religion, my spirituality versus your spirituality, my company versus yours. But the polarity is natural, as long as people are allowed. I don’t, we will have two different opinions. You know, men, women, older, younger boomers, and millennials. I believe that that’s where the wisdom comes in. And that’s what my book was about. It is writing about moving from smart nets, whether yet the business smartness or functional smartness, to balance between them, when I can listen, I can be humble, I can be ethical, and I can learn to be contextually appropriate. And do what is right thing that I am here to do the best. That’s what my book is about,

 

Alan

It’s remarkable what you’ve done in this area, and the way that you’ve been able to work with me people. I want to share just a tiny insight picking up on something that you said about polarity. When two people come to a table, and they’re negotiating a contract or a position, yeah, I’ve always approached it from the standpoint, if I can take the table and turn it around and take the chair, the other person and accept the deal, I have a deal. Understanding how to accept it from both sides. And this thing about polarity. It seems like in society today, we’re stuck. You don’t flip tables around, we want to just say it’s my way or the highway exam. And I appreciate what you’re preaching out there about, you know, look, you have to find common threads. You have to find common threads in order to unite groups of people together. Because we are we are different.

 

Prasad

Yeah, we are because, like take the COVID vaccine. If we were to give COVID vaccine to only one group of people and ignore the other people, if the other people get COVID, who is going to get it? We are going to get it again. It doesn’t matter what do we have, then we will not have the support. Like in India, when the COVID came in, large number of migrant workers moved away from wherever they were working all over India. They went back to their small towns and villages. So what happened, all the other people who were actually dependent on the construction workers are workers in their home, the maids and various kind of support work all stopped So what I realize is, the polarity means, yes, you may be a south pole and I may be a North Pole, but we are connected to the magnet, I may be right. And you may be wrong, but we belong to the same hand, the right side of the hand or the right around side of the hand. Same thing with the Democrats and Republicans. So the key part is to recognize polarity is the nature of the world. And the night follows the day. And the night and day are both equal, you know, equally important, because if it is all day, all through the year, when am I going to sleep, I need some darkness to go to sleep, and 97 rest for me to work. So that you cannot be always you cannot always be awake. So the polarity is a natural law in the universe, denying it and trying to say I only want one is against the nature and against the you know, the spirit that put us in the world in the first place.

 

Alan

You know, I love that there’s a saying that there must be an opposition in all things. And so what you’ve done precisely is you’ve taken your PhD in physics, and applied the polarity to say, look, it’s a natural law, it’s a natural state. And, and we as humans need to deal with it and accept it.

 

Prasad

Physics we have in Newton’s laws. Second Law, physics is for every force, there is equal and opposite force. So the polarity is part of physics as well, it did not like physics goes against the natural laws. It is physics is about discovering what are the natural laws in the physical world, whereas spirituality is discovering the natural laws in the non physical world, in the mental world, and in the spiritual world, in the larger consciousness, that is not visible yet. And that is not measurable with the scientific equipment today, but I’m sure, in a few years, we’ll be able to deal with some of what we call as esoteric or not so easily measurable, spiritual stuff, we will develop new equipment, just like we are doing something on quantified self, you know, with the Apple watches, or with the various other equipment, if the Muse which we put it on the brain, we are helping each other to do more better meditation, better breathing techniques, better pranayama, better spiritual practices, I think it will come. But till then, as scientists, we have to learn to not necessarily negate everything that we cannot measure. But recognize, just like the quantum world was not seen by the Newtonian scientists, and the quantum world required pletely different set of, you know, perspective, different equipment, and a different way of examining it, who would have thought, you know, the whole world would change, because of a small RNA based whiteness that we can’t even see. But it got us to our feet, right? It got us not our feet, but it has got us to what is the metaphor here you use?

 

Alan

You know, it was COVID has clearly it caused us to think a different way. Like, I want to, I want to move into this the, you know, with opposition, where we’re at a stalling point. You know, because the lie is that the two opposing forces are equal against each other. But you brought up a point to say, in order to find progression, you need to find a solution where you can enable the forces to be changed in a different way. With your knowledge of physics, so I would say in today’s world, one of the common things that we share is a massive amount of anxiety created through the rapid change the information overload in our brains. Okay, so that can’t exist forever. Right? Yeah. Give me your thoughts and how do we deal with change, uncertainty moving into the future In a world of constant change?

 

Prasad

Well, first of all, I have to acknowledge that through this code for the past eight months, I, myself have experienced some of these ups and downs in the mind. And in the emotions in my body. I used to, you know, travel 200,000 miles a year, every year for past 30 years, you know, like several visits to India and Asia and Europe, I was hardly home for more than four or five months and in house. So I looked at it, and in it, I think this is the first year, I think I have been home for 10 months without traveling. This is, since 1987. It’s the first time I’ve been home that long. So I looked at it first I was excited, I started learning how to cook Can I started doing various kinds of desserts that I like, and I started sharing various things I got interested in table tennis are walking and lost some weight. But then came the point after about a few months, I started feeling overwhelmed, I felt I’m like cooped up in the house, you know, shelter in place, I can meet, you know, even my children who are staying away from home because they are in a different social bubble. So the anxiety started coming up, the depression started coming up. And I felt like there is a hopelessness. And there is not much of a motivation. And you know, many of the people what they felt like one gentleman who stays beside my house and who is in my social bubbles, because we used to share meal every day in the evening, he started saying, you know, I’m working three hours extra every day, because I start working at eight o’clock in the morning. And sometimes even six, seven in the evening, I still have the conference calls and the meeting. And previously, I could do them on the phone. But now I have to do them on zoom, or I have to do it on some other things. I’m like, constantly, my attention is so much on each other, that I can’t get any work done. I’m like anxious, I’m looking at each other’s faces, people become serious. There are not that many smiles. So you know, in the night, I’m not able to sleep, I’m having weird dreams. I’m waking up in the middle of the night and the work that I used to do by myself, I have to do it after all the zoom meetings are done. So he was saying, I’m like, don’t know how long I can do. So this is just not you and me and that this neighbor, my son who is a teacher, or his stepson, who is a 10 year old who has to do things, you know, like in the elementary school education online, all of this has become stressful, for example, for the spouses, they have to deal with the homework, they have to deal with the children, they have to deal with their food, they have to deal with their work. So whether it is women, whether it is men, whether it is children, I think the COVID has created a world in which everybody is overwhelmed and emotionally, is unable to manage. When this happens, I found out whatever tools and whatever coping mechanisms that I have got can only take me so far.

 

I started applying my own techniques to myself, the meditation or breathing, or yoga or jogging, or, you know, playing games or watching videos if the Netflix or Amazon Prime or any of this. But this data as you said, Alan, the information overload was coming to your place, I realized I don’t need more information. I don’t need more data. I don’t want other people telling me how I need to leave and how I need to live I need to learn how I need to lead. I needed some space. So what the COVID has helped me to recognize is the value of silence and the value of going inside the introspection. That deep reflection how sleep is so essential for me. Instead of productivity, I cannot be productive all the time, unless I create a gap between a productive moment, and another productive moment, between a productive day and another productive day, I should stop thinking about work, I should sleep, I should rest, I should just chill, or that all the energy that is accumulated in my head slowly comes down, and the head becomes empty, it becomes open, I start looking outside in the garden, I start looking at the birds. And I started looking at the flowers and the sunrise. And that is the different kind of meditation, it’s meditating on the beauty that the God has created in the world. And that is the beauty that the nature has provided for me that I have forgotten, because I’m so busy looking at the data on the computer and the phone and each other, and thinking about the work. So the value of emptiness, value of creating a gap, value of silence, value of meditation, value of breathing, does have nothing to do with the data. But it has to do with our internal mechanism of how a human being uses the space of silence, space of reflection, to actually think and become creative. That’s what we call in religion as prayer. That’s what we call in, you know, what you might call psychology, introspection. I think it is so important for us to discover and become more aware of who am I? Where am I coming from? What is my role in the world? How am I dealing with all of this? That’s what we used to do for meditation, right? But most importantly,

 

Alan

I love, I love all of those examples in the analogy that I want to add to that facade. That the self reflection of spirituality within oneself, I have noticed, pre COVID, I would ask a person, how are you? Oh, I’m fine. When the reality is, I’m not fine. I got all sorts of problems. But I don’t want to tell you about my problems, because they’re my problems, not yours in. But I’ve noticed in COVID, there’s been a lot more of how are you doing, and there’s somebody coming back and saying, I’m not doing real well. And so this coming back to the law of physics, the tables are turning. And so you’re beginning to see the feelings of the other person as well as your own. And there are new found relationships. And I think one of the barriers I am also observing though, is when the polarization stays on opposite sides, the conflict gets more extreme. And so this is all really good. I, you know, it’s been a pleasure visiting with you today. There’s more I want to talk to you about, but my time is short here. But I would like to say thank you for coming on today’s show. And by the way, give a plug to your book, how does a person find your books have a website? Do you have Amazon? You know,

 

Prasad

yeah, but I thought kaipara.com is one place where you can find out about some of the work that I have done, I have reduced my commercial work significantly. I’m more in the context of giving back. I have been working with more nonprofits. I’ve been working with some individuals on a limited basis, where I can be of assistance. And you can look at that. And the book is called from smart to wives that you refer to Alan, and it is co written with a wonderful friend of mine called Navi Radjou, who is an innovation specialist. So it is published by Jossey-Bass. If you Google, you will find it on Amazon and everywhere else. From Smart to Wise by Prasad Kaipa and Navi Radjou, there is even a website from smart devices.com where you will find articles if you don’t want to read the whole book there. Perfectly fine, you have articles and interviews about various sections that are in the book, you can actually check that out. But and the key part, what I want to leave you with is I think you hit the nail on the head Alan, when you talk about the polarity is not something that we can run away from. When we have polarity, we cannot choose one pole and say this is good, the other coil is wrong or bad. That’s not workable, if you want to deal with this COVID if you want to find peace, and if you want to find passion, and if you want to find certain amount of negotiation where you want to get a good deal, you need to give a good deal to that person as well. That is the Harvard negotiation tactic. You cannot negotiate with somebody where you will come out ahead, another person comes out bad, that will only work one time. So you need to manage the polarity, you cannot warn the polarity and ignore the other one. It’s like being on a board saying your side of the boat has water, you know, hey, my side doesn’t have any water it is your problem. We are in this together and reflect on that and ask for certain amount of silence and certain introspection to look at how can I serve the world to be much better than what it is? Look Can I share what I have to other people so that we can manage this together. If we can come with that perspective, if we can have a larger purpose that we can operate beyond me and my family, I have a feeling we can find some peace and certain amount of you know, spiritual upliftment, because we are lifting ourselves and the God will lift us, other people will lift us, I think if we can remember that, we will be able to deal with the anxieties and stresses that the COVID is creating, and we will create a better world than what we left behind. Thank you for the opportunity, Alan. It’s always a pleasure to engage with you. And you always are interested in something deeper and meaningful. I thank you for that through your show. Through your practice. I think you are a leading light and I appreciate that

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