Dr. Raman K Attri is the world’s leading authority on the science of speed in professional learning and performance. He is a multifaceted personality who wears several hats as a performance scientist, author of multiple books, professional conference speaker, and global learning business leader.
Undeterred by his permanent disability since childhood, Dr. Raman has transformed his inability to walk into his niche expertise to teach others how to walk faster in their professional world. Featured in over 100 media features, articles, interviews, and shows, his remarkable achievements, despite physical disability, inspire many people to strive for excellence in all walks of life.
As a thought leader with rare expertise on speed, he is invited to speak in leading international conferences and business forums where he shares his research-based insights on mastering speed in business.
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Table of Contents
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Dr. Raman K Attri: I was a very inquisitive child. I wanted to learn, explore, research, and discover things around me. When I was in 9th-grade school, I decided I wanted to be a scientist. My starting point was to go for an engineering degree. I graduated as an engineer at 21. After graduation, I took an unconventional path to join as a trainer in a small training institution. I stayed focused on my primary goal. I became a technology scientist at a premier national research organization in India less than a year later.
I served as a scientist for about ten years. Midway through that tenure, I was offered to be part of the training department, which had been set up with the help of the Swiss government. I grabbed that opportunity instantly, as I loved learning very much from childhood.
The five years at the training organization opened up doors for my international training career. Alongside, I got a wide range of opportunities to serve on multiple freelancing and advisory roles for various domestic and international forums. I also embarked on an entrepreneurship journey offering niche consulting and training services, but it did not go well. However, I leveraged my experience and failures to pivot my career in multinational corporations. I had my calling in the learning and development space. I led an international Hall of the fame training center for a Fortune 500 corporation. To build my next level of thought leadership, I went for intensive research for over ten years and earned two doctorates in the learning domain. My focus was on finding out how to design organizational culture that could enable employee development to match the speed of business.
I am the first researcher in the world to have conducted such high-value research on speed. Soon I saw myself in the front row as one of the few experts who had cracked the code of speed. Every organization needs to crack the code of speed to stay competitive. I saw the opportunity to fill the gap by converting my research into practical strategies for business leaders. That’s why I founded the XpertX forum to reveal the secrets of speed in learning and performance, disseminating it to a larger population of businesses and executives.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Dr. Raman K Attri: Giving up was never an option for me. My personal and professional stories mesh up together. My story started with me contracting poliovirus that left me permanently disabled. I had lost my ability to walk like normal kids well before reaching the age to walk. I have lived through the hardships that come with any disability. It was hard to get acceptance socially or even earn an education. I could not participate in games, sports, childhood fun, and other things that normal kids would do. Even I was at the risk of not being able to go to primary school.
But with limited mobility, I had the advantage of plenty of distraction-free time over other kids. My best bet was to learn from books. So, I read anything and everything I could put my hand on. As I went on with my learning journey, I did not stop anywhere. During this journey, I earned two doctorates in the learning domain and over 100 international educational credentials. Alongside, I wrote 20 multi-genre books that range from training, learning leadership to art and poetry. That passion for learning shaped my professional life in the learning domain. That made me rise as learning thought leader and developed me into a performance scientist path.
I can say that I transformed my inability to walk into role-model expertise. As an ironic contrast to my inability to walk, I guide the leaders and professionals on strategies to walk faster. I could give back all that I learned through my hard times.
My life lesson is that our limitations, failures, and struggles could be the best bet to shine as the best in whatever we want to do. I learned that there are always windows of leverages and opportunities to pursue despite mental walls of limitations. You could find leverages in your failed business, your incomplete projects, your financial losses, and your rejected ideas. It is just a matter of shifting the focus to an optimistic side.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. What’s the worst advice you received?
Dr. Raman K Attri: Two decades ago, I stepped into the multinational corporate world. I started as an engineer with a relatively unassuming stance. The first sentence I heard from my manager was, ‘You got to display strong leadership skills here.’ He gave me a long list of rules on what leadership was and what it wasn’t; what a leader should or should not do. There were certain undocumented but deeply ingrained expectations as to how I should come across as a leader; what words I should use; what approaches I should adopt; what image I should rely upon, and what communication styles I should adhere to. Everything was ‘type cast’ beforehand. Honestly, I was intimidated to a point where I thought that this was not my cup of tea. I was on the verge of quitting that role. I felt that it was an elite skill that is possessed only by a few ‘gifted’ people. When I started adopting those models, I felt was inhibiting my pace of acquiring leadership skills. Because, at heart, I felt as if I was becoming a ‘made-up’ artificial, ingenuine leader. I think that was the worst advice I probably ever received.
I was fortunate enough to interact with some of the best leaders across the planet while conducting my flagship research on employee development. I figured out that these leaders did not follow a ‘textbook’ philosophy on leadership. Rather, they have some unique perspectives which not only set them apart from business-as-usual leaders but truly accelerated their leadership journeys.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Dr. Raman K Attri: I have lived through a disability and adversity every single day of my life. I experienced that all kinds of adversities, misfortunes, crises, setbacks, failures, and hardships – all tend to hold us back for an extended period of time. Whether personal, professional, financial, or medical, all of them could act as walls of limitations. Within those walls, we experience some losses, which make us feel less than others. But I have learned that resilience through those hard times is not about absorbing the shocks of changing situations, blows, or sudden failures. Resilience is more about how we leverage the losses, failures, adversities, and misfortunes. I learned that these hard times also come with windows of opportunities, which could act as our x-factors, or differentiators over others if we leverage them correctly. So, in my view, resilience is all about locating the windows among the walls that could allow us to see the world beyond them.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?
Dr. Raman K Attri: The speed itself is the topmost competitive advantage in today’s market. Corporate executives are worried about employees taking a long time to master new skills. As we see, industry 3.0, industry 4.0, and now the pandemic are pushing organizations to stay ahead at a much faster rate. No one is teaching them the science of speed. There are hardly any science-based forums that help organizations and business executives with well-researched strategies to bring ‘speed’ in their organizations. That’s where XpertX forum stands unique. It offers the art and science of the same thing which is required so direly by businesses to stand out in the competition. Its goal is to help organizations and executives speed up the performance of employees at 2x and cut short time to mastery in half.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Dr. Raman K Attri: My passion for learning was the only thing that acted as a life savior, pulling me out of the hardships of disability. A lot I have achieved came because of my passion for learning and my ability to learn faster. In childhood, I immersed myself in reading and learning several things that changed my life. I read anything and everything I could put my hand on. That experience triggered my interest in learning and the strategies to learn faster. In a short while, I gained over 100 international credentials in a range of disciplines. However, others were not privileged enough to have that much distraction-free time to experiment with their learnability. That is the fundamental reason I went into the learning field with an aspiration to guide people on how to learn better and faster.
Another trait that took me a long way in my trajectory was my well-developed synthesis or integration skills. I had this ability to understand the bigger picture instantly, make sense of scattered pieces of information, connect distinct skills together into one whole. This trait helped me to work successfully on multidisciplinary issues across domains and in different contexts. The same traits helped me conduct intensive research and synthesize learning from various studies to create a science of learning effectively. The same trait enabled me to work on highly strategic and complicated projects and help professionals and organizations with their total journey.
Very early on, I had realized that speed is a unique advantage. How fast you can learn, how quickly you can think, how fast you can progress forward – all that is connected with how well you master the secrets of speed. For me, those traits were already embedded in my thinking, work style, and passions. While I lost my ability to walk, I wanted to walk faster in something else. Not only I mastered speed in learning and performance for myself, but I also did systematic research to find secrets of speed and how others can leverage it. I built the science around speed, creating frameworks, methods, techniques, and best practices to help people grow faster. This research made me stand among the frontier of experts who possess such expertise. This single thing became my differentiator, and now this single skill is my mastery and my career. This trait has propelled my success several folds.
How important do you think it is for a leader to be mindful of his own brand?
Dr. Raman K Attri: Companies can replace you within a month. If you rely heavily on the brand of the company or other brands you are associated with, you will not identify with yourself when that association is broken. We should not confuse between loyalty and branding. If you are loyal to an organization, it does not mean that organization is your identity. That’s why it is imperative to build and be mindful of your own personal brand. However, what makes up personal branding is a bit overstated.
For simplicity, I view it this way. If we subtract your professional titles, positions, company designations, or other professional bodies’ affiliation from your name card, what remains is what we can call personal branding. The important thing may not be seeing how strong your personal brand positioning is on the internet or in the market. The real thing is to ensure that it is authentically you. When your name becomes a brand, that’s the true and authentic personal brand you, as a leader, should strive for.
What’s your favorite leadership style and why?
Dr. Raman K Attri: My leadership style is being “personal” in terms of who I am without sticking to any textbook framework. It is my opinion that to feel like a leader, you must begin to live in a ‘personal’ space. It takes time to realize that leadership exists in every bit of our existence, in how we interact and work with our surroundings and ourselves. I believe, if you could start seeing leadership in the basic things of life, in the people around you, you would not need to adopt any specific style. As a researcher and as a leader, I think most corporations have over glamorized the term and traits of leadership.
When we associate terms like ‘style’ with ‘leadership,’ unwittingly, leadership is presented to look larger than the job role itself. We should stop looking at leadership from that lens. All you have to do is to see yourself from a personal lens and not a professional lens. Once you adopt being personal, that becomes your unique style in which others will discover an intentional, dependable, and ‘always present’ leader inside you.
What advice would you give to our younger readers that want to become entrepreneurs?
Dr. Raman K Attri: When you start the entrepreneurship journey or start any initiative in that direction, you might be driven by one or many things. It could be your willpower. It could be your strong attachment to an idea or your newly found motivation by listening to someone else’s story of success.
It is my opinion that motivation and willpower are short-lived. From science, it is debatable as to how much motivation or inspiration can propel us forward. A strong attachment with your idea is certainly a good thing, as it generates fuel and passion, but when it exceeds the limits, it may blind you.
As an entrepreneur, you should rather focus on gaining two-dimensional clarity. The first dimension is about “Why” which is your emotional drive for doing something you want to do. The second dimension is about “What for” which is your drive that moves you towards a purpose that you hope to achieve. You need to master both dimensions as an entrepreneur. Once you have a sense of clarity, you already have the fuel to do what you need to succeed. You would not need any external motivation or inspiration, and you most definitely don’t need any superpowers. Clarity is the new superpower. So, my advice would be to search for clarity first, as it is the fundamental component to attain success.
What’s your favorite “life lesson” quote and how has it affected your life?
Dr. Raman K Attri: My favorite life lesson is a quote that I read in my childhood. “Package the same idea differently, and the result can be truly spectacular.” I am not sure who said it; perhaps it’s a generic anonymous quote. If you search the internet, it would probably associate this quote with my name because I use it often. But this was my basic mantra throughout my journey. For instance, when I had an apparent lack of speed, I packaged that lack as my hunger to excel in learning the secrets of speed in personal and professional life.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Dr. Raman K Attri for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Dr. Raman K Attri or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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