Couch to 5K

I started running end of last year 2022 as I realised that my fitness levels in practicing Brazilian Jujitsu could be improved.

The program from the NHS (The National Health Service (NHS) are the publicly funded healthcare systems of the United Kingdom (UK)) fit my needs perfectly. 9 weeks to take me from the couch to running 30 minutes or 5K without a break.

My daughter, her friend and mom joined the journey in the beginning. But after Week 1 Run 3 they dropped out. I stuck with it.

I noticed how well the program was setup. Starting in November, I should have been done by January. However Christmas and New Year’s came in. My regular runs reduced but the format was simple to follow. Each week had 3 runs and you had to finish them before you moved it. I could pick up from where I had left and continue.

After Week 5, I noticed something that happened in my Jujitsu practice. I was no longer tired or running out of breath towards the latter part of the training. The cross training efforts were paying off.

Once I crossed the mental barrier of 10 minutes, it became easier to keep on running.

I also noticed that stitches while running which were present started to disappear after Week 6. It is amazing to experience the journey of running from the Couch to 5K as it happens.

I started enjoying running. I have never run during vacation. I was in Denmark two weeks earlier and I did my run 1 and 2 of Week 9 in Denmark. I saw the vacation place with different eyes.

I finished my Week 9 yesterday in home ground and I had a big smile on my face. I got some cake to celebrate.

Thank you to the NHS for creating such an amazing program that takes you on a journey that works.

Now I am going to try and replicate this journey on “Learning and Development programs” and “Agile training for teams”!

Should I call it “Couch to Agile mindset!”

PS: I used Instagram to document my journey and it was fun. I unconsciously was using the “V” symbol for victory every time I completed a run. Celebrating small wins goes a long way.

Link to the program:

Get running with Couch to 5K – NHS (


“Back to the future” panel with Toastmasters

Panel members:

Dan Rex, CEO of Toastmasters

Elizabeth Smith, DTM, PDD 2020-21

Stefan Zahov, DTM, DD 2022-23

Panel moderator:

Ranjith Venkatesh, Toastmaster


12 May, 2023

I was excited when Svetlana asked me if I would be interested to moderate a panel with the Toastmasters CEO Dan and district directors Elizabeth and Stefan.

I said Yes!

Here is the envisioned future of Toastmasters:

“To be the first choice provider of dynamic, high value, experiential communication and leadership skills development”

How does one talk about this in 45 minutes with regional (Germany, Sweden, Norway and Denmark) and international Toastmasters leaders?

I have been a fan of the “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah”. So I decided to introduce each panel member and bring them on stage one of by one and let them answer one question before we brought the next panel member on stage.

I split the panel discussion in three parts:

  • Introductory question to each panel member
    • The theme of the conference was “Celebrate the past, embrace the future”
    • I introduced and asked each panel member something that they were proud of in their Toastmasters past. It was great to learn what made each district director and CEO proud.
  • Prepared questions from the last CEO report (That is right, the CEO publishes two reports every year)
    • We discussed not just hybrid meetings but international hybrid conventions
    • We discussed Toastmasters educational material being translated in multiple languages using Translation Management Systems
    • We discussed Meeting Tools to support roles in a Toastmasters meeting online and how they measure against EasySpeak
  • Prepared questions from the audience (We had a question forum where Toastmasters attending the conference could post and vote for their questions)
    • Complexity of IT and Time consuming tasks especially Pathways and EasySpeak
    • How does working for Toastmasters differ from other non-profit organisations?
    • How is Artificial Intelligence (AI) helping Toastmasters become better speakers? eg: Yoodli

We managed to complete the panel discussion in 45 minutes and had a Toastmasters audience listening carefully to the district directors and CEO talk about the shared future of Toastmasters.

It was great to close off our panel discussion learning what they like eat best being Sushi, Thai, Fries and Biriyani. I leave it to you to figure out who liked what 🙂

Reference: Toastmasters International -CEO Reports


Evaluate @ Agile Lean Munich

It was fun to be at the Agile Lean Munich this year (2023).

Last year, I did a session on Impromptu speaking with the Agilists in attending. This year I offered to share my ideas on listening and evaluating speeches or presentations.

We had a fun group of people who turned up and were ready to practice both impromptu speaking and evaluation!!

We did a bit of theory by asking questions

What was good with examples and what may be improved with suggestions to improve.

We had one participant talk about screen cleaners, one about vegan food in conferences, one about mindfulness.

The participants very quickly picked active listening and were able to find what was good with examples and what may be improved with suggestions.

If you are interested in a learn and practice program over 3 to 4 months or a one day training just have a look below and contact me for more:

Speaker Shine Series – Ranjith Venkatesh | Speaker Shine


What is in it for me? Amazon Prime

What is in it for me?

When I listen to a speech, I ask myself “What is in it for me?”

If I can answer the question when the speech starts, I stay to listen for more.

If I can answer the question half way through the speech, I stay till the end.

If I can answer the question after I have listened to the speech, I remember the speech.

On a different note, I wanted more memory for my photos on my mobile phone.

  • My Google Account was running out of space and wanted me to pay 2 Eur per month for 100 GB.
  • My Microsoft Account was running out of space and wanted me to pay 2 Eur per month for 100 GB.

However my Amazon account which already gave me free delivery on goods, Prime video and Prime music threw an extra value added service.

Members of Amazon Prime now have unlimited, full-resolution storage of photos.

Is this a value added service or a way to keep customers for good?

Anyway, “What is in it for me?” was answered by Amazon is an amazing way. I took the offer.

Are you amazing your listeners with “What is in it for them?”



Reference: Readability for technical writers – Readable, free readability test

Gunning Fog, Coleman Liau and Flesch–Kincaid are three names which are connected to readability levels of a piece of text.

I have always been interested to know how readable my speeches were and used to run them on platforms like Readable.

I then tweaked my speech to make it more readable. That’s right. READABLE.

At some point you realise, speeches are rarely read – they are listened to.

Is there a listenability level? I have not come across one yet. I think speeches are subjectively evaluated by an audience.

Here is my mini tool to help you with the readability of your text that you write to be read. Make no mistake, each Readability level has its own limitations but gives you a rough idea of how readable your text is for different levels of the target reader.


Toastmasters Timer

Timer for Toastmasters Speeches, Evaluations and Table Topics

Click here for the Toastmasters Timer

This is the first version of the Toastmasters Timer. Stay tuned on the above page for newer versions.

Thank you to Toastmaster Caleb Grove for his Toastmasters Timer. It helped me a lot with practicing for Table Topics, Evaluation and Speeches. Here is his Timer: Speech Timer for Toastmasters (


Climb & Slide

Galaxy Water Slide World (

I was in a Theme Park last weekend and experienced water slides in all their glory indoors and outdoors!

Each slide seemed to have two components – the Climb and the Slide.

The Climb

You could climb to the slide with a tube or a mat or just yourself. I found this initial step of getting a tube or mat itself interesting as it sets you up for the slide later.

You could watch a speech with a notebook or just yourself. I find that I approach a speech differently if I actively take notes or passively listen to it.

The climb itself is sometimes a long way and you need to wait in a queue to get to your chance for a slide. If the queue is long you might switch to another slide. If the slide is amazing, you will wait as long as it takes in the queue.

The body of a speech itself can be long or feel long. Sometimes we wait for messages in a speech to reach us. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.

The Slide

Before the slide you could see the information about for what age is it appropriate, what medical conditions are to be kept in mind and even the weight of the person involved.

Before a message is crafted in a speech, we need to get into the shoes of the listener to see if we can provide a ride that they want to get onto. If the message is not crafted well, our listener will very easily be distracted and stray.

During the slide, the speed gets the adrenaline going and there is pure joy. If you do not like high speeds you might enjoy the blue slides. If you enjoy high speeds you might enjoy the black slides.

During the speech, the way we make our listeners feel can be joyful or hateful or much worse – indifferent.

After the slide, if it was fun – we want more. Sometimes more of the same slide or more of something different.

Likewise after a speech, we want to listen to the speaker again talking about the same thing or something different or we might want to listen to someone else

I went up and down many slides and felt great!

Can we take our speech listeners on many rhetoric slides and leave them feeling great?

Scribbles Workshop

1-2-3-4 Content

I had the opportunity to run a lunch talk for Amiga last month.

We spoke about a few things:

  • Why LinkedIn?
    • Did you know that 1 out of 8 professionals in Germany use LinkedIn?
  • Why Career Advancement?
    • Grow or become a linchpin (Check out Video on References)
  • Kinds of LinkedIn Posts
    • Focus on Image and Video based Posts (Check out posts using Images and Videos)
  • Creating Content
    • Idea–>Write–>Craft–>Share

How many of you have Ideas week in and week out but never take the time to put them down?

“Look at an Event from last week or month that stayed with you where you learnt something or helped someone”

Something of value to the reader can be created in even 280 words. Sit down and write atleast once a week

“Write down 280 to 500 words

PS: 280 words are allowed in a tweet”

Crafting a message with an image or video gets the attention of the reader who has multiple information sources

“Use unsplash or other license free websites to get an appropriate image or use own images

Use license free videos or your own videos”

Sharing the content of multiple platforms or atleast the platforms that your clients are active in is a good practice

“Share on LinkedIn as a Post

If you are on other social media channels you may reuse the crafted message”


  • EVENTS – amiga (I can recommend these Events for International professionals in Munich looking for opportunities)
  • Ranjith @ LinkedIn (Example posts using Images and Video)

Stand up

Stand up

The favourite toy of my daughter is “Miffy” the rabbit.

Miffy likes to draw and play with her friends.

My daughter loves to draw and play with her friends.

Did you have a special toy when you were growing up?

Contest chair, fellow Toastmasters and guests

I still remember that day in my primary school.

I was 6 years old and I was excited.

Excited, because it was the day we could take our favourite toy with us.

My favourite toy was “Steve” the monkey.

Steve had been part of me for many an adventure. In my imagination we had slept on roads, flown on airplanes and sailed on ships. Where this is an adventure, there is a villain!

The villain in this story was Big Sid. Big Sid was a bully. Not an ordinary bully, a toy stealing bully!

One day, Big Sid grabbed Steve. I pulled. He pulled. I let go. I did not want Steve to get hurt.

I was angry! Steve was my toy. I felt it was my duty to protect him.

How do I stand up to him? You see, Big Sid was two heads taller than me.

Nobody else in the school dared to stand up to Sid the Bully.

I mustered up some courage. I walked up to Big Sid, fear in my eyes, my teeth chattering and my legs shaking and squeaked “Please give Steve back to me”

Sid glared at me, looked at me like I was a fly and flicked me.

I flew and landed on my behind!

I did not know what to do.

Fast forward to the present.

My daughter who likes “Miffy” the rabbit also likes to fight. She attends a martial arts school for Brazilian Ju-Jitsu. We went to Chemnitz in the East of Germany for a contest.

My daughter and two of her white belt friends were in category A.

3 girls from a gym in Berlin turned up for category A.

These girls had braided hair and stared into space.

Friend 1 in Category A.

Braided hair girl wins the game with an arm bar in 45 seconds.

Friend 1 walks back with a visibly hurting arm.

Friend 2 in Category A.

Space staring girl wins the game with a rear naked choke.

Friend 2 walks back massaging her neck.

I look down at my daughter and her eyes are glazing. She does not want to fight. She does stand a chance against these braided and space staring fighters. I can see a teardrop forming in her eyes, rolling down her cheek and falling down.

My daughter’s coach walks up to her and holds her two hands and says the following.

  • It does not matter if the opponent is stronger.
  • It matters that you stand up to this opponent.

These words fire up my daughter and she walks up to the ring and faces her opponent.

My daughter in Category A!

The fight is over in 15 seconds with a triangle choke. My daughter walks back with a smile on her face. She lost the fight.

But on that day she stood up to her opponent and that has made all the difference.

Rewind to my primary school.

You remember Big Sid who had stolen my monkey Steve and also flicked me.

My music teacher Mr. Patrick had watched this exchange between me and Big Sid. He sat next to me and said

“In life, you and me. We face bullies. We face opponents who are stronger than us. But we can overcome the fear and stand up to them. He realized that I was too small to stand up by myself. So he added wisely – you can stand up with the help of your friends”

I looked up at Mr. Patrick and the realization dawned on me.

I asked a friend to help me. He knew how important Steve was to me. He convinced some friends and they gathered around me and stood up with me facing Big Sid.

And for the first time, I saw fear in the eyes of Big Sid.

Big Sid knew that the game was over and handed back Steve to me.

My daughter’s Jujitsu coach asked her to stand up to her opponent.

My music teacher Mr. Patrick asked me to stand up to my opponent with the help of my friends.

I encourage each and every one of you to

stand up for yourself

stand up for your friends

and stand up for those you love.


Is there a Gratwanderer in you?

View from Heimgarten to Herzogstand, Bavaria, Germany

A Gratwanderung is “Walking along mountain ridges”

I imagine walking along mountain ridges from movies.

  • Like in the Lord of the Rings when the group keeps walking from one mountain to another

I had been on simple treks with a few metres towards the end with ridges. Last weekend me and my sister were faced with a walk that would take 2 hours and 15 minutes one way with an elevation difference of 200m.

Both of us do not like heights

Both of us considered ourselves to be avid hikers and trekkers but not necessarily gratwanderers!

Here are a few things the German Alpine Organisation (DAV) recommends

  • Local weather conditions
    • 20-22 degrees Celsius
  • Elevation difference during the ascent and descent
    • Herzogstand 1731m
    • Heimgarten 1790m
  • Length and Timing for the tour
    • 2 hours 15 minutes for international tourists
    • 1 hour 30 minutes for local hikers
    • 1 hour for sporty hikers
  • Type of terrain
    • Walking along mountain ridges
    • DAV calls it BLACK
  • Huts to eat and drink
    • Heimgarten has a small hut heavy on sausages and pea soup for vegetarians

We decided to do it.

The first 10 minutes were difficult but after that our lungs got used to the new breathing and our legs to the new terrain.

When we arrived at Heimgarten we saw a guy wearing a pink bunny costume and singing Oktoberfest songs.

The beer was cold and the pea soup was just right to get us ready for the way back.

We took 2 hours on each way.

The way back felt easier because our lungs and legs knew what was in store.

When we came back to Herzogstand we added a BLACK rated hike as a feather on our caps.

We were proud of ourselves.

Are we walking blue and red rated hikes at work?

  • Is there a black rated hike that we are postponing or hiding from our teams?
  • Can we take it on with proper preparation and bit of courage?
  • Do we know the hikers and trekkers in the team waiting to become gratwanderers?

Is there a Gratwanderer in you?

Are you ready for your first or next BLACK hike?