Interview with Raj Menon

He is honest, insightful and encouraging. If you havent met him, you should. Meet Raj Menon who writes about leadership, he thinks "My job is to make it easier for you to meet your goals by giving you confidence, direction and guidance.” You can also find him in twitter 


Your blog is in Alltop and that says a lot about the quality of your posts- tell us something about your blog.
Thanks Soma. Alltop included my site a long time ago under the leadership category, back when 13apples.com was lap31.com. I am not certain if my site is still listed as one of the upcoming and promising leadership blogs. That was a proud moment for me and I still cherish every win I have ever had.
The origin of the 13apples Blog started with a simple question I asked myself when I turned 30yrs old - am I ready to lead? You can say I was a bit paranoid. I looked back into what I had achieved in life and tried to figure out where I was headed. My writing was a way for me to find my path forward. I considered the site to be a pit stop for me. I was in a race called life and like any race driver I was in the pit stop to refuel, change tires, tune up, and zoom out to race another lap. As you can tell, I am a big F1 (Formula 1) racing fan, which is also where the original name for the site "lap31.com" came from as I was on my 31st lap in a race called life.

Why did you choose to write about leadership?
I believe that there is a leader in every one of us. As I was reflecting on my leadership lessons through my writing and life experiences, I thought of giving back to the world by exploring the mindset of leaders in every walk of life and thus provide every one who visits my site with the opportunity to awaken the leader in them, to share their leadership stories, to collaborate. Eventually it led to the site slogan "where leaders collaborate".

What are the qualities of a real leader, do you have a favorite?
It's tough to encapsulate all the qualities of a real leader in a few words or sentences. It's like asking "What makes a person good?". There are so many things - characteristic, environmental, situational, personal, professional, etc - to consider before summing it all up. To best answer this question, let me share with you what I believe are Leadership Mantras that everyone is inherently born with but needs to develop or fine tune:


  • Leadership is about people. We lead by creating an environment of trust, transparency, openness, empowerment and support; where failure is an opportunity to learn, where success stories are celebrated.
  • Leaders are social beings. They create collaborative teams beyond boundaries and borders, bridging cultural divides, in a globally diverse workspace.
  • Leaders inspire themselves by learning and listening so they can in turn inspire others by sharing and collaborating. 

How did you end up being in project management? Is this something you always wanted to do?
Project Management was never a goal for me, at least not when I started out in the IT field 11 years ago. I was an ASP developer, moved on to PHP and to Java development before I was promoted to a Lead role to manage the company's first dot net project overseas. I continued to wear multiple hats, that of a developer and a lead for another 2 years till I realized that I needed to be a full time lead if I am going to be held accountable for the project. During 2004-05 I was doing Project Leadership full time which gradually helped me go up the ranks to a Project Manager and now Program Manager. In short, I worked my way to project/program management.

I know you are part of toastmasters, so do you also read a lot? What are the last 3 books you read?
Yes, I have been part of toastmasters since 2008. I spoke about my foray into toastmasters and the journey in a speech last year, which you can find at this link here . I do read a lot, especially these days.
I am glad you asked me about book coz I read 3 very insightful books recently. The interesting part is that each author led me to the next book.

  • Who's Got Your Back? by Keith Ferrazzi
  • Get It Done Guy's 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More by Steve Robbins
  • The Go-Givers by Bob Burg & John David Mann (I am currently reading their 2nd book The Go-Givers Sell More)

Any new plans for your blog?
I have so many plans but I am taking it one step at a time. With my salaried job, toastmasters, family life and networking, I struggle to find time to put my 13apples plans into supersonic speed. But someday I will when my life permits.

Some immediate plans are to increase my subscription base. I have around 30 amazing subscribers now but I want to grow that as rapidly as possible. I will also continue to have 1 post per week emailed to my subscribers. I am also working on an eBook that I will be distributing freely to my subscribers, around a new concept I am working on called the Circle of Influence. These are the plans in action right now.

By the way, congratulations on your PMP- how much do you think preparation time one needs to go for it?
Thank You! Frankly, I spent a year of ad-hoc studying which was mainly listening to the PMPrepcast (which you are promoting on your website as well). Ad-hoc studying will not really get you through the test. What made a difference for me was the 1 week I took off from work and put my brain and body into overdrive to piece it all together. However, that is not the method I would recommend. Instead, I would advice any PMP aspirant to put in 3 months of effort (2 hours per weekday) and a dedicated review time 2 weeks prior to the exam, mainly to attempt sample tests.

Three qualities you think every aspiring project manager should have?
1. Be Confident in Yourself
2. Respect People especially your Team
3. Be Accountable for your actions and Never Give Up

Thank you for your time Raj.
Thank You!!

2 comments:

Jennifer Way said...

Great interview! Love the book recommendation! I just finished the first on Raj's list and now I'm on to go-givers.

Soma Bhattacharya said...

Thank you Jennifer.