Thought Leadership Essays

Keyhubs Co-Founder, Vikas Narula, has been writing consistently since 2010 on topics related to human connection, informal networks, purpose-driven living, spirituality, and more. His work and words have been cited in The Financial Times, Pollen, MPR News, and more. Below is a collection of his essays, reflections, and blog posts.

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A Call for Help

April 8, 2021

I don’t usually use this blog to ask for help, but I want to be upfront – I need your help. If you have been following me for a while, you know I love trees. Back in 2011, I wrote this blog post about how trees are a beautiful and powerful metaphor for entrepreneurship. In 2013, […]

George Floyd sailing

How I Met George Floyd

July 15, 2020

I know it’s been a long time since I last wrote. Since 2010, I have been blogging every other month with consistency until about 2 years ago, when my blogging just suddenly, unceremoniously stopped. You know I love to blog. I love it so much I wrote a blog about blogging. I promised that I […]

My Commencement Speech at Maharishi School

July 26, 2018

When you think of your high school or college alma mater, does it conjure up images like this? If you look up the meaning of “alma mater” you may be surprised to see that the definition is “nourishing mother”. I was recently invited to address the graduating class at my high school alma mater – […]

Are You Listening To The Whispers Of Your Heart?

March 15, 2018

Over the years, I have used this blog to evangelize the merits and virtues of purpose-driven entrepreneurship and living. Early in this journey, especially as things started to pick up and grow, I viewed entrepreneurship as a powerful way out of the daily grind of corporate life. It was a ticket (if not THE ticket) […]

Would You Prefer A New Boss Over A Pay Raise?

February 15, 2018

According to research referenced by this recent HBR article, as many as 65% of us are in that boat. Yikes! It is difficult to deny the truth that how we feel about our managers and leaders has a direct impact on our well-being and performance at work. This is part of a bigger umbrella of […]

Amazing Humans – Our Hope for Humanity

November 25, 2017

Humans are amazing. Really, they are. Our news outlets have a tendency to glorify the monsters and celebrate the darkest and deadliest aspect of human behavior, but when we search our hearts and reflect on our own observations and experiences, we cannot deny that most people in this world are good. Many are great. If […]

Stepping Outside the Bubble – The Case for Open and Diverse Networks

September 21, 2017

I grew up in a new age town surrounded by meditating, herbal tea drinking, liberals. It was all I knew. This oddity was compounded by the fact that I was a child of Indian immigrants. While I was living in America, my home and community life was quite a bit outside the traditional mainstream. When […]

Ode to Resilience – A Reflection on 2016

December 31, 2016

John Oliver, comedian and HBO show host, recently shared his thoughts about 2016 with a big, fat expletive. Yes, 2016 was a doozy. We lost legendary artists. Countries are at war – with themselves and others. There is a refugee crisis. Temperatures are rising in more ways than one and there isn’t agreement on what […]

The Power of Connection – Bridging the Divide

September 12, 2016

Earlier this year, I wrote a post about Keyhubs’ evolving blueprint.  We have branched into new areas since we embarked on this journey in 2009, and I wasn’t sure if / how all these new hobbies / developments were going to fit together. Then, in April, I had an epiphany. I could see the puzzle […]

Keyhubs – The Next Frontier

June 14, 2016

I have a new talk. And, I am really AMPed up about it. Very. Uncharacteristically. Excited. Several months back I wrote a post about our “Evolving Blueprint”. Keyhubs has evolved – quite a bit – since we first launched as a hobby in 2007 and then as a real business in 2009. We’re coming up […]

Why Do We Fight With Ourselves?

January 16, 2016

I teach and often ask my students to do a lot of reflection. Many times, I start my class with a reflection question, like “What did you want to be when you were a kid?” or “When were you the happiest in your life?” I hand out 3×5 cards and ask each student to write their thoughts […]

Keyhubs – Our Evolving Blueprint

October 24, 2015

Pollen recently wrote an exceptionally hip article about Keyhubs. Unlike many business publications, Pollen is an incredibly cool, artistic and creative medium for fostering community. I had been tracking their feature stories for some time and greatly admired how they integrated visuals and story telling to put together remarkably engaging content. When they reached out […]

Teaching – How the Students of MCTC Touched My Heart and Soul

May 29, 2015

Sometimes the best things in life happen by “accident”. You don’t really plan it – it just sort of happens – naturally, organically. I never really planned on becoming an entrepreneur. It just sort of happened. The same thing occurred with teaching. It all started with this blog. When I started blogging 4+ years ago, I […]

Trees, Fashion and The Circle of Life – The Magical Story of EcoJam

March 23, 2015

Stories are powerful. Especially when they are true. Sometimes amazing stories take a generation to unfold. I have an interesting one to share. A couple of years ago, I shared the story of Neighborhood Forest – my other passion, which budded in college and rekindled in 2009 as a result of a “death-bed” experience. Since […]

Honoring The Spirit – How She Changed Me and My Definition of Success

December 9, 2014

This blog has been a very important platform for me. Through it, I have been able to openly share about my personal and professional life, which has been greatly enriched by the practice of entrepreneurship. As I have progressed in this journey, I have often felt compelled to honor those individuals that have made this […]

Tooting Our Own Horn

September 19, 2014

We are nearing the 5 year mark of when Keyhubs transitioned from being “just a hobby” to a real business. It was around this time that we started to think a lot about what our mission was going to be. What are we selling exactly? Why do we exist and what are we striving to […]

How Blogging Changed My Life – Why I Blog and Why You Should Too

July 11, 2014

I have been blogging for over 4 years now and it has been one of the most enriching activities of my life. Like most great things that happen to me, the joy and magic of blogging unfolded somewhat accidentally – imposed by outside forces – triggered by a convergence of factors and circumstances. I went […]

Pathways – The Future of Education?

May 16, 2014

My parents were seekers. They immigrated to Canada from India in the mid-1960s in search of a better life – broader professional opportunity, wealth and comfort. Still unsatisfied, having attained many of the trappings of western life, they shifted their attention to metaphysical pursuits. Ironically, after coming to Canada, they discovered Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and […]

People – The Greatest Books Ever

March 21, 2014

A lot of people ask me what books I read. To be honest, I don’t read very many books. I have never been a prolific reader, although I spent 7 seven years reading this book – not exactly what you would call “light reading” – 2000-plus pages of fine print. Maybe that sucked the reading life out […]

Meaningful Work Starts With Love

January 25, 2014

I have given a lot of talks in the last few years – mostly about Keyhubs and the business applications of social network analysis. About a year ago, I was invited to address the Entrepreneurship Club at the University of Minnesota. If you have been following my blog, you know that I like to write […]

Oh, the Places We’ve Been!

December 21, 2013

It is that time of year again – holidays, end-of-year, family gatherings, business reflection and planning. It is a time of convergence, a time when generosity, winding-down and looking ahead all meld together in a flavorful, festive spirit. This time of year often gets me thinking about Dr. Suess – playful rhymes mixed with meaningful wisdom. […]

Active Disengagement – Is the Spirit of Commerce at Odds With the Human Spirit?

October 4, 2013

There has been a lot of buzz lately about the alarmingly high percentage of actively disengaged employees in the workforce. There are many factors that affect employee engagement – job fit, company culture and manager / employee relationship to name a few. When I reflect on my own career and the times I felt more […]

Hobbies Are Underrated – The Case for Heart-Centered Entrepreneurship

July 23, 2013

I have written about many aspects of the entrepreneurial journey via this blog – the metaphor, the mystery and the back-story to name a few. But I have not written about one of the most important, critical and soulfully satisfying parts of the ride. It is what I refer to as the “Hobby Phase”. If […]

Giving Trees to Children – The Story of Neighborhood Forest

April 10, 2013

Have you ever had a near-death experience? I have not, but I have had a death-bed experience. Four years ago this month I fell terribly ill. I had contracted a viral infection that went from routine, to bad, to ugly. The first couple of antibiotics prescriptions I received didn’t work and by the 3rd round, […]

Diamonds in the Rough – See Your Organization From The Bottom-Up

February 8, 2013

Keyhubs was involved in a lot of interesting projects over the past year. We tackled reorganization challenges and big change initiatives – helped firms integrate efficiently (post-M&A) and provided strategies to help global sales teams collaborate more effectively. Everywhere we go, our clients are riveted by the unique and surprising relationship dynamics that surface when you […]

Entrepreneurship and Spirituality – An Unlikely Combination?

December 8, 2012

When I first embarked on the entrepreneurial journey 3 years ago, all I could think about was “surviving”.  Will it work? Can I make it? What if I fail? In 2010, I had about a 7 month runway to get Keyhubs off the ground. By month six we still had no revenue.  There was interest from potential clients, but nothing to […]

Ode To My Wife – The Entrepreneur Behind the Man

September 25, 2012

I am nearing the 3 year mark of when I quit my day-job to pursue Keyhubs full-time. I still remember the fateful day I gave notice and the pivotal events that followed in the days after. During the six months up to that point I was growing increasingly dissatisfied with work. My peers were getting […]

Find Your Passion and Bring It Forth

June 23, 2012

Have you ever checked out Yahoo’s Second Act stories? It is a webby-award winning, growing collection of short (5 minute) video stories, chronicling the reinvention of everyday people, through passion and purpose. I don’t watch much TV, but I do eagerly await the newest installment of “Second Act” stories. There are about 150 of them […]

Shake The Tree and Fruit Will Fall – Entrepreneurial Lessons in Business Development

April 5, 2012

When you are launching a new business (or even if you are a fairly established business) you experience peaks and troughs when it comes to monthly or quarterly revenue.  When things are flowing, you think they are going to flow forever.  And when things dry up you feel like you might have to close shop […]

Reorg with Purpose and Insight – Step Out of Dilbert

February 29, 2012

If you have worked in a decent sized organization for any period of time, there’s a good chance you have been part of a “reorganization”. Sometimes it is unclear why the reorganization is happening. Not only does the change come with uneasiness, due to poor communication and messaging, frequently the details of who gets moved […]

Why I Need To Thank My Enemies – Confessions of an Entrepreneur

February 3, 2012

Becoming an entrepreneur has been one of the most thrilling adventures of my life – certainly the most fulfilling of my professional career.  I am not sure I could say that two years ago when we were still in the dark aftermaths of the recession and had no revenue. At times, I definitely felt like […]

Networks Eat Strategy for Breakfast…Everyday

December 23, 2011

The new year is here and businesses everywhere are in the process of developing, refining or finalizing their strategies for 2012.  That said, how many organizations are taking a close, in-depth look at their culture as a basis for driving strategy? Peter Drucker (management science pioneer and guru) has said that “culture eats strategy for breakfast everyday”. […]

The Priceless Path to Press Buzz – Why Relationships Matter

November 3, 2011

This past week The Line Media ran an article on Keyhubs.  The story is nice, but more remarkable is the way in which we landed it. When you break it down and trace the moments that make an “event” like this happen, you begin to appreciate the finer, subtler things in life – namely, the […]

Steve is gone, but his Spirit lives

October 14, 2011

It is difficult to imagine our world without Steve Jobs.  He was just getting started, enjoying a 10 year run that redefined music consumption, tele-communications and personal computing.  While friends and family grieve the loss of Steve Jobs the person, his countless “followers” grieve the loss of a technology artist and innovator.  What could have […]

Lessons in Effective “Networking” – Tales of Magic and Mystery

September 22, 2011

I quit my day job about two years ago to launch this business.  I knew that “networking” was going to be part of the growth strategy, but I had never really done it before.  I didn’t have to (or so I thought). This is a short story about how networking changed my life. Stage I:  Networking […]

Informal Networks and Social Capital in the Workplace: Keys to Driving Change

August 24, 2011

In this Magis Ventures executive roundtable event, Harold Hegg – Director of New Business Development at Thrivent Financial, discusses the role of informal networks and social capital as a key, yet often overlooked, ingredient in driving change in the workplace.

Trees – A Metaphor for Entrepreneurship

June 16, 2011

I love trees. I think they are my favorite life-form after humans. In college I had the opportunity to plant many trees as part of an environmental project. These were small seedlings about 6-12 inches in size – helpless twigs that were vulnerable to lawnmowers, deer, foot-traffic and a host of other environmental factors. The […]

Democracy in the Workplace? It’s on the rise.

April 27, 2011

When I enrolled in business school several years back, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Contrary to my trepidation about being fed the “corporate” way of doing things, I ended up learning many new concepts that were, shall I say, pleasantly surprising. One of the most memorable of such learnings happened in my first […]

Know Your Influencers!

April 11, 2011

Some of you may have seen the following viral YouTube clip of a cute little girl and her “catchy” dance. What starts out as an ordinary “home” video, turns into a remarkable work of special effects and creativity. Like most viral videos, you see it once or twice and move on, but given my line […]

Talent and Influence Transcends Hierarchy

March 15, 2011

Have you ever worked in an organization where someone was extremely critical to day-to-day operations, yet surprisingly low on the ‘totem pole’?  Have you ever been shocked by a promotion/hire that was given to someone who seemed unfit for the job in light of other, more capable, internal candidates? Did you ever wonder why management […]

Google Thanks Keyhubs

January 10, 2011

How’s that for a catchy blog title?  Well, it’s true.  Google has thanked Keyhubs.  And, like millions of other businesses, if you advertise on Google you have likely been thanked by them as well.  So, what’s the big deal? What’s remarkable is not that Google has thanked us, but, as you will see in this […]

What is Keyhubs working on these days?

September 13, 2010

This month’s blog post is an opportunity to update you on some recent activities.  Keyhubs is busy working on a diverse range of projects, that I thought would be of interest to the blogosphere at large.  These projects may give you some ideas on ways to use the emerging technique of organizational network analysis (ONA) […]

Partnerships at Work – A Leading Indicator of Employee Satisfaction

July 29, 2010

I have been reading the “Power of 2”, by Rodd Wager and Gale Muller, and was intrigued by some of the research cited in the book.  Specifically, how partnerships at work serve as a powerful driver for engagement, satisfaction and happiness. Some interesting findings: 1) Employees with just one collaborative relationship are 29% more likely […]

Using Social Network Analysis to Visualize Employee Engagement

May 7, 2010

There is plenty of research out there supporting the value of having close friends at work. Higher satisfaction, stronger engagement.  Intuitively it makes sense: if you like the people you work with everyday, you’ll be happier and more involved. While traditional surveys can help organizations understand level of employee engagement/satisfaction, Social Network Analysis (SNA) can […]

Identifying Innovation Hubs In Your Organization

April 7, 2010

One of our clients used Keyhubs to understand how innovation was happening in their organization.  Quickly, they were able to see that new ideas centered around a few key individuals (22, 64 and 63).  Interestingly, these employees were not collaborating with each other.  Employee 70 was a source of collaborative invention (mutual connections between several […]

Mapping the Minnesota Organizational Development Network (MNODN)

March 9, 2010

As a newcomer to MNODN, I was interested in visualizing the dynamics of this informal organization.  Using Keyhubs, we are able to get a glimpse into the Partner, Resource and Friendship network of MNODN. For OD consultants that are new to a company, can this information help in navigating the social and influence landscapes?  Is […]

Welcome to the Keyhubs Blog

February 19, 2010

Hello and Welcome to the Keyhubs Blog. Keyhubs is about uncovering the ‘hidden org chart’. We combine consulting services with our unique, online tool for mapping informal (human) networks in the workplace.  We uncover hidden talent, expose key influencers and identify high-performing teams to help organizations realize their full potential. Our goal is to make […]