//When is the last time you said. “I don’t know”?

When is the last time you said. “I don’t know”?


Being fearless about truth makes you straightforward when you face uncertainty.

Quality & Me

Subir shares short stories about what people do to make a difference everywhere they go. We can make huge contributions to the way we function as a society by standing out as an example within our own community: at work, at our places of worship, among our colleagues, friends, and family. All it takes is the courage to step up and being straightforward, thoughtful, accountable, and resilient.


Books by Subir

The Power of LEO
The Ice Cream Maker
The Power of Design for Six
The Power of Six Sigma
Organization 21c

I admit it: I don’t have all the answers. But I do have confidence. Enough confidence to know what I don’t know—and admit it.  Enough confidence to speak up and out when I know something isn’t quite right.

Being straightforward means you know when to speak up even if you don’t have the answer. When I admit I don’t know something, it doesn’t mean I can’t learn or solve a problem.  In fact, I generally work harder when I don’t know something than when I do.

Truly successful people aren’t afraid of these three words: “I don’t know.” They don’t let their egos or pride hold them back. When you are straightforward, not only will you be more successful, but you will also have more fun being successful. Why?  You’ll have nothing to fear. You are completely liberated.  You don’t have to remember the last lie you made up, or who you told it to.

I was at a meeting hosted by an organization that provides financial support to low-income countries. Everyone there was straightforward, and I enjoyed participating. We spent our time at the meeting discussing what extreme poverty was, and how we could help eliminate it. On the last day, each of us received a folder of materials, including copies of the presentations that had taken place.

What shocked me was that most of the material was a collection of materials we had all already received electronically before the meeting.  Most of it was comprised of bios meant to stroke our egos! Here we were, talking about ending extreme poverty, and we had wasted resources printing out materials we had already received.

I decided to put my caring mindset to work and be straightforward.  I asked the entire group what we were thinking.  I told them we could have fed twenty people with the money we wasted on paper and printing. The thing is, everyone agreed!  A healthy discussion of the organization’s inefficiencies resulted, and we made a lot of progress toward out goals.

By being straightforward, we were able to make progress.

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What does it take to be accountable?

Accountability is taking responsibility for your actions. It’s the “A” in STAR, and acronym I developed for what it takes to have a caring mindset. But first, we need to take a step back. You can’t be accountable if you don’t know what’s going on.

The Subir Chowdhury Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Student Quality Competition

Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are? Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence?

Step back so you can move forward

When I need to recharge my batteries, I usually go for a long walk. Sometimes by myself, sometimes with one of my kids. I always end up feeling refreshed and reenergized when I return. It’s critical that you’re passionate about what you do—otherwise, what’s the point? However, there’s a difference between passion and obsession. Let me explain.

Who made the difference in your life?

I recently attended an event that included bestselling authors, and wildly successful business entrepreneurs. But this one young man stole the show for me, and helped me understand what redefining success means.