How to be an Influencer and a Thought Leader at your work place? (continued)

Vanakam CK’ites,

We will take it up from where we left the last week. How to be a Thought Leader in your professional and personal life? Last week we learnt 6 tenets, today we will check out the remaining 6. So, fasten your belts and get ready for the ride.

7. Teach your team how to think, not what to think

Leading thinkers and influencers will always tell you that it is important to know how to think independently. If someone is telling you what to think, then you are just being his follower. If you want to make a change in your work place, then you need to encourage people to think and come up with ideas. This way, you will increase your team’s productivity and reduce the churn as well. Renowned Management Strategist, CK Prahalad, always challenged CEOs of leading global organizations to use this technique.

8. Find the flowers among the weeds

Thought leaders are excellent at spotting talent from the crowd. When there are a variety of activities and processes happening at the work place, one needs to separate the productive activities from the non-value added ones. Separating the non-value added activities enhances the productivity and minimizes the downtime. Specialty Consultants, HB Maynard and Company, has developed a successful business model by specializing in this technique.

9. Always conduct pilot tests before implementation

Strategic thinkers and influencers know it well that one gets the rewards only after their product (example – new car) performs successfully in the real world (example – pot holed roads). In the test labs, it is a simulated, accident free environment. This is far different than the real world. Success in the lab environment does not guarantee success on the road with pot holes, reckless drivers and traffic mess. Ford Motor Company CEO, Alan Mulally, has made it a mandatory practice to conduct extensive, rigorous pilot tests on all their new models in multiple regions across the globe before launching them in the market place.

10. Matching your people to your strategy

Leading influencers across the globe follow the saying – different strokes, different people. In today’s market place of extreme specialization, one cannot expect a generalist to get work done effectively. One needs to have an operations expert in the manufacturing plant while a technology major is the right person for R&D. Do ensure that the overall strategy/vision does not change to match the people requirements. It should be the other way round. Ex-CEO Gucci Group, Robert Polet, was well known in the fashion industry for his skills in matching the right person to the right job.

11. Satisfy your customer, Always

A happy customer is a profitable customer. Thought leaders firmly believe in this mantra. For this, one needs to take diligent efforts to understand the exact needs of the customer (example – your boss, your peers, your friends). If your product (example – your Project, your deliverables) matches or exceeds the customer requirements then the customer is going to be happy. Then, he will happily shell out the money. British Airport Authority, that manages the world’s busiest passenger airport at Heathrow, London, has always lived by this principle.

12. Be Yourself

A true leader or influencer practices this mantra intuitively – be yourself. By being yourself not only are you true to your own self, but you are true to your customers, both, internal and external. People know what you stand for and they see you as open, approachable and transparent. As the leader, when you are being yourself, your team’s unity gets stronger and their productivity goes higher. Global spiritual proponents from Gautam Buddha to Dalai Lama to Deepak Chopra have practiced this philosophy. I, for one, swear by its benefits too J

Now that you are equipped with the 12 tenets of Thought Leadership, go ahead and practice them at your work and your home. Don’t forget to share your experiences.

Good Luck!

Have a smashing week!

 

How to be an Influencer and a Thought Leader?

Namaste CK’ites,

Thought Leader? Who is that?

Someone who comes up with an original or innovative idea and then inspires people to accept and follow the idea is a thought leader. Some personalities that instantly flash in front of my eyes as thought leaders are Howard Schultz of Starbucks Coffee Company, Bernie Ecclestone of Formula One and Lalit Modi of IPL.

What dietary regimen does this thought leader follow?

A thought leader is not a unique personality, and certainly not a limited edition model. You and I can be thought leaders at our work place and even in our personal lives. Let us see how to get there. Since this is an expanded version, I am going to break this article into 2 weekly write-ups and share key take-aways with you.

1. Design your strategy, crisply

This is the first and foremost action item. Thought leaders have a knack of writing down each and every step, task, activity involved in their overall plan. They showcase the tasks as if they were sequential happenings in our personal life story. The reader can instantly visualize the key project milestones and work flow. Starbucks Coffee Company Chairman, Howard Schultz would often say that companies need to design the strategy first. Not only does it help them in getting all team members aligned but it also helps them in holding people accountable and ensures effective project implementation.

2. Communicate your strategy to all, clearly

Influencers and leaders know it very well that they need foot soldiers to turn their visionary strategies into functional realities. Personally, they take diligent efforts to convey their strategy to the grass root levels. One needs to design simple, easy to understand plans to communicate his vision. The communication can be in form of short write-ups, crisp Q&A, captivating video clips, etc. The key part is that the communication has to mandatorily reach all levels of employees within the organization. Gap Inc. ex-CEO, Paul Pressler regularly highlighted the need of communication with grass root employees. He walked the talk by holding frequent Town Hall Meetings with all his employees in San Francisco.

3. Tell stories to convey your vision

Thought Leaders, the world over, excel at the art of conveying their message effectively through succinct, interesting stories. One can take up a central message or theme (example – 100% on-time delivery) and weave a story around it (example – a stitch in time saves nine). Research shows that people remember the message, only when you present it an interesting, humorous way. Founding Chairman Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher was famous for his story telling methods while addressing Employee Meets, Press Conferences and Board Meetings.

4. Set clear and achievable goals

The goals and the approach plan needs to be clear, precise and most importantly, achievable. Only then are all the employees truly motivated to work on the goals. Influencers and strategic thinkers get this key pointer very quickly. While listing the goals, one has to ensure that the predecessor and successor for each goal is clearly stated. The timeline and person responsible need a mention too. Ex-Chairman Clear Channel Communications, John Hogan, would never take up an important project unless clear and achievable goals were set by all concerned team members in advance.

5. If you are not getting better, then you are getting worse

Influential leaders are very good at tracking their performance, always. They know that there is only one way to go up and that is by getting higher scores, each time. One should understand that in today’s hyper-competitive market place, maintaining status quo means you are being overtaken by someone faster and nimbler than you. Domino’s Pizza Founder, Tom Monaghan always preached that professional complacency meant you are getting worse and falling behind in the competitive landscape.

6. Watch your competitors and challenge your strategy

You can win only when you defeat your competitors. Thought leaders know this perfectly well. To be flexible, adaptable and a winner, one needs to watch the way the competition is working and sometimes, change your working style. Revered marketing management guru, Peter Drucker was a strong proponent of this mantra.

See you next week with the remaining 6 tenets of Thought Leadership.

Sayonara!!

 

 

Making an Impacting Presentation

Morning CK’ites,

I get one particular question time and again from young achievers. “My Presentation is packed with data and information. I have invested hours putting it together and have used the best of automations. But I still don’t get the accolades I deserve from my seniors. Why?”

To help you understand what makes an impacting Presentation, let me share a step-wise approach. Note – The terms ‘audience’ and ‘senior management’ mean one and the same in this article.

1. Always start the Presentation with a crisp and simple problem statement. The audience should get the context of your talk instantly.

2. Share the flow of your talk. The audience should get introduced to the storyline, the key milestones and the cast at the start itself. A short story to connect the audience with the topic of your presentation might help here.

3. Populate the data/content in no more than 2 slides; with no more than 5-6 pointers per slide. Research shows that people remember trends, insights and parables. They might forget the data facts with the passage of time.

4. Make liberal use of pictures and graphs. Audio visual clips are also powerful story-telling tools.

5. Focus on directly connecting with the audience. Having data facts and stats alone do not make the presentation impacting. The content needs to be appreciated and absorbed by the audience as well. The measure of a successful presentation is how well you were able to connect with your audience.

6. Talk less, listen more. To connect with the audience, you need to ask them questions and encourage them to question your presentation. The more you engage them in a conversation, the higher the chances of making an impact.

7. Showcase a healthy team dynamics. The senior management likes to see an active participation of all members on the presentation team. This gives them the comfort that this is not just a one-man show and hence they get an assurance of the success of the project.

8. Share a Gantt chart or an MS Excel output of the major milestones, timelines and capital outlays. The intent is to appraise your audience on the cost-benefit parameters in a single slide.

9. Recap the key learnings and next steps succinctly and emphatically. The senior management should walk out with a clear vision of the recommendations and future steps. Without a crisp recap, you run the risk of letting your audience out of the session confused and without clear directions. This is a classic symptom of a low impact presentation.

10. Keep your presentation to a maximum of 8-10 slides or 15-20 minutes. It sends an alarm signal to your management if you are not able to drive home your point within 10 slides or 15-20 minutes, whichever comes earlier.

So the next time you have a presentation lined up, try out these techniques. You will definitely boost your chances of making a highly impacting presentation.

I will wrap up today’s blog with one of my real-world professional experiences. It was during my days with a global F&B behemoth in the US that I had asked this question to the Director of Operations in a company-wide Open House session. “Why would the customer pay us a premium when a similar product (of course not to our quality standards ;-) is available in the market place at a cheaper price?” Pat came the reply from her “It is 90% packaging, honey! Plus we deliver an exceptional quality and experience”.

Making an impacting Presentation is no different. It is 90% packaging, honey!

Practice Hard! And success is surely yours for the taking.

“Listen More, Talk Less”

Hola CK’ites,
This time I thought of treating you all with a healthy dosage of wisdom over the weekend itself ;)
“Listen More, Talk Less”.
Yeah, right! All these years you have been taking classes on Effective Public Speaking, Sharp Presentation Skills and How to Win Customers through Powerful Salesmanship. So does this mean that all your learning has gone down the drain?
Absolutely not! One needs to be a smart communicator in order to be successful in today’s professional world. It is a given.
What I am saying here is that you now need to graduate from being a “smart talker” to a “smart listener”.
An active listener is one that talks less, and thereby hears more. During professional meetings it is not necessary to hog the limelight by talking all the time. It is more important to take notes of the discussion rather than to be heard. Just speaking occasionally when you have a valid point to share is enough. To drive home this point, I will share an example here.
When we go to reputed B-Schools to hire young graduates, our experience has shown that the Group Discussion (GD) event resembles a fish market. Everyone is trying hard to make his/her opinion heard. Most speak in a high volume to express themselves, fearing that the interviewers will not be able to hear them. Be assured that we can hear you all! That’s exactly what we are there for – to hear your voice, your opinions. We cannot afford not to hear your voice as there lies with us the responsibility of hiring the right candidate.
What we are looking for are crisp, relevant insights, and not loud opinions. So when it is time to shortlist a candidate, who do we pick? No points for guessing this one – the candidate who gave good insights. And good insights come only if one is listening; not talking or screaming in an effort to impress.
I would like to give another example to showcase the benefits of active listening skills. During my early days at an American MNC in Seattle, there was this project manager that actively practiced the principle of listening more and talking less. He spoke the least amongst all in management meetings. Whatever he did speak was crisp, relevant and insightful. After observing him in a few meetings, I walked up to him one day and asked him about his secret of coming up with these brilliant insights. His answer was simple – “When most people in the room are busy fighting the one-upman-ship war, I keep my focus on the project and I listen to what is being said. Insights then come easily to me.”
Liitle wonder that world leaders like Ratan Tata and Warren Buffet talk frugally during Investor Conferences. Most of the time, they are seen listening and digesting the questions, thoughts and suggestions from the audience.
Now, as always, I request you try it out for yourself and see if it works for you. Good Luck! Have an insightful week ahead!

“What I love vs. What the situation demands” – which one should I prefer?

Hello CK’ites! Hope you are enjoying your weekend. Today’s topic is – “What I love vs. What the situation demands” – which one should I prefer?
When I put on the hat of a mentor/professor, which is my weekend hobby, I see myself addressing this question from the students very often. In my eyes, this question is on the same lines of – which is the preferred currency in the professional world – IQ or EQ?
Back to our question of the day, what the situation demands is always important to be addressed first. Unless one resolves today’s problems it’s pointless to peep into the future. So whether it’s your personal or professional life, one needs to work on what the situation demands, promptly.
The second part of the question is doing what you love. Research shows that if you work on what you love doing, you will enjoy your work. Work will be fun and so the positive results will definitely happen, it’s a matter of when, not if.
My experience with hundreds of successful individuals across numerous countries suggests that one can excel only in the activities that he/she loves doing, and not the ones that he/she might not enjoy doing but is doing it since the situation demands it.
Now, the real question is how can one turn the situational demands into a fun activity and not an inevitable chore? Let’s take an example of an ODI cricket match here. Team A has scored 300 runs in their allotted 50 overs thereby giving a target of 301 runs to win for Team B. So, here the situation demands that Team B should get 301 runs in their 50 overs. This relates to “what the situation demands” part of today’s question or in my words, the IQ part. This is definitely the key priority. Trust me, if they focus only on the number 301 the whole fun factor will disappear for both the spectators and its own team members. Here they have to break the target and allocate it sliced targets to individual team members. The opener who enjoys the sheet anchors role should be given the liberty to play out as many overs without bothering about the run rate. The higher middle order constructor who enjoys laying the foundation and then pace his innings should be given the option to start slow and then speed up his scoring rate. The middle order aggressor should be given complete liberty to play to his strengths and go for the big hits. He should be used towards the end of the innings. Here not only is each one of the team members playing to his strengths but he is thoroughly enjoying his role. The winning streak of this team will last longer. The spectators will have fun too. More will flock in and pay to watch this team perform. It’s a win-win strategy. This relates to the “what I love” part of today’s question or in my words, the EQ part. You can use this strategy in your daily work life to break down your project into tasklets (short achievable goals). Believe me, if you stick to your guns, the positive results will follow soon.
Try it soon ….work will be fun again and you will never be bothered with a dilemma like – what should I prioritize – the situational demands or the work that I enjoy doing?
Warren Buffet famously said while addressing highly successful US based professionals that the only difference between you guys and me is that every day I wake up and do the work that I enjoy doing. I believe that is what makes me successful.
Pretty simple, huh! Now you figure out what you enjoy doing and let success unfold itself.
We will buck the trend and take an impromptu topic for next week. Have a productive week ahead!

It is difficult to tackle criticism and even harder to accept praise from peers, family members and professional acquaintances. How do we learn to strike a balance?

CK’ites,
Good morning and happy Monday ;-) to you all.
Last weekend I received a bunch of interesting topics from you. So, I have decided to break the trend of writing on the previously declared topic. Instead, I will address one of the questions which was asked by quite a few of you guys. A smart professional needs to address the problem of today, right?
The question for today is – It is difficult to tackle criticism and even harder to accept praise from peers, family members and professional acquaintances. How do we learn to strike a balance?
Folks! I wish there was a straight forward, simple answer to this question. There isn’t one!
On second thoughts, you bright folks would not have posed this question if there was an easy answer, right?
Nevertheless, I will try to address the question in a point wise format which most of you seem to connect with.
1. Praise and criticism are two sides of the same coin. It’s similar to what we have seen in our career kundali – each of our strength has its own flip side. So if one is good at something there is a high chance that you might have neglected something else. So on one side you will get the appreciation for doing that one thing well and at the same time you might get reprimanded for neglecting the other thing. Take it in a stride. Praise and criticism always co-exist. I have yet to meet an individual who deserves nothing but appreciation all his life (noteworthy exceptions are my wife and my boss – in the same pecking order).
2. Praise and criticism are also about the “givers” perception or state of mind. Sometimes a family member or peer might just complement you for something you did last week. This comes in when you least expect it. Viola! The same day your girl friend might give you the silent treatment for not returning her call last week – bursting that ‘happy me’ balloon right away. So, it is not about your action always – it is about the givers thought process too. As an example, the same Indian cricket captain enjoys love-hate relationship with the same media time and again. How can that be possible? He is either good or bad. He can’t be both, right? The same logic applies to you too, as well.
3. Night follows day and the day follows the night. There is no disruption in this sequence. Similarly, praise follows criticism and criticism follows praise. I have seen this sequence work all these years. It’s a grounding experience. This will happen to you too. After all, you all are as human as I am, right?
4. Finally, in all this praise and criticism merry go round sequence, there is only one thing that is a constant – YOU! Be consistent with your actions and don’t bother yourself too much with the reactions coming your way. You got to remember, it’s a cyclical process, praise-criticism-praise. If your actions are consistent, your results are consistent then the praise phase will continue longer than the criticism phase. That’s the best one can do.
You all are smart folks. The only challenge with most young guys is that you consider praise as your own domain and shy away off criticism. That is just not possible ….. remember, we started today’s blog saying that praise and criticism are two sides of the same coin. Neither can exist alone.
So guys – now take on the world with a fresh perspective, Go ahead and make your ever-lasting impression. Good luck!
The topic for next week is – What I love vs. What the situation demands – which one should I prefer?

How to give career guidance to school/college students without getting perceived as being bossy?

Hola! CK’ites.
Hope you are in the middle of a rewarding week.
This week’s question is – How to give career guidance to school/college students without getting perceived as being bossy?
“Advice” – this is a word that most of us instinctively shy away from. We all have grown up in a society where we are used to parents advising us on the ideal career track, the neighbours advising us on relationships, teachers on the importance of education, grand-parents on respect for elders and friends on the value of true friendship. We have had it with “advices”. We all forget to tap into our inner voices. The “advice” journey has been no different for today’s bright, talented youngsters.
Now, to top it all, you come into the picture with your own set of suggestions – yet another “gyan” sessions for them. That’s the last thing they want. “When are we ever going to have fun?”
This internet generation is quite knowledgeable and informed about the daily happenings and trends. They don’t need much of hand-holding. All they need is a confidante.
Then how do we as the wiser folks give them suggestions that help them address their life issues and make them even smarter than they already are?
Here is the approach that I suggest one can take –
1. Be a confidante, not a teacher – Understand their situations, their problem and their approach. Just listen to them. At this time avoid the temptation to give your view-point.
2. Create a “need” for suggestions – Once you have understood their problem, tell them what they are missing, but not by promptly solving it for them. Let them know that an unsolved problem means a missed opportunity and delayed success. Be assured, he will not want to miss an exciting opportunity. By taking this approach you have already created the need, and aroused the awareness in him.
3. Become the SME (subject matter expert) – Once the youngster is done brooding over the missed opportunity, he starts looking for an expert who can solve his problem. If you have really understood his problem and have genuinely cared to get to the root of it, only then can you give him a solution. If so, do let it be known to him through your actions. This time around, he will surely be open to take your suggestions.
4. Do not take the credit – Once he works on the problem using your “wise” advice, there are high chances that he will win. Do not take the credit for his win even when you know that he has followed your advice word by word to get the rewarding result. Let him brag about his approach and success in front of his friends. Deep inside he knows who really deserves the credit.
5. Build a trusting, long lasting relationship – Once he has tasted success through your advice, he will keep coming back to you again and again. This is when you know that you have built a trusting bond with him.
The beauty of this approach is that you can use it with anyone, not just youngsters. Try this win-win approach with your friends, professional peers or your clients. My experience shows that it works wonders with all of them. Make it an experience sharing session, not a “gyan” session, and see the results for yourself.
Have a smashing weekend!
See you next week with an insightful topic – “How to stay calm in today’s competitive and ambiguous professional environment?”

Who is an Intrapreneur? How successful intrapreneurs are entrepreneurs in their own right?

CK’ites – A happy weekday morning to you all!

Now that Monday is behind us, our energy levels have started pumping up again. Last weekend is history, we all are looking forward to the next one. Whoever planned a 5-day work week and a 2-day weekend got it all wrong. It should have been the other way around.
I am sure I have won the popularity vote by making this statement, right?
Talking about the ‘5-day work week’ world, it seamlessly takes us to this week’s topic -
 Who is an Intrapreneur? How successful intrapreneurs are entrepreneurs in their own right?

An Intrapreneur is someone who practices entrepreneurship within the four walls of the Corporate world. He is a leader in his own right, say a CXO or Senior Manager of a company who treats the organization as his own venture, his team members as his own employees and his P&L statement (Profit & Loss) as his individual achievement. Every employee’s win is like a feather in his cap and every departing employee feels like an individual loss. He is personally invested in the ups and downs of the organization and is tied to its brand image in the market place. He bets on his personal time, energy and occasionally money to make the organization a better and rewarding place to work.
If you close your eyes for a moment, I am sure one such person in your present or past organization will instantaneously flash in front of your eyes. We have always looked up to a few intrapreneurs within our companies, we just did not know that’s what we call them. This term has been coined only recently.
Any organization’s Founders or Executive Leaders innately value an intrapreneur, because it is this guy who transforms the organization from an ‘Also-Ran’ to a ‘Blue-Chip’ one. A little freedom and some support can activate him instantly. The passion, energy, can-do attitude and ideation is contagious. World leading organizations from the developed Western hemisphere take pride in selecting and promoting these intrapreneurs, who are identified as next generation leaders.
Personally, I believe that most intrapreneurs are born with their strengths. They acquire the knowledge and finesse along the way, but most of these strengths are inherent.
Most intrapreneurs often, themselves, become entrepreneurs after perfecting these skill sets within the Corporate world. The Indian entrepreneurial world is full of such examples.
The founders of the biggest Indian e-tailing success story, FlipKart, are ex- Amazon’ites.
The five founding members of Little Eye Labs, Bangalore worked with IBM for a few years before starting on their own. They sold their start-up to Facebook at a record amount of INR 100 crores within just a year of going live.
The founder of the INR 1,100 crore Inverter and UPS manufacturer, Su-Kam inverters, worked in Corporate India before going solo in 1988.
All these smart folks started as intrapreneurs and later became entrepreneurs.
If I were to spot a similarity between an intrapreneur and an entrepreneur, it is their risk-taking ability. The only difference is that the entrepreneurs hone this skill earlier in their lives as compared to the intrapreneurs.
To bring this blog to a close, I sincerely wish that each one of you working professional gets a chance to work with an intrapreneur. Their energy, passion and vision is contagious that can inspire and transform you.
Adios till the next time we meet on this Forum.

Next week’s question is – “How to give career guidance to school/college students without getting perceived as being bossy?” from Yogesh Patunkar.

Are entrepreneurs born or made?

Hello CK’ites,

Just had my dinner and I am settling down after downing a glass of fresh coconut water. I pick up the laptop and sit down to write the next blog.

Boom!!! The topic hits me hard. The question is - Are entrepreneurs born or made? – from Mihir.
Trust me – this seemingly innocuous question sits in the same league as my wife’s innocent sounding question – Am I looking fat today? When you get one of these questions you know you are stuck between a rock and a hard spot.

In my opinion, there is no straight answer to today’s question. If I go with our CK model of ‘play to your strengths’ then one has to be born with the entrepreneurial bent of mind. So, my answer is yes! Entrepreneurs are born. Just that they get chiseled, polished, discovered at different stages / ages in life.

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Michael Dell, the highly successful entrepreneurs of this generation quit college and started on their own at a young age. Arguably, they were born with the entrepreneurial traits. They discovered and then played to their entrepreneurial strengths at an early stage of their lives.

At the same time, the world has seen individuals who fired their entrepreneurial dreams / ventures later in life. They were very successful professionals in their own right before turning a page in their careers. They probably tinkered with the ideas all throughout their early days but never took them up seriously or just started later in life. Col Sanders (Kentucky Fried Chicken) and the Fisher duo (Gap Inc.) are testimony to it. Their products are immensely successful across the globe. So, like their younger counterparts cited earlier in this post, were they born with the entrepreneurial traits? I would say yes.

If I go back to our CK model, then I would say that people who exhibit the themes of either leadership or strategic thinking have an entrepreneurial bent of mind. All of us at Career Kundali, by now, firmly believe that we all are born with our strengths or themes. So answering today’s question just got easier.

The key to solving this dilemma is to find your key themes and then align your career accordingly – entrepreneur or professional? The beauty is that neither one of these profiles is less attractive or rewarding than the other.

Some people just go from college to entrepreneurship while others go from college to intrapreneurship* to entrepreneurship. The time gap varies but the basic fundamentals stay the same.

*Intrapreneurship is the skill of successfully practicing entrepreneurship as a
professional (within an organization).

Phew!! Now that I have successfully attempted to answer today’s question let me get back to my refreshing drink and enjoy the rest of my evening.
Have a great week ahead!

Next week’s topic is – “What is an intrapreneur? How successful intrapreneurs are entrepreneurs in their own right?”

Confused about your professional future?

CK’ites,

Its heartening as a blog writer to see the momentum that we are gathering now. I am geting suggestions on how to make the posts more impacting. Guys – keep the suggestions flowing. Not only do your responses motivate me, they also challenge my grey cells.

Today’s question is from Priyanka Mogre -
“Are you confused about your professional future?”

I remember my younger days when I had just graduated from NY State. I had good grades, the job market was fairly encouraging and I was getting a few interview calls from Fortune 100 companies. I successfully converted most of them. Life was good. Wife was happy too ;-) Trust me, that was a bigger achievement than getting a job with a Fortune 100 company.

So, the million dollar question – With all good things happening in my professional life, did I have a clear path for my professional future? The straight forward answer – NO.
I was just feeling good but I was still confused.

Back to my favorite examples from the world of cricket.
Champion of Champions – Ravi Shastri, the only Indian triple centurion – Virender Sehwag and Player of the Series for IPL 2 – Rohit Sharma. What do all three of them have in common?
All these guys started at different positions in the Indian batting line-up but ended up achieving international fame on completely different batting position. In short, they were no different than me (or you) in the early days of their professional career.
Renowned American college dropouts who have then gone ahead to form trend setting businesses weren’t quite sure about their professional future in their early days. Otherwise, why would they have joined the colleges in the first place?

That takes us to the next obvious question – Does the confusion ever disappear?
Again, the straight forward answer – YES.

Really?
Then, how do we do it?

I will try and share a simpler approach to this not-so-easy-to-answer question.
i. Study your work profile and environment in details. Repeat – detailed understanding of your role, not on hear-say basis.
ii. Segregate the activities that you enjoy doing and the ones you don’t. Repeat – this activity should be done based on your personal insights, not based on your managers or peers feedback.
iii. If you have done the first 2 steps diligently then the next steps start getting simpler.
iv. You then keep the activities that you enjoy/thrive doing, to yourself, and outsource the other actvities to respective subject matter experts. You will need your manager’s assistance in doing this activity.
v. Remember, if your manager believes that you continue to add value to the organization he will help you. So your job is to put it on paper (NOT through e-mails or conversations) before you make the outsourcing request.
vi. If you have successfully come up to this step, then you should have already started seeing your confusion getting dissolved. By now, you have picked your strength areas and are enjoying your job.
vii. Here you start playing to your strengths and start scoring professional brownie points. You need to align yourself to a professional coach, a mentor who can then motivate, guide and align you towards a highly impactful career.
Ravi Shastri, AG Lafley (P&G) and me ;-) did something similar in the early days of their professional lives and the confusion started dissolving with evey passing day.
You go ahead and try it yourself. I assure you – like most successful folks quoted in today’s blog you will win. In the least, you have nothing to lose.

Have a stellar weekend!

Next week’s topic is – “Are entrepreneurs born or made?” from Mihir Soundalgekar.