Exactly nine years ago, I set foot on the campus of my first employer as a management trainee along with a batch of twenty others like me.
Back in 2006, with an open economy the business in India had gone confidently global, and was in a tango promising to match the world step for step. For anyone graduating from a half-decent B-School, it was a heady time to join the MNC world and dream big. However, our world has changed more dramatically in the last decade than it probably has between the pre-industrial eras until the start of 21st century.
A whole bunch of lessons that we learnt on the campus were soon to be tested in the crucible of new digital economy. On the occasion of completing nine years of our professional journey, I reached out to each of my management trainee batch mates to understand what their biggest lessons in this decade of change have been. While some of them are time-tested, the others are more relevant to today’s times than in the past.
1. Just the hard work won’t guarantee professional success
In the era of smart phones, connected devices, and working on the go, it is prudent to work smart and not just work hard. More importantly, link all your efforts to your long term goals and pursue them with single-minded intent. When you wake up each morning, simply ask yourselves- why am I doing what I am going to do today? It will help you cut through the clutter and stay alert to opportunities emerging on the horizon.
2. Leaders of tomorrow will be those who can work in a state of flux
It is instinctive to think of survival and play safe when it comes to dealing with change. The true leaders of tomorrow will be those who have the courage to venture into unchartered territory and are mentally strong to deal with a failure or two. The start-ups of today will be the tech behemoths of tomorrow. Pick which side of the fence you’d rather be.
3. Years of experience is passé, years of learning is the new cool
Gone are the days of counting your professional worth by the number of years of experience you have. What have you learned in all those years of toil and how well can you apply it to the new world order will determine your professional worth. There is no better time than now to think and introspect about whether you want to be a specialist in a niche segment or a generalist with a broad enough vision to expand your possibilities. If you are somewhere in between, it’s not a good place to be in.
4. Your network is your net worth
Grow and nurture your network with the same passion that you have for your job. Think of how you engage with your Linkedin connections, friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and subscribers to your blog. It all adds up to make up for your biggest asset and investment- your network! Your network is the singular reason why you must rise above politics and challenges at work to convert your colleagues into your best endorsers!
5. Add value to your eco system
Surely, you can’t to everything by yourselves, so why not bring excellence into whatever you do? Open up and share your learnings with those from the same fraternity, slowly but surely they will start looking up to you as a thought leader. It will also give you the license to go out and freely ask for help when you need it, just like I did when I wanted to put this blog together.
6. Do. Mentor. Move on.
Quoting my friend Samarth Singh,
Do a new project once, before anyone else has done it. Perfect it the next time you have to do something similar. Groom the next rung to do it when you have to do it the third time. After that, it’s time to move on.”
If you continue to do what you’ve been doing, you will continue to get what you’ve been getting. Noted, Sam!
7. If you’ve to move a mountain, start with moving the stone
Seemingly mammoth projects become manageable when we break them down into bite-size chunks. Marry right resources and skills with the tasks on hand and make the rewards clear. What seemed herculean initially, will soon turn out to be a breeze. Respect and recognition of the efforts of your team will commit them to your long term success.
8. Focus on excellence. Money will follow.
At the time when he was well past his forties and was way beyond the age considered fit to play T20 Cricket, Pravin Tambe was chosen to play for Rajasthan Royals in the cash rich IPL. In two years since he made his IPL debut, Pravin has made more money (and fame) than he has in his entire career. In all those years spent under the unforgiving Mumbai sun, all that Pravin did was hone his leg spinners, and bowl them better than anyone half his age could.
<<Those who know me well will know that this was a diehard Cricket fan sneaking his head out while writing a business blog.>>
9. Work to Live and not Live to work.
Cherish your people, cherish your time. Chase the things that give you joy- abundant, uninhibited, pure joy. You only live once, so learn to switch off on a vacation. Make your ‘work’ work hard to make your time with family and friends worth it.
There are many things money can’t buy. Time is one of them.
Thanks for this gem, Shagufta Kazi.
If you’ve reached until this point and I hope you have, I am keen to know what your most important learning has been in these times of change. Please drop a line in comments and let us all know.
PS: This post was first published on my Linkedin blog: //www.linkedin.com/pulse/9-lessons-i-learnt-after-graduating-from-b-school-yogesh-gandhi