6 learnings to help build my Second Innings @ 35

ChildWhen I was 36 months old, I used to be a shy, introvert, bald boy who was still coming to terms with life. I shall be 36 years old in a few days time and am still that man who is bald and who is still to come to terms with his life. Time flies and so do hair. Okay, am not going to rant over my hair loss anymore and talk rather about my experiments with life so far. 6 truths of life I have experienced in the corporate world in the past 12 odd years and these truths shall be my guiding light for my second innings. My concept of second innings is 35 to 70 years which as per life expectancy norms is not a bad expiry date.

First innings was a mixed affair wherein I scored 60 odd runs and played a Sehwag style innings full of risks, adventure and chutzpah. It could have been a triple hundred for all you know, but then like a typical Sehwag shot labeled as ‘rash’, I got out. Few others scored centuries which gave me obvious discomfort and some scored very few for whom I always offered my sympathetic ear.

So, in second innings wherein the run chase is a tall order, 6 philosophies that I think should lead the way for people like you and me who are on the verge of second innings or already into it, are–

    1. The pitch has changed, ADAPT accordingly – So far, the match was being played on home ground under known conditions. Yes, the pressure to perform is always there but when there is a comfort factor involved, then life just gets a bit dull and non challenging. Now, it is a pacy and bouncy pitch and it is imperative that the batting style changes giving due respect to the changed conditions else competition is always vying for your batting slot. The chase needs a good contribution from each batsman and failure would not be appreciated. Of course, past laurels may help but they shall not prevent your slide from the International arena to domestic arena in due time.
    2. DO NOT throw away your wicket – Is it always necessary to play like Sehwag? Yes, the temperament and aptitude may motivate or rather force to play in your natural style, however, the attitude towards batting should take into cognizance the pitch, the opposition and the situation which may simply demand to spend some time in the middle and bail out the swinging deliveries. So, be a Dravid or Sachin, as per the need of the hour and even if that does not suit your natural style, adapt it till the conditions again suit your style of batting which eventually will happen as the ball gets older.
    3. Build your innings – As the commentators often say, pace your innings well. You had a decent first innings score but let a rash shot overrule the logical reasoning of your brain. The end result, you have achieved something but not completely true to your potential. The idea in second innings is then to take small strides and then jog and then sprint towards your goal. Accumulate feedback from peers, colleagues, friends to know your ‘blind spots’ and work towards it so that a rash shot is never developed.
    4. DO NOT be afraid to play the big shots – Be true to yourself. If your objective is to score big and you have paced yourself well, then at some point in the match you have to announce your superiority over the bowlers. Seek that opportunity. A well-timed six on the front foot is a well measured risk once you have settled in and playing your shots well. A six may be followed by defensive strokes but that shot is enough to let the selector as well as the opposition know that you are prepared to take risks and grow along with measured defense.
    5. APPRECIATE your role as an Individual as well as a team player – Run chases cannot be achieved by one batsman only. You need to build the score along with other team players and yet stand out as a major contributor. At times, it is critical to rotate the strike and at times it is important that you take on the bowling on your own. That judgment is critical and you should appreciate both the options.
    6. REMEMBER the above five and MAKE IT COUNTThe above are 5 simple learning which hold true in the world, especially the corporate world where you strive to make it big. The truth in these is even profound if you do not have a Godfather in the system. And most importantly, if you have sincerely adopted the above 5, it is critically critical that you make it count. I always wondered why Mr. Gavaskar always used to say it when a batsman reached a century or some other milestone.

Today, the realization is clear – You may score a 95, 97 and 91 in 3 consecutive innings and someone else has scored a double century 3 matches earlier and has followed it up with mediocre scores of 20s and 30s. Yet, the chances of being selected is equal if not more for the other guy, merely because he entered the record (perception) books. That someone could be your colleague, peer or even your senior. So, make your efforts, intelligence and skills be perceived at the right place in the right manner so that you achieve deservedly right results.

The sin of disengaging with a disengaged employee.

Yesterday was an interesting day and like each day teaches you a thing or two, it taught me the word ‘Engagement’ and the seriousness associated with it. I was never this serious even when I got engaged (yeah, that semi-final event where a guy is mighty pleased with his achievement before he loses big time once the final event or the marriage sets in). The Engagement that is being referred to out here is the new buzz word amongst teams, Organizations across sectors trying to build up the employee morale and in turn hope for seamlessness linked high productivity. Irony of the matter is, the more disengaged the employees the more they resent any attempts of engagement activities. So what do Organizations do?


Different weapons of various intensities are used to tackle the monster of Disengagement – (a) Festival based celebrations where employees come together and participate in different activities and enjoy. Everything is fine except that the senior management is never around and some departments are also never around due to work load. (b) ‘Let’s get engaged’ ring ceremonies wherein at a specific time and a specific place people are called for celebration of birthdays, town halls and similar activities. Guess what, they do engaged but for that specific time and only at that specific place. (c) Prayer meetings where all employees in a function/department pray together that at least one of them is hospitalized so that later on all can be engaged as a team in offering their support to the ‘martyr’ employee …. It was a crass example but you must have got the drift.


Oh, by the way I missed out my favorite engagement tactic – excursions or outdoor trips, where inevitably sparks fly between employees and then the engagement belongs to a different realm than intended for. So, how do we get the employees engaged like a Cricket team wherein all 11 players are there for each other? Some may leave the team, new member may join, there would be good days, there would be not so good days … but the team remains always engaged. What role does the Captain really play?

 Maybe, cricket really has the answer. During our childhood, we always had this brat who owned the bat and said ‘I will bat first since I own the bat’. Inarguably he was never a good batsman and after a few balls when he was bowled, pat came the statement ‘It was a trial ball or a very fast ball’. As team players, we were never bothered and knew that the match will start and we will be engaged only after couple of overs once we had done with our customary ‘lip service’ to the bat owner. The captain ensured that the batting order or field placements were such that all were satisfied and it happened in every match. If the cricket ball got lost in some gutter or bushes, every person of the team got involved in retrieving the ball irrespective of whether he was no. 1 batsman or just another fringe player. There was an engagement that was built out of trust and respect for each other.

 I was always a good fielder and hardly let any cricket ball pass by but today am wondering how to tackle the balls thrown by this monster of Disengagement. Maybe, it’s time to play cricket again!


Why you should not become a Paying Guest at your own home.

Recently I read an interview of Saif Ali Khan (yes, you read it right) in Bombay Times in which he talked about professionalism in Hollywood. One of the points that he emphasized on and which made me write this blog is the working hours of the movie making crew, which is from 9 AM to 6 PM. Any minute extra and you are charged for it. This actually has been in practice in India especially amongst blue collared workers, known as ‘Overtime’. Unfortunately overtime is now prevalent amongst white collared without the relevant additional perks which has led to long hours at work and less time at home. And you end up being a paying guest at your home.

So, let’s reverse this outlook towards Overtime. One of the major factors for this unhealthy trend is the indecisiveness and lack of leadership, obviously at Manager / HOD level. In my professional career I’ve come across such a typical manager who had relocated from Faridabad to Mumbai sans his family. Tough days lay ahead for the entire team. The guy dint know what to do after office hours and he specifically scheduled meetings beyond 7:30 PM and at times even made us sit till dinner.

Of late, there are many similar specimens around whose own imperfect personal life makes the professional and personal lives of their team members imperfect as these harmless looking yet dangerous specimens are always at work. Whether the work they do is of optimum quality or not can be judged on the basis of comparison of Production v/s Productivity which I shall cover in my next blog. So, shouldn’t the Managers be penalized for making team work beyond scheduled times just because they could not define project parameters efficiently? Of course, this penalization can be cascaded upwards right up to the CXO level and if they have the right to earn millions, then the accountability of optimum productivity within teams rests with them.

So, there’s a choice, either the System looks at penalization or starts paying overtime to the unfortunate white collared workers. Yes, some projects deserve extra hours but do all projects or regular run-of-the-mill projects merit long hours? Coming back to critical point; what happens to the family person who has now become paying guest at his own home? Let’s look at the possibilities –

  • Children actually believe mom’s version that their ‘Uncle’ has arrived! … lawyers who handle divorce cases are grinning from ear to ear.
  • Colleagues get involved in extra marital affairs as the spouses do not really understand! … Again, the lawyers are grinning.
  • Sad songs which touch the heart make lot of money! … Damlela baba anybody?
  • Guilt ridden parents bow down to the culinary demands of their kids whether it be fast food or drinks! … Doctors are grinning from ear to ear.
  • As a true paying guest, you pay a lot and at the end you realize you are just a guest in your own world.

Is there a way out? Of course, there is but it will take time. To know more, follow my earlier blogs on making yourself present at the right time at the right place.

When do we start – From People Management to People’s Talent Management?

Friday was a day of heavenly bliss. A team member gave a soulful rendition of Sun raha hai na tu from the movie Aashiqui 2. It transcended me into a different world as long as she was singing the song. And I have been wondering since then, why is such a talented person into an office routine job? During the course of the day, she shared her future course of action which was joining another Corporate for again, a routine office job. I have been struggling to answer a simple action that I have asked myself and which I had raised during my earlier blog – If people have talents which finally they pursue as passion and leave their careers, wouldn’t it be highly beneficial for Organizations to actually tap into these talents of their employees’ during their course of stay?

Suppose, if they actually do not pursue their passions which are based on the structure of their talents due to some financial considerations and stay put in corporate lives, would they be really benefitting themselves, their environment, the Organization? Sachin Tendulkar in his interview with TOI says that talent spotting and nurturing starts at a very early age of 5/6 years whereas in India it starts at around 12/13. So, basically in an already delayed system, a talent as and when recognized even in the Corporate World is allowed to let go becaTalented Office Singeruse basis his/her educational background + professional experience, that talent is not required. Period.

Look around and there would be talented individuals everywhere – Creative artists, Singers, Dancers, Animators, sports … You do see that hidden streak of brilliance, that spark whenever there is team get together or HR sponsored activities. So, what will be outcome if a person is told, ‘Hey Talent. You are currently in the Organization for a particular set of KPIs. You are following the same and doing a good work to meet your financial commitments and career aspirations. What if, we could create a parallel framework such that you could hone your talents through expert advice and become our ambassadors in various competitions, activities? Does it sound good?’ The probability of answer being ‘Yes’ and consequently avoiding attrition related issues are much higher.

Aren’t we then moving from an era of “People Management” as a KPI which basically talks about improving the knowledge, skills of the employee for performing the job better to an evolved era of People Management? It cannot be called as Talent Management as this evolution necessarily focuses on the real talent/passion of an employee and not the career linked talent progression. For some, the real talent and career progression will match which is a Win-Win situation for all but for many –

  • People’s Talent Management will help them discover themselves better which can only lead to better productivity across all fronts.
  • This is the only way wherein the employer employee relationship is naturally enhanced without actually depending too much on R & R.
  • This will be a direct entry to Assessment Centres, restricted for a few, thus enabling them to assess their talents as part of overall profile

There are many Pros and some challenges to be dealt with in this proposed scheme. In the meantime, I am merely looking forward to another round of heavenly bliss which alas, will be limited to few more weeks. C’est le vie.

What is the best time to switch Career or rather pursue your passion?

Lately I have been working on a strategic organizational initiative towards effective Customer Engagement as a member of the core Thinking Team. As I remember, the other day we were stuck in a discussion regarding the customer’s choice to switch his Career and how as an Organization we can render our services. The discussion was how different is switching a career from switching a job? If an accountanPassiont or SME for that matter plans to shift to a different sector say, from manufacturing to financial services, would that tantamount to switching of a career or a job? The conclusion we came to was that our services could be rendered most to that customer who faces the maximum “uncertainties” while switching and this would be a person who decides to switch his career to pursue his Passion. Now, this could be either starting own initiative or even joining another company/sector to start afresh or at a lower level. I have been thinking on similar lines for quite some time (make it years) and it is definitely not the easiest decision to make. My passion is to pursue the Creative line which could be Marketing/Advertising and as I realized this over my corporate tenure I have been shifting gears accordingly to reach the desired milestone. During this journey, there were a few points to think over – Nowhere to Land: In my foundation years of corporate life I was into Business Development / Sales for nearly 5 years and changed role as a Product Manager in my current Organization for 4 ½ years. I have since moved on for the past 3 years in the role of a Sales training / Content Developer. So basically the movement is from technical research and implementation towards Creative Design and Program Management and as I foresee it, towards creative implementation in some time. The issue is what if the external environment or even the internal environment is not conducive to your thought process. In a stringent job environment like the current one, this hampers your job prospects as you are no longer a SME. In a worst case scenario, you have nowhere to land, and you can only bank upon the twin-engine power of your passion and personal triumphs in earlier roles. Money Speaks: Any change of job/career brings about significant appreciation in finances and over the past 3 years I could not appreciate two such offers. The reason – The job profile dint match my passion profile. We need to constantly check about current financial condition and what could be the financial condition 2/3/4 years down the line. Whether the family can withstand the financial pressures for a period of time, whether your liabilities could be taken care of and if there is decent investment for unforeseen circumstances. This is the most important aspect to consider while you are on the journey of ‘follow your passion’ and needs due consultation and approval from family, especially your life partner. Jealousy Pangs: Your peers, colleagues may seem to be better off financially and even their social status as you perceive could be lot better than yours. Their designations could make you regret the moment you decided to switch sides with your dearest passion. This is an area which can make you withdraw from your journey even when you are close to reaching to your goal. Beware. The above 3 points were and are still the toughest decisions that I live with everyday in pursuit of reaching the goal. Some may ask, why take this trouble? For me, this trouble is lot less than the stress, pressures and un-fulfilling corporate career when your heart and mind are not together. In fact, if you do not follow your inner calling, then truly you are deceiving yourself. Before I turn spiritual leader, some hard facts that need to be administered while on this journey – Make yourself relevant – If you do not have experience on your side, ensure that you have adequate knowledge, skills supporting your passion. Get yourself certified – Enroll in certification programs, enroll in projects that lean towards your future goal and be part of activities that harness your skills. Be Socially active – It is the best possible way to bridge the distance between your current and future scenario through interactions with experts, colleagues and peers. It will also give you a realistic picture regarding your passion vis-a-vis the Market requirements. So, what is the best time to switch career and follow your passion. I have made the switch and embarked on the journey. You have to decide on your own as it is a long and a lonely journey with wonderful sights to see.