That passion – profession debate, again

In many beer fueled conversations, I have heard the sentiment of “quitting my job and doing something I am passionate about.” While I see merit in that line of thought, these days I also end up playing party-pooper by asking if he/she has a business model in mind, especially since the ‘passion’ is more often than not from the usual suspects list – digital photography, cooking/baking, writing, travel and so on. To clarify, unlike funded startups this model doesn’t even have to scale, but in the medium-long term, the revenue has to be greater than expenditure. That’s a requisite for survival in the world, unless one has alternate sources of income.

I saw a meeting of worlds when I noticed yet another job listing that demanded the person to be “passionate about digital marketing“? As someone who has been working in the domain since 2004, I have seen a version of this phrase appear in many job descriptions. I could replace digital marketing with startups, consumer insights, programming and so on, the question remains the same. More

Culture Architecture

Despite several posts on ‘culture‘, of the four Ps I’d mentioned in the Agile @ Scale post, ‘People’ is a topic that has gotten the least attention here in the recent past. As the change imperative forces organisations to be more responsive to rapidly changing external dynamics, the structures, processes and methods it had adopted for its internal stakeholders will most likely have to change as well. Jobs in earlier era were well defined constructs, but this era requires employees to work far beyond their job description in order to thrive. (“Why We Need to Change the Software in our Organisations“) It is probably not a coincidence that the four organisations that are defining the larger contours of business and technology are also the most favoured employers.

The task is not easy. On one hand, there is a workforce that is increasingly getting overwhelmed by communication technologies that are dictating an always-on culture. (“Why you hate work.”) On the other hand, there is a new generation entering the workforce that has expectations of a culture tuned to their lifestyle and ways of functioning. They rapidly disengage if they feel this is no happening. In both cases, the end result is a loss in productivity. This is only one part of the story. There are several factors that define culture, and in an organisation, there are several factors that resist change as well.  How does an organisation adapt to these dynamics? A few thoughts, some strategic, some tactical. More

Plan C

This post has been pending for a while, the date of publishing of the article that inspired the post is evidence enough. It is about people who leave their jobs to follow their passion, but instead of the success stories we are used to, it focuses on the difficulties on that path. Even if you’ve not taken that path already, it’s quite possible that you have contemplated it. It’s romantic – the freedom, being your own boss and doing the thing you like – Plan B. But it’s not easy, and it begins as early as even identifying one’s passion. (must read)

Interestingly, NYT themselves had an article almost a year later that asked “What Work is Really For” and answered that with an Aristotle quote “we work to have leisure, on which happiness depends.” Though I didn’t know about this quote until recently, this is a perspective that I have often used to debate with people who say those who do not like their jobs should quit. There are many reasons why people don’t, and one of them is consciously making a choice to work (possibly on things they don’t enjoy) for the 2 days (and vacations) when they are able to spend their resources – money, effort and time – on things they enjoy.

The reasons people don’t scale up those 2 days could be many, including the difficulties involved in the early stages of setting up, and then maintaining a positive balance – of money and life. Money is after all an essential resource. It buys things, it opens doors. But when your passion becomes your work and your principal source of money, does it feel the same? Or does it become a job?

I liked the second NYT article also for its last 3 paragraphs. It addresses the money conundrum. It talks about how right from when we are born, we are taught to be consumers, thanks to capitalism, which though calls itself an open market where we have the freedom to buy is actually a system unto itself.  The choices are not really independent. It points out that education should be meant to make us self determining agents. True freedom requires that we take part in the market as fully formed agents, with life goals determined not by advertising campaigns but by our own experience of and reflection on the various possibilities of human fulfillment. But that’s not an easy path either. It calls for independent thinking and a subjective view of fulfillment and happiness. And that brings us to the familiar “to each his own”

until next time, work it out :)

Bonus Read: Six Rules to guide your career

Update: Autumn-Winter 2011

The last few weeks have kept me busy, thanks to a career crossroad. I had a few options, each of which presented its own share of pros and cons. At a larger level, there was a dilemma on whether to stay as a consultant or get back to a job. This tussle is something I’d like to document in depth, so that’s a story for later.

It was made even more difficult because the major consultancy option was with an organisation whose work I respect and whose domain is a personal interest area. I also had a couple of ‘smaller’ consultancy options, which offered work in interesting domains, in addition to my regular Bangalore Mirror columns. There was also a job option which would allow me to work with a couple of people whom I’d gotten to know through Twitter, and whom I like and admire for their perspectives.

After much consideration and with a little help from invaluable friends over DMs and chats, the update on the LinkedIn profile now reads ‘Head -Social’ at Myntra. In addition to various personal priorities, I chose to go with this opportunity because it gave me the maximum scope to implement the concepts I frequently write about on the blog. The organisation is at that rapid growth stage where I can work towards making ‘social’ inherent in processes across domains. In addition to the ‘social’ piece, I’ll also be working on a couple of other domains.

So, in addition to the regular kind of posts here, I’ll hope to share the experiences of creating a ‘social’ strategy and implementing it on the client side. The mandate is to embed social in fashion, not be social after a fashion, and so, I think we’re in for a lot of fun. :)

until next time, job 2.011

Future Shocks

Sometimes you look back and realise that the future you had envisioned is where you are right now. I’d written about this a few weeks back.

But when you look back, it’s difficult to ensure that only the positive memories get thrown up. Its a bit like Google Search, my memory- even if there’s some remote link to the search query, the result will be shown. And when it’s my own life I’m searching in and about, it’s difficult to stop at Page 1, though I may have got the result. :)

Besides, its only natural (when looking for the future I’d envisioned in the past) that I tend to look at a particular time in my life, when the first professional dreams were getting made – around the time that I finished my PG. The summer of 2002, a scenario, quite similar to what the world is facing now. This was the placement season right after the dotcom bust.

I read a few reports recently on how many companies are refusing to honor the offer letters made to students, or delaying the joining date till everything stabilises. I feel very bad for these kids, there are very few things that could’ve prepared them for this. Everything happened in quite a bit of a hurry. And suddenly the dreams of a secure future, the list of purchases to be made from the first salary, all seem like a sick joke that fate played on them. Its difficult to put into words the frustration, the anger and the sorrow that they’d feel. When their confirmed employer suddenly keeps them waiting, then gives them very mixed signals, when they wake up every day and realise that they have finished their education but are yet to start the next step – employment, when relatives see a prey and sweep in to casually ask what their plans are now, when they have to push an entire day knowing that tomorrow would not be any better, when they agonise at home/college wondering why all this is happening to them, when they see their classmates join organisations whose offer they’d rejected, when they start looking for other options only to realise that in such choppy weather, no one is willing to give them even a straw to clutch at, it can shatter their confidence, and more importantly their faith in the force that holds it all together.

But yes, as the old saying goes, whatever doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger. I should know, since I was one of them for a nerve wracking 2 months. This post is a thank you  note to the higher  power , and loved ones for pulling me through. This post is also a prayer for those poor souls who will hopefully look back at all this, and will still be able to smile.

until next time, dream