"The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes"

Your Role:

I am the Founder of WriteFor. I am currently building a one-of-its-kind domain specific online writing school along with an eco-system which will bring together writers, people who seek writing services and professions that are complimentary to writing such as illustrators, film-makers, publishers, marketers, editors, content-platform owners, etc.

 

Advancing In Your Career: 

The nature of challenges vary at every stage of the career. When I started out 16 years ago, the challenges were more internal. It was getting clarity on "what do I want to do", "what am I good at", "what makes me happy". Because only when you answer these questions, can you turn your focus to external challenges. Only few among us might be fortunate to have the answers right away. For most of us, it is a long process of trial and error. Externally, the challenge is how to constantly re-skill yourself and stay ahead of the curve. That way I have self-disrupted myself several times. I have shifted domains - e.g I moved from HR to take up a challenging product management role. I have worked across industries. I gave up a stable career to take up entrepreneurship twice. Writing, my current domain, is something I started only 3 years ago. Even as we speak I am spending a lot of time learning videography and editing, because video content is the way forward for me. So re-inventing oneself many times over is a consistent career challenge if you have that kind of hunger. I do.

 

Challenges Faced:

Let me start with personal challenges. I think one of the biggest personal challenges we face, in context of our professions, is (a) finding (b) valuing your - inner compass; accepting yourself for who you are. This is not mere philosophy. It has direct impact on how we take career decisions, jobs we choose and let go, people we connect with and ignore. Budding entrepreneurs ask me, "how can I be sure of a business partner?". My answer always is, "Don't expect to be sure of a business partner, if you are not sure of yourself". I have spent a lot of time doing that inner work for myself - and that allows me to take better decisions. Not that I don't face confusions. But I am able to clearly define the trade-offs and my priorities. If I talk of strictly professional challenges, then those pertain to specific goals I am trying to achieve at different stages. For example, building the online writing school for WriteFor - I know content is my forte, but I am already thinking about the sales engines and I am learning those. I recently published my book, 'The Entrepreneur's Soulbook - Is it your cup of tea?, for aspiring and first-time entrepreneurs. I know how to write a good book - but I am also figuring out the mechanics of book marketing. 

The good thing about me is that I am a DIYer. I don't like ready-made formula. While that means, I need to spend more time and energy figuring something out; but once I am done - my understanding of it is so good, that I can play with it in ways that wouldn't be possible, if I was simply chasing a formula. I am that first-principle kind of person. I think that's one of my biggest strengths in overcoming the challenges that I continue to throw at myself.

 

A Turning Point In Your Life And How Did It Impact You:

Given my tendency of throwing challenges at myself, I have had many turns - not one. But if I were to talk of inflection points - they would be (a) My M.B.A from XLRI. Irrespective of what people say about not doing an M.B.A, or about premier colleges - I learnt a lot at XLRI, and it opened doors to a different level of opportunities - which would have taken a long a time for me to get otherwise. (b) My product management stint, which made me think at a completely different level (c) My entrepreneurial ventures, which is a quantum shift from a job-driven career. They were risky moves. But it was really a question of, "Am I serious about the things I dream of" - or "I am simply day-dreaming".

 

Advice: 

I am not sure if there is something as a successful or unsuccessful leader. Either you are a leader, or not. For anyone who wishes to be a leader, you should build the capability for

3 things (a) Initiative - leaders don't crib, they take the initiative to get things done (b) Organize - leaders must be able to mobilize others to act on a solution (c) Clear perception - leaders are able to see around the bend, connect dots in ways other can't. Today leadership is becoming about giving recycled gyaan and amassing followers. Nothing could be further from truth.


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