Discover your passion..and restructure your profession.

Life is too short to waste your time in a career you don’t love.
The best thing to do is to find a profession or activity you enjoy that also leverages your natural talents and abilities. But just how do you go about doing that? Follow the methods below to find the passion in your life and be on your way to a new career or redesign your profession.

The Peak Experiences Method
One simple way to discover your passion is to grab a notebook and jot down the memories that stand out as the peak experiences and highlights of your life. Then, take a look and see what the underlying core values are that made those experiences memorable or exciting. For example, two of my peak experiences were: 1) the year I lived abroad in US; and 2) giving my college graduation or community function speech, which was at once terrifying and exciting.

The corresponding values I found were: Travel & Adventure and Lead & Inspire. Once I realized how important these core values were to me, I began to orient my work around them by leading life-coaching seminars.(though it was not earning me enough revenues to make a living). But this fulfilled my core values for travel and adventure while inspiring others to lead more fulfilling lives. Ideally, your career will align with your top core values as well as your passions. Those values may be creativity, invention, risk, beauty, etc. People value different things. In terms of determining what your passions are, values are the things you do or that you find interesting or fun. When engaged in these activities, you feel most like yourself. We feel our happiest when we are in alignment with our core values.

The Child’s Play Method
Another way to find your passion is to evaluate what you enjoyed in your childhood. For example if you watched a video clip from your childhood, and noticed more than one instance where you were sitting in the middle of a mud puddle. If it was a beach, you were covered in sand. So, what’s the adult version of playing in the mud? For me, its pottery—there is something incredibly grounding about throwing pots on a wheel. Some may also love gardening, which is a grown-up way to play in the mud.

Whatever you were drawn to as a child is almost guaranteed to resonate with you at an elemental level as an adult. Think about it: kids are full of energy, partly due to the fact that they regularly engage in activities that energize them. Most adults have forgotten how to play and are so focused on their work and family responsibilities that they feel they don’t have the time or energy to have a bit of fun. Look at pictures from your childhood to see what stands out, and use them as inspiration. What did you love doing back then? What from back then stands out and makes you happy now?

The Visualization Method
Keep your vision for your perfect profession in front of you by creating a vision board. Use those images from your childhood, or find other images that represent your core values and peak experiences. If you love travel, find images of destinations you’d like to visit. If you dream of writing a novel, use covers from books that inspire you. If you would love to work with the elderly or children, collect images that reflect who you’d be working with. Include quotes that inspire you as well as a list of your core values. The key is to start visualizing your dreams and then begin taking steps to making them reality. Keep your board in a place where you will be sure to see it every day.

The Project Method
Once you understand what your core values, passions and natural talents are, find a project that allows you to express them. And it doesn’t have to be something big; it’s fine to start with something simple and easy.

After evaluating his core methods, one of my colleague discovered that he valued beautification. So he asked the management if he could landscape the front of the office building, which was quite drab and boring for a chemical manufacturing company. He rounded up a team of volunteers, and they worked together to transform the exterior. His enthusiasm for the project got noticed by top management, and he received an unexpected promotion.

If you want to write the next great novel, you might commit yourself to freelance writing first. If you want to work with the elderly, you might volunteer at a nursing home. These projects will help you more fully home in on your values and passions and could potentially lead to a new opportunity in your career. With these methods, you can give yourself the best gift ever—a happy and fulfilling career (and life).

Sleep matters

Did you sleep? Well!

Did you……? Sleep well.

Sleeplessness is a quintessentially American tradition, wrought by our work-centric culture, long hours and stressful lives.

According to a survey, conducted by the hotel company Travelodge, 65 percent are sleeping an average of just six hours and 27 minutes every night, that’s just over 30 minutes shy of the general recommendation that adults should aim for seven to nine hours of slumber a night.

But with a number of cultures falling prey to an around-the-clock work schedule, how do we make time for sleep? The answer is to improve the quality of sleep by sleeping well.

Having been associated with the sleep related furniture business and having crossed a landmark of 2000 bed sets, one can safely opine that how you sleep is more important than how much.

A mattress is perhaps the most important piece of furniture, if you need the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night, you will spend at least 1/3rd of your life in that mattress. That means if you keep that mattress for 9 years (which is about the average), 3 of those years will be spent on it.

From my experience and understanding I have attempted to present a review of the US bedding industry’s business is here-under-

Global  Bedding  Industry  $20+  billion  industry one that  is stable  and  growing,  with  healthy  margins  and  strong  cash  flow  characteristics Positive  secular  trends as  consumers  place  increasing  value  on  sleep   quality and style. The North America Market is worth $9 billion and this market growing at 5-6% annually. This is supported by the consolidation with few strong brands in U.S. and new channels of distribution are emerging as potent force to reckon with in terms of market presence.

The rule of 3 applies to the mattresses manufacturing industry. While only 2 major manufacturer and a few family based firms cater to the niche markets and continue to be competitive because of their quality and tie up with leading retail brands.

Americans like to sleep well. But under the current economic situation, austerity outweighs comfort (as a luxury).

The market is segmented into fairly blurred layers like Luxury, Premium, Mid-Price and Value based segments. The reason being heavy discounts being offered by both the manufacturers as well. Since 83% of mattresses sell for under $1,000

Mattress Sales Statistics                                                                       Data

Annual revenue generated by the mattress sales industry            $9,000,000,000

Total number of mattresses shipped each year                                        46,15,000

Length of time the average person keeps a mattress                                         7 years

The number of mattress companies in the U.S. bedding industry                   600

U.S. Mattress Market share by Manufacturer                 Percent of Industry Sales

Sealy                                                                                                                       19 %

Serta                                                                                                                       17 %

Simmons                                                                                                               15 %

Tempur Pedic                                                                                                      12 %

Select Comfort                                                                                                       5 %

Other                                                                                                                      32 %

Mattress Sales by Distribution Channel                                          Percent of Sales

Specially Sleep Retailers                                                                                43 %

Furniture Retailers                                                                                           38 %

Department Stores                                                                                           5 %

Warehouse Clubs                                                                                              5 %

Direct-to-Consumer                                                                                         5 %

Other                                                                                                                    4 %

60% of all mattresses sold are in either twin or queen size. 90% of the mattresses sold in the US consist the spring coil formation.

There’s no objective measure of mattress quality. Consumer Reports won’t rate them because they can’t get the data and there’s no testing that actually says higher coil counts are better or the number of wires in the coils makes a difference in any way.

So in conclusion whether it’s a pillow top made of alpaca hair any better than one made of cotton or latex foam, the mattress that gives you more comfortable sleep is the right one for you.

Bring your best on the table

 
When Babubhai Mistry a name to reckon with in the Hindi Film Industry back in 1950s and 60s first met Pyarelal of the famous Music Composers Laxmikant Pyarelal Duo he was impressed with his sense of classical music and recommended him to Madan Mohan. Pyarelal was given a chance to play the violin in the famous film “Haqeeqat” for which Madan Mohan composed music. The song was “Mein Ye Soch Uske Ghar Se Utha Tha.”

The next that happened was Babubhai Mistry became their producer for a movie which featured them as music directors of Parasmani (1963), the film didn’t do well but the music was a hit. It brought them close to known music directors like Naushad and Ravi and film producers like Tarachand Barjatya.

Laxmikant–Pyarelal hit the big time with Rajshri Productions’ 1964 film Dosti. They’d worked as music arrangers for many music directors including Sachin Dev Burman and R D Burman remained their very good friend.[R D Burman played mouth organ for all songs of Dosti]

Often, our best work happens when we’re in a situation we wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves. The hard part is choosing to be in that sort of situation in the first place, the uncomfortable one where we have no choice but to do better work.

Find a way to galvanize someone if you can and if you care.

 

Organizations that come out of the labrynth

Often, organizations don’t realize that they’re falling down the abyss until extraordinary efforts are required to make a difference. But it’s always easier to fix it today than it will be tomorrow.

And here’s the hard part: You don’t fall down the abyss all at once. You compromise, you cut corners, you don’t bring as much to your work, and nothing bad happens (at first). So the feedback loop is broken.

Working your way back out works the same way: You work harder, you raise your standards, you invest, and nothing good happens (at first).

The challenge is to have the guts to care even when you’re not apparently rewarded for caring.

Brittle organizations are focused on which end of the egg you open. Are you wearing the team jersey the right way, saying the incantations each time, saluting properly…

Resilient organizations are more focused on what you produce, and why.

Petty dictators care a lot about words, about appearances, about whether everyone is genuflecting in precisely the same way.

The problem with words is that they easily lose their meaning. Say something often enough and it becomes a tic, not an expression of how you actually feel. Not only that, but words rarely change things. Actions do.

It turns out that it’s a lot easier to sign up for a tribe that doesn’t ask you to think, or take responsibility for your actions. But, in the long run, those are the very things that lead to the changes we seek.

“Use your best judgment, care about your impact, do work that matters…” are significantly more powerful instructions than, “Do it this way. Say it this way. Behave the way I told you to.”

Words are dead

The whole concept of Social media is built on instant engagement, just now. The smartphone isn’t just smart, it’s merely hot. It pulsates you on the instantaneous. [Maybe you are checking a text which pinged on your phone just as you are reading this]

There doesn’t seem anything more urgent than checking the latest message, it is a powerful medium to reach you instant, immediate, personal like someone punches you in the face. Today, we’re getting virtual punches, from every direction, all self-propelled, many of them amplified.

Can you recall when was the last time you actually sat down to read a book? Those words on the book pages are asleep, inert forms, and can’t do a thing until they are powerful enough to interact with you, engage you enough. Otherwise Words are dead.

Words are a noun, attention is a verb. Slack is an adjective engineered for motion, the Kindle is a silent repository you have to press to divert your attention and actually engage into something enriching.

An audiobook, on the other hand, propels itself. The words are spoken, whether you listen or not, so you better listen.

And a video is just as alive.

The next level up is new. As in news. Or previously unknown. When it’s breaking, it propels itself even harder, because we know that we’re about to hear something previously unheard.

And beyond that? When humans are involved. Not just news, but news from a friend. News that our peers are about to be talking about. Not just propelled, but amplified by our cohort and our culture.

The ideas that propel themselves on the tailwinds of culture will dominate, opposed only by the people who care enough to propel ideas that matter instead.

This, I think, is one of the giant chasms of our new generation, always seen, not often noticed. That we’re moving from the considered words of a book or even a Wikipedia article to the urgent, connected ideas that propel themselves.

In conclusion one would say that to gain the attention of the reader there should be an element of   promotion associated with it, the act of introducing an idea to someone who may need it. What’s shifted is that the promotion has transcended most of the process, because the idea itself becomes the promotion.

That requires a lot of effort. Maybe my effort was worth it.

More interesting than you realize.

Human beings thrive on the quest for total control, for a day that feels like it’s up to us. That quest is compelling, but it turns out that we’re in danger of building a world where the fruitless search for control is undermining the future we can create.

So many a times you hear a response ” Err, I am kind of busy” or ” Can you call back some other time ?”

The question comes to our mind, are we interesting enough?

An interesting person is interesting to us because he/she combines two things: Truth and surprise.

Everyone is capable of telling the truth. And everyone has been surprising at least once

The truth: Not necessarily a measurable truth in nature, but merely the truth of experience. “I believe this,” or “I see that.”

And surprise. is always local. Surprising to me, others. That’s one reason that it’s said that interesting people are empathetic enough to realize what might be surprising to the people around, and they have the confidence to deliver on that insight.

Which means that being an interesting person is a choice. We can choose to show up, to care enough to contribute our humanity to the next interaction.

It’s a choice, but a difficult one, because being interesting feels risky. People are afraid to be interesting, not unable to be interesting.

We are not born uninteresting. But it’s entirely possible that we were  persuaded to be so frightened of the consequences that you no longer have the passion, the generosity or the guts to be interesting any longer.

 

 

Organizations that smooth corners roll down faster

Often, organizations don’t realize that they are falling until extraordinary efforts are required to make a difference. But it’s always easier to fix it today than it will be tomorrow. ( A stich in time!)

Resilient organizations are more focused on what you produce, and why.

Brittle organizations are focused on which end of the egg you open. Are you wearing the jacket the right way, buttoned up or down ,saying the incantations each time, saluting properly…when the boss comes in.

Petty dictators care a lot about words, about appearances, about whether everyone is servile in precisely the same fashion. Do they laugh at the most weird jokes and appreciate an art they don’t know a damn about.

The problem with words is that they easily lose their meaning. Say something often enough and it becomes a mundane expression, not an expression of how you actually feel. Not only that, but words rarely change things. Actions do.

Some tell tale signs

  • Attention stops being paid, compromises are made, quality goes down.
  • Expectations aren’t met.
  • Expectations are lowered.
  • Customers drift away.
  • Budgets are cut, because there are fewer customers.
  • Quality erodes even more, because there’s less to spend, and employees care less.
  • Repeat.
  • The alternative is the quality ratchet:
  • Over-focus on quality.
  • Expectations go up.
  • Sales rise as a result of word of mouth and customer satisfaction.
  • More money is spent on quality.
  • Repeat.

It turns out that it’s a lot easier to become a part of a group  that doesn’t ask you to think, or take responsibility for your actions. But, in the long run, those are the very things that lead to the changes we seek.

“Use your best judgment, care about your impact, do work that matters…” are significantly more powerful instructions than, “Do it this way. Say it this way. Behave the way I told you to.”

And here’s the hard part: You don’t fall down the abyss all at once. You compromise, you cut corners, you don’t bring as much to your work, and nothing bad happens (at first). So the feedback loop is broken.

Working your way back out works the same way: You work harder, you raise your standards, you invest, and nothing good happens (at first).

The challenge is to have the guts to care even when you’re not apparently rewarded for caring.

Teams that make companies

Five decades ago a chemical company established its manufacturing unit on a land that was once a graveyard on the outskirts of a industrial city in western part of India.

Manufacture of chemicals was considered a hazardous profession during those time when the industry leaders had just started talking about safety with no serious intentions.

There were very few Engineering college seats all run by government grants. So the few chemical engineering graduates would make a beeline for placement at one of the three large PSUs established on the outskirts of the city with facility to stay in the company colony.

So the company had few choices from shifting technicians from other group units or hire available talent. A B.Sc. was good enough to become plant supervisor and B.A will do for sales, Rest of the workforce comprised of local villagers  commanded by a trusted Administrator.

By blending family based culture and professionalism the company could create a sense of ownership amongst each of the employee/worker which helped it to not only become a pioneer in manufacture of import substitutes but with safe industrial practices unheard of in those times.

After about two decades of inception the company having established a name for itself , came out with an public issue and offered ESOP to every employee, again a first in Indian Chemical Industry.

For several years the company continued to scale milestones and groomed finest talents, some raw stones fashioned into gems, and it served as a beacon light for several returning professionals.

Now, five decades down. Another company. A leading lifestyle brand opens new business division in the bay area on landfill which used to be the city’s dump yard. The size and nature of business is the first of its kind since the closure of some leading brands who operated on the same business model.

Unlike the Indian company, this U.S. company is (over?)confident of hiring talent in abundance for their grand opening. Reality bites in term of the jobs available in the silicon valley. Not many turn up for the hiring, those who do, some of them don’t join and some leave after.

The analogy we can draw here is that bot the companies had to do with available talent to start their venture and scale it up to a remarkable success level.

Analysis would reveal that the most significant contributing factor in both the cases has been the team that performed. These were an average bunch of guys and gals who had a point to prove – to themselves and to the world.

Why did the outside world didn’t consider them good enough ?                            Good enough to be a manufacturing head or a sales lead? Good enough to seek a position of repute and earning to financially support his family? Or was it not good  enough to impress that goddamn recruiting officer?

A question arises about the ability of recruiters to identify, hire and retain talent . But a HR person who has found employment on professionally, paid, structured resume can be expected to deliver even less. So let’s talk about how an organization can attract and retain talent.

Obviously the company needs to market itself. The best time to do so is when your company is on a success trial, tell everyone about how good you are doing. The more people talk about you the more talent antennas will spring out and they will swarm you hiring events. There is a mutually satisfying need and mostly hiring takes place on “who blinks first” model.

So now what about the guys who made this happen. You see some on deputations, some having glorified positions with un-glorified work. And some might just wean away. The company management has to look at the future , isn’t it?

There is new system which emerges. A bunch of suckers. Some are new but most were there all the while. Their job, to suck up to those in power. These are the non talented crafty individuals cling to the people at the top like a toilet plunger on the bathroom ceiling. The moment there space for them to land they do a summersault and stand upright on the floor making their presence felt to the newcomers.

A mutual desire to survive blends them to together, like a tumbleweed they bunch up to create independent power zones(lobby). It is the ratio of these bunches vs the real, intentional performers that determines the sustainability of the company. Companies having a strong cultural foundation will survive such transitional phase. Before ,during and after transition, company’s business take a parabolic curve . But the shape of the curve is determined by the ability of the company’s management to distinguish the well meaning loyalist and phony,flamboyant SUCKER!

 

 

Why people scale up

Recently a Manager retired. There was a farewell party. Mementos and speeches. He served for 30 years as a Manager. Groomed people who advanced in their careers to higher positions. Some went to become entrepreneurs.

Then why did this person retire as a Manager?

If we were to look around us we will find many good “Managers”. They are the best for that work.

The question arises why some people remain good managers?

According to me there are various levels to which a person advances in his career from the trainee/executive/ associate level.

Level 1 -Supervisor or a lead. He / She has some expertise in the field or gains some on job. But cannot advance due to two basic human negative emotions arrogance and ego. Peter Drucker terms something called “learning arrogance” ( person self limits from learning new skill sets).Ego of being better than others in that area of work.(when it comes to xyz, boss always calls me).

Level 2 – Manager . He has a wider field of knowledge and experience, but limits self by not letting it go(can’t delegate). There is also some sort of resentment over company policy or against system.

Level 3- General Manager. Efficient task master, delegates , monitors well, people person. Reliable.

Level 4 – President “EFFECTIVE” knows what is required when. Off the cuff thinker/decision taker

An old joke at the cost of repetition –

Supervisor is advising the worker on punctuality ” Mr. ABC , only if you give up your drinking habit you could one day rise to a highest level in this company. ”

ABC : Sir , how can that happen ?

Supervisor: If you give up drinking and are punctual. Company will acknowledge your regularity and hard work to make you a supervisor within three years.  Once you continue the good work as a Supervisor the company could promote you as a Manager within next five years. Our company also trains its people so we could send for Management Training and you could rise further as a General Manager.

ABC : So it will take me at least 12-15 years to become a GM?

Supervisor : Maybe.

ABC : Sir, why should I wait so much ? 3 pegs in just 15 minutes takes me to a mental level of President’s position !

Analogy of myths and management lessons

In Greek Mythology Icarus, The son of Daedalus who, in escaping from Crete on artificial wings made for him by his father flew so close to the sun that the wax with which his wings were fastened melted and he fell into the Aegean Sea and perished.

In the Indian mythology Vayuputra Hanuman, flew high to eat the sun and fell down but became immortal and is considered an epitome of resolve, devotion, intelligence and wit.

Drawing parallels for some management lessons, the story of Icarus tells us that the risks innovation leaders take are real. The common saying is that if you reach for the stars you might not get one, but you will not come up with a handful of mud either.

The harsh reality is that if you reach for the stars you might crash horribly. So innovation leaders take risks seriously: they acknowledge their fears and attempt to mitigate their risks, spread their risks, or consciously take them. Courage is required, as is the acceptance that failure could be a consequence.

Hanuman had a curse that caused him to forget his powers. When we read the Ramayana there was a short mention of how Hanuman had forgotten his powers and would only remember them if someone reminded him. It allowed Hanuman to control his powers until he could put them to use at the right time.

There are many of us whose thoughts are imprisoned in the labyrinths created in our own minds and we need a mentor or right ally to realize our powers. Sometimes it could be a unrelated person who makes a fleeting comment and it creates a spark for fire to ignite within you. So look for the spark , don’t wait!

 

 

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