• Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  Personal Brand

    “What do I Want” is a Hard Question

    A few weeks back I was giving a talk at a big tech company about focusing on the vision. As usual, someone asked this basic question- “I don’t know what my vision is”! I am not surprised. This was my question only a few years ago. Over the years, by resolving my own dilemma and by working with my clients, I found a few ways to address this. Why it is hard? While growing up we were given standards to meet, tasks to accomplish. We were rewarded to achieve hard challenges, to score higher than others. Things we did for our own pleasure (if any) was a privilege and was not…

  • Career satisfaction,  Personal Brand,  Success Strategy

    Job Interview : How to Avoid Negativity about Your Employer

    Everyone knows this interview tip: “Don’t bad mouth about your employer”. But interesting enough this happens quite often. I got some clue when I was talking to my client Tom a few weeks back. Specifically, he wanted to learn how to avoid falling in the trap of talking negatively about his current employer. Apparently he made this mistake in a recent one. To get his perspective, I asked him about his genuine feeling about the current employer/job. What I heard was that he had been looking for growth in certain areas that were not available in his job. This company’s priority (to fix legacy code issues to quickly unblock the…

  • Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  Personal Brand

    Know your Strengths, Capitalize on Them

    Too many times companies send employees to trainings to fix the areas of weaknesses, we expect people to be well rounded to be successful. The fact is excellent performers are hardly “well rounded”, they are sharp. The difference between an excellent performer and an average performer is that the former ones are aware of their strengths and are cultivating it through their day to day work whereas the later ones are spending time and energy in places other than their strengths. What I Mean by Strength 1. An activity is your strength when are able to do it consistently, repeatedly, happily and successfully. 2. You don’t have strength in every…

  • Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  productivity,  Success Strategy

    Fulfilling Achievements are Good, Experiences are Even Better

    I often ask this question to my clients and class participants: Describe some occasions from the recent past when you felt excited and fulfilled. The common responses I get are, “when I graduated college”, “got my dream job”, “had my last promotion”, “had my baby”…. Interesting to note, the “recent past” part gets ignored easily. Another observation, all those listed are mostly focused on achievements and not on the activity or the experience of doing something. You can ask me why this is a problem. The problem is when we are only focusing on achievements, we need to wait (sometimes long) for those to happen again for us to be…

  • Career satisfaction,  Personal Brand,  Success Strategy

    Align with Passion – What, Why and How

    “I don’t get it, how do people mix passion with their career? I do love to paint but I can’t even think of taking it as a career and doing it all the time.  That would be too much for me” – Katherine snapped at me and dismissed my own motto – Align with Passion! This is not the first time I got such a comment, and Katherine is a good friend, so I could see where she was coming from. She was referring to a commonly known definition of passion – mapping it to some particular hobby or an established career/profession. Metaphorically it is like buying off the shelf solution for…

  • Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  productivity,  Success Strategy

    Don’t Focus on the Problem – Focus on your Ultimate Vision

    Last year, an engineer, let me call him Tom, came to me. He looked very tired and unhappy. “Sharmin, I am working long days, late nights, still my manager wants me to do more, have more impact, show more leadership…where is the time…why can’t he see my contribution already! With changes going around all the time it is so hard to get anything done on time. I even wanted to change this job, but in this economy, it is so hard to get an interview even!” – Tom gave me quite a vivid picture of his life. I felt compassion for him. Not too long ago I experienced this first…

  • Career satisfaction,  Personal Brand,  Success Strategy

    Why Do You Do It? 3 Steps to Clarify Your Commitments

    Common wisdom goes as we do paid work for money and volunteer work to fulfill other needs. Whatever we do, paid or volunteer work requires some commitment from our part. Sometimes we get so much fun that it doesn’t feel that way, but there are times we need to renew our vows – why am I doing it again?  It is more productive and rewarding when we have some clarity for it.  Here are three ways to get there. 1.     What does it give me  – Alignment with my longer-term goal How does this particular involvement align with your bigger purpose? For example, your three-year goal is to become an event organizer.…

  • Career satisfaction,  Happiness

    Find an Enjoyable Career : It is Easier than you Think

    The other day I was talking to an engineer from a big brand name company. I asked her, what is that she likes most in her job. She said when she knows what needs to be done and she can finish it on time. Also, she likes the pay and the benefits. Do you see a problem here? Curious me asked, “What else do you like, what do you like about the work?”. “Nothing much, I do this because I have a college degree for this, I can’t afford to change my career”, she answered candidly with zero enthusiasm in her voice. I am sure she is not alone; there…

  • Career satisfaction,  Leadership,  Personal Brand

    Managing up/Self-promotion : What To Do About It

    In my recent survey, an amazing 79% of people said that Managing-up/Self-promotion is the most challenging aspect of their work. I didn’t expect it at all! I then started thinking about it more and realized it is the tip of the iceberg. Based on my experience the real issue underneath is our reactive mode.  A more effective approach is to be purposeful of our engagement and align it with our bigger vision and core values. Deviations are fine as long as they are exceptions rather than the rule- as it doesn’t sustain for very long. Interpretation of the Data A good majority of people thinks Managing-up/Self Promotion is their biggest challenge As a manager or a…

  • Career satisfaction,  Personal Brand

    Alignment with Passion-Why it is important

    A client of mine is in the job market for a while.  A bit frustrated by the lack of success, he called me this morning wanting to find more ideas.  To get a grasp of where he is, I asked him a typical interview question, “Why do you want this job”? Quite prepared, he replied in an upbeat manner showing his credentials and skills relevant for the position.  So, what is missing from his response? You may have guessed it right; “passion” was the element I was after. When done with passion it makes a job or a task more exciting and meaningful.  With learned skills, most of us can…