Friday, October 30, 2015

Learning when to quit

A common question is - While preparing for a competitive exam like the UPSC or IIMCAT, when do I realise that I need to quit? I thought a lot about it, and this is what I feel.

  • Quit when you wake up in the morning with a heavy heart, and can't face yourself in the mirror
    indore sandeep manudhane sm sir sm sir ji indoreyouth
    Quit to Win with right mindset
  • Quit when you stop taking pride in the small learnings that happen continuously when you strive on a daily basis
  • Quit if you see your scores in quizzes and mock tests just not improving despite all the efforts you could muster
  • Quit if you are ashamed to face your family due to your first failure (in the Prelims) - I say so because you just have not learnt the lesson that success rarely comes to most people in the first or even the second shot
  • Quit if you have had a history of similar behaviour since childhood (that you tried, failed, felt ashamed, lost all drive)
  • Quit if you find something else that matches your aptitude and skills much better than chasing the IAS dream (or the IIM-CAT dream)
  • Quit if you discover other facts en route - like you as a potential IAS officer will just not be able to take orders from others (especially half-literatenetas)
  • Quit if your family is mature enough and will take that decision in their stride without feeling that the world has come to an end
  • Quit if you are not shameless enough to stand the heat, burn the midnight oil again, & try, try and try
  • Quit if you realise that there are other responsibilites that are getting seriously compromised in your personal pursuit

And finally, quit if your heart tells you so. Don't ask others. Take your call. And take ownership of that call, don't hide anything, face the world. Remember - 99% of us have faced failure at some point in time.

All the best!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

MBA or UPSC - what to choose

The dilemma of selection
indore-youth sandeep manudhane mba sandeep ias manudhane upsc
Ummm... which looks better?

A lot of bright young people find it rather trying to decide which option they will pursue from many good ones available. If you are facing the same, you are not alone. Since both require a lot of hard work, it is best if you spend some quality time differentiating.

Let us understand the difference in the type of work that these two careers entail. I'll put it simply, without too much of jargon.

Being an MBA - This is what most entrepreneur dreamers, high-personal-achievers, corporate-types, brand-builders, leaders, communicators would choose to do. They have a dream of either working for a large brand globally, or wish to start an enterprise of their own. They may even belong to a family that's running a large business. These are people who may wish to work across disciplines (HR / Finance / Marketing / Product design / IT). These surely are people who wish to be financially very very successful, live in big cities, own big fancy apartments, drive cool cars!

Being a Civil Servant - These are people who wish to spend their lives for the benefit of the nation, the people and the social system. They get immense happiness when they see a smile on others' faces as they solve some intractable problem. They get a huge kick by ensuring that projects are conceptualised and executed well, say for Garbage Disposal, or Solar Lighting, or Employment Camps in Remote Areas, or Primary Health Centres or ...  Of course, there are fancy options as well depending on the Service you choose. But largely, these are people who dirty their hands while working at the grass-roots level in teams that are extremely varied in social composition.

These two are entirely different mindsets. 

  1. The first is centred on one's own self, and the second on others.
  2. The first assumes tremendous personal energy for self-growth. The other requires energy for growth of others.
  3. The first is likely to be full of nervous energy raring to prove itself. The second requires a patience that only deep, cool, thinkers may have.
  4. The first is likely to seek permissions from the second for the projects they launch!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

How to handle failure in competitive exams

Fearing failure is a bad idea

I am often asked by students who fail to clear some competitive exam as to how they can continue to maintain enthusiasm and energy for another attempt. I am also asked by students if they should actually continue, or give up totally. Recently, the UPSC Civil Servies 2015 Prelims results were declared. My answer below pertains to that, although you can apply this strategy to any other exam as well.
sandeep proton indore-youth cat iim upsc PT sm sir sm sir ji guitar blog
That's how it is

When you fail to clear the exam the first or the second time, ask yourself these questions:

  1. How many aspirants crack the UPSC exam in the first attempt? If the answer is anywhere less than 100%, you are not on the wrong track.
  2. How many crack the test in the second attempt? If the answer is again significantly less than 100%, you have hope left.
  3. Do some people make it in their 3rd or 4th attempt? If the answer is Yes, you can be one of them.

The real questions to ask, post the above, will be
  • Why did I fail in my two attempts? Where did I fall short? Which topics could I not master adequately? Can I master them now, given this background? Was I really sincere enough? What did those who got selected did right that I missed on?
  • How badly do I aspire to be a top civil servant? If it's bad enough, striving for a couple of years more is a good idea.
  • What do my parents think of it? Do they have faith in me? Will they support me emotionally, and if required, financially through the next few months/years?
  • Do I have the energy left in me to go the whole hog again? Or am I exhausted? Was I exhausted even before the second attempt came through?
  • If I do not make it even in the next 2 years, what are the other options I am looking at?

Friday, October 16, 2015

How do the companies like Microsoft appoint CEOs?

A great question
Someone asked this on Quora, and I felt compelled to try and answer.
A giant in transition

I think these giant companies follow this process:

Step  1. Identify potential talent within the organisation that can be ultimately elevated to the top post (the corner room, as it's called). 

Explanation. In some cases, outsiders can be considered, but that rarely proves to be a good decision.

Step 2. See if the identified talent has stayed long enough with the company. 
Explanation. Long enough can vary from a few years to a whole lot of years, depending on the type of work the company does, to have absorbed the company's culture (dna, as they call it!) And obviously if an outsider is chosen for the top post, then this step loses meaning.