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Take on the world

SRIKANTAN MOORTHY

Times are tough alright but think big and succeed


When Barack Obama rose to give his acceptance speech as the President-elect of the U.S., a huge crowd cheered him on and repeated his now-famous lines, after him, “Yes, we can.”

Today, in this new recessionary world, these lines are truer than any other phrase. To go with the times, start believing in “Yes, I can.”

Darwin’s theory of “survival of the fittest” has never been more relevant than now with recession staring us in our face. With many companies giving pink slips and laying off their employees, you need a fitness regime to emerge as a survivor. This becomes especially true if you are a fresh recruit in the corporate world, or just getting out of college hoping to get an opportunity, or waiting for your job offer to materialise.

Firstly…dream big

As a budding professional, you have a wide canvas to paint on. This is your time to draw the big picture and start painting it. You will be surprised at your ability to imagine. You will be even more surprised when you realise that you have the freedom to choose a path that can help you realise your imagination.

You become what you visualise. Ask anybody who has accomplished significant things in life and you will find that they reached where they are because they were able to first dream about something bigger than what they have now achieved. There are several success stories of how, through the power of vision and relentless pursuit, people have done what was thought impossible.

Infosys is a case in point. Recently, the company celebrated an important landmark of reaching an employee-strength of 100,000 — no mean achievement for a company that was started by seven professionals in 1981, at a time when India had all the constraints you can imagine for setting up a business.

Secondly…deepen your core competency

In a crowded marketplace, a winning company separates itself from the competition through its unique selling proposition (USP). Do you know what your USP is?

You can start by looking at what you know is your core area of competency. For a fresh graduate, this is typically the area of specialisation. Ask yourself how well you really know the concepts that you were taught.

The learning can be deep only if you have been exposed to the use of those concepts. Exposure comes from solving problems that use the concepts, reading case studies and working with those who are applying the concepts. If you do not yet have the opportunity to engage with those who are applying the concepts make sure that you get the best books that contain problems and solve them. If you find it challenging, pair up with a buddy and deepen your knowledge in the core areas. This can help you set yourself apart significantly.

Thirdly…develop life skills

Deepening your knowledge can only be of use if you are able to crisply communicate what you know. Remember, the interviewer is going to make a decision based on what you say during those few minutes you get to interact with him or her. Good communication is an important life-skill. You owe it to yourself to develop the ability to demonstrate your worth.

If you accept that English is the universal language of business, then you can enhance your English language communication skills through reading, writing and consciously choosing to use every opportunity to converse in English. To acquire clarity of thought, you need to consciously think in English, instead of translating from the mother tongue in your head.

Another life-skill for you to develop is the ability to present yourself well. Dressing for success will boost your confidence and enhance your ability to engage with people at different levels. Watch successful people on TV and you will see how they present themselves. You will be able to walk an inch taller if you have content, communication capabilities and a presence. Nobody is born with any of these. You have as much ability as anybody else to acquire and develop these essentials.

Lastly…demonstrate maturity

If there is one thing that this downturn should confirm for everybody, it is that there is no free lunch in this world. I know you are used to your seniors and friends saying that life is only about getting a good job. Once that is out of your way, the perception is that you are now “entitled” to all the good things in life – be it being sent abroad, getting good performance ratings, being awarded sizeable annual salary hikes, a promotion every 18-24 months…the list goes on.

Maturity is all about understanding that you have to give to get, that you will have to be accountable if you want to be empowered, that you have an obligation to all the stakeholders in your life and that you will have to take ownership for your actions. This means that you have to be professional in your dress, behaviour, attitude and interaction, that you do your part.

It also means that you treat people with respect and that you behave in a manner that is befitting somebody who aspires to be a professional. Your conversation and demeanour should reflect your maturity. If you have the right attitude and the willingness to do your part, content and good communication skills can make you king.

And downturn or no downturn, success will be yours!

(The writer is Vice-President and Head, Education and Research, Infosys Technologies Ltd)

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