Success Inside out


Unleash the best version of yourself-on and off the job.

WHETHER YOUR IDEA OF SUCCESS is chasing a dream and seeing it through or simply doing the best job possible as a professional, we crack the code for you to bring the best out in yourself and your organization.

Success, much like happiness, means different things to different people. CaptRupinderKaur came from a family of high achievers. Both her parents served in the armed forces. "As I grew older, I realized my parents were proud when I achieved something (such as the gold medal at the Officers' Training Academy)." But it wasn't this that spurred her on. [Learning 1: It's not about what people expect; do what you want to].

As a part of the first batch of army officers that went for training after the Kargil War, she realized she was a part of an elite group. Even a few years into her job, she woke up proud to don her uniform every morning.[Learning 2: Align yourself with your job naturally].

But she also realized that for a woman serving in the army, growth would be limited. In 2006, when she was 28, she did an executive MBA from IIM, Lucknow. A couple of years into corporate life, and she knew she wanted to quit. "I couldn't imagine doing this for the next 20 years." [Learning 3: Take a risk once you have some life and work experience].

She went to the UK in 2011, did a post-graduation course in poverty and development, and today is a director at STiR Education, an internationally-funded teacher-led movement in the social sector. "Whatever I do, it should make a difference." [Learning 4: Chart your own definition of success].

Ester Martinez, editor-in-chief, People Matters, echoes this. "Your definition of success may be about making an impact, bringing about change, excelling at what you do, or sometimes, quite simply, being number 1 in your area of work." Her own life bears this out. After being an HR manager for over 15 years, Ester started her own company. Her goal was to create the top magazine in her space, the human resources community. Today People Matters is the fastest growing brand in its niche.

20-35 YEARS
Set a Foundation;
Build on It

Joseph George, from Mumbai, won a Cannes award in 2013 for sound design. He's also won several other industry accolades and worked on Filmistaan, a National Award-winning film, and the more recent, Airlift. But there was a time when all he wanted to do "was play music and football," despite graduating with a degree in computer science. When Joseph was 21, he took a week-long introductory course in sound design at a music studio in Pune. He ended up working there for a few years. Then in 2011, after seven years in the business, he updated his existing skills with a masterclass run by five-time Grammy award winner Bruce Swedien, though he doesn't have a degree in the subject. "I learnt on the job, spending time behind the experts, watching, asking them questions,  doing research, reading up," he says. That, and patience: "You do a lot of odd jobs before you get to do the big stuff."

Your Big Advantage...This is the time to find your competitive edge, whether it is a skill or a personal attribute. You can be anything you want; and the world has opened up to new careers, so it's okay to experiment.

 Maximize It...

DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN; YOU CAN'T WING IT: Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers: The Story of Success popularized the 10,000-hour rule. The idea was that those many hours of practice made a person an expert. While talent, interest and quality of work count, there's no denying that even sports people and musicians who have oodles of everything still need practice. 

ALIGN YOUR JOB WITH WHO YOU ARE:Pick an industry where you have a competitive edge. If you volunteered for the national service scheme in college, for instance, you may choose to work for a social entrepreneur or purely for a social cause. In her book Align Your Career & Desired Lifestyle in 5 Simple Steps, Leanne Lindsey gives a step-by-step guide to doing this.

SHRINK THE ROAD TO YOUR FUTURE GOAL: Determine the direction you'd like to drive your career in and expose yourself to functions that bridge the gap between your current profile and what you may do much later in life. For instance, if you'd like to teach an MBAcourse some day, and your organization has a tie-up with a school by way of a CSR activity, you could offer to volunteer there.

WORK WITH PEOPLE YOU ADMIRE:  Working with people you can learn from is one of the most important parts of your development. Choose your managers and mentors very carefully because hands-on learning will be critical for the future.

CORRELATE AND INNOVATE:It's not just about work. Look around you at the diversity within the company to learn from people of other functions. If you're in a creative field, your peer in marketing may be able to help you get a grasp on the business environment. Use social media to understand your own field better, by following industry leaders. The wider the set of ideas you are exposed to, the bigger the pool to draw from. For instance, the electric Shinkansen (bullet train) in Japan originally produced a noise as strong as a thunderclap when it emerged from a tunnel. EijiNakatsu, an engineer with the rail company, and a bird watcher, was inspired by the kingfisher that hardly creates a ripple as it skims the water in search of fish. The 'nose' of the train is now a kingfisher 'beak' that has solved the problem of the noise.

TAKE, PROCESS AND GIVE FEEDBACK: Appraisals are not a 'punishment or promotion'. They're also not the only way of understanding your strengths and weaknesses. Several companies have a system of 'feed forward' now, using business thinkers Marshall Goldsmith and Jon Katzenbach's tool. The idea is to focus on the future rather than rehashing the past. The stress is on energizing, empowering and looking ahead.

TELL YOUR STORY: Instead of saying you're 'creative' at an interview, showcase it, by carrying along presentations, design work and projects you take pride in. In the same way, build your identity and your professional profile by including a photo, a presentation or a good video of your work on work-related networking websites such as LinkedIn, Viadeo, Plaxo and XING.

 36-45  YEARS

Leave a Mark and Contribute
JayantKapre is president of United Biscuits, India and South East Asia, based in New Delhi. His is a story of focus, authenticity and hard work. From the time he was 10, he knew he wanted to head a company, so he worked towards it during his time at IIM, Ahmedabad. From his second year, he was drawn to sales and marketing. Even though a few of his classmates were seemingly better contenders for the job, he was selected on the first day of campus interviews and joined Hindustan Unilever. Over the next few years, he worked across different functions in blue-chip companies, ending up as marketing director in Wrigley, where he launched Orbit. "I took risks and supported bold initiatives, always backing them up with research. That's the difference between being reckless and bold," he says. This is what perhaps got him his present job in 2009, when he was 36. Though the company was looking at someone with more experience, he made the cut because he knew he could back it up with a success story. Since McVitie's was being launched in India, he sought a team that "promised work-oriented success,were resilient and could adapt to situations quickly rather than seeking those with high academic qualifications." It's what's got him to where he is.

Your Big Advantage… You are self-aware and have learnt to use opportunities to channel your dreams. You will move into a leadership role, learn to delegate, motivate and set goals for yourself and your team.

Maximize It…

CHOOSE, BECAUSE YOU CAN'T HAVE IT ALL: Focus matters when it comes to achieving success and happiness. If you look at three aspects of life: career, family and hobbies, you may be able to concentrate and give your all to two. Choose which two are the most important to you. And if they are family and hobbies, it doesn't mean you have to quit work. You can still be the best professional you can be, within your office hours, just as long as you are at peace with your peer superseding you. Many opt for the work-flex model, where they consult, so as to focus on the other two aspects of life.

ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR MENTORS: There are people who gave you a chance, maybe even when you weren't ready. Your success belongs in part to them. The best way to thank them is to pay it forward. You're more likely to do so if you show your gratitude. VikasKhanna, the famous Indian-born New York-based chef, has said that ParvadhavardhiniGopalakrishnan, the principal at Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration, was his mentor. It shows humility and a sense of gratitude. It shows your team you are kind, generous and human.

REFINE YOUR CV: You may believe you're capable of demonstrating 'leadership' with a 'great track record' but too many buzzwords will not help you establish this. Use examples of your experience, focus on how you've demonstrated leadership with specific examples and highlight those results with real numbers. You do need to be on professional networking sites, because the LinkedIn Recruitment Trends 2016 survey reveals that 42 per cent of talent leaders consider social networks an important source for quality hires. Google your name and you'll find that your LinkedIn profile is amongst the top three, so craft it well and update it.

STRUCTURE KNOWLEDGE ACQUISITION: Companies have now shifted focus from training to learning. The former aims at sharpening functional skills to build efficiency. However, learning is about creating your own network, especially online, by following a set of people you see as peers and mentors. There are also free online courses from Coursera, Udacity and edX.

INTROSPECT: If you feel you're not quite where you'd wanted to be, think about whether it is a will, skill or fit problem. The first, you will need to tackle yourself, and find your motivation. Skill is the easiest to fix: your manager or mentor can help craft a skill plan with training and on-the-job exposure. Fit is about culture and values.

ALIGN YOUR VALUES WITH THE COMPANY'S: It's not just about doing the job. Websites like Glassdoor and Vault will help you understand the values of the company you may like to work for-do a good review. Culture is not just about what's said upfront on the corporate website, it's about what employees actually do when no one is watching. There is nothing more powerful for achieving success than fit and alignment between the organizational purpose and values and those of the individual.

SAY YES TO CHANGE: Often, fatigue and boredom may creep into your life when you stay with the same company for over 10 years doing the same job. A change of scene always helps.

Give Back; Stay Content and Satisfied

After 25 years in global corporate life, Rahul Verghese, from Gurgaon, decided to turn his passion for running into his business. He started Running and Living Infotainment, building the sport into a marketing platform, where he gets brands to engage with consumers in an exciting and impactful way. At 47, Rahul, an IIM-A grad, made the switch when he saw that a simple website he'd created on running showed an overwhelming response. "People wrote in to say I'd changed their lives." His events are warm, exclusive and offbeat: "I want to connect and meet up with people, rather than doing two or three large events and making more money via an efficient assembly line," he says. He was clear he had to make the business a success, rather than an indulgence. His goal is to inspire 200 million people to start running. It is this dream that makes him think and act differently. It required patience and a great deal of humility. "You're the clerk and the CEO rolled into one." he says. "It's a risk, but a reasonable financial and psychological one," he adds. Both of which are worth it, because of the meaning it gives to life. Running and Living now does 20 runs across 12 states: Gangtok, Corbett, Sangla Valley, The Formula One track in Greater Noida and Kihim beach in Maharashtra, are some of them.

Your Big Advantage…
This is the time you will be a visionary, looking at the big picture, and building templates.

Maximize It…

THINK OF 5 TO 9 SERIOUSLY:Perhaps you've spent a great deal of your life in the office (beyond 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and would now like to focus on downtime with your spouse, or even take up a hobby, that you gave up at the beginning of your career. This will help you stay healthy, both in body and in mind.

COLLABORATE WITH THE YOUNG: You have the expertise and experience; the youth have energy and creativity. Synergize with them. Young companies are hiring mature leaders who have seen the complete business cycle. Hire a smarter person than yourself. Spend time out in the market, stay connected to consumers, meet people, get to know your clients. This will give you the mindset to adapt to change.

EXAMINE YOUR WORTHINESS:Match your perception of your work life with the company's expectations. Consider a skill upgradation or a certification: one in project or programme management. It can expand your possibilities, especially in global roles. In fact, organizations around the world waste an average of USD 122 million for every USD 1 billion spent on projects as a result of poor project management practices.

LEVERAGE EMOTIONAL MATURITY: You will have the emotional maturity to manage multiple stakeholders. Most companies expect double-digit growth, while keeping millions of consumers happy, all the while balancing costs and bad infrastructure. The ability to handle it all is what most companies look for, at this stage in life.



Conscientiousness comes out topsin a study published in the journal Perspectives in Psychological Science. Psychologists from the University of Minnesota analyzed which of the Big Five personality traits companies looked for while hiring. The qualities were: conscientiousness,  agreeableness, emotional stability, extraversion, and openness to experience. It was found that being dependable, persevering and orderly was no. 1, whether it was a hiring choice or how effective people were at their jobs. Agreeableness (being cooperative, flexible and tolerant) came in second.


These are the top 10 clichés you should drop from your LinkedIn profile, and hence, your CV.

  • organization
  • passionate
  • dynamic
  • leadership
  • responsible
  • creative
  • motivated
  • innovative
  • strategic
  • extensive experience


A mentor is a role model, someone who integrates life and work and offers advice.
  • Your mentor need not be within the organization you work for. Do know the difference between a mentor and a coach.
  • A coach is someone who improves one part of your performance, but may not provide advice on any other aspect. Sachin Tendulkar is mentor to the Mumbai Indians, and Ricky Ponting, the coach.
  • Consider career counselling. Even if you're very sure about what you'd like to do in life, it's best to meet a counsellor who can assess your talents and interests and help you look at multiple possibilities.