15 Lessons Learned as I Complete 15 Years of Working!

It just hit me that I completed 15 years of work life... Wow, time flies by fast!

August 27th, 2001 was my first day at my first job. As a kid I dreamed of working for TATA the most ethical, strategic, and globally respected Indian firm. As it turns out my first job was at TATA. I was full of excitement, the desire to prove myself, to make a mark, and to change the world. Today, 15 years later, I still have the same desire and passion though a more mature outlook, and a realization that I still need to do my part to change the world! There have been ups and downs, and quite a few lessons learned…

  1. Create Something Meaningful: The best jobs I have had are the ones where even with a lot of constraints we managed to create something meaningful. There is nothing more satisfying than taking an idea you truly believe in and bringing it to life. No matter how many constraints come in your way you figure out a way to deliver.
  2. Customer Service: Serve your customers and partners as best as you can. Give them the benefit of doubt. This helps build long term relationships based on mutual respect and trust.
  3. User Experience: No matter what you do, do it elegantly. Even if it is expensive and time consuming, it is worth investing in an amazing user experience. It builds an emotional connection with the customer in a way that is difficult to achieve otherwise.
  4. Prioritize the outcome (and values) over the process: Have a concrete plan in mind but be willing to adapt. Things won’t always work per plan. How you adapt to changing conditions to make sure that you still achieve the desired outcome will be key to success.
  5. Be Passionate: Every time I have been successful, it was in part because I was passionate about what I was doing. The opposite is equally true. We spend a majority of our adult life working so find something you are passionate about.
  6. Harvest Your Strengths: Everyone has weaknesses and strengths. Invest in overcoming your weaknesses — some you need to overcome yourself, some can be overcome by hiring the right people. What is important is to harvest your strengths and utilize them effectively.
  7. Balance Spontaneity and Thinking: When making decisions, there are merits of both being spontaneous and taking your time. You have to be smart about using the right approach for the right situation.
  8. Take Risks: Taking a risk and failing is more fulfilling than playing a safe game. Not taking risks means stagnation or marginal growth while taking risks could lead to orders of magnitude more growth.
  9. Have a Mentor: Most people would do well to have a mentor to remind us when we stray away from our path, and to help us believe in our ability to be successful at other times. A mentor may help you rationally think through decisions, guide you through blind spots, and provide you a judgement free space to discuss ideas.
  10. Be a Mentor-Manager: I have been lucky to have had 2 managers who also served as mentors. It made a huge difference to my career, and shaped my thinking around the kind of manager I wanted to become. It’s easy to manage teams, but the real challenge is to help the team deliver success for the organization while balancing individual career goals. Invest in the success of your team, care for the people, and help them grow. Your team should want to work for you again in the future. It is not only fulfilling to manage this way it also helps accomplish a lot more.
  11. Value: Over the medium term, everything you do has to create value for your customers, for your company, for your teams, and for yourself. If not, find another job.
  12. Simplicity: After 2 years of business school I know a ton of buzzwords but i have found that simplicity is still the most sophisticated way to convey my thoughts.
  13. Assertiveness: Don’t be passive or aggressive. Neither get you respect. Learn to be assertive. It’s much more effective in the long run.
  14. Loyalty: If you are working at the right company, on interesting projects, with great people be loyal. Everything else will normalize over the medium to long term.
  15. Pay It Forward: When people seek your help find time to help them out. Do it because you may need help in the future, or you were helped by someone who had no reason to help you. It’s a small world and when we work together it benefits everyone.