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‘No-nonsense’ lessons for professional success

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13th-Apr-2018       
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Recently, I was at a book signing event for one of my books and one of the visitors asked me a very interesting question. As I was signing a copy of the book for him, he said, “Siddhartha, if I lose this copy of the book or for some other reason I am unable to read it, what are the few lessons you can teach me now that makes up for what I may miss because I could not read the book?”
This write up is a result of a 3-minute interaction that pursued thereafter and I am drawing from the numerous lessons life taught me over the last three decades of my life.
1)    If you can be rich, be rich
There is nothing great about poverty. Adversity makes you strong but eventually, it breaks you if you do not get out of it soon. Money may not bring happiness, but poverty guarantees unhappiness.
2)    Your professional destiny is flexible
Remember one thing that your professional destiny is not sealed and it is flexible. There is no reason why you should feel that you are stuck in a country, industry or company for the rest of your life.
3)    Learn something every day
Learn something new every day. Keep your learning muscles in shape. Learn to improve some area of your life. As you get better at learning, your professional life gets richer. Be an expert on the domains you own at your workplace.
4)    Identify and master skills that you can encash
Never be ordinary or average in life. Learn skills that you can encash if a need arises. Public speaking, music, writing, designing, coding or teaching some topic for which there is demand.
5)    Network with the decision makers
Be nice to everyone at the office, but make sure you are friends with the decision makers. You must be in the good books of powerful people in your organisation. You will realize that when right people know who you are, best opportunities shall flow to you and people will think twice before messing up with you.
6)    Be on the revenue side of business
If you are part of the cost centre, you will be the first one to get laid off when economic situation gets bad. Thus be the one who brings in revenue for the company and you will make yourself secure and indispensable. Develop the ability to sell and negotiate.
7)    E.I.C. quotient
Forget nationalism rhetoric by politicians or their blind followers, your first duty are towards yourself, then your family and friends. If you feel that the government of your country is not capable to turn your country into a strong economic power, leave the country. Get into the industry where the companies are yet to reach the maturity stage. Also, make sure, you get to work for the top companies in the right industry. Hustle and do not rest till you have made your future secure.
8)    Multiple streams of income and passive income
As an individual always believes in side-hustle. There is always some free time that you can allocate from your weekends to generate some additional cash flows in addition to your full-time income. Time is limited so built a system of passive income. Smartest people make money by investing in the time of other people or businesses.
9)    Do not fight technology, adapt to it
Technology is like change, you cannot fight it so simply adapt to it. Disruption is the order of the day and learns to read the disruptive trends. What is the future of your industry and company? Do not be a deer who gets caught in the headlight of change. Do not stand in the way of megatrends, rather learn to ride them.
10)    Never share your secrets with anyone at work or outside
Your friend has a best friend too so I advise never share a secret that can bring you down. You need to manage your professional image and any secret spilt by your trusted friend can spoil your image. Never share your secrets and fears with people who cannot help you and the truth is most of the people do not intend to help you as they are busy helping themselves.
11)    Never write an email or attend an important call when you are angry
Harsh words can cause permanent damage, so be careful while drafting an email or while making a point over a call or in a meeting. Your mastery over words can expedite or slow down your professional success. If you develop mastery of words, you may influence the right stakeholders and win in your organisation.
12)    Be visible and never let others steal the credit you deserve
Be street-smart and learn to defend what is rightfully yours. There are always some people who will try to play clever and stop your progress. You do not have to attack people who conspire against you, but be aware of the conspiracy so that you can save yourself from any harm. Be strong and smart to defend what you deserve.
13)    Read books and listen to audiotapes
I cannot tell you how important it is to read books which make you smart. Read for minimum 30 minutes a day and listen to education audiotapes and podcasts. You will find great ideas in these best personal improvement books written. Start with a list of best 100 personal development books ever written.
14)    Learn from failure and success of others
Observe and learn from what not-so-bright people are doing and stop doing it. Observe what successful people do and start doing it. Your role models can put you on the path to success or failure to choose the right ones. You do not have the time to try everything yourself so leverage the collective universal wisdom.
15)    Time and goal management
Prioritise your day and manage your time. Never let an unplanned meeting, a phone call, or a text message take you away from your goals. The only way to manage time is to assign goals to the time you have. Have daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and long-term goals. You may not achieve all your goals but you will achieve a lot more than the masses because you have goals. Write your daily goals and align them to the next 5-10 years of your life.
16)    Be a creator not a critic or a consumer
All the rewards, appreciation and money as reserved for the creators and players. Play the game as a performer, and not just watch from the stands. Can you create a product or service that can solve a problem of others and generate money for you? Think like a creator and consume less especially when you do not have a lot of money.
Learn to learn as this will help you face any situation life will throw at you. Be a winner, rather than being a victim of circumstances.

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