Time 7:00 PM, Friday: A couple of weeks ago on Rajiv’s long drive back from office. The phone rang and the caller’s name popped up on the display on the car video - “Satish Sharma Calling”. “What a pleasant surprise!” Rajiv said to himself. Sharma was Rajiv’s friend of 25 years. Sharma knew Rajiv’s schedule and he would seldom call him at a time he knew Rajiv would be driving home unless it was something urgent that called for immediate attention. Being a stickler for rules (especially the driving ones), Rajiv slowed his car and waited for it to come to a complete halt.
“Hello Satish, what’s up mate? All well?” said Rajiv.
“Rajiv, can you come over to my office tomorrow? How are you placed for an early breakfast?”.
“You know Satish, my Saturdays are generally free. Sounds good, but why so suddenly… anything serious?” replied Rajiv.
“Not really but it’s about my son Akshay. I want to discuss something with you. It is nothing serious but definitely important”, said Satish with an urgent tone.
Next morning Rajiv and Sharma met at their favorite cafe. After the usual pleasantries Sharma came to the point directly.
“You know Akshay is twenty-three. He has just finished B-School from the US. He’s my only son and he has to step into my shoes someday and handle the business. And he needs help.”
“But I thought he’s doing very well and good grades - so what kind of help does he need?” replied Rajiv.
Satish said in a very matter of fact manner, “He needs a Mentor.”
Rajiv was impressed. This self-made businessman was successful yet not very educated. He had never been exposed to corporate culture and training programs. Yet he was serious about a Mentor for his son who was about to step into the real world was very creditable.
“Satish! Are you really serious? You know what it means, don’t you?”.
“Yes, I am dead serious. And more importantly I want you to be his mentor. Will you? Please!”.
“This is interesting”, Rajiv said to himself, “Well it depends on a lot of things. Most importantly – Akshay as he should agree to be mentored.” Satish confirmed, “Well I did have a talk with him about it. He is looking forward to it. You know how he looks up to you and values your advice more than mine. You know he adulates you so much. I can’t think of anyone who could do this better.”
The qualifiers for a mentor – mentee relationship were well established for Rajiv-Akshay:
Akshay had the desire to be mentored
The desire to be mentored has to come from within the mentee. It’s not a generic enrolment program. He should see it a part of the learning process.
Rajiv was a dedicated mentor
The mentor should be a person of integrity, knowledge, and dedication. He should be a good listener and willing to share experiences from his work life journey. Most importantly – he should enjoy coaching and willing to dedicate time towards his subject.
Mentoring is not a one-way traffic. Both the Mentor and Mentee are beneficiaries in the journey as the gains are reciprocal. The journey had just begun for both Akshay and Rajiv.
About the Author: Raj works for a leading IT Company and firmly believes in the maxim “Pay it forward”. Music, travel and understanding new cultures are his pastimes.
I did my Bachelor of commerce in 1997 and then went to Hyderabad to pursue a course in animation film making from a well-known institute, well - all was not as expected and I did not even stay around to finish the entire course. Subsequently, I joined an organization in Gujrat as an Animator, my first salary was meagre Rs 5600 but I was happy cause I was enjoying my work. Things changed within an year and I moved back to Hyderabad for a little better salary yet the workload increased exponentially. But I did not mind that as I loved my job, and secondly I was assisting international folders for which my skills were inadequate and hence I used to work triple shifts to get the scene right - something that I can do in an hours time today. Then I joined another company and took a good raise this time, my work has improved, the HR of the company was very kind and I took 20 per cent appraisal every year... and was still doing the same quantum of work. The company stopped making profit and then they fired me. I was replaced by 3 junior animators. Simple economics – my pay outgrew the value of my work in the market.
I sat at home for 6 months, sold stuff to survive, worked on my showreel, made a short film and joined another company eventually in less than half the salary - but it was okay, cause I was enjoying my work.
Today 13 years from the time I started my career in animation, I look back and I realize I am perhaps the least paid person in my peer group, but that’s all right, I love animating and most of the organizations that I joined have been kind enough to give me a free hand and I still love what I do. I have a family that I love and they are okay with me drawing smaller pay package as they are far more concerned about me being happy. In all these years, I have not bought a house; I drive a pre-owned car and have been saving up for last 6 years to make my own animation film.
You know why? It is because I love what I do. And tomorrow If lose my job, I will still be in the business of animation.
My life is navigated by the choices I make and not by the success and failure of any industry. I have lots of friends in animation industry who are doing really well and then they are friends who are between jobs. But we have all been there at some point of time or the other and we have understood and accepted the way this industry works, so we don't complain cause we have grown wiser, perhaps more tolerant and astute too with time. Once in a while when we meet we crack few self-deprecating jokes and laugh at ourselves , over a beer (oh yes beer has to be there..!!)
We watch out for each other and try to help each other out when a friend is in need, not because we are friends but because we have faith in each others set of skills and this is very important as none of us has any iota of self pity. Positivity is infectious.
But industry or no industry – 13 years ago drawing was my hobby, today I get paid for pursuing my passion and tomorrow even if I don’t have a job I will still be drawing. There is nothing else in this world that I want to do.
PS: The last statement is incorrect- I want to learn to paint!!:-)
About the Author:
Aroop Dwivedi is an animator with 13 years of experience in Indian Animation Industry out of which last 6 years he has been teaching animation to the up and coming breed of animators in India.
Ravi hitched up his backpack and left.
He had come to visit them ten days ago. They lived in a village fifty kilometers away from Nagpur.
Dawn was just breaking in the east. The sky was flushed with promise. For no reason at all, Ravi felt braced. Today is the first day of the rest of my life, he murmured to himself. He walked faster, taller. He felt one with the dawn.
Once he reached the main road, he sat down on the curve of an ancient neem tree which served as a bus- stop.
It was early summer and the tree had shed its foliage. Its nearly naked branches sported masses of delicate white flowers. The nests birds had built in the nooks of its branches were exposed. The birds twittered on, regardless.
He had no idea when the bus would come. The service was hopelessly erratic. One just sat and hoped for the best. Ravi felt the stirrings of an old peeve rise in his throat. He quelled the tide determinedly. In one year, he promised himself solemnly, I’ll buy a car and will never sit like a country bumpkin wasting my time like this.
Ravi had decided to get a job as soon as he finished his graduation. Like most of his peers, he was clueless about his own abilities or interests. When someone asked him what his career plan was, he could never go beyond ‘a good job’. What that good job would be, which talents of his could be of interest to a prospective employer, he had no idea. All he knew was that he wanted a good job. Any job was a good job if it gave him a hefty salary. Period. The job was just a vehicle that would get him to his destination of a lavish lifestyle. He didn’t bother himself with any other thought. He was rather proud of his lack of fastidiousness.
He didn’t know the market place or its requirements. He didn’t know enough to ask himself what abilities he possessed that a company would pay him a ‘hefty’ salary. Certainly, it had never occurred to him that the the employer’s requirements needed to be aligned with his capabilities before anything resembling a salary could happen. His mental state was that of unset jelly syrup. He was ready to be poured into any container and would take on its shape uncomplainingly. And not too firmly, that, either. He had no idea that he had set the stage for disaster by letting the random vagary of chance take the reigns of his future.
In that spirit of ignorance, he prepared himself for campus placement interviews. He would have preferred attending all of them, but that was not possible. He could appear only for six interviews, his placement coordinator told him. Unfettered by any ignoble bias or preference, he randomly selected six companies. He congratulated himself on his pragmatism, very pleased with himself.
Of the six interviews he appeared for, Ankit- the HR at a prestigious private bank, had hinted at the ‘heftiest’ compensation package. Ravi had frozen on to Ankit with all the droll genius of a limpet. In subsequent daydreams of his life ahead, he saw Ankit falling upon his neck, weeping in relief, the moment he walked into the bank’s head office. He was scheduled to reach Pune and present himself at the bank at ten am on the next day. The journey would take almost twelve hours and he was getting late. He knew he wouldn’t be able to reach Pune even by late evening. A secret anxiety gnawed at him surreptitiously but he managed to shoo it away. It crept away and bid its time.
Five hours later, Ravi still waited. He was tired and fed up. Three buses had passed by. One was going to Jaipur and the other two were going to Pune but did not stop when he waved his hands frantically. When the second bus bound for Pune whooshed past him, leaving him covered in dust, he picked up a stone and threw it after it in impotent rage.
The memory of his graduation day rose in his eyes. His secret anxiety reared its poisonous head and jeered at him. ‘What use is your brilliant academic record now? Will it help you get to Pune? Even if you do get to Pune, what of it? What makes you think Ankit will deliver on his promise? Boys like you are so much societal debris- unlovely and dispensable. You are destined to be ground into the tar roads of success as life rolls over you with its giant wheels. You might gleam for a short while, if you are lucky. Then you will sink into obscurity forever. And you plan to buy a car in one year! ‘
The voice of his anxiety cackled on and on. Ravi couldn’t take it anymore. He had to silence that voice anyhow..! His desperation ran rampant. He made up his mind to board the next bus if he had to lie down on the road to stop it.
He began pacing furiously. His feet pounded the road hard enough to send a jar shooting into his head. He had a raging headache.
When he heard the vroom of another bus he ran towards it, staying in middle of the road. His teeth set on edge, he was determined to board it come what may. The bus screeched to a stop. While the driver and conductor heaped invective upon him, he plunged into the haven. Only when the bus moved off again did he permit himself to acknowledge that the bus was packed to double its capacity. The undulating mass of humanity stank. He stubbornly focused his mind on his relief and ignored the rest.
An hour later, he felt calmer. The bus had emptied somewhat and he had found a place to sit. The breeze smoothened the headache out of his crumpled brow. He ate the food his grandmother had given him and slept.
When he woke up, it was nearly eleven. The bus was moving sluggishly.
“Why haven’t we reached Pune yet?” he asked the rustic sitting next to him.
“Where!?” the rustic asked in disbelief.
“Pune, where else?” Ravi snapped at the rustic in annoyance.
“Babu (Sir), this bus is going to Jaipur, not Pune. What’s wrong with you?”
Open mouthed, Ravi stared at the man.
“Jaipur!!” His somnolent anxiety tore into him with devastating malevolence. He sat stunned into immobility. Jaipur..!!!
Hardly aware of his actions, he rushed over to the driver.
“Bhaiya (brother), I want to go to Pune, not Jaipur. Can you not turn the bus around? I’ll lose my job if I don’t reach Pune latest by ten tomorrow morning. There is still time. Please…” Ravi was hysterical and out of control.
“Have you gone mad? What kind of an idiot gets on to a bus without finding out where it is going? Aren’t you the maniac who forced me to stop by running in the middle of the road?”
“Bhaiya please, I will lose my job. I am begging you.”
“We are about to reach Jaipur in a couple of hours. You can go to Pune from there.”
“By then the interviews will be over bhaiya, please help me.”
“You should have planned better. You can’t just board a bus without knowing where it will take you and then argue with the driver to take you where you want to go! What nonsense is this? Go now and sit down. I don’t want to argue with a fool like you.”
Like a dazed man, Ravi walked back to his seat and broke into racking sobs. What had gone wrong? How had this terrible thing happened to him? What about his dreams… his car? Oh God… he was better off dead!
When the worst of his tempest had abated, he saw a glass of water being pressed upon him by a gnarled hand.
“Babu, what were you thinking? You cannot take decisions about your life so thoughtlessly! Life is difficult enough when you plan for it with prudent care. Even with all the planning in the world there will be times when random chance will throw a spanner into the works. But to hand the center stage of your life to it on a platter!!
“How will you ever get ahead if you select any random vehicle that happens to come alone and trust it to take you to your destination? This way you will reach a place where you never wanted to go, like now. Don’t feel bad now. What has been done cannot be undone. Life has a way of teaching us lessons. Sometimes she is not gentle but she can be effective- provided you heed her. In future, make sure the path you choose will take you to the destination you wish to reach.
Make sure you select the right vehicle to board. Don’t ever throw yourself to the mercy of random chance again. Ravi nodded mutely. The night had taught him something vitally important and he was grateful.
A new dawn will break again soon, as resplendent with promise as ever.
About the writer:
Dagny is a leadership trainer rolled into a writer and blogger. Her stories try to find solutions to issues that prove to be stumbling blocks to people and cause them to lose their bearings. She blogs at Serenely Rapt and can be contacted through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
It's all about 5Ws and 1H only.
A report can only be considered complete if it answers these questions starting with an interrogative word. I don't say this but Wikipedia does! Each question should have a factual answer - for the report to be considered complete. So here we go:
What do you want from your career?
State a clear concise objective - for eg I want a career that helps me grow skills in marketing and build brands globally.
Why do you want what you want?
You need to explore the motivation behind the career goal so that you are sure that you really want it. Be the digger!!
How will you make it happen?
Research and build a plan to achieve your dream. This will include: 1) Tools you will need (resume, social network profiles); 2) Training/skill upgradation; and 3) Network building etc.
Who can help you?
Friends, relatives, colleagues, forums - you should build those specific bridges to seek help and advice from people who can help get where you want from your career.
When do you think you will be able to achieve it?
You can give yourself timelines to achieve that career goal. Life though necessary may not follow your plan but it does help to be organised with a defined timeline.
Where to go if don't achieve what you want?
Hang on! All is not lost, you need to capitalise on the results/learnings and be ready to start again with another plan B. Always have a plan B under your belt.