It’s never been a more exciting time to do work…yet nobody seems to want to do it.
Online courses can give you five years of on the job skills for the price of an appetizer.
Data driven companies and tools like Facebook Ads, Ad Words, HotJar, Instagram and a million more let you A/B test your logo, your designs, your jokes, your images, your content and of course…your product.
Yet so many people have:
business ideas that never get off the ground,
podcasts they never make,
books they never write.
apps they never launch,
and a million more examples I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
So Why Exactly Is That?
In an era when you have sample code for everything, WordPress plugins galore, templates for any creative and tools and sample code and Google to answer whatever you want…why are we still so…unproductive?
Well, for lack of a better explanation…I think many of us in the middle-class are so comfortable with our paychecks and fear of failure…that we’re unsure of what will happen if we actually succeed.
It’s easier to critique and contemplate than make mistakes. But real people know mistakes were meant to be made.
In fact that’s the entire point.
Software has bugs, films have editing, books have rewrites, FMCG companies have focus groups…even relationships have hardships that make them amazing.
Just Do It
Nike may have trademarked (or copyrighted?) the slogan, but I’m pretty sure Phil Knight selling shoes out of his car had more to do with the slogan than an athlete getting up and going to the gym.
If a Stanford graduate recognizes that you need to roll up your sleeves to try and push a commodity (shoes)…well, you get the idea. He actually got on his knees and laced his shoes on people outside of high schools…and you can’t be bothered to ask a friend to like your Facebook page or install your app?!?
The principles are the same, but we live in a time when the Internet and social media gives a voice to sadly those who may not use one properly.
I forget who said this, but… I recently read that “In the future…intelligence is going to be knowing what to ignore, not just what to listen to.”
I have so many friends who love to sit at bars, talking about films that never get made, products that should, shortcomings of Uber and Swiggy and what else…yet never seem to want to pick up the phone and make things happen.
“Yeah we could make that app..but what if Amazon just adds it as a feature?”
“Yeah you could try that movie, but I read on Twitter nobody likes that genre as much. Or so-and-so did something similar so everyone will think we’re copying them.”
But that is all fine.
You could spend years trying to perfect your first novel, or you could spend two years getting the junk out, learning the publishing game, testing out your tone and voice via blogs (and instant feedback).
Those who try the former get heart broken when after years of cafe trips, writing in Bali and inspiration seeking they realize their first attempt was just as bad and the game has changed. Those who try the latter realize having an ego is just bad economics.
Attention spans are dwindling, and trying to get a 300 page book read today versus in 2010 are much different beasts.
You could spend years theorizing about the perfect app, fleshing out every requirement and getting opinions from 100 people.
Or you could JUST MAKE ONE for a few thousand dollars, drink at home for a few months…and use your first 50 users as a way better barometer of success than any focus group ever could. Yes the requirements weren’t perfect and your developer may want to eat your head…but again…”done is better than perfect right?” (Sheryl Sandberg)
But Isn’t Failing to Plan…Planning to Fail?
Maybe 20 years ago, when a logo cost $10,000 and was actually paid attention to. But you can redesign a logo or register a new domain for again…the cost of a drink.
Some of the best startups and tech founders talk about pivoting, about being the first movers, and about the importance of marketing and sales.
Artists think they don’t need social media or digital marketing, because (I also used to agree) that the art should speak for itself.
But in an increasingly crowded world, when billion dollar movies have billion dollar marketing budgets…and even Will Smith thinks he needs a social media strategy to get you to pay attention…who are you kidding bro?
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover…but go ahead and test a bunch of covers until you find one that sells. You’re not “selling out” if you try to find a cover that sells…you’re letting your hard earned art reach the masses so you can then get more feedback, more experience, more data…to ultimately make a better book the next time around.
What’s Wrong With That?
The internet and technology has made billion dollar companies off of a few people’s laptops. Look at WhatsApp…17 billion dollars…less than 100 employees.
If it’s never been cheaper to succeed….it’s also never been cheaper to fail.
I’m all for planning, having a strategy, getting the best equipment and doing your grunt work to understand an industry, technology, or idea…but you can easily make tomorrow’s winners with yesterday’s tech.
Your logo might be amazing after 19 design sessions…but if nobody gets to see your homepage because they scroll right passed it…well…you get the idea.
Sanjay Manaktala was born and raised in America but spent 10 years working with an IT company that rhymes with Baccenture. He spent 5 of those years in Bangalore and knows what it takes to be selected for H1 sponsorship. He is now a stand-up comedian, podcaster, evangelist for IT people across the world, digital filmmaker and author of the Harper Collins book “My Beta Does Computer Things, Your Guide to Love Success Rock and Roll in India’s IT Industry.”
Updated Jan 2020
So You Want To Get a job Onsite Huh?
Do you want to know how to work onshore or get some overseas assignments?
Either with TCS, Infosys, Accenture, Capgemini or whichever IT company you work for?
Most people in India or South Asian countries want to experience working and living abroad and the best way to do that is usually in IT or tech or other STEM fields.
In this post, I’m going to explain how you can get a job in America or Australia or Canada instead of being frustrated by fixing support tickets in your job that seems to be going nowhere. Most things online just say “speak to your manager” but so many techies try that on Day 1, and then the last thing their manager wants to do is make it happen for that spoiled brat (sorry for the honesty).
Whether you work at Cognizant, Wipro or Manjunath Infotech Private Solutions Ltd, this is real advice you may not like to hear about what you need to do to get that onsite salary and experience.
It’s a long post, but I hope it helps if you’re serious about your goals.
Onsite Opportunities | How to Get Selected
Every day, for the last 25+ years an influx of software and business professionals make the migration from offsite (India) to onsite.
And by going onsite, or onshore, I mean the basic practice of having your company give you a posting in places like the US, Canada, Australia, Europe wherever.
For a young professional in IT or tech, onsite jobs are often considered the holy grail.
It has its charm…the obvious financial gains, the thrill of traveling and work experience and of course the social aspects of dating, Las Vegas and social media bragging to your friends about awesome your life is.
So naturally, as someone who has worked for years both offshore and onshore, I’d like to give you a few pointers on how to make it happen.
I know it’s on your mind, I know you love India…but I also know you want to go overseas and ironically that feeling isn’t going anywhere.
Disclaimer: This article is not about leaving India or any national agenda. I know they’re some sensitivities around the brain drain train, a term I just coined in my head about people going and never coming back. But honestly, I’ve worked, lived in and loved both places. This is just a general guide on my own experiences in working onsite and offshore. You obviously need to ask yourself what you truly want and what your long-term goals are, but since a majority of you are young, single and will obviously want to mingle, let’s do this.
1. Why do some people get selected for onsite opportunities?
It’s kind of strange that although so many jobs have been outsourced with advances in communication and collaboration, an increasing number of engineers continue to go work overseas. The simple reality of that is two things at play: Skills and Proximity.
Skills for Onsite
What you decide to learn and focus on during your career will be one of the biggest determinants of getting you on site.
It need not be the current hot skills of big data or analytics or whatever buzzword is trending on nerd Twitter aka Stack Overflow.
Plenty of Java and SQL server admins still get their H1B visa each year, but so many young techies try Python or Hadoop or some tools they have no clue about just because they think folks might be hiring overseas.
In reality, if you’re in an area you truly enjoy you will likely get good at it.
And if you’re good at it, you’ll be the one turning down projects because you’re a stud and have a buffet of options at your disposal.
You want me in Arkansas at Wal-Mart? No thanks, that’s like the veg cutlet. I’ll just head over to these Prawns in San Francisco. Nom nom nom.
Offshore Allstar with choices to choose from.
The only caveat in your technical skill selection is that it should be client/customer-oriented.
For those of you in HR or Facilities or internal tech support (e.g reset my password when I logged in too much cause I was watching Game of Thrones and not paying attention), I’m sorry to tell you it’s a lot harder to make a case here.
The majority of onshore roles go to folks who are supporting customers/clients and not internal IT related functions.
Top 2019 Technical Skills for USA according to Linked IN
I’m sure it’s still possible to go just like they send people for manual testing jobs overseas even, but if you find yourself in that situation start making changes to get you on the product side. Or switch to a different company where you’re MAKING money for the company (e.g. charging to the client) and not spending it (e.g. coming from their pocket).
“Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true.” – @naval
I have friends who go onsite to America…from India…and then work from home.
Read that again.
You being relocated is a matter of convenience but also part organizational behavior (e.g the company has so many H1B slots to send every year).
Simple Reasons you’re Onshore:
Clients don’t want to wait 12 hours for an answer on a minor bug fix.
The client likes you.
They want personal face to face time to discuss designs and development.
After having grown dependent on you as their right-hand man or woman during late night/early morning calls, they recognize it would be easier to have you in town.
As you increase your skills and value to your onshore counterparts (e.g. in plain English, do more and more their work) while working offshore, the case for proximity becomes that much stronger and makes a good push to get you on board.
2. Now Learn Additional Technical Skills
Getting good at Java? Cool…now try doing C#.
If you’re doing great on data warehousing projects using Informatica, play around with the other tools out there.
When I used to interview candidates in IT, a lot of people would say things like “Sir I just want to do Oracle” or really only try to master one field.
They’re different schools of thought here, but in business reality, you might have six years of experience in Oracle, two years in SQL Server and then find out the SQL Server role is the one that ended up changing your career. (I really wanted to do SAP, got stuck in Business Intelligence, and I’m so happy I did).
Don’t become a jack of all trades and master of none, but generally once you know one tool/software it becomes easier to learn another, it’s sometimes just a matter of process and where to point and click.
Vendors and internal decision-making also change which tools you may use at any given point, so this is an added benefit.
Every day so many engineers cry to their boss or friends “Nobody is teaching me big data, my life is over.” Ummm…for the PRICE OF YOUR LUNCH OR A BEER you can become an EXPERT AT BIG DATA on sites like Udemy so what the heck are you waiting for! I did the same for blogging and here we are.
If I hear another group of techies on the bus going “macha how to get USA opportunity in TCS da” while then just going to get drunk or stuff their faces with biryani I’m going to cry.
3. Build Relationships with Clients while Offshore
IN A NUTSHELL: START TALKING ON YOUR ONSHORE CALLS.
When you start work in Wipro or Accenture or wherever in India, you will likely have a team leader who will be speaking to your own team members and clients onshore.
You will spend the first few months listening quietly while your team lead handles all the communication. A good team leader will slowly integrate you by having you tell the client a pre-rehearsed update on something simple.
Slowly you will get more and more responsibility and eventually that team lead will sit back and shadow you while you handle the call. Eventually, the client and you will have a usual rapport, you can understand the type of person and moods they have and you both will be colleagues. Naturally, when the roles and opportunities open up for who to bring over, those with a steady relationship and a proven track record would be sure-shot approvals as the risk is minimal.
They don’t feel you’ll quit for 15K more over at Microsoft, they know you can do the work well and most importantly you’re a pleasure to be around.
4. Have Social Skills
Often times the guy or gal who gets to go onshore isn’t the smartest or most technical.
But that need not always be the case. The second best DBA might go onshore over the first simply because he’s funny in meetings or has a smile on his face. Or simply because he takes a shower.
Your company and management want to make sure that you’re going to assimilate well with the people paying them.
You not only deliver your work but you can carry a conversation at lunch, can help others who are making the journey, and can handle critical situations (e.g when some angry client lady in New Jersey is right in your cubicle asking you why the ticket is not resolved that you know how to compose yourself and handle it appropriately).
Human beings are generally social beings and being the engineer who sits in the corner with minimal interaction in some IT dungeon is not the best way to live, so put a smile on your face and at least make an attempt to get to know those around you!
Programmers make the product, but powerpoint makes the profit.
How amazing would you be if you can do both?
Software developers can know Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, English, C++, Python, Java, HTML, CSS, and 20 other things. Then you ask them to help with a deck that communicates a product’s benefits in the market and they get a little upset.
5. Be Patient
Applying for an H1 visa takes about a year.
You also need a few years at your company to prove that you’re committed, loyal and oh yeah, do the work well. Nobody is going to spend thousands of dollars bringing over a 22-year-old on all-expenses paid business vacation, so don’t expect it. I’m sure it’s not impossible but for the majority of us…get to know yourself, build your skills, make friends and just enjoy your time in the early years of making a career.
I would say most onsite techies are between 25 and 35. The younger ones aren’t ready yet and the older ones are probably too settled or content in their current roles/personal lives to be interested. Once you accept these timelines, it makes it easier to enjoy each day and improve your own work in the process, which will obviously only make you onshore case that much stronger.
It will also help in passing the time since you know, you’re not just waiting for the next role and feeling miserable in the current one.
6. Talk to People who have Been There
What does someone actually do onshore?
How is it different than the work you’re doing in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyd or Delhi?
What is expected of you different from the coding you’re already doing?
How much are the expenses?
How much can you save per annum?
Are you ready for another 2-3 year commitment in your current company?
If you haven’t asked yourself these questions, you shouldn’t be blindly looking for an onshore role.
Most people in any career don’t do the simple task of asking someone “Hey, can you be my mentor.”
It does sound like a marriage proposal, I know.
But to be honest, if you actually ask someone they’ll most likely be flattered and have no issues speaking to you for 10 minutes every three months on how things are going. Don’t go ask the CEO when you see him in the elevator, but it doesn’t hurt to ask someone a level or two above you to guide you over a coffee from time to time. Onshore or not, this matters.
7. Tell Your Manager You Want to go Onshore Eventually
This is the last point I’m making for a reason (unless you comment a few more additional points you’d like me to discuss). The number one turnoff for an interviewer, when interviewing someone for a job or a project is when candidates ask for onsite roles in the first few months on the job.
It shows an indifference to the actual work of learning the technologies and getting good at your profession and more on the perks and benefits. But obviously, you should let it be known so the whole “Be Patient” thing pays off.
A good manager will recognize your hard work and want to reward you down the road, while also juggling how to ask his or her managers to get the ball rolling on your deployment.
So let it be known, but don’t push it.
A good rule of thumb is to bring it up after 18 months, and then remind your manager or leads every 4-5 months and as common sense dictates (e.g. don’t bring it up in the middle of a crisis but maybe just over a coffee when things are smooth).
Human beings generally want to rewards those have helped them out and a good team leader/manager will recognize getting you onshore is a better alternative to losing you completely.
If you do the techniques above, you will have plenty of onsite opportunities at your disposal.
Now good luck with that visa interview.
I know plenty of amazing people who work offshore, and plenty of less than stellar folks who work onshore. And of course vice versa. But one of the most exciting parts of your early career is the travel and experiences which come with it. So I hope the above tips were helpful and comment any questions below!
I saw my other young friends who were working in consulting and banking and traveling around the world and I wanted to do the same.
To be honest, when I applied I just cared about getting frequent flier points and hotel stays. The specific details of the type of work and technology I didn’t care about as long as I was in tech, at a big company, and my salary was similar to my peers which was my only frame of reference.
However, despite the usual “finding what you really want to do” struggle (and existential despair) of being young and in your twenties, I had a great time working there.
Consulting and corporate life get a bad rap, but although there were many Michael Scott from The Office types of days, large-tech and consulting companies are a nice extension of college and give you time and money and at least ONE direction to start moving towards.
Where you go from there is up to you.
I had no other ambitions but a paycheck and student loan repayment (who does at 22) so this was just fine by me.
It was fun, it was tough, there were long days and easy ones, but overall I took care of them by doing what I was supposed to (even when I initially had no clue how to) and they took care of me with decent pay and stocks that eventually did better.
I was also grateful that Google existed and I didn’t need 600 Java or SQL or Business Objects (now an SAP product) manuals on my desk like all the older folks.
spent four years flying around the USA,
went to St. Charles (near Chicago) a bunch of times for various training weeks (which is awesome when you’re younger),
took a few months leave of absence to debate going to business school,
then got an expat gig in India and decided to embrace it.
I spent the next 5 years in Bangalore, Mumbai, and Chennai just living the outsourcing lifestyle while pursuing my comedy hobbies as a young single dude on the side. Even when I was still in India, I got to take a leave of absence again to decide whether I wanted to stay or go.
I left in 2016 to do stand up comedy and digital stuff full time, as there was a comedy revolution in India and for better or worse (in hindsight) I wanted to be a part of it. Not because Accenture sucked (it was fine), or my boss sucked (he was great), or that I hated being in the corporate world (I love nice offices and free food and per diems I don’t always spend), but I just had this creative itch that wasn’t going to go anywhere and found something I liked doing even more so than the cool tech job with good perks and pay.
Had I never discovered comedy and YouTube and even writing this blog (all of which is much harder than staying up late fixing database issues), I’d probably still be there trying to sign million-dollar analytics deals, reading white papers, attending conferences, reviewing IT strategy roadmap decks and pretending to be excited on all the client calls.
I won’t lie and say I was “super passionate about helping our clients achieve high performance” or whatever corporate BS you have to say (which clients can sniff a mile away), but I found a job I liked and that was good at, which was just swell.
I think most people in tech who don’t flat out hate their job probably feel the same way.
It’s not rocket science, but you’re getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to do something respectable, not super stressful yet sometimes challenging, and compensates you to live the life you really want (family, house, perks, boat, travel, whatever).
What’s so bad about that?
You can be a VP at Salesforce and be happy, or you can be an entrepreneur and be miserable, or vice versa. A job, just like spouse or kids won’t make you happy. It’ll just help get you there.
Most People’s Experience in IT or Corporate Life
A lot of people, both in India and America have a strange sense of entitlement on what companies are supposed to do for them. And the more the companies give, the more we expect.
In fact, I once met the CEO of another massive IT company that rhymes with “WINFO-CISS” and he said the same thing, that the youth expects too much too soon without putting in the time.
It’s like “Bro, that’s great you’re 22 and you want someone to send you to America or Sweden tomorrow, but put in the time for a few years so we know that if we train you, you won’t just leave for another company to make $5K more ok?
In India, you’ll hear things like “Biggest thieves dirty IT scoundrels and cheats they owe me two weeks back pay after I quit” and in America, you’ll hear people talking about busting their butts or being a corporate slave or whatever else people write on Glassdoor.
But like, give me a break maybe?
Take control of your destiny and extensive resources and make good things happen for yourself chief. Quit and start elsewhere if you find yourself in one of those miserable password reset support roles with no end in sight or step up and put in the hard work and emails and training courses to find something else, either internally or externally.
Everybody who complains about their job acts like it’s the company’s fault, when these days so many massive companies give you so many benefits and leeway.
The only thing they can’t teach you to do is to speak up for yourself, which you’ll have to learn on your own.
Many large tech companies even have these “make your own role” type of opportunities where you can just find your own corner to be productive in after a few years, yet people are still just jaded and upset.
The reality, I think is that people probably have bigger problems which they just want to blame on their employer (or spouse, or society) than figuring it out for themselves.
Remember That All Jobs Can Suck
I’m not saying Accenture is this amazing place, or technology consulting is all fun and no boring soul-crushing work sometimes, I’m just letting you know that every job can suck.
Projects can be a waste of budget or be pointless,
Managers can be horrible (I met a few at Accenture just like anywhere else)
Finding purpose in your work on some ERP system you have no clue about for people you’ll never meet isn’t exactly easy.
But neither is eating your vegetables, learning to code or trying to learn a foreign language.
Eventually, however, you grow past it, find a way to make things line up for you, and build a unique experience that you’ll hopefully know what to do with down the road. In millennial words, you learn how to monetize your resume.
Also, you ever notice you only pay attention to the bad reviews and skim past the good ones? Restaurants, Amazon products, and yes, even at large companies on job review sites.
Is Accenture A Good Place to Work?
Accenture is a great place to work if you want a career, but not just a job.
They give you a couple of basic skills or put you on a technology path, but then you’re kind of just a freelancer looking for jobs again, only this time all the jobs are within Accenture.
From there you make contacts, upskill your resume and play the game of squeezing as much out of it as you can.
You could end up on some lame role QA testing stuff for 5 years being miserable or you could learn how to convince someone 3 years older than you (a skill you’ll need anyways in life) to find a way out of that role, learn Python in your free time and then find another project you like.
In America, you’ll likely deal with folks in India to get things done while doing business analyst or reporting type stuff for a client, and in India, you’ll probably be more technical and manage your own teamwhile also reporting to your US counterparts.
Eventually, you move up and now your responsibility is to keep pushing your clients for more projects *cough* sales *cough*, and more money means more pressure, meetings, targets, etc… A lot of people exit here (as I did) to do other things elsewhere, and many other push through to be a partner and hopefully find a happy medium for themselves.
It basically becomes a game of executives keeping other executives happy.
Accenture Work Culture
If I had to describe the Accenture work culture I’d say they look for people who are the cool kids in the room, but the nerds in their families.
If you’re just a Java or programming ninja with no social skills or get nervous giving a powerpoint demo for 3 people, you’ll have to learn soon or better just work as a coder somewhere else.
Similarly, if you’re a sales guy or girl who won’t touch even a piece of HTML or SQL, you’ll probably have a hard time too.
If you want a company that holds your hand every step of the way, telling you what to do and when to do it (which is fine), the other players might be better. If you like uncertainty and doubt but trying to find your own path (in a somewhat closed structure) then Accenture could work for you.
What does Accenture Do?
Accenture is a technology consulting firm. They’re in the B2B (business to business) space and are a massive corporation that helps other corporations with their (majority) software projects.
The funny thing is I bet you that most 22-year-olds who get hired into tech consulting companies really have no idea what they do either.
For example, a company like Citibank might need building or upgrading its online banking service, or ATM software or credit card systems.
Since the tech part is not part of their core business, (e.g. someone who helps open more checking accounts doesn’t care about upgrading Linux or Windows on the banking server), they’ll usually hire Accenture (or TCS or Deloitte or whoever) to manage that. Accenture may then keep a lot of those employees in India to cut their own costs, with a bunch of expats to oversee it all.
On a similar note, a company like Accenture might have 10,000 expats, all of whom need’ to figure out their taxes when spending 4 months in Texas and 8 in India. Who pays for what? So they hire Ernst and Young for figure out 10,000 complicated tax returns.
And Ernst and Young might have a hard time recruiting hot-shot kids from college who could work at social media startups, but instead, they need to convince them that taxes are exciting. So they’ll consult with a recruitment agency that may specialize in Instagram or Social Media HR for that.
Accenture Work Timings
Usually, in America, you’ll work about 8:30 AM to 7 PM with random downtime in the middle, and in India, the timings are like 10 AM to 7 PM with a lot of chilling in the middle.
Chai breaks, long walks around the campus, whatever. Of course, if you’re busy you minimize those, but the culture is a lot more relaxed since a lot of people feel they’ll take a call later at night or early morning.
I spent about 45 hours a week, usually working from 8 AM to 6 PM and checking emails here and there in the evenings just to look like I was busy.
Shorter Projects are Worse Than Longer Project
I did get put on one project for 2 months that was a nightmare, where I worked 8 AM to 1 AM pretty much daily, but looking back I’m glad I learned how to make things happen when my back was against the wall. I honestly don’t remember if I put in overtime or not then, but it was a nightmare but also something I thought “you just do as you pay your dues.” In reality, I just had a bad manager who didn’t tell us what we were supposed to do and then we just ran around trying to figure it out.
The Pros and Cons of Working at Accenture
Accenture has a fantastic employee referral program (at least it did when I was there) and the higher the position, the more you’ll get if the employee is hired and stays there six months.
For example, someone who gets a friend or ex-colleague hired at a Manager level with Analytics or SAP (whichever app or system) could make $7500 to $15,000 or more (taxed at half though).
They also recruit heavily in India and at campuses across America and the world, so there really is an opportunity at every corner and anywhere in the world.
If you’re on a bad project, you can put in six months to a year and then start making excuses to get out it of and go somewhere else.
The pay is competitive but not the highest. A lot of people can earn double working as a contractor for a client they stared at while still with Accenture (happens all the time), but then they have sort out their health insurance, taxes, whatever while also losing stocks in a bull market (which we’ve been lucky to be in for some time).
The travel is exciting when you’re younger, being 25 and in the business class seat. It sucks after a while and you never want to see a hotel again.
A lot of tech projects are for support and development on systems you don’t care about and never will.
It’s hard to see the impact or find meaning from your work (I know it sounds harsh but I’d say the same thing about finance and investment bankers as well).
So many company emails and organizational changes and people you sometimes don’t know who’s who. You also start ignoring every email or townhall session.
As with any company, you can also find a corner and earn six figures doing nothing for 6 hours a day and think it’s cool and then eventually just be miserable.
It’s the only tech company I know where you learn tech skills, office politics, public speaking, HR (even if you’re a developer) and more all in one go.
Should you work at Accenture? I can only give you my experience, but if you’re tech-savvy and also fairly extroverted it might be a good fit.
If not, you still can but it might be out of your comfort zone. You’ll definitely be a lot more well rounded than someone who just worked at Microsoft for ten years, and might get 15 years of work experience in half the time.
So if that sounds cool with you, for sure.
On the other hand, it iss hard to bounce around the country migrating databases if you’re strictly technical and don’t care beyond the role itself. Or if you have a family or don’t like to travel or just want something a bit more stable and straightforward, I’d advise against it.
Although, who really has a stable life in today’s fast-paced world anyways right?
Let me know your feedback and thoughts in the comments, if you quit, are still there or debating. I’d love to jam on that with you!
For most of us who can relate, i.e. didn’t have much money growing up and now just want to use some of that income to party, travel, date people and experience the good life, I get it.
I really do.
Do it man, do it. You’ve earned this time to coast, and it’s nice that the only accountability you really have is to just answer your emails on time.
But I also wish I had a mentor when I was younger who would grab me the by shoulders, shake some sense into me and tell me: “YOU NEED TO BE PRODUCTIVE AT THIS AGE BEFORE YOU SEE YOUR LIFE LOSING ALL MEANING BY 30!”
For a lot of people in big fat fortune 500 corporate life, a good chunk of their career progression might be:
Wow, nobody is giving me work, this is awesome.
Wow ok, I’m bored, what else can I do with my time.
Ok, I’m just going to do the bare minimum to continuously get promoted and spend money on things and hobbies I enjoy.
Ok, I hate my job but I’m 33 and where else will I go with the skills only this job seems to appreciate, plus I have a good thing so why ruin it.
And that is a one-way ticket to mediocre.
You’ll have kids, you’ll enjoy the house and the BBQ’s and vacations and frequent flier points..but deep down, you’ll know it’s all built on a lot of fluff that you yourself can’t say with pinpoint accuracy…”I MADE AN IMPACT WITH MY WORK.”
WHY DO RICH KIDS MAKE THE WORLD BETTER?
Bill Gates dad was a well to do lawyer.
Mark Zuckerberg parents are a dentist and a psychiatrist.
Jeff Bezos took $300,000 from his parents who clearly had it lying around.
Elon Musk I’m sure didn’t grow up using socks.
Do you notice anything? I’m not saying they’re all spoiled brats who got lucky, I’m simply saying they weren’t motivated by an easy $100,000 in a 9 to 5 as the final goal.
Because they knew, probably from their parents and families…that your life has to mean more than that.
Is Working from Home Right for You?
I understand that they’re some very obvious perks of working from home. But it might not be right for you, especially at the age you need to be out there. For some peolpe, homeschooling was also better than going to a public high school, but for those of us who went and came out stronger on the other side, would you have it any other way?
As you get more responsibility in your career and learn to take charge of your life’s work, productivity and time management, make sure you know the pros and cons of how you’re spending your time. I repeat, again and again.
It’s ok to be average, but not ok to treat yourself averagely. There’s a reason you go to a gym as opposed to doing the same stuff at home, and there’s a reason you need to use this energy at 25 to go out into the world and make your mark.
Even if it just means taking your laptop to Starbucks.
Why does every single person who passes away at 90 say the same thing..that you should make your life mean something?
I’m not saying quit your job, be an entrepreneur, go make films or be a YouTuber. If you’re at a big company like KPMG or Accenture or Microsoft or hell even Google, and you’re coasting…stop doing that.
It’s not cool.
The only one who’s getting taken for a ride is you. You just won’t realize until it’s too late.
Sanjay Manaktala is the host of the Birdy Num Num podcast, all about inspiring the creative South Asian. In this post, he debunks a couple of myths about how it’s cool to do nothing and get paid for it.
In this post, I’m going to answer some of our reader’s Instagram questions on body odor, grooming, and how hygiene will honestly fix your life.
If you’re also wondering why that dude in your office or tech team has a strange whiff, this should answer most of it too.
Why do Indians Smell?
I had a friend who had all the money in the world, worked at McKinsey, went to Harvard, yet couldn’t land a date if his life depended on it.
He was miserable, constantly wallowing in self-pity while driving his Mercedes.
To himself, he was confused beyond belief. Harvard MBA, decent looks, great career and family on paper…what the heck is going on?
But to the rest of us, even a stranger or a waiter could spend 10 seconds with him and figure out what lacking self-awareness had hidden from him.
HE SMELLED HORRIBLE. DAILY.
Bad breath, bad body odor, and just unpleasant to be around.
So my other best friend and I did what good friends do.
We chickened out and wrote an anonymous email because we didn’t want to hurt his feelings (more so for our own selfish reasons but we wanted to help.)
“Hey, you don’t know me, but I worked with you or studied with you many years ago. I always saw you working so hard at life and succeeding but also saw you being frustrated with the personal front. I want to see you succeed there too, and it’s something so simple you just need to fix. Just please wear deodorant daily, and all your life problems will get fixed. You stink really bad and it’s a turn off for a lot of people.”
One of my first emails from my junk hotmail account.
6 months later I was crashing at his house, opened up his medicine cabinet and saw a million cologne bottles, mouth wash, deodorants, body sprays, the works.
A year later he was engaged.
Why Don’t Indians Wear Deodorant?
So why do some Indian dudes smell bad? Because growing up, deodorant was a western thing, and it’s still catching on.
We didn’t think it was important.
My own mom never told me about it, I just figured it out from TV commercials of being a teenager in America. The white kids in middle-school weren’t shy about letting me know “I smelled like sweaty curry”, and oddly enough as mean as teenagers are…I’m glad they did.
In fact, deodorants in India revenue are expected to grow 25% year on year. (Source.) It used to be a luxury item, but now it’s affordable for pretty much anyone and will take some time to adopt.
Everyone in our country loves a little spice, but that heat it brings means you gotta love some Old Spice as well.
WAIT, EVERYBODY SMELLS, WHY ARE YOU TARGETING INDIANS?
Yes, you’re 100% right.
Every group of people has smelly stinkers.
But most of us in desi communities, myself included, never got it ingrained in our heads that deodorant should be like brushing your teeth. We tread lightly on the topic rather than confronting it head-on.
But why are we so sensitive about something so obvious, that in extreme weather and sweaty situations, you need to put on some deo bro.
Just like we have to find a way to let American people know that TOILET paper IS DISGUSTING, we need to encourage our South Asian brothers and sisters that deodorant is actually spot-on awesome.
In fact, I used to see guys in my IT company office spend 20 minutes after lunch combing their hair in the men’s washroom, but not realize that it didn’t matter because nobody wanted to sit within 5 feet of them.
And then those same guys start trolling people online because they have a frustrated sex life or who knows what.
You feel me?
India is about 5-10 years behind on the BO elimination wave, and the more we help our friends and family realize they’re adding some stank into the mix, the more we all benefit.
Personal hygiene and grooming are a $2 or an INR 150 investment.
It’s no longer a luxury item, but adoption for the masses will still take some time. So if someone in your gym or work or school or family is stinking it up, do your civic duty and clean it up.
WHEN YOU HELP SOMEONE SMELL GOOD, YOU HELP THEM BE GOOD. AT LIFE.
We all know that guy or girl who stinks, and nobody tells them. Because they’re scared of hurting their feelings. But guess what continuous rejection and not knowing what they’re doing wrong is also doing?
It’s hurting them a lot more than you worrying about their feelings.
If you find a nice or anonymous way to tell them they smell, guess what?
They’ll likely do something about it.
They’ll build more confidence.
They’ll do better at work, life love, and more.
But most importantly…they’ll know.
How to Get Someone to Smell Better Politely?
You can talk to another coworker (in front of the smelly one) and discuss how some other, made up person didn’t wear deodorant at a restaurant you were at over the weekend and it ruined your date or whatever. The second person can also say “Wow, who doesn’t wear deodorant!?” and drop a massive hint to the stinker.
You can gift everyone (including them) a $10-20 bottle of cologne and also use it yourself at work.
You can send them an anonymous email like I did.
In India…and I’ve heard this many times…bosses and coworkers just tell their employees outright. In fact, in some tech companies, they’ve sent colleagues home to go shower!
Body Odor Shouldn’t Be Taboo or Hygiene Products Thought of as a WESTERN thing
Yes, I know that we use talcum powder, saffron, and we have whatever other natural remedies for fragrance and all that stuff.
I’m all for it.
You want to spend an hour with coconut oil and lotions every evening, be my guest.
But you and I use Google and Chinese goods every day, so please cut the crap that you don’t buy into that western stuff.
Proctor and Gamble aren’t evil, although sure, big bad corporations have their issues.
We modernize every single fact of our lives, so let’s recognize we need to modernize our approach to hygiene.
Two swipes of two pits will save you a lifetime of despair.
The simple issue is a lot of us know that person who stinks, probably ARE that person who stinks, and we have a hard time dealing with it in this country or in our international desi communities.
I’ve heard stories from the IT world of managers who had to tell an employee to leave the room and go back and shower or spray some cologne.
I’m 100% serious.
Does it need to get to that?
Deodorant technology has come a long way, trust me. One dab in the morning will keep you going until 10 PM, even in that crazy Chennai or Mumbai summers.
As you smell less and trust me, nobody can really smell themselves…all the other things in life will fall into place.
That will increase your money, career, dating, love life and probably personal happiness.
Although no guarantees on the last one. Happiness is still super elusive to most of us.
1. MBA and Startup People (Funny for Office Types)
Filmed in Bangalore on April 2019, Sanjay does jokes about having an MBA, some startup ideas in the pub city and some fun crowd work. Filmed at B-Flat in Bangalore, India. He also talks comedy about Swiggy and people who are obsessed with innovation.
2. IT Industry Jokes
This video just crossed 2 million views, Sanjay is known as the best comedian for your IT crowd or corporate entertainment in India.
Whether you have a corporate show at Infosys, Wipro, Microsoft or other places, let him entertain your employees and visiting clients with the humor only they know.
Comedy show filmed at Vapour in Indiranagar in 2018.
3. Indian girls and Goa and Selfies Comedy
Sanjay performs stand up comedy at the Humming Tree in Bangalore, India about girls and selfies and how we’re obsessed with taking photos.
Social media has made us all influencers and comedy about the ladies is always welcome, right ladies?
If you’re struggling in your marriage with a tough mother-in-law this article might help you too ladies.
The modern Indian man is an interesting specimen.
A good portion of us fit very nicely into a neatly packaged box.
We grew up humble, studied and worked our way to a stable lifestyle, had a girlfriend or two, and now checklist our way through life’s remaining milestones.
We each also have families that are far from perfect, but typically have far tighter bonds thanks to those same imperfections. One family might have the alcoholic uncle, another the shady businessman relative while another the drug-abusing nephew.
But regardless of each family’s “oh that thing they’re known for in gossip corners”, Indian culture, for the most part, is built on very strong family ties that stand the test of time to raise some pretty awesome people.
And one of the staples of Indian family dynamics is, as you might have already guessed…the Indian Mother.
I remember growing up in California and having friends (aka white people) come to sleepover. Their moms would drop them off at 6 PM, we would eat Cheetos, play video games, and then their moms would pick them up at 10 AM the next day while the smell of Aloo Puri would be happily escorting them out of our house.
Enjoy your pizza, Jason.
To them, it was a fairly routine hangout. To me, I was shocked.
How come their moms hadn’t called 50 times during the night?
Where were their snacks from home they might need in case our food wasn’t good or a tornado struck?
Why did I call Jason’s mom “Carol” instead of “Auntie?!?”
As a kid, this constant looking after and affection was something I first resented (“Stop embarrassing me mom!”), then grew accustomed to (“Where’s my socks mom!”) and now in my 30s, is something I’m sort of juggling with.
Desi Moms are the best and I have grown to respect and admire my own exponentially each year. She loves my brother and I to death. She treats her sons with a firm hand but only because she cares about us more than we can imagine.
But how does one find their place in the universe after being treated like the center for so long?What do these “grown men” do when they enter the world and nobody cares?
That’s sort of where I am in life right now, and I’m curious if you are too.
Why do our moms yell at our fathers for drinking too much, but think our girlfriends/wives are just stressing their precious boys if they think the same?
How much love is too much, and how much is not enough?
It’s an interesting dilemma, and I wish I knew the answer. They’re so many times when my mom stays with me (and I know I sound like a spoiled piece of shit) that I get upset she’s enabling me to take it easy because this is the age I need to get my ass in gear.
Breakfast? Sure, but I should have made it myself.
Oh, you’ll take care of the dishes? Thanks, mom, I’m gonna go relax and do important stuff like check Facebook.
While this is awesome (can’t lie), it indirectly enables a habit in each of us that may present problems later. I unknowingly yell at my mom all the time about lost things around the house or “Yes, for the 50th time, I’ll eat outside and don’t make anything!” and she has never once pointed out this shouting. (After which I’ll stumble home drunk, having forgotten to eat, and luckily she hears my cupboard banging and whips up something quick to eat).
It’s nothing malicious and more out of our loving-shouting- communication habit, but good luck speaking in that same tone with your future partner.
How to Detach a Husband from His Mother?
You don’t. You simply show the husband that being a good son and being a good husband are two different things and it’s his job to balance both.
A girlfriend or wife who looks at you on your phone while the dishes are still sitting on the table isn’t gonna tolerate things the same way your mom did. She might have also just sat in traffic, struggled at the office with her own politics and wants to veg out in food coma just like you.
But alas, that’s not always what beloved mama might think. In fact, the modern Indian mother in law is also, well…not so modern.
In fact I’ve seen couples where the guy stumbles home drunk and the mom looks at her daughter-in-law and says “How could you let him drink so much?”
Learn to See Mom’s Bias
There are obviously 600 other things we could talk about, for the sake of simplicity, as you mature through life just try to keep this in the back of your head.
I’m no psychiatrist but I’m assuming whatever Freud alluded to had merit for him to be so famous that I randomly cite him now. None of us want to date our mom’s doppelgänger, but I think we can all fairly assume moms subconsciously program a certain expectation of how a woman “should be” that plays a part in our next phase of life.
Will it repeat with our girlfriends/wives for the next generation and the future sons, or is the new modern family dynamic going to change that? Time will tell but recognize this as you get older.
Your moms love you and you love them. They love being there for us (it’s probably a need that goes both ways) and I’m so happy I was raised in a culture that instills family values I’m only now coming to fully appreciate. But again, keep things in perspective as you go.
Life is tough, and while you’re a rockstar at home you’ll eventually need to learn how to be a rockstar outside of it where Mom is not enabling you to be king of the castle.
Mom Spoils the Son, then He Goes to Work and Realizes He’s Nothing
I remember at an office meeting years ago, a few clients were visiting from Canada and we got a last minute email that the client’s CEO was going to be joining.
All of a sudden, ties were required. No big deal.
One of the 40+ managers runs into my cubicle (I think I was 26 at the time) and he is visibly shaking. Like Palms sweaty, knees deep, mom’s spaghetti. (Hey! Eminem Mom Pun!) I look at him, sort of laugh (cause he looked like Milton from Office Space) and asked him what’s wrong?
He said he had no idea how to tie a tie, because (and I quote)…
”Mummy always did it.”
40 Year old IT Senior Manager
Tied his ties.
So me, being the smart/suave US educated independent man I was, naturally did what any NRI who thinks he’s better would do. I grabbed the tie with my American swagger, smiled at little bunty/puthar crying in the corner about his incomplete Windsor and saved the day by doing what I had been trained to do since college:
I googled it.
There is nothing wrong with a family that cares for you, and caring for them back.
The unwritten agreement in most Desi communities is the parents take care of you into adulthood, and you take care of them the rest of the way. And that’s completely fine.
But a lot of times we sort of overlook the major part of life that you and I are now headed. I know many people aren’t fortunate enough to have parents that love them as much as some of us, and I will cherish my mom till my last breath.
But I just wanted to discuss this because it’s something I see people dealing with. (Also ladies, those of you who call mom or dad on every little adult problem, even at 40…we’ll get to you another day.)
As always, if you have something constructive to say please do so below.
Hugs to you and your mamas.
And to my mom who raised us alone since I was 13, if you figured out your MacBook and are reading this, I love you.
I grew up in what I’m going to assume are similar circumstances to yourself.
I enjoyed playing games, hanging out with friends and checking off each milestone in life as it came.
I wasn’t begging for food, but I wasn’t 16 with an Audi on my first major birthday either thanks to a rich family who “did business.”
In fact, now I despise those people.
At 20 my goals were simple
I wanted to do well in high school so I could get into the right college.
Then I wanted to do well in college so I could get into the right job (not career).
Eventually, parlay that into the right graduate school.
Be successful and have fun with romantic interests and international travel and onsite opportunities.
Rinse and repeat, and then hopefully settle into cruise control by the age of 25.
The problem with that approach was that only once I was stable and settled, riding along the highway called life that I got the faintest idea of where I wanted my life to go.
I didn’t know what to do with my life, but I knew I wanted to do something.
I mean once you have the time to enjoy the drive rather than finish the race…you tend to look around.
Unfortunately, a lot of people get off the highway at 25 or 30 years old… right when the ocean was about to come into view.
I Hate the Tech Industry
Why would you hate software engineering or hate coding or development?
Does a race car driver hate physics and mechanical engineering or an astronaut hate medical school, Ph.D. papers and studying astrophysics?
A lot of wall street bankers hate spreadsheets and pointless powerpoints, but we all need to swipe our visa’s and transfer money between accounts.
You might hate your current role in tech, the same way the foreman and team who haul cement probably hate construction but the architect loves it.
In which case, for a lot of people who hate their tech job or hate computers and code…you ironically speaking of finance…hate wanting to pay your dues.
You also aren’t patient enough to see where those dues take you. Why do most software engineers hate their jobs? Because they call them jobs in the first place.
Do you want a job or a career bro? Because a job is something you do but a career is something you make.
Even if you’re in a dead-end job with a horrible boss who is taking advantage of the current labor market…you’re being blessed to innovate and learn how to side hustle to find your way out of it.
We have to learn the ABC’s and multiplication tables so we’re equipped to make creative things later with those same boring skills…and all that boring BS you deal with in tech is eventually something you need to crawl in the mud through.
Somebody has to test that software anyways right?
For example let’s say tomorrow you embraced tech, wrote a killer app or blog or game and then had 100,000 users in a week.
Chance are you’re gonna need some staff to:
help with your accounting/refunds/whatever.
And isn’t that 22-year-old kid you hire is going to hate you the way you hate your boss?
But you’ve been through staying late at night trying to understand what happened to someone’s transaction and how it all got messed up, so you’ll do the extra leg work and make sure processes are in place because business is so predictable and you’re covered for every situation even though you built that app in your bedroom without event commenting code properly.
I’m a Comedian but I loved Corporate Life
This is not some article about follow the arts or how corporate life is so boring and stupid.
On the contrary, as I’ve said various times online, I’m a huge fan of going into the corporate machine and recognizing the pros and cons of that lifestyle.
Rather, since I get a few messages every week from jaded engineers and people who are curious why I am (or appear) to be so happy and joyful about my software industry experiences, I thought I’d jot them down here.
So if I grabbed your attention with the headline let’s get right into some explanation and tips on why you’re a twenty or thirty-something with a decent salary, great professional and social prospects and still…miserable.
My Job is Not What I Thought I’d Be Doing
Most tech jobs will have a cool-sounding job description like:
“Ability to work on cutting edge enterprise technologies. Innovation and Leadership required to interface with senior management professionals across a set of global clients.”
This makes you think you’re gonna be hacking away some revolutionary big data code while on a private jet surrounded by the attractive person of your choice like Hugh Jackman in Swordfish.
Hey I liked that movie.
In reality, you’ll spend your first year getting to know Microsoft Office and googling around to figure out the little software stuff they trust some kid out of college to do.
When I was 16 at birthday parties and the aunties would say “Oh look at Suman’s son Tarun, he is an engineer at Sony.”
I would imagine Tarun working with some NFL quarterback on motion capture for the next Madden game when he was probably writing the index pages on the PDF manual.
This is completely fine, normal and expected. Since you’ve chosen the safety net of a stable job/company (as did I), nobody is going to hand you the keys to the kingdom on day one.
It’s normal to hate your job, realize it’s not what you wanted, and even asking yourself at 25 “WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?”
While you fight those weekly demons please remember one thing.
In order to put them at bay for good, get to know your area, master it, and then grow from there.
Whatever clunky piece of software or testing or developing you have to do it…push through it with a smile on your face the way you had to eat your vegetables.
Others will come to take your place and it’s up to you grow beyond it rather than get complacent, miserable and simply resent it.
You might be:
the guy raising tickets to users have access to a system,
testing software and filing bugs,
or you might actually be out of your comfort zone coding away from the get-go.
Either way, it is completely normal.
These days with sites like Udemy or other India equivalents that can teach you Big Data for the price of a beer you have nothing to complain about.
You can honestly up-skill yourself instead of that biryani for lunch, walk into a company or project at your office, showcase how much you know and slowly the right opportunities will present themselves. When I was working in IT we had to wait for some manager’s manager to give us permission to take some training and even then we may have just wasted a week.
Now, you control your destiny even within your own company. If your internal resume has all these skills you self-taught, I mean…if project is open, why wouldn’t you get it?
Everybody Else Seems to Have a Better Job
One of the major reasons I worked in consulting over any other profession earlier in my career was because I cared way more about traveling, hotels, airline points and talking about those things than the actual work I was doing.
In fact, the second you leave school the rat race truly begins.
We all have that one friend at Facebook who will start sharing photos from all the cool things he or she is experiencing, the other creative friend who might get a role in some TV show or movie, and so on.
And we look at these things, on our phones, during our lunch breaks and continue to build a heavy case in our minds of how what we’re doing is so much worse.
The good news is that eventually, this will stop. The bad news is it’s not gonna happen any time soon.
The only solution I’m afraid of is to look inwards again and ask yourself…
What the Hell do I Really Want? And Why?
I’ve had so many people in various companies, both while working in India and the US tell me things like “Sir I want to be a Business Analyst” or “Sir I want to go Onshore.”
These are generally kids in their early twenties who don’t really have an interest in what they’re doing, but they’re more interested in job titles, travel experience, and financial incentives which will eventually steer them towards the things they really want to do.
Most young people don’t want to “do” anything. They just want to “do” whatever gets them to live overseas or earn money staying in hotels. And how can you blame them, who wouldn’t?
I’ve been in the same boat, and how to get that onshore role is a whole other article, but only once you’re honest with yourself about what you want will you start making moves (e.g. Turning down projects/jobs which might not get you there) that will help in getting those things.
And secondly, when I ask these kids “Why do you want to go Onshore?” or “Do you know what a business analysts does?” the answers are typically some fluffy thing about “building solutions and requirements” but not: “chasing down stakeholders to get them to give details about how the new tool should work, scheduling meetings, driving home decisions, etc..”
The majority of freshers I see at most companies come into the machine, get placed into a project and then get lost into the ether from there. Some leave after a few years to find something else.
Some get married. Others stick it out.
But NOBODY in a large company is going to come down and give you what you want if you don’t know yourself.
And ESPECIALLY if you don’t make it known.
You Code but Don’t Develop
Lastly…most engineers lose track of something in their boring day of sifting through Eclipse or whatever IDE they use.
Do you just cut carrots or are you making a salad for the president?
Coding, Engineering, Math…all of that stuff is meant to build products that people buy and use.
Nobody would give a sh*t about big data if it didn’t let them find a YouTube video in half a second.
Nobody would care about SEO if it didn’t help them get their advice
Why would I care about compression unless I could download 2GB movie in 5 minutes?
If you’re in a tech job you hate, it’s probably because your working for a tech product you hate. But even a nice company like Facebook or Snapchat or whichever hot startup there is tomorrow is going to need someone to sift through lines of code and reset passwords.
In Deployment Conclusion
People who work in technology are special. We tend to be of the mindset that we could do any job, but not anybody could do our job.
It’s kind of like “I got a computer science degree buddy. Marketing, Sales, HR? That’s child’s play.”
But not respecting the pros of those fields tend to hinder our own progress.
We don’t speak up or learn to communicate properly.
We don’t look internally to figure out what drives us aside from being good at the jobs/software/tools that depend on us.
We think just because we can code in Python the world owes us something.
A good chunk of us are unhappy and always hunting for that “next thing.”
And the majority of us (myself included) do absolutely nothing about it.
Ask yourself, if you spend even 5% of the time you spend complaining about your situation on actually trying to fix it (e.g. learning a new skill, speaking to your manager, working part-time elsewhere in a new field), would you really have anything to complain about?
This is an excerpt from Sanjay Manaktala’s book “My BETA DOES COMPUTER THINGS | Your Guide to Love Success and Rock and Roll in India’s IT Industry.” You can also listen to Sanjay on his leading podcast about creativity called the Birdy Num Num podcast, inspiring the creative minority.
I was chatting with my brother the other day and telling him how one of the toughest parts of freelancing is that it’s so easy to do nothing.
I don’t mean the “sit at the wall in clinical depression” type of nothing, but the “watch eight episodes of your favorite new show while ordering food on your favorite app” nothing.
With a trivial gym break in the middle of course.
How to stop being Average?
So how do you stop being so mediocre and live up to your full potential?
You recognize that you can learn any skill in the world that used to take thousands of dollars…for the price of a burger.
Then you learn to siphon your time. Netflix and torrents might be free but they’re costing you a lot more than you think.
Most adults learn this only once they have kids and life forces them to value their time. If you learn this in your twenties you’ve pretty much won.
I’ll explain what I mean now for the rest of this post.
We’re all Average at Something
The real issue is that most of us assume a six-figure salary and a house are the end goal. But in reality, most guys and girls who attain this by 30-35 realize it wasn’t so difficult at all with stock options, corporate benefits, working from home, frequent flier points and who knows what else.
That’s when your internal appraisal machine really freaks out…because society gave you above average results for your very average performance.
How much did all that work you did at Deloitte really impact you OR that company David?
I’m an Artist and I’m Also Mediocre
Depending on where you live (I’m currently living in India although writing this in LA) a lot of professions allow you to make enough money to be good but complacent enough to skip the great.
And that’s a big problem.
Whether you’re in the corporate hustle, the creative space or a small business owner in some hybrid of the two, you are always going to be fighting self-inflicted mediocrity.
When you’re making six figures but web surf 4 hours a day, you’re doing it.
When you’re earning your rent in a single night by being a musician/artist/comedian/video maker and then getting stoned for the next three days, you’re doing it.
And when you’re simply wondering at 35 how did I get all these things and still find myself a bit uneasy or unhappy…you’ve done it.
The obvious reason is income (e.g. If you’re not starving you won’t stretch yourself) and the obvious answer that you’ve read a 1000 times is to find your passion and do what you love.
But I’m letting you know that I do what I love and sometimes…I’m still a lazy piece of shit.
So my real question is what (or who) enables your mediocrity?
You probably dabble with thoughts of:
hating your life,
or your boss,
or not knowing what to do with yourself.
But in reality, you may just be on a long drive with the gas pedal only pressed halfway down.
Or in simpler words:
Why do you continue to do just enough when you know deep in your heart of hearts that you are capable of doing so much more?
Again...who or what enables your mediocrity?
Ok, I’ll go first.
And I don’t mean this in a mean way at all because I cherish her with all my heart…but for me it’s my mom.
My mother saw me working in high school/college and then the 80 hour weeks to pay off my student loans, and then sort of just observed as I matured through my professional milestones and always acted busier than I was. (Side Note: Make it a point to entertain your parents for 5 minutes a day on the phone, Facebook isn’t gonna go anywhere and you can always check it while they’re on speaker).
In her eyes, I need to relax a bit more, not get so stressed out and if I miss my 8 AM alarm…I deserved the sleep and my body needs time to recover (From you know, all that drinking and slogging I was doing at the open-mic).
She’s the same type of lady who would call me “healthy” instead of fat when I really need my friends to kick my ass into high-gear.
I’m the quintessential Indian mama’s boy, and I can smile about it now because I’m fully aware of it and take steps to mitigate it. Am I going to stop talking to my mom? Of course not. But recognizing her well-intentioned attitude towards me and the fact that I’m growing up in a different time albeit with many similarities, allows me to stay focused and stay hungry without compromising our relationship and without letting me get fully dependent on her to do things I can easily do for myself.
She doesn’t want me to be mediocre, but doesn’t fully understand this is the age to hustle and “I gotta do me, baby”.
So who or what enables you to be mediocre?
Is it the job that allows you to coast while keeping your lifestyle as comfy as you want it?
Because the charm fading away from this will one day hit you like a ton of bricks. All the miles, hotel points, and cash/perks/houses aren’t going to motivate you any better when you’re still staring at your screen with no purpose or motivation.
Or is it your friends who are obsessed with girls and travel and could care less about what you do as long as the tinder matches still come in? I’m talking to you twenty-year-old dudes who grew up with Ted and Barney (or 30-year-old dudes with Chandler and Joey).
Or is it something as simple as alcohol and drugs?
Maybe it’s a partner you spend more time arguing with instead of having as an actual “partner” who helps you complement each other to be better people.
And most importantly, it’s obviously a huge chunk of you.
Just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with the house on the hill, the two kids, the cars and the whole deal.
But have you noticed how most of the typical case studies on success….Zuckerberg, Musk, Gates, Bezos… all did amazing things well beyond the years they had no financial incentive to?
Or in simpler words, they were rich as hell before really impacting upon their life’s work (and more importantly, some had families before the real grind began).
They could have bought the private island or huge apartment in New York, partied with celebrities and danced/laughed/screwed their way into obscurity.
But they didn’t do that.
In fact, Elon Musk once said the idea of sitting on some beach “sounds horrible.” And eventually, after 1000 Instagram selfies and packaged holiday after packaged holiday, you’ll start to agree.
There is nothing wrong with being average, but there is something wrong in treating yourself averagely.
Sanjay-San from Kyoto
I don’t have the answers on how to stop being mediocre or on how to accomplish greatness. But I do know that 99% of us, (a stat I just pulled out of my ass) know that we can so easily do much, much more.
When you finish college the real challenge begins, but everybody acts like the hard part is over.
In school, you had that friend who you always wanted to do better than but rarely did.
You had the coach who pushed you to run another mile when you thought “OMG I’ve never run more than 3 miles ever.”
Somewhere along the way…you stopped doing all of that.