Stay ahead of the game or perish

The top headline in the tech sphere today is Foxconn replaces 60K workers with robots. Experts are seeing it from an economy perspective, employment perspective and then there are automation experts raving about the power of automation and bringing efficiency. And then there are some more.

Robots replacing Humans

Is this a shocking news? Ah, may be to a person who is going to lose the job. People should not be surprised by this. We have been implementing automation for increasing efficiency for many-many decades now. A simple message I have is if a worker or business does not stay ahead in the game, then starting digging a graveyard for your role.

This does not apply only to manufacturing industries but any other segment. Today artificial intelligence, business intelligence and many other types of intelligence are replacing jobs of information workers and bringing much more efficiency to the process. What can we do as individuals? Stay ahead. Identify the patterns, see where the industry is heading, research, learn, un-learn, get uncomfortable, make complacency a thing of past and start doing things computers or robots cannot do in the next two years. Not all of us are able to predict the future but we certainly can match its pace. And if you are a business, then there is a tough road ahead as you got to innovate but start by understanding what innovation really means for you.

Stop Multitasking

Yes, doing your best work while multi-tasking is a myth in my opinion [an opinion that I have been firming hard from last 6 months or so].multitaskingBe in the moment, focus on one thing at a time, get it done and move on to the next task.

Image credits to

Reading stats showoff time

I enjoy my reading and is one habit that I have followed the most since childhood. Last year I had pre-decided to spend less time reading the web and more time reading books [in physical and digital format].

Result of this?

Pocket Reading Stats 2015

And I did end up finishing nearly 6 books on my iPad.

I am determined to consume more information this year using some of the reading habits I picked up throughout last year.

I trolled through Twitter to find top 1% of Pocket readers and I am impressed. Example here, here [he must be an amazing speed reader] and here.


Hire for passion and not just skills

Hire for Passion

Let me start with an assumption that most people reading this would have faced some sort of job interview in their life, unless you are a born entrepreneur who never had to look for a role in his life. I will share two similar experiences that I heard about recently.

And they tell you,”You are good, but you don’t have enough skills in xyz.”

An experienced professional gets approached by a consultancy firm director looking to fill in a role for one of the client projects. There is an initial alignment, followed by a face to face interview, where matter looked affirming followed by a couple of days of silence. Then the professional receives the long awaited call, “blah, blah, blah, discussed … blah, blah, blah, considered blah, blah, blah, you are strong on x and y but not so strong on ZZZ and that is where we wanted some more experience. Thanks, keep in touch.”

The same professional gets put up for another role at a major Bank through another consulting company. This time immediate feedback from the client was, “He resume seems strong and previously he has appeared for interviews for even more senior roles. This role is a bit junior compared to the previous roles he has applied for. Thanks but no thanks for now.”

OK, I might have over simplified the conversation, but the gist remains the same. You may have heard or experienced similar stories yourself. If you are experienced, trust me, I know it is painful. How does it feel when you know in your head that you are more than capable of doing the roles. But, you need a chance for proving that. You need a chance for proving that although you do not have enough experience on ‘z’, with your curious nature and a desire to learn and adapt, you can pick up the skills on the fly and apply it effectively. That is what consultants do!

No project will be exactly identical and the challenges of one project might be slightly different than the next. Solution that worked for project A might not work exactly the same for project B. Why don’t the recruiters/interviewers focus on an individual’s passion for their work, work ethic and the zeal to learn and adapt? Why is the focus solely on black and white words printed on the resume vs. what more can a individual achieve provided a chance? Why not provide a chance to talk and demonstrate on what value can the individual really add to the project at hand and how he/she would go about solving the real problems at hand! Can someone teach me to demonstrate “passion”, “persistence”, “adaptability” and “willingness to learn and learn quickly” on a piece of paper. I know it becomes easy and if you are sharp observer to identify these traits when you meet someone in person.

I agree with the graphic above, and skills are overrated. An individual can achieve more when they have more passion and some skills. I have seen a person going from a call centre job, to a training consultant to a BA role all in one year. I have coached an individual from a sales lead generator to becoming a junior instructional designer in 6 months and in 2 years time the same individual is leading a team of 2 junior instructional designers in a mid sized company. These people did not have any skills in their chosen field to begin with but they have a lot of passion to learn and move forward. I am sure, if you think for 30 seconds, you can find enough examples around you or even in your ownself!

When an entrepreneur starts up a business, they don’t have all the skills but they have passion to figure out things on the fly as necessary. When businesses – big and small bring out new products, most likely they don’t have everything figured out. They may not even all skills in all area. But what they have most times is passionate people driving the change and those people learn and adapt on the fly. Businesses have their goals on getting to their own “moon” or the “mars”. I don’t think you can get on Mars just based on your skills, but you need people who are passionate and are persistent.

Enough said! If you are a recruiter, can you explain? If you are a hiring manager, can you explain the rationale of rejecting people just on the base of their resumes? What’s your experience when you have a skilled person who just hates coming to work everyday? What’s your milage when you deal with an individual who is passionate about his work and has a zeal to learn and fill the skill set gap by showing up everyday and putting in 110%? Who do you think will perform better? No wait, I can answer that. The person who achieves more and adds more value is the person who loves coming to work everyday.

Oh, and the poor person who’s experiences I have shared above is none other than me. But surely, the above scenarios are not just mine – 1000s of individuals experience this everyday.

Productivity Tip of the Week

The Internet is flooded with productivity tips and this is another post to add to that mix. How many productivity boosting posts have you read this week? Ah, I digress.

The point of productivity tips generally is to make us more effective and efficient with our time. So I was reading one such post today. I wanted to add one thing desperately to this list and that is the habit of creating a daily list.

I am a GTD [Getting Things Done] methodology buff and have been creating monthly, weekly and daily list for quite some time now. I mostly use technology to perform my GTD. For a long time I resisted paper and pen as I wanted to be completely digital, but alas I wasn’t as effective doing just that and I was loosing focus.

So, I decided to write every day tasks on a simple post-it note first thing every morning. As day progresses and I finish my tasks, I start marking them off. Most times I also allocate the estimated time required for each task which allows me to plan my day better. What have I achieved doing this? More or less, I get 80-90% tasks completed each day. What remains is generally a low priority task or something where I have a dependency on someone or something else. Using this simple hack, I get more done everyday and my day remains focused.

Daily To Do List
Daily To Do List

As you can see from the list above, I have done the important tasks and low priority works remains!

I know what you are thinking, that there is no rocket science behind this, but then rarely is. It is all about what works best for you and what gets you focused and on top of matters.

What is your productivity tip of the day?

Prefer Systems over Goals

Goals are important and having the clarity of what you want helps but having solid systems in place is even more important in achieving those goals or getting you in the vicinity of the goal/s. Having systems will reduce the amount of decisions you have to make thus saving your will power for other aspects of your life. Systems can bring more discipline and can assist with consistent progress.

Thanks to Getty Images - carlp778
Thanks to Getty Images – carlp778

I was motivated by the concept of having goals vs systems by Scott Adams. Since then I have focused on having solid systems and continuously improving them. I love my systems and workflows but I keep a very agile approach. I still have goals but they are driven by systems that I use.

So what is a system? I define it as a series of steps to accomplish task/s used on a regular basis. The system can be your training schedule to perform exercise to increase body mass. The system is the GTD methodology that people follow to get work done and keep moving.

One can have a goal of saving $20,000 for an overseas trip but having a system in place to save money on a regular basis can get you the money you need for the trip and more. You can have a system in place where you decide to put 10% of your weekly wage into a saving account. You could also top it up by not drinking coffee at your local cafe but instead put that money into the bank account. Result of this? You will reach your goal sooner than expected and you don’t have to constantly chase your goal. You set, commit and arrive. A bonus of this system is that you already get into habit of saving 10% every month and can even reach other goals in the future. Oh, and we haven’t even considered the potential health benefits because of reduction of sugar intake!

As James Clear said, “..goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress”.